Author Archive for Tadias

UPDATE: U.S. Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray

The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: "The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict." The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

Press Release

Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

The Associated Press

Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

“It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

“Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

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Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

AA

Addis Getachew Tadesse

Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

“[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

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UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


“In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

AA

By Addis Getachew

Updated: February 18th 2021

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

“In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

“The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

Related:

UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

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Spotlight: Zion Taddese Introduces Teff to California’s Famous Farm Industry

Zion Taddese, owner of the Queen Sheeba Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento, California, is introducing Teff to California's internationally renowned agriculture industry. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Zion Taddese. (Photo: ABC10)

ABC10

This Ethiopian grain could be California’s new superfood

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The people who make Northern California Strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to Zion Taddese.

California is the Nation’s leader in food production, a third of the fruits and two-thirds of all vegetables are grown here, but there is one plant that golden state grows very little of until now. It’s called Teff and it’s a Gluten-free gain, high in iron and fiber. It’s also the main ingredient that Zion Taddese uses at her restaurant, Queen Sheeba Ethiopian Food in Sacramento.

“We use it in our injera, all gluten-free made from Teff,” said Taddese. “This is Teff growing in California for the first time.”

Teff is an African grain that Taddese grew up eating in Ethiopia, but after migrating to Sacramento and starting her restaurant she found that Teff was difficult to buy in the US.

“There is a high demand for Teff, but there is not enough supply,” explained Taddese.

To remedy her supply problem, Zion enlisted the help of UC Davis to find a strain of Teff that would grow in California.

“I am working with UC Davis to create the knowledge, the training, the technology to share with farmers,” said Zion.

The technology is well on its way. UC Davis researchers had a successful crop last year and now farmers William and John Gilbert are preparing to plant Teff in their vacant Walnut orchard in Wheatland.

“We are interested in Healthy food. The incentive to grow it is the healthier the food the more people buy it,” says William Gilbert.

Taddese is on a mission to make Teff California’s new Super Grain. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Taddese

Through Teff, Taddese wants to make her community Northern California strong and someday share that strength with her homeland of Ethiopia.

“I hope to feed the world through Sheba Farms because no child should be left behind when it comes to food and nutrition.”

Helping to diversify California agriculture and create new jobs, Zion Taddese is NorCal Strong. If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian send a text (916) 321-3310 and put NorCal Strong in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission.

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Ethiopia Election: Board Calls for Civil Society & Media Proposals to Host Debates

The announcement noted that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is inviting "expression of interest" from public associations and the press, either as a group or individually, indicating their plans and capacity to host the national event. (Image via @NEBEthiopia/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 2nd, 2021

New York (TADIAS) – This past weekend in Ethiopia the Election Board said it’s calling on media and civil society organizations to help host debates in advance of the country’s upcoming general elections.

The announcement noted that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is inviting “expression of interest” from public associations and the press, either as a group or individually, indicating their plans and capacity to host the national event.

In a social media post on Saturday NEBE shared that once it has confirmed all the participating candidates and opposition parties it would like to organize debates among the registered contestants in collaboration with non-governmental civilian organizations.

The press release emphasized that the proposal from the public should include “transparent objectives, mode of engagement, code of conduct, number of debates, method of selecting participants and moderators, the language in which the debates will be conducted, plans for public broadcasting,” as well as “budget and source of funding.” The board added that it will work in setting up the debates but it will not cover expenses.

The Ethiopia election, which was originally scheduled for last year, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has since been re-scheduled for June 2021.

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UPDATE: Carter Center Battles Online Misinformation Ahead of Ethiopia Elections


“Social media has offered us a means to organize, networking, and expressing ourselves safely, easily and cheaply,” democracy activist Befeqadu Hailu explained to VOA during a Skype interview from his office in Addis Ababa. “But on the other hand, the political organizations and political groups are using social media in an organized manner so they can disseminate any information in the interest of their political advantage, so that is manipulating their followers.” (VOA News)

VOA News

Updated: February 26th, 2021

CHICAGO – As Ethiopia prepares for parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in June, the contest to win the hearts and minds of voters is already under way on social media, which democracy activist Befeqadu Hailu is closely watching.

“Social media has offered us a means to organize, networking, and expressing ourselves safely, easily and cheaply,” he explained to VOA during a Skype interview from his office in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “But on the other hand, the political organizations and political groups are using social media in an organized manner so they can disseminate any information in the interest of their political advantage, so that is manipulating their followers.”

Ethiopian elections come as unrest flares in its northern Tigray region, where ethnic and political tensions are exploited online. Facebook is the dominant social media platform in the country, although less than 20% of the overall population has internet access.

“People disseminate whatever they hear on social media through mouth-to-mouth communication,” Hailu explained.

In October 2019, a disputed Facebook post by a well-known Ethiopian media figure went viral, prompting outrage that led to violence and the deaths of almost 80 people in the Oromia region. The killing of a popular singer in Addis Ababa in 2020 also triggered a wave of posts on the social media site, followed by violence in the capital and beyond.

As national elections approach and social media use expands, Hailu said his country is ripe for online disinformation campaigns that could lead to further bloodshed.

“They disseminate ethnic biases, hatred and prejudices so they might instigate conflict in ethnic clashes and political clashes. So, this is of concern to us,” Hailu said.

“We work with partners to flag activity that could potentially thwart participation, exacerbate tensions or contribute to unwarranted perceptions that the voting process or the outcome are illegitimate,” said Michael Baldassaro, senior adviser with the Carter Center’s digital threats monitoring team, a relatively new program in the organization’s global democracy and peace initiatives.

Baldassaro, who spoke to VOA via Skype, said with internet access increasing in many emerging democracies, use of social media is changing the ways candidates and voters interact.

It is also changing how the global nonprofit Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, assesses elections.

“We typically do this work in environments that are characterized by deep political polarization where citizens distrust government institutions or election authorities to varying degrees, and their primary sources of media are either unprofessional or hyper-partisan, or both,” Baldassaro explained.

“We find in these environments that people turn to social media, where they find themselves in echo chambers, and encounter bias-confirming content — a good portion of which is false and misleading or demonizes those with different perspectives or beliefs.”

The Carter Center, together with partners in countries where they are monitoring elections, not only flag dangerous online activity, but press tech companies to act.

“If that information is indeed false, we might relate that to Facebook and the human rights policy team or to our counterparts in the country office to take action,” said Baldassaro. “Maybe at that point, they might take action to either downrank or deplatform that content all together. We want to be able to mitigate potential harms in real time.”

Hailu’s Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD) is one of several organizations in Ethiopia monitoring and acting on potential harmful online activity.

“We try to identify those profiles who are repeatedly disseminating false information and demand or advocate for the social media platforms to remove that content as soon as possible,” he said.

In a 2020 report, the United Nations outlined the dangers in Ethiopia of unmoderated content on Facebook. The tech giant said it is increasing content moderation staff in Africa, but Hailu said there are many challenges monitoring and moderating enormous amounts of content in different languages from different locations, including from diaspora communities outside the continent.

“It requires the efforts of multiple organizations and multiple stakeholders,” he told VOA.

With Carter Center support, CARD has expanded its mission beyond Amharic-only language content in Ethiopia.

“We are also now observing at least three local languages,” Hailu said.

But Hailu admits it is still an enormous task monitoring users and content that increases daily, reaching audiences in dozens of different languages or dialects throughout Ethiopia.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Smithsonian: Two Black Aviators & Ethiopia

Left: Hubert Julian poses on the wheel of his plane named "Abyssinia" at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York, circa September 1933. Right: John C. Robinson in Addis Ababa, circa 1935-6. (Smithsonian)

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

By: Elizabeth Borja

Archives Division

On October 3, 1935 the forces of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini began their advance upon Ethiopia, known in earlier times as Abyssinia. Italy had long coveted the territory to expand their colonial influence in East Africa. In 1896, Ethiopians had turned back an Italian invasion at Adwa, serving as an example of a Black-led country’s defiance of Europe. Taking inspiration from Ethiopia’s long history as an independent Black nation, two Black aviators—Hubert Julian and John C. Robinson—were drawn to Ethiopia by the events of 1935.

Hubert Julian

Hubert Fauntleroy Julian was born in Trinidad a year after the Ethiopian victory at Adwa. He moved to Canada after World War I, where he claims he learned to fly. In 1921, Julian traveled to New York where he found many references to Ethiopia. The Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City was formed in 1808 by a group of Black members of the First Baptist Church who refused to accept segregated seating. The Mayor of Addis Ababa was among a party of Ethiopian dignitaries welcomed to Harlem in 1919. After Julian met Marcus Garvey, another Caribbean émigré, he joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Garvey often used Ethiopia as a metonym for Africa and the official anthem of the UNIA was entitled, “Ethiopia, Thou Land of Our Fathers.”

Julian adopted the title of “Lieutenant Julian of the Royal Canadian Air Force” as he performed parachute stunts, which learning to better fly an airplane from Clarence Chamberlin. Boasting a new nickname, “The Black Eagle of Harlem,” he announced a daring project on January 10, 1924—he would become the first man (Black or White) to fly solo to Africa, a much more dangerous route that than the northern Atlantic flights previously completed. The goal was to leave New York in his Boeing seaplane (acquired with Chamberlin’s assistance) and head south to Brazil. From there he would fly the aspirationally titled Ethiopia I to Liberia (another independent Black nation) with the final destination being Ethiopia.

Julian encountered nothing but trouble on the way to his July 4th flight. He failed to gain the support of the NAACP. His advertisements for funding in Black newspapers attracted the attention of the US government, accusing him of fraud. His investors only released the aircraft to him after additional funds were raised on the spot in the name of Marcus Garvey. The flight itself was a spectacular failure, lasting only five minutes before Julian and Ethiopia I crashed into Flushing Bay.

Julian survived the flight but his transatlantic efforts were soon overshadowed by Charles Lindbergh and Julian’s own legal troubles. But his actions were noted by Ras Tafari, who was to be crowned Emperor of Ethiopia. In April 1930, Tafari sent his cousin, studying at Howard University, a historically Black institution, to request that Julian perform at the Emperor’s coronation. Within a week, Julian was on a ship across the Atlantic.

Tafari had been building an Ethiopian Imperial Air Force with French pilots, paid by the French government; two German Junkers; and a British Gypsy Moth, the newly assembled unflown prize of the collection, a coronation gift from the owners of Selfridge’s department store. Amid tensions with the white pilots, Julian demonstrated his abilities in a Junkers and was rewarded with a commission as a colonel in the air force and the Emperor’s private pilot.

After a trip to New York to drum up American support for Ethiopia with mixed results, Julian returned to Ethiopia for the coronation. During a dress rehearsal for the ceremony, Ethiopian-trained pilots successfully demonstrated their flying abilities in the Junkers planes. Then Julian took to the air in the Emperor’s off-limits prized Gypsy Moth. The crash destroyed not only the plane but Julian’s relationship with Ras Tafari. Julian was already banished and out of the country when Tarafi was crowned Haile Selassie I.

Unbowed, Julian returned to the United States, where he earned his government pilot’s license and formed a Black barnstorming troupe “The Five Black Birds.” He also developed a relationship with aircraft manufacturer Giuseppe M. Bellanca, who refitted a Bellanca J-2 (registration NR-782W). The aircraft had been used by Walter Lees and Frederick Bossy in 1931 to set a new world endurance record for non-refueled flight—84 hours and 32 minutes (not to be broken until the Rutan Voyager in 1986). The aircraft proudly boasted its heritage under the front windows.


Aviator Hubert Julian poses for photographers in front of his Bellanca J-2 at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York. The aircraft’s propeller is draped with an American flag. Peggy Harding Shannon, holding a bouquet of roses and a bottle of champagne, stands behind Julian on a second chair as a crowd looks on from either side. Date is presumed to be September 29, 1933, when the aircraft was christened “Abyssinia” at a press conference. NASM-XRA-8234

On September 29, 1933 Julian held a press conference at Floyd Bennett Field, New York, christening the plane Abyssinia, Emperor Haile Salassi [sic] I King of Kings and announcing his intentions for another transatlantic flight. But he still needed to pay off the airplane and travelled across the United States and even to London with Amy Ashwood Garvey (Marcus Garvey’s ex-wife) to raise additional funds. By the end of 1934, it did not appear that Julian would attempt his flight anytime soon. (As a footnote, the airplane itself was later sold to the Portuguese Monteverde brothers who wrecked it at Floyd Bennett Field during their June 1935 transatlantic attempt.)


Hubert Julian poses with his Bellanca J-2 “Abyssinia” (“Emperor Haile Salassi I King of Kings”, r/n 782W) on the ground at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York, 1934. NASM-XRA-3274

John C. Robinson

In 1934, John C. Robinson was contemplating visiting his alma mater, the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, for his 10th reunion and to propose an aviation school there for Black pilots. Robinson, born in Florida and raised in Mississippi, had been one of the first Black pilots to complete his training at the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University in Chicago. He and Cornelius Coffey formed the Challenger Air Pilots Association, opened their own airfield, and created an aviation school to support Black pilots.


John C. Robinson’s Chicago business card. Text reads: “J.C. Robinson, U.S. Government Licensed Pilot and Mechanic. Instructor for Aeronautical University, Founded by Curtiss-Wright Flying Service.” NASM-9A16697-018C

Italy made incursions into Ethiopia in late 1934, clearly announcing its intentions. The League of Nations did not act upon Ethiopian appeals in a way that discouraged Italy at all. David Robinson, editor of the Black newspaper the Chicago Defender, wrote in an April 6, 1935 editorial, “News about the dispute between Ethiopia and Italy as published in your neswaper [sic] and also the white papers should bring to our hearts a feeling of sympathy for the last monarchy of our race….Men of our race who are more acquainted with the international sea are faced with a responsibility which stares us in our faces this very hour…we are responsible for the future of our boys and girls who will grow up to find out that they have no chance of existing in a purely dominant white world.”

John C. Robinson’s efforts in Chicago on behalf of Black citizens impressed Haile Selassie’s nephew. After Julian’s time in Africa, the Ethiopians were wary of another American-based pilot, but Robinson’s reputation won them over and he was asked to go to Ethiopia to serve in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. Robinson accepted, wanting to prove the mettle of Black pilots, both American and Ethiopian. He stated in a 1936 interview: “I am glad to know that they realize that Ethiopia is fighting not only for herself, but also for black men in every part of the world and that Americans, especially black Americans are willing to anything to help us to carry on and to win.”

In May 1935, Robinson was on his way to Ethiopia. In their first meeting, Haile Selassie offered the American the rank of Colonel in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. Robinson also accepted Ethiopian citizenship, so that he could claim dual citizenship and not run afoul of a 19th century law forbidding American citizens to serve in a foreign army when the United States is at peace. He was quickly dubbed “The Brown Condor of Ethiopia.” Robinson found the 1935 Ethiopian Air Force with a few more airplanes and trained pilots than Julian in 1930, but not many. Akaki Field, just outside Addis Ababa, housed a few Potez 25s, a Farman F.192, a couple of Junkers (the same as flown by Julian), and a Fokker F.VII. There were only a few Ethiopian pilots; most of the experienced pilots were still French and would be discouraged from directly supporting war efforts (a 1936 Pittsburgh Courier article even mentioned a Ethiopian woman pilot named Mobin Gretta).


Business card for John C. Robinson, circa 1935. “Col J. C. Robinson, Imperiale Ethiopienne Air Force. Addis Ababa, (Ethiopia).” Imperial standard of Emperor Haile Selassie I, featuring the Lion of Judah, appears in the upper left hand corner. Handwritten inscription to fellow Chicago pilot Dale L. White on lower half of card reads, “To Dale / Say How is the old Chrysler / Hope to get a ride in it again — If I don’t go West / Johnny.” NASM-9A16697-014B

Robinson also found Hubert Julian, who had returned to Ethiopia in April, hoping still to serve Haile Selassie. The Emperor would not permit Julian to rejoin the Air Force, but he restored Julian’s rank of Colonel and assigned him to train employees of the Ministry of Public Works. Julian also appointed himself as a press liaison. Things came to a head on August 9 when Robinson and Julian came to blows in a hotel lobby. The incident was even covered in white newspapers and Julian was immediately stripped of his military command (though he was quietly reinstated and assigned to a far-off outpost). Julian left Ethiopia for good in November 1935, bitter after the loss of stature and additional court intrigue named him in a possible assassination plan against the Emperor.

Robinson continued to serve with the Air Force. His exploits were closely followed by his fellow Black pilots back in Chicago via Black newspapers. According to clippings in Dale White’s Challenger Air Pilots Association scrapbook, six Black aviators began the process to join him in Ethiopia, but were not granted passports. The Pittsburgh Courier published a list of licensed Black fighters acquired from the Negro Affairs Division of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. A photo feature on Willa Brown was headlined “Wants to Fight for Ethiopia.”

John Robinson was in the air on October 3, 1935 when the Italians crossed the Mareb River to begin their ground assault on Ethiopia. He was on the ground in Adwa when Italian Capronis bombed the town into rubble, returning to Addis Ababa to report. Italy took the town on October 6, claiming what they could not in 1896.

An October 12, 1935 article in the Baltimore Afro-American quoted a letter from Robinson to his fellow Chicago pilots cautioning them to stay where they were: “If we have to face the Italians in our present planes, airworthy though they are, it will be no less than murder….It will be better for you to remain in America and carry on the good work which we have begun in interesting our people in aviation.” He was resolved to stay himself. He was gassed and wounded several times, but continued to fly orders between locations, observe troop movements, and guide Red Cross missions.

Towards the end of April 1936, Robinson took Haile Selassie in a Beech Staggerwing for one last aerial look at Ethiopia. Emperor Haile Selassie fled Addis Ababa on May 2 via train. Robinson flew the Staggerwing to Djibouti where it was impounded. He returned to the United States to acclaim and immediately began his work to develop the aviation school at Tuskegee.

Postscript

Hubert Julian did not return to Ethiopia, but he lived a long life, becoming an arms dealer in Central American and Pakistan under the company name “Black Eagle Associates.” He kept in touch with Giuseppe Bellanca, requesting price quotes for airplanes and sending location updates. Julian ran afoul of the United Nations in the Congo in the 1960s. Although he moved out of the spotlight, he continued to rack up a large file in FBI headquarters until his death in New York in 1983. Although Hubert Julian gained a reputation for self-aggrandizement and empty showmanship, the fact remains that he promoted Ethiopia and supported its continued existence as a Black-ruled sovereign nation.

Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia in May 1941. He asked John C. Robinson to join him in rebuilding the Ethiopian Air Force. In 1944, Robinson and five Black pilots and mechanics made their way across war-torn seas to Addis Ababa where they established an aviation training school. Robinson continued to draw on his Chicago aviation ties, helping Ethiopian students attend school in the United States, recommending many to Janet Waterford Bragg. Robinson believed that he was being pushed out by an influx of white Swedish support and was arrested for attacking a Swedish representative. He resigned his commission in 1948. He remained in Ethiopia to work to build Ethiopian Airlines, as he had been instrumental establishing a relationship between Ethiopia and TWA Airlines to send a fleet of DC-3 aircraft and personnel in 1946.

John C. Robinson died in 1954, when he crashed a Stinson L-5 outside of Addis Ababa. His name survives in Ethiopia, including the John C. Robinson American Center at the National Archives and Library Agency in Addis Ababa.

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UPDATE: Motown Promotes Ethiopia Habtemariam to Chair & CEO

After six years as president of Motown Records, Ethiopia Habtemariam has been promoted to chairman/CEO of the iconic label. (Billboard)

Billboard

Ethiopia Habtemariam joins a small circle of women currently holding the title of chairman at a major label.

After six years as president of Motown Records, Ethiopia Habtemariam has been promoted to chairman/CEO of the iconic label.

Habtemariam now reports directly to Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge as Motown becomes a standalone label.

In a release announcing Habtemariam’s appointment, Grainge said, “Motown is such an important voice and, just as when it was founded by Berry Gordy, its impact continues to be felt around the world. Motown’s resurgence and powerful partnerships under Ethiopia’s leadership has advanced the label’s legacy as home to some of today’s biggest hitmakers and most meaningful voices in music.”

Since overseeing Motown’s move from New York to Los Angeles in 2014, Habtemariam has orchestrated creative and entrepreneurial ventures with various partners including Quality Control Music. In addition to Migos, City Girls, Lil Yachty and Layton Greene, QC’s roster includes Lil Baby whose second album My Turn closed out 2020 as the most popular album of the year in the U.S. with 2.63 million equivalent album units, according to MRC Data.

Motown is also home to Blacksmith Records (Ted When, Vince Staples) and Since the 80s (Asiahn, Njomza) as well as Erykah Badu, Kem and Tiana Major9, among other artists. Both Major9 and Lil Baby are current Grammy Award nominees. “Collide” by Major9 with Earthgang, featured on the Queen & Slim soundtrack, is up for best R&B song. Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” received nominations in two categories: best rap song and best rap performance.

Calling it an “incredible honor to represent and define what Motown is today,” Habtemariam thanked Grainge “for his constant support and guidance over the years; my Motown team for all they have done and continue to do; the Capitol team for their help in building Motown over these past six years; Clarence Avant who has always taught me about the power of responsibility; and Mr. Berry Gordy, for his faith in me to carry on his legacy.”

With her promotion, Habtemariam joins the small circle of women currently holding the title of chairman at a major label including Julie Greenwald, chairman/COO of Atlantic Records, and Sylvia Rhone, chairman/CEO of Epic Records. Jody Gerson is chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, while Desiree Perez is CEO of Roc Nation.

“I’m so grateful for this huge opportunity,” Habtemariam tells Billboard, “because there’s been a lot of incredible hard work put in to allow me to get to this space. Coming into this industry, there were so many incredible women that I looked up to within its various business sectors. They gave me confidence and never made me question what I would be able to achieve. And I’m thankful I got to see that. This opportunity is really me standing on their shoulders.

Habtemariam adds, “My goal and my hope is that there’ll be a lot more women that look like me in leadership positions going forward.”

Noting also that Motown “will be a standalone label going forward with some shared services,” Habtemariam says the imprint’s upcoming release slate includes new music from Migos, Tiana Major9, Tiwa Savage, Ne-Yo, Kem, new signee Bree Runway and Erykah Badu, “who has some interesting things that are lining up.” Motown also established Motown U.K. last summer and recently relaunched its Black Forum label, beginning with the Feb. 26 reissue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1971 Grammy-winning album for best spoken word, Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.

Before joining Motown and being named president of the label as well as executive vp of Capitol Music Group, Habtemariam served as president of urban music & co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group.

Related:

TIME: Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam on Steering the Legendary Label Through the Pandemic


Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. Below is Time Magazine’s interview with Ethiopia. (Photo: Camera Press/Redux)

TIME

Updated: February 7th, 2021

The pandemic rocked the music industry. Live performances, which are such a critical part of driving the business (and making fans euphoric) were quickly shut down last year. Concerts are going to be slow to return. (Who’s up for crowding next to sweaty strangers, yelling at the top of their lungs?) Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. She helped one artist cope with depression when a much anticipated record was postponed and, in the outbreak’s early days, counseled another to take the virus more seriously. “There was a lot of misinformation about COVID and communities that it was hitting,” she said. Habtemariam remembers one young artist who was still going out on the town telling her, “Oh no, that’s a rich-people thing.”

While live shows floundered, music delivered comfort to people stuck in their homes and apartments. Total audio consumption, which includes streaming and album sales, was up 11.6 % in 2020, according to MRC Data. And for Habtemariam, 41, the past year helped her ongoing mission to make the legendary Motown brand relevant in today’s culture. Back in 2015, she signed a joint venture with Quality Control Music, an influential hip-hop label based in Atlanta, leading to a string of megahits from hot young artists including the Migos, Lil Yachty and Lil Baby. Lil Baby, an Atlanta rapper, singer and songwriter, had the best-selling album of 2020, according to MRC Data, beating out Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. And Lil Baby’s single “The Bigger Picture,” released after the murder of George Floyd, became an unofficial protest anthem played at marches and rallies throughout the country. It has more than 112 million views on YouTube.

Habtemariam, who started her music career as an unpaid intern at 14, recently joined TIME for a video conversation on the pressures of taking over a storied label, the perils of social media for artists and her favorite live venues.

(This interview with Motown Records president Ethiopia Habtemariam has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

So, what have you been listening to, to get through the pandemic?

I went through a phase around April, May, when I was like going down memory lane of my childhood, reminiscing on songs that I grew up on. Middle school, high school years. And it was actually therapeutic in many ways. It kind of helped me get through a lot of the different emotions and feelings that I was having, and also it reminded me of why I fell in love with music.

Rumor has it that you were a big TLC fan.

I still think that they don’t get the credit they deserve because they were so huge! TLC, Aaliyah, Missy [Elliott], Lauryn Hill—I was a massive Janet Jackson fan as well.

I’m a huge fan of music, period. I’m a daughter of immigrants. My parents are both Ethiopian, and I’m Ethiopian American. I grew up in the South. So here I am, this young girl, with a name like Ethiopia; I was a bit of an alien, but music was my salvation. It was my escape, but it was also a bridge for me to connect and build friendships.

How did the pandemic disrupt your release schedule? You still managed to have one of the biggest albums of the year, with Lil Baby’s My Turn.

I remember it vividly because we scheduled some in-stores for him. I remember coming to Atlanta and making sure everyone had hand sanitizer. And then everything shut down, and we had to really come together to figure out how we were going to move forward.

We put it out Feb. 28, and it was massive. The response was incredible; everything was great. And two weeks later, the world shuts down. One of the things that was in the plan was, of course, a huge tour.

Read more »

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray

People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

The Associated Press

Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

“It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

“Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

Related:

Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

AA

Addis Getachew Tadesse

Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

“[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

Related:

UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


“In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

AA

By Addis Getachew

Updated: February 18th 2021

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

“In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

“The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

Related:

UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

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UPDATE: In Court Filing Ethiopia 737 MAX Crash Lawyers ask Boeing CEO to Testify

Families have called for testimony from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor [Dennis Muilenburg, pictured above] and other current and former employees as part of their legal case in Chicago, court documents show. (Reuters)

Reuters

Relatives of victims of a Boeing Co 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that occurred five months after an Indonesian Lion Air disaster are stepping up pressure on the American planemaker and the federal government, according to a court filing and a letter to U.S. lawmakers.

Families have called for testimony from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor and other current and former employees as part of their legal case in Chicago, court documents show.

Separately, the families urged lawmakers in letter to demand that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration turn over internal emails and documents spanning the Lion Air crash and one month after the Ethiopian crash. Together, 346 people died.

The letter was sent to members of the House and Senate transportation committees on Friday, including committee head Representative Peter DeFazio and aviation subcommittee chair Representative Rick Larsen.

A Congressional official said: “I can confirm that this week Chairs DeFazio and Larsen re-upped their request to DOT (Department of Transportation) for FAA records that have gone unfulfilled to date.”

A Senate report in December detailed lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA. It found that FAA leaders obstructed that report as well as a DOT watchdog review of the regulator’s oversight, the results of which were released on Wednesday.

“There is serious unfinished business,” the families said in the letter, reviewed by Reuters.

Boeing has mostly settled civil litigation stemming from the Lion Air crash, but still faces over 100 lawsuits in Chicago federal court related to the second crash.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers are focusing on what Boeing knew about the causes of the first crash and why the plane continued to fly. They want to schedule depositions of Calhoun and Muilenburg between May 3 and June 18.

Those victims’ families also want to know what FAA management, which in November lifted a 20-month safety ban of the MAX, understood about the first crash.

Boeing’s board faces a separate investor lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court, where a complaint unsealed this month alleged breach of fiduciary duties and gross negligence by failing “to monitor the safety of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes.”

Last month, Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department over the 737 MAX crashes, including a $243.6 million fine.

Related:

Boeing Reaches $2.5 Billion Settlement in 737 MAX Crashes in Ethiopia & Indonesia


Ethiopian officials deliver the Black Box for Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 to the headquarters of France’s BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget, France on March 14, 2019. As NPR reports the families of the passengers who died in the crash will be compensated from a fund of $500 million. (Reuters photo)

NPR

Updated: January 7th, 2021

Boeing To Pay $2.5 Billion Over 737 Max Fraud, Faces No Other Charges

Boeing will pay more than $2.5 billion to settle criminal charges that it repeatedly concealed and lied about the 737 Max’s engineering problems that led to two catastrophic crashes claiming hundreds of lives.

The company admitted to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States as part of the deferred prosecution agreement announced on Thursday and will face no further charges from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception,” Acting Assistant Attorney General David Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, wrote in a statement.

Boeing, which is the country’s second-biggest defense contractor behind Lockheed Martin, will pay the DOJ a criminal penalty of $243.6 million.

The families and legal beneficiaries of the 346 passenger victims who died in the Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in Ethiopia five months later will be paid from a fund of $500 million. If split equally among them, that amounts to a little over $1.4 million for each family.

The vast majority of the settlement is allocated for airline companies that had purchased the faulty 737 Max aircraft and were subsequently forced to ground the planes following the crashes. Together they will receive $1.77 billion in compensation for their financial losses, according to the DOJ.

“The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers,” Burns added in the statement.

In both cases, the crashes were caused by changes to the jet’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System that forced the nose of the 737 Max toward the ground and left pilots unable to control the planes.

In a note to employees, Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun said, “I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do—a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations.”

He added: “This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

Internal Boeing documents revealed during a U.S.House panel’s inquiry showed that engineers notified the company of the MCAS “egregious” problems as early as 2016.

Related:

Ethiopian Report Blames Boeing for 737 MAX Plane Crash

Boeing to Stop 737 Max Production (AP)

Internal FAA review saw high risk of 737 MAX crashes

Boeing Was Aware of 737 Max Problem Long Before Ethiopia Crash – Report

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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Spotlight: Girmay Zahilay, King County Councilman From District 2 in Seattle

Girmay Hadish Zahilay is a Sudan-born Ethiopian-American attorney who serves as a member of the King County Council from District 2 in Seattle, Washington. The following is a spotlight on Girmay by The South Seattle Emerald in honor of Black History Month. (Photo: Girmay Zahilay speaks at the opening of a pop-up resource center in the Skyway neighborhood, south of Seattle/by Susan Fried)

South Seattle Emerald

By Marcus Harden

BLACK HISTORY TODAY: GIRMAY ZAHILAY, A DREAM MANIFESTED

“One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”

—Barack Obama

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the African Diaspora and the connection to the African American experience. I’ve especially been fascinated with learning more about the countries in Africa such as Ethiopia, as it stands as one of the only countries to not be colonized by European “settlers.” It’s begged the question: What lay in the culture of those people? What portions of that culture permeate from generation to generation and how do they show up today?

The answer is complex, yet if I had to take a personal wager, I’d bet that ancestral depth lives in people like Girmay Zahilay. Girmay is the “American Dream” personified, in that he’s uniquely bridged the gap of culture from continent to continent and has become a possibility for so many on both sides of that bridge.

Born in Sudan and of Ethiopian descent, his parents Ethiopian Refugees who themselves escaped military conflict, he arrived in the United States at the tender age of 3. Girmay’s family settled in the historic Rainier Valley of Seattle, and it was here that he learned about the world and came to understand others, turning his family’s trials into triumphs. Whether moving from the International District to Skyway, getting by temporarily without stable housing, living in shelters in downtown Seattle, or finally settling in the Rainier Vista, his humility and leadership were being crafted at every step.

Girmay graduated from Franklin High School before going on to Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, where his natural instincts in fighting for justice would be sharpened into the skill of understanding and interpreting the law. Girmay’s journey took him to Washington D.C. and New York City, yet no matter where he surfaced on the map, his spirit of bridging the gap and liberating people would never change.

His return home to Seattle saw more of the same, as he founded a nonprofit that created opportunities for young people to practice their innate leadership skills. The spirit and culture of leadership and liberation never left him, beating steady like a drum, speaking louder and louder as he saw the needs of the community through the eyes of the youth who looked like him. Soon those voices were crying out louder and louder throughout the Rainier Vista and other communities whose fight for public housing deserved to finally be heard.

In 2019, Girmay decided to become that megaphone that resonated change.

It wasn’t an easy path, of course. Girmay chose to pursue a coveted city council seat held by Larry Gossett, a local legend who blazed the trail for Girmay and many others. What was most notable about Girmay’s approach was that it was rooted in the culture of class and respect, never diminishing the accomplishments of Gossett and his place in history, yet as he had times before, wanting to be the bridge to and for the next generation that would stand on the shoulders of those before him.

Before he was a councilman, to me Girmay was just “Lull’s little big cousin.” Lull Mengesha, a close friend of mine, told me I just had to meet his cousin. It happened one day at Empire Espresso in South Seattle, and I talked for hours with Girmay about education and social change. I learned that he wanted to utilize his passion for law to support youth — specifically those disenfranchised and trapped in the System in the Rainier Valley and Skyway. Even over great coffee and greater waffles, Girmay’s purpose shined through.

Girmay’s commitment to public service shows up in the small details, like his social media that ensures people from all walks of life can celebrate, or through continuing to demystify public service for cultures and people who traditionally haven’t gotten an inside look. In constantly honoring those throughout the Diaspora in word and actions, Girmay embodies the spirit of liberation his ancestors passed down. He is a humble servant with the ear to listen to the past and the voice that changes the future. He is the dream manifested. Girmay Zahilay is undoubtedly Black History Today!

Related:

Ethiopian American Girmay Zahilay, a New Councilman in King County, Washington

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UPDATE: Carter Center Battles Online Misinformation Ahead of Ethiopia Elections

“Social media has offered us a means to organize, networking, and expressing ourselves safely, easily and cheaply,” democracy activist Befeqadu Hailu explained to VOA during a Skype interview from his office in Addis Ababa. “But on the other hand, the political organizations and political groups are using social media in an organized manner so they can disseminate any information in the interest of their political advantage, so that is manipulating their followers.” (VOA News)

VOA News

CHICAGO – As Ethiopia prepares for parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in June, the contest to win the hearts and minds of voters is already under way on social media, which democracy activist Befeqadu Hailu is closely watching.

“Social media has offered us a means to organize, networking, and expressing ourselves safely, easily and cheaply,” he explained to VOA during a Skype interview from his office in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “But on the other hand, the political organizations and political groups are using social media in an organized manner so they can disseminate any information in the interest of their political advantage, so that is manipulating their followers.”

Ethiopian elections come as unrest flares in its northern Tigray region, where ethnic and political tensions are exploited online. Facebook is the dominant social media platform in the country, although less than 20% of the overall population has internet access.

“People disseminate whatever they hear on social media through mouth-to-mouth communication,” Hailu explained.

In October 2019, a disputed Facebook post by a well-known Ethiopian media figure went viral, prompting outrage that led to violence and the deaths of almost 80 people in the Oromia region. The killing of a popular singer in Addis Ababa in 2020 also triggered a wave of posts on the social media site, followed by violence in the capital and beyond.

As national elections approach and social media use expands, Hailu said his country is ripe for online disinformation campaigns that could lead to further bloodshed.

“They disseminate ethnic biases, hatred and prejudices so they might instigate conflict in ethnic clashes and political clashes. So, this is of concern to us,” Hailu said.

“We work with partners to flag activity that could potentially thwart participation, exacerbate tensions or contribute to unwarranted perceptions that the voting process or the outcome are illegitimate,” said Michael Baldassaro, senior adviser with the Carter Center’s digital threats monitoring team, a relatively new program in the organization’s global democracy and peace initiatives.

Baldassaro, who spoke to VOA via Skype, said with internet access increasing in many emerging democracies, use of social media is changing the ways candidates and voters interact.

It is also changing how the global nonprofit Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, assesses elections.

“We typically do this work in environments that are characterized by deep political polarization where citizens distrust government institutions or election authorities to varying degrees, and their primary sources of media are either unprofessional or hyper-partisan, or both,” Baldassaro explained.

“We find in these environments that people turn to social media, where they find themselves in echo chambers, and encounter bias-confirming content — a good portion of which is false and misleading or demonizes those with different perspectives or beliefs.”

The Carter Center, together with partners in countries where they are monitoring elections, not only flag dangerous online activity, but press tech companies to act.

“If that information is indeed false, we might relate that to Facebook and the human rights policy team or to our counterparts in the country office to take action,” said Baldassaro. “Maybe at that point, they might take action to either downrank or deplatform that content all together. We want to be able to mitigate potential harms in real time.”

Hailu’s Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD) is one of several organizations in Ethiopia monitoring and acting on potential harmful online activity.

“We try to identify those profiles who are repeatedly disseminating false information and demand or advocate for the social media platforms to remove that content as soon as possible,” he said.

In a 2020 report, the United Nations outlined the dangers in Ethiopia of unmoderated content on Facebook. The tech giant said it is increasing content moderation staff in Africa, but Hailu said there are many challenges monitoring and moderating enormous amounts of content in different languages from different locations, including from diaspora communities outside the continent.

“It requires the efforts of multiple organizations and multiple stakeholders,” he told VOA.

With Carter Center support, CARD has expanded its mission beyond Amharic-only language content in Ethiopia.

“We are also now observing at least three local languages,” Hailu said.

But Hailu admits it is still an enormous task monitoring users and content that increases daily, reaching audiences in dozens of different languages or dialects throughout Ethiopia.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Virginia Furniture with Ethiopian Roots: Garden & Gun Magazine on Jomo Tariku

Raised in Ethiopia, Jomo Tariku came to the United States in 1987. After studying industrial design at the University of Kansas, he eventually moved to the suburbs of D.C., where he works as a data scientist. He based his earliest furniture designs on the three-legged Jimma stools of Ethiopia that he remembered from childhood. (Garden & Gun Magazine)

Garden & Gun Magazine

Two and a half hours south of Washington, D.C., outside of Columbia, Virginia, in a former three-car garage on the north side of the James River, the designer Jomo Tariku and the woodworker David Bohnhoff are redefining contemporary African furniture. In the studio, African mahogany shavings cover a section of the floor as they collaborate on museum-worthy chairs and stools, and the smell the wood casts off as the day heats up permeates the space.

Born in Kenya and raised in Ethiopia, Tariku came to the United States in 1987. After studying industrial design at the University of Kansas, he eventually moved to the suburbs of D.C., where he works as a data scientist. He based his earliest furniture designs on the three-legged Jimma stools of Ethiopia that he remembered from childhood. All of his pieces tie back to the African diaspora in some way, and many center on his East African upbringing. “When people define African art,” he says, “they think of masks and handcrafts, and old things. There is no space for people like me.”

Tariku bucks against the modern definition of African furniture, usually relegated to pieces with a Eurocentric aesthetic with a twist, such as colorful batik upholstery. Instead, the large spiral horns of the male mountain antelope found in Ethiopia’s Bale region, for instance, inspired his Nyala chair. Highly sculptural in nature, the curving wooden back of the chair seems to defy gravity, serving as a functional marvel. And his MeQuamya chair riffs on the T-shaped prayer staffs used in Ethiopian Orthodox ceremonies, found in rock-hewn churches in the region that date back to the sixteenth century. “I love history,” Tariku explains. “Ethiopia is the only African country that was never colonized. So, my perspective is a little different. Our religious art is still there. So are our old manuscripts in our language, in our handwriting. All of that informs my ideas.”

Tariku had all of these designs in his mind but could not find someone with the skills to build them—he had trouble bringing them to fruition with his own hands. For several years, he sent out emails, hundreds of them, to woodworkers up and down the East Coast, searching for someone to collaborate with who had the talent to build the graceful, elegant minimalist designs that have become his signature. In 2017, Bohnhoff, a regionally renowned furniture maker and woodworker based in Columbia, received Tariku’s email, and the pair decided to meet at a furniture show in Richmond.

When Bohnhoff saw Tariku’s sketch of the Nyala chair, he knew he had to try to build it. Quickly, Tariku saw that Bohnhoff understood the intentions behind his designs, and could take them from two-dimensional renderings to pieces that fine furniture lovers would be proud to have in their living rooms. “I saw the challenge in it,” Bohnhoff says. “I saw the beauty in it. I’m always pulling from nautical culture in my work, and every region has its own seafaring aesthetic. I appreciate learning the details of Jomo’s culture and how it helps him generate ideas.”

Bohnhoff’s own creative journey began at a potter’s wheel in middle school. Struggling with academics, he found solace in using his hands to create beautiful and unusual shapes. When he finished high school, he took to boatbuilding, eventually earning a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and started a career as a boatbuilder, working in shipyards along the way from Maine to North Carolina, studying the art of the curve. Eventually he returned to Virginia, intent on transferring his skills to furniture, freeing complicated pieces from cherry, mahogany, and ash. In his workshop, maple burl logs become masterpieces. The draketail hull of a boat inspired a chair. The interior framework of a canoe transformed into a steam-bent throne.

Designers like Tariku need highly skilled craftsmen like Bohnhoff. The designer works with a few others on certain furniture pieces, but boatbuilding gave Bohnhoff an intimate knowledge of a variety of wood species, and how to bend them to his will without breaking. That technical skill serves him well as his artisanship dovetails with Tariku’s more intricate, curving chair designs, and as they go back and forth on prototypes to refine until form and function perfectly align. While COVID-19 has halted Tariku’s access to furniture shows and showrooms, the duo is currently making each chair to order for interested clients and interior designers—who can inquire at jomofurniture.com—and Tariku is preparing new designs for 2021.

A change in the tide—what they see as the younger generation’s lack of access to apprenticeships and opportunities—has both men worried that relationships like theirs, forged out of mutual admiration for art and a respect for technical skills, are fading. For now, they find solace in creating heirlooms that tell a global story—of Ethiopia, of the Atlantic, and of Virginia. —

Related:

Spotlight: New York Times Features Jomo Tariku

Opening the Doors of Design (The New York Times)

Contemporary Design Africa Book Features Jomo Tariku’s Ethiopia Furniture

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Biden Discusses Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region With Kenyan Leader – White House

Getty Images

Reuters

Biden Discusses Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region With Kenyan Leader -White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden, in a call with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, discussed the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the White House said.

Biden and Kenyatta “discussed the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights crises in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and the need to prevent further loss of life and ensure humanitarian access,” the White House said in a statement.

The United States has expressed concern over the crisis in Tigray, where the Ethiopian government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

Related:

VOA News: US Restoration of Foreign Aid to Ethiopia Signals New Course


Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega celebrated the move, saying the GERD has the potential to provide electricity to 60 million people and lift them out of poverty. (Photo via Reuters)

Voice of America

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s reversal of policy that foreign aid to Ethiopia will not be linked to its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) hydropower project signals a decided change in U.S. relations with Ethiopia, analysts say.

“It is a fairly predictable move, as the Trump administration aid freeze had not achieved anything other than further antagonizing the Ethiopians,” William Davison, International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia told VOA.

Former President Donald Trump cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September 2020 saying it would be withheld until the country agreed to a deal following a mediation effort led by U.S. Treasury Department and the World Bank.

The relationship further deteriorated when Trump said Egypt would “end up blowing up the dam” during a conference call. This resulted in Ethiopia’s foreign minister summoning the U.S. ambassador in Addis Ababa and calling the comments an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the total amount of aid to Ethiopia affected by the pause was $270 million. He told reporters last week that the U.S. is reviewing the paused aid money to ensure it goes where it is needed most.

“We are committed to providing life-saving assistance to those in need, and humanitarian assistance does remain exempt from the pause,” Price said.

Price added that the U.S. will try to play a constructive role in ongoing discussions between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over Nile River water usage issues.

“We understand the GERD is a major issue for the three parties,” he said. “We’re reviewing our GERD policy and assessing the role that we can play in facilitating a solution between those parties.”

Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega celebrated the move, saying the GERD has the potential to provide electricity to 60 million people and lift them out of poverty.

“GERD is fully financed by Ethiopians & it represents the Ethiopian renaissance!” Fitsum wrote in a tweet. “It is a sustainable socio-economic project replacing fossil fuels & reducing CO2 emissions. It’ll significantly contribute to the economic & social dev’t of Ethiopia & the region. De-linking GERD is good!”

Negotiations between the three Nile River countries hit an impasse over how quickly Ethiopia would fill the dam’s reservoir and what mechanisms would be put in place to stop the filling in the event of drought or water level drops.

“It’s certainly a stop-start process, and I think one of the dynamics that recurs is that the parties come together, and they stitch together something, which is more of a kind of political agreement than it is any sort of technical or legal agreement,” analyst Davison said. “And of course, when you have a political agreement that opens up whatever text they’ve agreed on four different interpretations.”

Egypt relies on the Nile for roughly 90 percent of its fresh water and is concerned that the dam and its reservoir, with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, will diminish its water supply. Egypt has warned that it could lose about 22 percent of its water flow making thousands of acres of farmland unusable.

In July, as negotiations were ongoing, Ethiopia began filling the dam leading to angry denunciations from Egyptian leaders.

Ethiopia has said it will fill the dam over four to seven years.

Mirette Mabrouk, director of the Egypt program at the Middle East Institute, said there is a disagreement between the parties over whether Ethiopia has the right to unilaterally begin filling the dam.

“The very, very least one would expect that the negotiations would be over before Ethiopia started filling unilaterally,” she said. “Ethiopia has always said it has always maintained that it does not need the agreement of Egypt and Sudan to start filling. That’s directly contradicted by Egypt and Sudan, who say that the 2015 Declaration of Principles agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan specifically says that shouldn’t have unilateral action on the filling.”

Mabrouk said tensions remain high between the countries, but she does not think a military confrontation is inevitable.

“Nobody wants that kind of conflict,” she said. “But I do think that if Egypt and Sudan have their backs up against the wall, it may be a final option. But Egypt understands very, very well that any military option is really not going to be in anyone’s favor.”

Related:

UPDATE: US to Unlink Trump Era Aid Cut to Ethiopia From GERD, Plans Special Envoy for Horn of Africa


Ethiopians were furious after former President Donald Trump last year directed the suspension of aid to their country in a rare example of his direct involvement in an African issue. Ethiopia had left a U.S.-led attempt to mediate the dispute with Egypt, alleging bias. Trump also caused an uproar by saying downstream Egypt would “blow up” the dam project that Cairo considers an existential threat. – AP (Getty Images)

Reuters

Updated: February 18th, 2021

US to Unlink Paused Ethiopian Aid from Dam Policy

WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said Washington will unlink its pause on some aid to Ethiopia from its policy on the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam that sparked a long-running dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration will review U.S. policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and will assess the role the administration can play in facilitating a solution between the countries.

Filling started in July

A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

“We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” Price said.

The temporary pause on certain U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia affects $272 million in development and security assistance to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that the resumption of assistance will be assessed on a number of factors and that the decision has been shared with Addis Ababa.

Among the factors assessed will be “whether each paused program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred subsequent to the pause being put in place,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Trouble in Tigray region

The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam after the summer rains last year despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that it should first reach a binding agreement on the dam’s operation.

Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its fresh water supplies, more than 90% of which come from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan then Egypt and is the Nile’s main tributary.

Aid cut to Ethiopia

Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia had broken a U.S.-brokered agreement to resolve the dispute, forcing him to cut funds. The United States cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

Ethiopia in October summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from Trump over their dispute.

Related:

US: Aid pause to Ethiopia no longer linked to dam dispute (AP)

Biden Mulls Special Envoy for Horn of Africa (FP)


The post, if created, would bring more diplomatic firepower to the brewing crisis in Ethiopia as members of Biden’s cabinet and other senior State Department nominees await confirmation. (Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff during the first visit of President Joe Biden to the State Department in Washington on Feb. 4./ GETTY IMAGES)

Foreign Policy Magazine

Updated: February 17th,2021

This article is part of Foreign Policy’s ongoing coverage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, detailing key administration policies as they get drafted—and the people who will put them into practice.

The Biden administration is weighing plans to establish a new special envoy for the Horn of Africa to address political instability and conflict in the East African region, including a brewing civil war and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, current and former officials familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.

The new special envoy post could fill a diplomatic leadership gap in the administration’s foreign-policy ranks as it works to install other senior officials in the State Department, a process that could take weeks or even months to complete, as they require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. Special envoy posts do not require Senate confirmation.

A new Horn of Africa envoy would have their work cut out for them: Sudan is undergoing a delicate political transition after three decades under a dictatorship, South Sudan is wracked by chronic instability and corruption, and the fragile government of Somalia is grappling with ongoing threats from the al-Shabab terrorist group and political gridlock that has delayed national elections. An ongoing dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over a major dam project adds another layer of complexity to the tensions in the region.

The most pressing crisis in the eyes of many U.S. policymakers, however, is in Ethiopia. In November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the ruling party in the country’s northern Tigray region, after accusing it of attacking a government military base. Conflict has ravaged the region since then, marked by thousands of deaths, millions in need of humanitarian assistance, and widespread reports of interethnic violence. U.S. officials fear that the conflict could turn into a full-blown regional crisis, with turmoil spilling over into neighboring Eritrea and Sudan.

While officials cautioned no final decision has yet been made, one top contender for the potential job is Donald Booth, a seasoned diplomatic troubleshooter in the region who currently serves as U.S. special envoy for Sudan and has previously served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

Some experts welcomed more attention to the Horn of Africa but cautioned against the new administration relying too heavily on special envoy posts. “I don’t want us to get back into the practice of throwing special envoys at every problem set. It often saps the State Department’s resources and authorities in ways that aren’t productive,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, and a former senior U.S. intelligence analyst. “But in this case, it is urgent, and there aren’t enough senior people in the region.”

With less than a month in office, President Joe Biden doesn’t yet have his full cabinet in place, let alone many senior posts across the State Department that require Senate confirmation. Biden has yet to name a nominee for the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and the U.S. ambassador posts in Eritrea and Sudan are unfilled, held in an acting capacity by lower-ranking diplomats. The next U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Geeta Pasi, is expected to arrive at her post shortly.

A State Department spokesperson did not confirm the administration was set on creating the new special envoy post when asked for comment. “Africa is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration, and we are committed to re-invigorating our relationships throughout Africa from a position of mutual respect and partnership. This includes deepening our engagement on the challenging issues present in the Horn of Africa,” the spokesperson said. “Senior-level engagement on a consistent basis will be a signal of our commitment. The Administration is actively considering a range of options to ensure that our staffing, including any use of Special Envoys, supports implementation of our strategy.”

One big question would be whether the new special envoy post would report directly to the president or secretary of state, or to the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. The former would be viewed as more empowered to negotiate on behalf of Washington, with a direct line to the president or his cabinet.

Some administration insiders have also floated the idea of tapping a former senior U.S. lawmaker for the job, arguing someone with political clout could engage directly with senior African leaders, including Ethiopia’s Abiy. (Biden has eyed former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for a senior diplomatic post, such as an ambassadorship in South Africa or Europe, according to Axios.)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

VOA News: US Restoration of Foreign Aid to Ethiopia Signals New Course

Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega celebrated the move, saying the GERD has the potential to provide electricity to 60 million people and lift them out of poverty. (Photo via Reuters)

Voice of America

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s reversal of policy that foreign aid to Ethiopia will not be linked to its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) hydropower project signals a decided change in U.S. relations with Ethiopia, analysts say.

“It is a fairly predictable move, as the Trump administration aid freeze had not achieved anything other than further antagonizing the Ethiopians,” William Davison, International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia told VOA.

Former President Donald Trump cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September 2020 saying it would be withheld until the country agreed to a deal following a mediation effort led by U.S. Treasury Department and the World Bank.

The relationship further deteriorated when Trump said Egypt would “end up blowing up the dam” during a conference call. This resulted in Ethiopia’s foreign minister summoning the U.S. ambassador in Addis Ababa and calling the comments an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the total amount of aid to Ethiopia affected by the pause was $270 million. He told reporters last week that the U.S. is reviewing the paused aid money to ensure it goes where it is needed most.

“We are committed to providing life-saving assistance to those in need, and humanitarian assistance does remain exempt from the pause,” Price said.

Price added that the U.S. will try to play a constructive role in ongoing discussions between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over Nile River water usage issues.

“We understand the GERD is a major issue for the three parties,” he said. “We’re reviewing our GERD policy and assessing the role that we can play in facilitating a solution between those parties.”

Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega celebrated the move, saying the GERD has the potential to provide electricity to 60 million people and lift them out of poverty.

“GERD is fully financed by Ethiopians & it represents the Ethiopian renaissance!” Fitsum wrote in a tweet. “It is a sustainable socio-economic project replacing fossil fuels & reducing CO2 emissions. It’ll significantly contribute to the economic & social dev’t of Ethiopia & the region. De-linking GERD is good!”

Negotiations between the three Nile River countries hit an impasse over how quickly Ethiopia would fill the dam’s reservoir and what mechanisms would be put in place to stop the filling in the event of drought or water level drops.

“It’s certainly a stop-start process, and I think one of the dynamics that recurs is that the parties come together, and they stitch together something, which is more of a kind of political agreement than it is any sort of technical or legal agreement,” analyst Davison said. “And of course, when you have a political agreement that opens up whatever text they’ve agreed on four different interpretations.”

Egypt relies on the Nile for roughly 90 percent of its fresh water and is concerned that the dam and its reservoir, with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, will diminish its water supply. Egypt has warned that it could lose about 22 percent of its water flow making thousands of acres of farmland unusable.

In July, as negotiations were ongoing, Ethiopia began filling the dam leading to angry denunciations from Egyptian leaders.

Ethiopia has said it will fill the dam over four to seven years.

Mirette Mabrouk, director of the Egypt program at the Middle East Institute, said there is a disagreement between the parties over whether Ethiopia has the right to unilaterally begin filling the dam.

“The very, very least one would expect that the negotiations would be over before Ethiopia started filling unilaterally,” she said. “Ethiopia has always said it has always maintained that it does not need the agreement of Egypt and Sudan to start filling. That’s directly contradicted by Egypt and Sudan, who say that the 2015 Declaration of Principles agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan specifically says that shouldn’t have unilateral action on the filling.”

Mabrouk said tensions remain high between the countries, but she does not think a military confrontation is inevitable.

“Nobody wants that kind of conflict,” she said. “But I do think that if Egypt and Sudan have their backs up against the wall, it may be a final option. But Egypt understands very, very well that any military option is really not going to be in anyone’s favor.”

Related:

UPDATE: US to Unlink Trump Era Aid Cut to Ethiopia From GERD, Plans Special Envoy for Horn of Africa


Ethiopians were furious after former President Donald Trump last year directed the suspension of aid to their country in a rare example of his direct involvement in an African issue. Ethiopia had left a U.S.-led attempt to mediate the dispute with Egypt, alleging bias. Trump also caused an uproar by saying downstream Egypt would “blow up” the dam project that Cairo considers an existential threat. – AP (Getty Images)

Reuters

Updated: February 18th, 2021

US to Unlink Paused Ethiopian Aid from Dam Policy

WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said Washington will unlink its pause on some aid to Ethiopia from its policy on the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam that sparked a long-running dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration will review U.S. policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and will assess the role the administration can play in facilitating a solution between the countries.

Filling started in July

A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

“We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” Price said.

The temporary pause on certain U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia affects $272 million in development and security assistance to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that the resumption of assistance will be assessed on a number of factors and that the decision has been shared with Addis Ababa.

Among the factors assessed will be “whether each paused program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred subsequent to the pause being put in place,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Trouble in Tigray region

The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam after the summer rains last year despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that it should first reach a binding agreement on the dam’s operation.

Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its fresh water supplies, more than 90% of which come from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan then Egypt and is the Nile’s main tributary.

Aid cut to Ethiopia

Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia had broken a U.S.-brokered agreement to resolve the dispute, forcing him to cut funds. The United States cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

Ethiopia in October summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from Trump over their dispute.

Related:

US: Aid pause to Ethiopia no longer linked to dam dispute (AP)

Biden Mulls Special Envoy for Horn of Africa (FP)


The post, if created, would bring more diplomatic firepower to the brewing crisis in Ethiopia as members of Biden’s cabinet and other senior State Department nominees await confirmation. (Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff during the first visit of President Joe Biden to the State Department in Washington on Feb. 4./ GETTY IMAGES)

Foreign Policy Magazine

Updated: February 17th,2021

This article is part of Foreign Policy’s ongoing coverage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, detailing key administration policies as they get drafted—and the people who will put them into practice.

The Biden administration is weighing plans to establish a new special envoy for the Horn of Africa to address political instability and conflict in the East African region, including a brewing civil war and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, current and former officials familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.

The new special envoy post could fill a diplomatic leadership gap in the administration’s foreign-policy ranks as it works to install other senior officials in the State Department, a process that could take weeks or even months to complete, as they require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. Special envoy posts do not require Senate confirmation.

A new Horn of Africa envoy would have their work cut out for them: Sudan is undergoing a delicate political transition after three decades under a dictatorship, South Sudan is wracked by chronic instability and corruption, and the fragile government of Somalia is grappling with ongoing threats from the al-Shabab terrorist group and political gridlock that has delayed national elections. An ongoing dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over a major dam project adds another layer of complexity to the tensions in the region.

The most pressing crisis in the eyes of many U.S. policymakers, however, is in Ethiopia. In November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the ruling party in the country’s northern Tigray region, after accusing it of attacking a government military base. Conflict has ravaged the region since then, marked by thousands of deaths, millions in need of humanitarian assistance, and widespread reports of interethnic violence. U.S. officials fear that the conflict could turn into a full-blown regional crisis, with turmoil spilling over into neighboring Eritrea and Sudan.

While officials cautioned no final decision has yet been made, one top contender for the potential job is Donald Booth, a seasoned diplomatic troubleshooter in the region who currently serves as U.S. special envoy for Sudan and has previously served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

Some experts welcomed more attention to the Horn of Africa but cautioned against the new administration relying too heavily on special envoy posts. “I don’t want us to get back into the practice of throwing special envoys at every problem set. It often saps the State Department’s resources and authorities in ways that aren’t productive,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, and a former senior U.S. intelligence analyst. “But in this case, it is urgent, and there aren’t enough senior people in the region.”

With less than a month in office, President Joe Biden doesn’t yet have his full cabinet in place, let alone many senior posts across the State Department that require Senate confirmation. Biden has yet to name a nominee for the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and the U.S. ambassador posts in Eritrea and Sudan are unfilled, held in an acting capacity by lower-ranking diplomats. The next U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Geeta Pasi, is expected to arrive at her post shortly.

A State Department spokesperson did not confirm the administration was set on creating the new special envoy post when asked for comment. “Africa is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration, and we are committed to re-invigorating our relationships throughout Africa from a position of mutual respect and partnership. This includes deepening our engagement on the challenging issues present in the Horn of Africa,” the spokesperson said. “Senior-level engagement on a consistent basis will be a signal of our commitment. The Administration is actively considering a range of options to ensure that our staffing, including any use of Special Envoys, supports implementation of our strategy.”

One big question would be whether the new special envoy post would report directly to the president or secretary of state, or to the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. The former would be viewed as more empowered to negotiate on behalf of Washington, with a direct line to the president or his cabinet.

Some administration insiders have also floated the idea of tapping a former senior U.S. lawmaker for the job, arguing someone with political clout could engage directly with senior African leaders, including Ethiopia’s Abiy. (Biden has eyed former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for a senior diplomatic post, such as an ambassadorship in South Africa or Europe, according to Axios.)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spike Lee’s New Action Movie to Feature the Fictional Princess Zenebe of Ethiopia

Set in East Africa in 1928, the story follows the titular character, a roguish Black American gunslinger as he teams up with the elite warrior princess Zenebe of Ethiopia to rescue their kidnapped regent from an ancient evil. (Cinema Express)

Cinema Express

Updated: February 24th, 2021

Spike Lee to back Netflix’s Gordon Hemingway & the Realm of Cthulhu

Academy Award-winner Spike Lee is set to produce director Stefon Bristol’s Gordon Hemingway & the Realm of Cthulhu for Netflix.

Based on an original screenplay by Hank Woon, the film is Bristol’s second project with Netflix after See You Yesterday, which was also produced by Lee.

Set in East Africa in 1928, the story follows the titular character, a roguish Black American gunslinger as he teams up with the elite warrior princess Zenebe of Ethiopia to rescue their kidnapped regent from an ancient evil.

Lee will produce the film with Lloyd Levin and Beatriz Levin, both of whom worked with the filmmaker on his Netflix feature Da 5 Bloods.

Oliver Oftedal and Tom Olsson will serve as co-producers for Goodbye Kansas’ production arm Infinite Entertainment.

Related:

Spike Lee to Produce Netflix’s ‘Gordon Hemingway & The Realm of Cthulhu,’ Directed by Stefon Bristol

Variety

Feb 23, 2021

Spike Lee has set his latest project with Netflix; the Oscar-winning filmmaker is set to produce “Gordon Hemingway & the Realm of Cthulhu” for the streamer, directed by Stefon Bristol.

Lee partnered with Netflix for his latest film “Da 5 Bloods,” which debuted to critical acclaim last June. The movie has since been named the best film 2020 by the National Board of Review, among other accolades.

The new feature, based on an original screenplay by Hank Woon, is set in East Africa in 1928 and centers on Gordon Hemingway, a roguish Black American gunslinger, who teams up with the elite warrior Princess Zenebe of Ethiopia to rescue the country’s kidnapped regent from an ancient evil.

Lee will produce the film alongside “Da 5 Bloods” producers Lloyd Levin and Beatriz Levin, who initially optioned the spec screenplay for “Gordon Hemingway” from Woon before bringing the project to Bristol and Lee.

The new project is also Bristol’s second film with the streamer, following “See You Yesterday,” the Independent Spirit Award winner for Best First Screenplay, which Lee also produced. Bristol made his directorial debut with the time-travel adventure drama, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. He also co-wrote that film’s script with Fredrica Bailey, who also contributed revisions to the script for “Gordon Hemingway.”

The award-winning visual effects company Goodbye Kansas will lead visual effects on the film, while Oliver Oftedal and Tom Olsson will co-produce the project on behalf of Goodbye Kansas’ production arm Infinite Entertainment.

Bristol is repped by UTA and Ellipsis Entertainment Group; Bailey is repped by UTA and Lighthouse Management.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Video: Did You See What Miriam Won in the Bonus Round? | Wheel of Fortune

Did you see what Miriam won in the bonus round of Wheel of Fortune (February 23, 2021)? Watch the video below to find out. (Photo: Wheel Of Fortune)

Fikkle Fame

Yesterday on the Wheel of Fortune

It’s Wheel of Fortune, America’s Game and we’re posting the Bonus Puzzle with the winner’s final prize..

Miriam on Wheel of Fortune (2-23-2021)

Miriam got it on the first try and won herself a brand new Ford Mustang convertible…

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Photo: Satellite Image of Bale Mountains – Ethiopia’s Forest in the Clouds

Bale Mountains' Harenna Forest is one of the few places where people still harvest wild arabica beans to make coffee. The forest is also noted for being one of the few places where people still practice a traditional style of beekeeping that involves scaling trees to maintain hand-carved hives. (NASA Earth Observatory image)

NASA Earth Observatory

There are few places in Ethiopia—or the world—quite like the Harenna Forest. Spread across the southern slopes of the Bale Mountains, it is the second-largest stand of moist tropical forest in Ethiopia and the largest cloud forest in the country.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image of the forest on February 5, 2021. The forest grows in highland areas at elevations of 1400 to 3200 meters (4,600 to 10,500 feet) above sea level. From the mostly treeless Sanetti Plateau, an escarpment drops sharply into a series of forested ecosystems defined by altitude, including areas where bamboo, tree heather, fig, fern pines, hagenia, and wild coffee thrive. Forest wildlife includes monkeys, baboons, bushbucks, warthogs, lions, leopards, hyena, and wild dogs.

While there are dense tracts of forest south of the Sanetti Plateau, a Global Forest Watch analysis of satellite data indicates that there was significant deforestation along roads and stream valleys in Hawo, Kumbi, Likimisa Bokore, and Soriba between 2000 and 2019. The data also show many small-scale forest clearings along the escarpment. Common causes for deforestation in this area include charcoal production, firewood collection, and clearing for agriculture. The analysis is led by a team of University of Maryland scientists and derived from data on tree cover loss collected by Landsat satellites.


(NASA Earth Observatory image)

Loss of forest cover in this region could affect some distinctive cultural practices. Harenna Forest is one of the few places where people still harvest wild arabica beans to make coffee. The forest is also noted for being one of the few places where people still practice a traditional style of beekeeping that involves scaling trees to maintain hand-carved hives.

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UPDATE: U.S. Senate Confirms Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN Ambassador

“This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa. “We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.” (AP photo)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Linda Thomas-Greenfield was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, a victory for the Biden administration as it seeks to reengage with the world body after four years of President Donald Trump’s “America First” posture left the U.S. isolated internationally.

Senators voted 78-20 to confirm Thomas-Greenfield to the post, which will be a Cabinet-level position.

Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the foreign service who resigned during the Trump administration, will be the third African American, and the second African American woman, to hold the job. Her confirmation was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations, who had lamented the Trump administration’s unilateral approach to international affairs.

“This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health and global human rights. “We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.”

“We can count on Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield to work with international partners to confront our collective challenges head on, and play an active role in ensuring the U.N. evolves with the demands of our era as an essential forum for collective problem-solving and catalyst for global progress,” said Elizabeth Cousens, president of the United Nations Foundation, a private group that supports the world body’s endeavors. “Hers is the leadership America needs at the UN at this critical moment for the U.S. and world.”

Republicans who opposed her said she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield had rejected those concerns during her confirmation hearing, telling senators that a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute had been a mistake and was not intended to be an endorsement of Chinese government policies.

In the speech, she had praised China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road global infrastructure program in Africa and called for “a win-win-win situation” where the U.S. and China would promote good governance and the rule of law.

She told senators that China is a strategic adversary and that “their actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life, and they are a threat to their neighbors and they are a threat across the globe.”

Thomas-Greenfield spoke of China’s diplomatic inroads during the Trump administration, which pursued an “America First” policy that weakened international alliances. And she made clear there would be a change under Biden to reengage internationally and promote American values.

She stressed that American leadership must be rooted in the country’s core values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” And she said that effective diplomacy means developing “robust relationships,” finding common ground and managing differences, and “doing genuine, old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.”

At her hearing, she recalled attending a segregated high school and then Louisiana State University “as a consequence of a lawsuit.” She said she was “not the norm” among the Ivy League graduates who also joined the Foreign Service in 1982.

“And yet, I had an extraordinary 35-year career that culminated as the assistant secretary of state of African affairs,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “To me, that represents the progress, and promise, of America.”

Related:

UPDATE: US to Unlink Trump Era Aid Cut to Ethiopia From GERD, Plans Special Envoy for Horn of Africa


Ethiopians were furious after former President Donald Trump last year directed the suspension of aid to their country in a rare example of his direct involvement in an African issue. Ethiopia had left a U.S.-led attempt to mediate the dispute with Egypt, alleging bias. Trump also caused an uproar by saying downstream Egypt would “blow up” the dam project that Cairo considers an existential threat. – AP (Getty Images)

Reuters

Updated: February 18th, 2021

US to Unlink Paused Ethiopian Aid from Dam Policy

WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said Washington will unlink its pause on some aid to Ethiopia from its policy on the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam that sparked a long-running dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration will review U.S. policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and will assess the role the administration can play in facilitating a solution between the countries.

Filling started in July

A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

“We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” Price said.

The temporary pause on certain U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia affects $272 million in development and security assistance to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that the resumption of assistance will be assessed on a number of factors and that the decision has been shared with Addis Ababa.

Among the factors assessed will be “whether each paused program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred subsequent to the pause being put in place,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Trouble in Tigray region

The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam after the summer rains last year despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that it should first reach a binding agreement on the dam’s operation.

Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its fresh water supplies, more than 90% of which come from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan then Egypt and is the Nile’s main tributary.

Aid cut to Ethiopia

Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia had broken a U.S.-brokered agreement to resolve the dispute, forcing him to cut funds. The United States cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

Ethiopia in October summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from Trump over their dispute.

Related:

US: Aid pause to Ethiopia no longer linked to dam dispute (AP)

Biden Mulls Special Envoy for Horn of Africa (FP)


The post, if created, would bring more diplomatic firepower to the brewing crisis in Ethiopia as members of Biden’s cabinet and other senior State Department nominees await confirmation. (Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff during the first visit of President Joe Biden to the State Department in Washington on Feb. 4./ GETTY IMAGES)

Foreign Policy Magazine

Updated: February 17th,2021

This article is part of Foreign Policy’s ongoing coverage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, detailing key administration policies as they get drafted—and the people who will put them into practice.

The Biden administration is weighing plans to establish a new special envoy for the Horn of Africa to address political instability and conflict in the East African region, including a brewing civil war and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, current and former officials familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.

The new special envoy post could fill a diplomatic leadership gap in the administration’s foreign-policy ranks as it works to install other senior officials in the State Department, a process that could take weeks or even months to complete, as they require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. Special envoy posts do not require Senate confirmation.

A new Horn of Africa envoy would have their work cut out for them: Sudan is undergoing a delicate political transition after three decades under a dictatorship, South Sudan is wracked by chronic instability and corruption, and the fragile government of Somalia is grappling with ongoing threats from the al-Shabab terrorist group and political gridlock that has delayed national elections. An ongoing dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over a major dam project adds another layer of complexity to the tensions in the region.

The most pressing crisis in the eyes of many U.S. policymakers, however, is in Ethiopia. In November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the ruling party in the country’s northern Tigray region, after accusing it of attacking a government military base. Conflict has ravaged the region since then, marked by thousands of deaths, millions in need of humanitarian assistance, and widespread reports of interethnic violence. U.S. officials fear that the conflict could turn into a full-blown regional crisis, with turmoil spilling over into neighboring Eritrea and Sudan.

While officials cautioned no final decision has yet been made, one top contender for the potential job is Donald Booth, a seasoned diplomatic troubleshooter in the region who currently serves as U.S. special envoy for Sudan and has previously served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

Some experts welcomed more attention to the Horn of Africa but cautioned against the new administration relying too heavily on special envoy posts. “I don’t want us to get back into the practice of throwing special envoys at every problem set. It often saps the State Department’s resources and authorities in ways that aren’t productive,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, and a former senior U.S. intelligence analyst. “But in this case, it is urgent, and there aren’t enough senior people in the region.”

With less than a month in office, President Joe Biden doesn’t yet have his full cabinet in place, let alone many senior posts across the State Department that require Senate confirmation. Biden has yet to name a nominee for the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and the U.S. ambassador posts in Eritrea and Sudan are unfilled, held in an acting capacity by lower-ranking diplomats. The next U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Geeta Pasi, is expected to arrive at her post shortly.

A State Department spokesperson did not confirm the administration was set on creating the new special envoy post when asked for comment. “Africa is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration, and we are committed to re-invigorating our relationships throughout Africa from a position of mutual respect and partnership. This includes deepening our engagement on the challenging issues present in the Horn of Africa,” the spokesperson said. “Senior-level engagement on a consistent basis will be a signal of our commitment. The Administration is actively considering a range of options to ensure that our staffing, including any use of Special Envoys, supports implementation of our strategy.”

One big question would be whether the new special envoy post would report directly to the president or secretary of state, or to the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. The former would be viewed as more empowered to negotiate on behalf of Washington, with a direct line to the president or his cabinet.

Some administration insiders have also floated the idea of tapping a former senior U.S. lawmaker for the job, arguing someone with political clout could engage directly with senior African leaders, including Ethiopia’s Abiy. (Biden has eyed former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for a senior diplomatic post, such as an ambassadorship in South Africa or Europe, according to Axios.)

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The Guardian: Jember Teferra Obituary

Jember Teferra, who died at a hospital in London last month at the age of 77, studied and worked in the UK for a number of years before returning to her homeland, where she was devoted to efforts to combat poverty and poor health in Addis Ababa. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

Wed 24 Feb 2021

Jember Teferra, who has died aged 77, was a remarkable woman who lived to help others, despite enormous challenges in her own life. An Ethiopian, she studied and worked in the UK for a number of years before returning to her homeland, where she was devoted to efforts to combat poverty and poor health in Addis Ababa.

Jember was born in Madagascar, where her Ethiopian parents, Gebremariam Teferra, a diplomat, and his wife, Shiferra (nee Etsegenet), who was a third cousin to the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, were living in exile during the second world war.

Her father died in 1949 after the family had returned to Ethiopia, and she received her secondary education in the UK at Clarendon school for girls near Abergele in north Wales. She trained as a nurse at Tunbridge Wells School of Nursing in Kent, qualifying in 1965.

Jember then worked as an agency nurse at hospitals in London, but in 1967 she moved back to Ethiopia to become ward sister and then matron at St Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, which provided free medical care. Dissatisfied with the standards she found there, she planned and costed radical improvements, and then discovered she had a gift as a fundraiser, as well as a talent for overcoming resistance to change.

In 1968 she married Haile-Giorgis Workneh, an eminent civil engineer who was minister of public works and subsequently mayor of Addis Ababa. They were both deeply committed members of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, and raised four children.

The following year she became health education and social services coordinator for the Red Cross in Ethiopia. She was in that post in 1974 when the military overthrow of Haile Selassie led to the emergence of the repressive regime of the Marxist Dergue, which imprisoned her husband for eight years. In 1976 Jember herself was jailed, spending five years separated from her young children, in appalling conditions. Typically, however, she used her skills to provide medical care for inmates, and helped to establish a school for convicts and prison guards.

When she was released in 1981, Jember continued to work to alleviate poverty, initially with Save the Children, then setting up and running the Integrated Holistic Approach-Urban Development Project, a scheme that eventually improved housing, health, education and employment opportunities for more than 50,000 people in the slums of Addis Ababa. Her work received international recognition and funding, and the project still operates today.

Her husband died in 1996 on the same day her younger son, Abi, killed himself. Her book Abi’s Story (2009) uses this trauma to reflect on the mental health problems caused by conflict, oppression and isolation. In recent years she spent time in London caring for her other son, Worqneh, who was incapacitated by a stroke.

Jember is survived by Worqneh, by two daughters, Memmenasha and Lelo, and a brother, Dawit, who looked after her children while she was in prison.

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WATCH: Habitam Alemu Meet Record 1:58 800m | 2021 World Indoor Tour Madrid

Ethiopia's Habitam Alemu wins the Indoor 800m race at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021. (FloTrack)

FloTrack

Updated: February 24th,2021

Habitam Alemu drops an impressive 1:58​ at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour Madrid Meeting.

Related:

WATCH: 19-Year-Old Lemlem Hailu Beats World Champion In Fastest 3K of 2021

FloTrack

Feb 18, 2021

19-year-old Lemlem Hailu showed her Lievin victory wasn’t a fluke and sprinted away from steeplechase world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech on the final lap of the 2021 World Indoor Tour Torun Meeting in a 2021 world leading 8:31.24 3,000m.

Video: 19-Year-Old Lemlem Hailu Beats World Champion In Fastest 3K of 2021


Ethiopia’s Lemlem Hailu wins the 3,000m race at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour in Torun, Poland, on Thursday, February 18, 2021. (FloTrack)

Related:

Watch: Habitam Alemu dominated the women’s 800m | 2021 World Indoor Tour Torun

FloTrack

Feb 19, 2021

Habitam Alemu dominated the women’s 800m at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour Torun Meeting. After going through the first 400m in 57.63, she finished in a meet record of 1:58​.19. It would have been an Ethiopian indoor record, had Gudaf Tsegay not ran 1:57​.52 a week earlier.

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Music Diplomacy: Artists From Ethiopia Among Eligible to Apply for US Exchange Program ‘OneBeat’

International music exchange platform OneBeat [sponsored by the U.S. State Department] is calling on artists to apply for its 2021 virtual cross-cultural collaborative program. (Photo: Brilliant-ethiopia.com)

Music in Africa

Call for applications: 2021 OneBeat virtual exchange program in the US

The program is sponsored by the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation. It celebrates musical collaboration and social engagement.

This year’s virtual edition is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellows will receive a $1 500 honorarium as well as a small subsidy for purchasing necessary audio equipment and enhanced internet connectivity tools.

OneBeat is looking for applicants who excel in the following areas:

  • Musical proficiency and innovation.
  • Performance, composition, improvisational, production and/or technological skill.
  • Social engagement – musicians who have used music to serve their communities or greater societies. This might consist of guiding young people in music education, addressing social-political issues, reviving dying musical traditions, etc.
  • Collaboration – applicants’ willingness to reach across cultural and musical divides in creating original music or re-interpreting traditional music, while respecting the essence of each tradition.

    OneBeat will convene 70 musicians (aged from 19 to 35) from up to 44 countries and territories in two separate virtual exchanges, which will take place as follows: 12 July to 6 September and 20 September to 17 November.

    Musicians from the following African countries are eligible to apply:

  • Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Tunisia
  • Zimbabwe

    Read more about eligibility here. Interested artists can apply here. Successful applicants will be notified by 21 May.

    The submission deadline is 10 March.

    “These projects will address a particular community and focus on community engagement,” OneBeat said. “We encourage the development of projects that explore innovations within a particular field of arts engagement, digital media or technology.”

    Each program will offer a virtual residency and exchange program with musicians from around the globe. OneBeat virtual fellows will investigate new forms of virtual collaboration, form ensembles, produce and perform genre-defying work, attend virtual masterclasses, lead online workshops and produce a streaming concert for the public. Fellows will also have the opportunity to pursue self-directed projects during the fellowship.

    View the original call here.

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  • Future Development: Can Agriculture Be Ethiopia’s Growth Engine? (Brookings)

    Eighty percent of all export revenues of the country and 21 percent of total government revenues stem from the export of agri-products. However, only 1 percent of exported agri-products are in processed form. Agri-exports are dominated by unprocessed commodities while imports primarily comprise processed foods that are growing faster than exports. (Brookings Institution)

    Brookings

    Ethiopia is a net exporter of agriculture commodities. However, the low level of industrialized agriculture means that the country exports very little higher value processed food. Despite strong growth in manufacturing, agriculture remains the biggest export earner. Eighty percent of all export revenues of the country and 21 percent of total government revenues stem from the export of agri-products. However, only 1 percent of exported agri-products are in processed form. Agri-exports are dominated by unprocessed commodities while imports primarily comprise processed foods that are growing faster than exports.

    The reason for this imbalance is related to urbanization. Over the last 25 years, populations in cities tripled from less than 8 million in 1995 to around 25 million today—leading to growing demand for processed food that domestic producers cannot supply yet. Urban consumers—a rising middle class—buy imported food products at relatively high prices. To satisfy this growing domestic demand and to diversify exports, one would expect a significant supply reaction with increasing investments in the food industry. However, this has not happened at scale yet. There are three main constraints that the government needs to address to enhance investment into the domestic food industry:

    1. Unleash the potential of the private sector.

    2. Promote access to finance and mobile money solutions.

    3. Promote market integration, commercialization, and scale.

    The urgency of reforms shows the rapidly decreasing agri-food trade surplus. Without higher growth in the domestic food industry, the trade surplus will soon fade away even with further growing exports of raw products.

    Figure 1. Ethiopia’s agri-trade balance is narrowing

    First, Ethiopia needs to unleash the potential of the private sector. The sugar sector is a striking example: While there have been large public investments in sugar processing and cane supply over the last 15 years, sugar production has stagnated and sugar cane yields have declined. The government rightly considers privatization of sugar factories a priority to improve sugar sector performance and prepared a new sugar law to attract international investors.

    Figure 2. Performance of the state-dominated sugar sector


    Source: FAO-STAT

    A dominant presence of state-owned enterprises and state-owned banks led to huge productivity losses and creates distortions for private finance and investments. The financial sector is dominated by two state-owned banks with about half of total banking sector assets. State-owned enterprises have increasingly crowded out the private sector with the share of state-owned credit in total outstanding domestic credit surging from 14 percent in 2007 to almost 60 percent in 2018.

    Second, Ethiopia needs to improve access to finance for farmers and agribusinesses. This includes mobile money solutions and the improvement of the digital infrastructure through telecoms privatization. Access to finance constraints is particularly evident in the agriculture sector that is the backbone of the Ethiopian economy. It is estimated that less than 20 percent of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia have access to financial services and according to the National Bank of Ethiopia only 4.9 percent of the total outstanding credit went to the agriculture sector in 2018. At the same time, the International Finance Corporation estimated that financing seasonal working capital for cereals only (barley, maize, teff, wheat) approximately $3 billion is required annually.

    Commercial banks are mainly focusing on urban clients with limited knowledge and experience of rural clients. Capacity building for financial institutions trying to offer solutions in primary agriculture and agribusiness would be a precondition for more lending (training of credit officers in assessing sector risks, agri-benchmarking, and IT solutions). To reduce transaction costs, mobile money solutions and enhanced digital infrastructure will be crucial to reach smallholders in remote areas.

    Developing the business enabling environment around post-harvest and inventory financing models as private sector processing increases creates interesting opportunities for commercial banks. However, as the finance gap in agriculture and the food industry is large it will be challenging for domestic banks to offer sufficient credit. Selective attraction of foreign banks for agribusiness finance may help to close the finance gap. Opening of the leasing sector is a good example.

    Third, Ethiopia needs to promote market integration, commercialization and scale. Current production is primarily for subsistence and small scale with limited incentives for commercialization. A major reason is the tedious and informal land acquisition procedure. Investment promotion in rural areas starts with better and transparent procedures for access to farmland. Investors in the food industry wish to manage at least parts of their raw material supplies internally before they engage in outgrower schemes with smallholder farmers.

    To increase the level of productivity in crop and livestock production, private input dealer networks need to be encouraged to enhance competition. This will improve the availability and quality of fertilizer, seeds, plant protection products, and animal feed. The government can support investments with better access to land, land leasing procedures, and industry standards.

    For sophisticated value chains in horticulture, attraction of foreign investors to improve scale and competition is crucial. The success of the flower industry is a good example. Also, the opening of food retailing to improve the range of available food products and reduce food inflation will make a difference.

    Currently, weak supply chains, particularly for non-export commodities like teff, wheat, and maize need improvement, for example, support of farmers’ groups to improve storage, quality, marketing, and linkage with the food industry. Investment promotion may focus on cold supply chains for the commercialization of perishable horticulture and meat and dairy products complemented by investments in fast growing cereals and oil seeds processing industries.

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    UPDATE: IMF Backs Ethiopia’s Plan to Rework Debt Under G-20 Framework

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    By Samuel Gebre

    The International Monetary Fund backed Ethiopia’s plan to rework its debt under the Group of 20 common framework as it reached a staff-level agreement with the government on credit facilities.

    To strengthen debt sustainability, the authorities aim to lower the risk of debt distress rating to moderate by re-profiling debt service obligations,” the lender said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. “In this context, the fund welcomes Ethiopia’s request for debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework.”

    Ethiopia announced plans last month to rework its liabilities under the G-20 program that seeks to include private creditors into an agreement on debt relief for countries that need it following the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The nation’s Eurobonds plunged the most on record following the revelation, and then partly recovered after the government said it would only approach private creditors as a last resort.

    Ethiopia Eurobonds Plunge as Nation Seeks G-20 Debt Review The IMF reached a staff-level agreement with Ethiopia on policy measures for the completion of the first and second reviews under the Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility arrangements, according to the statement. “Risks to the economic outlook are tilted to the downside,” the IMF said, projecting economic growth of 2% in 2020-21 and 8.7% in the following fiscal year.

    Several economic and political uncertainties have hit the Horn of Africa nation from the pandemic to war in the northern Tigray region and a desert locust invasion. “A modest fiscal expansion is envisaged this fiscal year to accommodate the humanitarian assistance and reconstruction needs,” Sonali Jain-Chandra. who led the IMF staff team, said in the statement. “At the same time, the authorities are now moving to enhance domestic revenue mobilization.”

    Related:

    IMF, Ethiopia agree framework for loan deal reviews


    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. (REUTERS Photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 24th, 2021

    NAIROBI (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday it had agreed a blueprint for the completion of reviews of Ethiopia’s loan programme, taking account of the impact of the coronavirus and the country’s “domestic security situation”.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
    Agreed in December 2019, the three-year programme is worth $2.9 billion. Performance under it has been strong, the IMF said.

    The reviews, whose timetable the fund did not outline, were “focused on balancing the need to address ongoing challenges created by the pandemic and domestic security” while laying the foundation for growth, IMF Deputy Division Chief Sonali Jain-Chandra said in a statement

    The security situation “has created humanitarian and reconstruction needs that require an adjustment of policies and support from the international community,” she added.

    The statement made no direct reference to the war that began in November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the former ruling party in the northern region, after regional forces attacked federal army bases there.

    Abiy declared victory less than a month later but low-level fighting continues.

    Tuesday’s agreement is subject to approval by the IMF executive board.

    Finance Minister Ahmed Shide and State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

    The Fund also said it welcomed Ethiopia’s request for “debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework.”

    Last month, Ethiopia said it planned to restructure its sovereign debt under the framework, designed to help with economic pressures induced by COVID-19, and was examining all options.

    The IMF said that economic growth is projected to be 2% in 2020/21, largely the effects of the pandemic, but it is expected to rebound to 8.7% in 2021/22 in line with a global recovery.

    Related:

    S&P joins Fitch in downgrade of Ethiopia on potential debt restructuring


    S&P said it estimated Ethiopia’s public debt repayment needs at about $5.5 billion over 2021-2024, including a $1 billion Eurobond due in 2024. The ratings agency added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed Ethiopia’s economic activity in the services and industry sectors. (Photo: Addis ababa skyline/Wiki Media)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 13th, 2021

    S&P Global Ratings on Friday downgraded Ethiopia’s long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings to ‘B-’ from ‘B’ on potential debt restructuring, announcing the move days after Fitch Ratings downgraded the country.

    “Exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopia’s structurally weak external balance sheet has deteriorated further, in our view”, S&P Global Ratings said.

    On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped nearly 2 cents as Fitch chopped Ethiopia’s credit score by two notches after Addis Ababa signaled it could be the first with an international government bond to use a new G20 ‘Common Framework’ plan.

    The scheme, which is open to over 70 of the world’s poorest countries, encourages their governments to defer or negotiate down their external debt as part of a wider debt relief program.

    S&P said it estimated Ethiopia’s public debt repayment needs at about $5.5 billion over 2021-2024, including a $1 billion Eurobond due in 2024.

    The ratings agency added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed Ethiopia’s economic activity in the services and industry sectors, including retail trade, hospitality, transportation, and construction.

    S&P described the Tigray conflict in November 2020 that followed increased tensions between the federal and local authorities as “the most significant (conflict) since Prime Minister Abby Ahmed took office in 2018.”

    “Another outbreak of armed conflict could spur wider ethnic tensions, weakening Ethiopia’s political and institutional framework and threatening the government’s transformative reform agenda”, it added.

    Ethiopia Dollar Bonds Drop After Fitch Downgrade

    Reuters

    Updated: February 11th, 2021

    LONDON – Ethiopia’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped nearly 2 cents after Fitch downgraded the country toCCC, citing the government’s plan to make use of the new G20common framework to overhaul its debt burden.

    The country’s outstanding 2024 bond dropped to as low as 92.06 cents in the dollar, according to Tradeweb data, trading close to record lows hit in late January when Ethiopia surprised markets with its announcement to seek debt relief.

    “(This is) the first negative spillover from last week’s decision to go for the G20 Common Framework, a process that no euro bond issuer has been though yet, and one that could take some time, especially as private sector creditors have to be included,” said Simon Quijano-Evans, chief economist at Gemcorp Capital.

    Fitch said earlier that the downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of theG20 framework, “which although still an untested mechanism,explicitly raises the risk of a default event.”

    Related:

    Update: Ethiopia Will Approach Private Creditors Only as a Last Resort

    Fitch Downgrades Ethiopia Due to Debt Restructuring


    The downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of the G20 “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)” (G20 CF), which although still an untested mechanism, explicitly raises the risk of a default event. (Fitch Ratings)

    Fitch Ratings

    Fitch Downgrades Ethiopia to ‘CCC’

    Fitch Ratings – Hong Kong – 09 Feb 2021: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Ethiopia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘CCC’ from ‘B’.

    Fitch typically does not assign Outlooks or apply modifiers to sovereigns with a rating of ‘CCC’ or below.

    KEY RATING DRIVERS

    The downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of the G20 “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)” (G20 CF), which although still an untested mechanism, explicitly raises the risk of a default event.

    The G20 CF, agreed in November 2020 by the G20 and Paris Club, goes beyond the DSSI that took effect in May 2020, in that it requires countries to seek debt treatment by private creditors and that this should be comparable with the debt treatment provided by official bilateral creditors. This could mean that Ethiopia’s one outstanding Eurobond and other commercial debt would need to be restructured, potentially representing a distressed debt exchange under Fitch’s sovereign rating criteria. There remains uncertainty over how the G20 CF will be implemented in practice, including the requirement for private sector participation and comparable treatment. Fitch’s sovereign ratings apply to borrowing from the private sector, so official bilateral debt relief does not constitute a default, although it can point to increasing credit stress.

    Within the context of Paris Club agreements, comparable treatment requirements are not always enforced and the scope of debt included can vary. The Paris Club states that the requirement for comparable treatment by other creditors can be waived in some circumstances, including when the debt represents only a small proportion of the country’s debt burden.

    The focus of Ethiopia’s engagement with the G20 CF will be on official bilateral debt, as reprofiling of this will have the biggest impact on overall debt sustainability. Nonetheless, the terms of the framework clearly create risk that private sector creditors will also be negatively affected. The G20 statement on the G20 CF indicates that debt treatments will not typically involve debt write-offs or cancellation unless deemed necessary. The focus will instead be on some combination of lowering coupons and lengthening grace periods and maturities. The extent of debt treatment required will be based upon the outcome of the IMF’s Debt Sustainability Analysis for Ethiopia, which is currently being updated. However, any material change of terms for private creditors, including the lowering of coupons or the extension of maturities, would be consistent with the definition of default in Fitch’s criteria.

    The bulk of Ethiopia’s public external debt is official multilateral and bilateral debt. Government and government-guaranteed external debt was USD25 billion in fiscal year 2020 (FY20, which ended in June 2020). Of this, USD3.3 billion was owed to private creditors. This includes Ethiopia’s outstanding USD1 billion Eurobond (1% of GDP) due in December 2024, with minimal annual debt service of USD66 million until the maturity; and USD2.3 billion government-guaranteed debt owed to foreign commercial banks and suppliers. Other SOE debt to private creditors which relates to Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Airlines is a further USD3.3 billion. While this is not guaranteed by the government, it represents a potential contingent liability.

    Ethiopia’s external finances are a rating weakness and this is the main factor behind the intention of using the G20 CF. Persistent current account deficits (CAD), low FX reserves and rising external debt repayments present risks to external debt sustainability. Ethiopia’s external financing requirements, at more than USD5 billion on average in FY21-FY22 including federal government and SOE amortisation, are high relative to FX reserves, which we forecast to remain at around USD3 billion. Reserves cover only around two months of current external payments.

    The CAD narrowed to 4.1% of GDP in FY20 as imports declined, maintaining the trend since FY15 when the CAD was 12.5% of GDP. We forecast the CAD to hover around 4% of GDP, although this does not incorporate potential import costs associated with vaccines to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Smaller CADs have not eased pressure on FX reserves because net FDI has been lacklustre (averaging 2.7% of GDP in FY19-FY20) and net external borrowing has moderated with negative net borrowing by SOEs. The central bank has allowed sharper exchange rate depreciation, but the currency nonetheless remains overvalued, with a weaker rate in the parallel market. Proposed sales of mobile licenses and a stake in Ethio Telecom, the state-owned telecoms company, are an upside risk to FDI inflows and reserves in FY21-FY22.

    The IMF assessed Ethiopia at high risk of external debt distress in its latest assessment in 2020, with Ethiopia breaching thresholds on external debt service/exports and the present value of external debt/exports. An improvement from high to moderate risk is a central aim of the three-year arrangement with the IMF agreed in late 2019 under the Extended Credit Facility and the Extended Fund Facility. Given the difficulty of substantially boosting exports in the near term, the main route to achieve this is via reducing debt service costs. Within the IMF programme, the authorities planned by the first review to undertake additional reprofiling of bilateral loans but this has not yet happened. The pandemic has placed further emphasis on debt reprofiling.

    Ethiopia and the IMF reached staff-level agreement on the first review of the programme in August 2020, but this awaits board approval. The Fund’s press release recognised that performance had mostly been good, but also emphasised the need for financial support from Ethiopia’s international partners including through debt reprofiling.

    Ethiopia’s ‘CCC’ IDRs also reflect the following key rating drivers:

    Strong economic growth potential and an improving policy framework support the rating, while double-digit inflation, low development and governance indicators and elevated political risks weigh on the rating.

    The coronavirus pandemic continues to present significant risks to Ethiopia, but the negative economic impacts since the onset have been somewhat contained so far. Given that the fiscal year ends in June, we do expect more of a hit to growth in FY21 than FY20, but forecast a return to growth rates in the 6%-7% range over the medium term. The government has maintained considerable budgetary discipline, with moderate increases in the general government budget deficit, to 2.8% of GDP, and government debt/GDP (31.5%), while total SOE debt/GDP (25.6%) has fallen. However, the pandemic presents risks of upward pressure on spending. Government financing has continued its transition towards market-based T-bill auctions and away from the long-standing system of direct advances from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE, the central bank). This is a core part of the IMF programme, which seeks to promote monetary policy reforms to help gradually tackle inflation that has remained extremely high at close to 20%.

    The military conflict in the Tigray region from November 2020 has underlined ongoing political risks in Ethiopia as well as for Ethiopia’s international relations. Considerable domestic political uncertainty, related to the delayed 2020 parliamentary election (now planned for June) and ongoing ethnic and regional tensions within the country, remains a risk to Ethiopia’s credit metrics, in Fitch’s view. Greater political unrest could, for example, act as a drag on FDI and tax collection and exert further upward pressure on inflation. It could also lead to worsening relations with some bilateral partners and hold up donor flows, as illustrated by the suspension of some flows from the EU in December.

    ESG – Governance: Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score (RS) of 5 for both Political Stability and Rights and for the Rule of Law, Institutional and Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption, as is the case for all sovereigns. Theses scores reflect the high weight that the World Bank Governance Indicators (WBGI) have in our proprietary Sovereign Rating Model. Ethiopia has a low WBGI ranking in the 25th percentile, reflecting in particular political instability, as well as low scores for voice and accountability and regulatory quality.

    RATING SENSITIVITIES

    The main factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action/downgrade:

    - Structural Features: Stronger evidence that Ethiopia’s engagement in the G20 CF will lead to comparable treatment for private sector creditors consistent with a default event under Fitch’s criteria.

    - External Finances: Increased external vulnerability that heightens the risk of default irrespective of the G20 CF, such as the emergence of external financing gaps and downward pressure on already low foreign-exchange reserves.

    The main factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating action/upgrade are:

    - Structural Features: Clarity that the G20 CF will not lead to a default event.

    - External Finances: Stronger external finances with acceleration in exports, for example, leading to smaller CADs and higher foreign-currency reserves.

    SOVEREIGN RATING MODEL (SRM) AND QUALITATIVE OVERLAY (QO)

    In accordance with the rating criteria for ratings in the ‘CCC’ range and below, Fitch’s sovereign rating committee has not used the SRM and QO to explain the ratings, which are instead guided by the rating definitions.

    Fitch’s SRM is the agency’s proprietary multiple regression rating model that employs 18 variables based on three-year centred averages, including one year of forecasts, to produce a score equivalent to a LT FC IDR. Fitch’s QO is a forward-looking qualitative framework designed to allow for adjustment to the SRM output to assign the final rating, reflecting factors within our criteria that are not fully quantifiable and/or not fully reflected in the SRM.

    BEST/WORST CASE RATING SCENARIO

    International scale credit ratings of Sovereigns, Public Finance and Infrastructure issuers have a best-case rating upgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a positive direction) of three notches over a three-year rating horizon; and a worst-case rating downgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a negative direction) of three notches over three years. The complete span of best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings for all rating categories ranges from ‘AAA’ to ‘D’. Best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings are based on historical performance. For more information about the methodology used to determine sector-specific best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings, visit [https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10111579].

    KEY ASSUMPTIONS

    We assume that Ethiopia pursues involvement in the G20 CF.

    We expect global economic trends and commodity prices to develop as outlined in Fitch’s Global Economic Outlook.

    REFERENCES FOR SUBSTANTIALLY MATERIAL SOURCE CITED AS KEY DRIVER OF RATING
    The principal sources of information used in the analysis are described in the Applicable Criteria.

    ESG CONSIDERATIONS

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 5 for Political Stability and Rights as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and a key rating driver with a high weight.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 5 for Rule of Law, Institutional & Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and are a key rating driver with a high weight.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 4 for Human Rights and Political Freedoms as the Voice and Accountability pillar of the World Bank Governance Indicators is relevant to the rating and a rating driver.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 4 for Creditor Rights as willingness to service and repay debt is relevant to the rating and is a rating driver, as for all sovereigns.

    Except for the matters discussed above, the highest level of ESG credit relevance, if present, is a score of 3. This means ESG issues are credit-neutral or have only a minimal credit impact on the entity(ies), either due to their nature or to the way in which they are being managed by the entity(ies). For more information on Fitch’s ESG Relevance Scores, visit www.fitchratings.com/esg.

    Africa Report: Ethiopia Debt Restructuring Plan Faces Hurdles of Transparency


    (Reuters photo)

    The Africa Report

    Ethiopia’s plan to seek debt restructuring under a G20 common framework agreed in November triggered a sell-off in African debt at the end of January on fears of a contagion effect.

    The framework enables debtor countries to seek an IMF programme to strengthen their economies and renegotiate their debts with public and private creditors. But such a debt restructuring for Ethiopia would face barriers due a lack of transparency, analysts say.

    Any attempt to reconcile balance of payments and published public external debt figures with underlying debt-creating flows shows information gaps and supports “a narrative of opaque lending”, argues Irmgard Erasmus, senior financial economist at NKC African Economics in Cape Town.

    Along with Djibouti and Zambia, Ethiopia’s dealings with China “raise the probability of higher-than-estimated debt contracted by extra-budgetary units (EBUs) as well as potentially large contingent liabilities,” she writes in a research note.

    China does not publish official or non-official bilateral debt agreements with central governments or state-owned enterprises, she notes.

    The channel through which private-sector participation in the framework can be forced is not clear, Erasmus says.

    “The agreement of the principles of the G20 Common Framework is positive but negotiations in actual restructurings are likely to be challenging,” says Mark Bohlund, senior credit research analyst at REDD Intelligence in London. Lack of clarity on what is owed to China is one obstacle. While he hasn’t seen any firm evidence of Chinese loans to Ethiopia being understated, there is “less transparency” on Chinese lending, he says.

    The fact that India and Turkey, which are non-Paris club G20 lenders, are the largest bilateral creditors after China, may complicate an Ethiopian restructuring, Bohlund says.

    A further stumbling block is reluctance from debtor nations to participate in fear of adverse credit rating actions. African countries intending to tap international debt markets this year, such as Tunisia, Ghana and Kenya, may be reluctant to join the initiative, Erasmus says.

    Unrealistic growth outlook

    For Africa, recent sharp declines in external borrowing costs for many countries amid global optimism on emerging markets provides a “silver lining” to the cloud of debt woes, according to Jacques Nel, head of Africa macro at NKC. “Markets are now open to lending to many sub-Saharan African sovereigns, which could provide the necessary fiscal breathing room in 2021.”

    But official Ethiopian projections for annual economic growth of 8.4% are dismissed by Erasmus. NKC predicts growth of 2.2% given the “dire fiscal position and balance of payments risks.”

    “The near-term outlook is clouded by political tensions ahead of the June election, reputational risks related to armed conflict in Tigray, an upsurge in desert locust infestation and forex shortages,” Erasmus writes.

    That means the long-awaited liberalisation of Ethiopia’s high-potential sectors such as telecommunications and banking is now urgent. This would be the “crucial first step in addressing structural vulnerability and lowering government debt dependence,” Erasmus argues.

    Read more »

    UPDATE: Ethiopia May Engage Private Creditors After Debt Review


    Ethiopia is looking to offset the impact of the pandemic on its economy. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: February 2nd, 2021

    Ethiopia may approach private creditors for debt talks after it reviews liabilities with official lenders amid security risks that are adding to investors’ worries.

    The nation’s Eurobonds plunged the most on record last week after State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign said the government will seek to restructure its external debt under a Group of 20 debt-suspension program. With no details on how the decision would affect holders of Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds, many investors responded by selling the securities.

    Only after talks involving official creditors, which the International Monetary Fund is assisting with, will the government be able to inform other creditors on the “need for broader debt treatment discussions,” the finance ministry said in a press statement on Monday.

    Yields on Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds climbed 26 basis points to 8.85% by 1:50 p.m. in London after jumping 207 points on Friday to the highest since May. The premium investors demand to hold the nation’s dollar bonds rather than U.S. Treasuries widened 31 basis points to 807, compared with the 538 average for African sovereign issuers, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes.

    “In theory, a common framework should speed up the debt restructuring process, but it remains to be tested,” Morgan Stanley & Co. analysts Jaiparan Khurana and Simon Waever said in a note. “Questions around enforceability of the MoU terms to the private sector still persist, especially considering that the private sector is not a signatory.”

    Ethiopia is the second African country after Chad to announce plans to review debt under the G-20 common framework, which aims to include China and private lenders into a global debt-relief push.

    Ethiopia, like other African nations, is looking to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy. Ethiopia’s position is, however, exacerbated by fighting in the northern Tigray region and a border dispute with Sudan that’s threating to further destabilize the region.

    “Possible implementation of the debt treatment under the Common Framework will address the debt vulnerabilities of the country, while preserving long-term access to international financial markets,” the finance ministry said in the statement. That will help in “unlocking more growth potential,” it said.

    As with earlier bilateral debt relief, including via the Paris Club, Eurobond holders can choose not to participate in the program, according to the Morgan Stanley analysts. “The key issue would be how insistent bilateral creditors would be on the private sector participating,” they said.

    Related:

    Ethiopia to Seek Debt Relief Under G20 Debt Framework – Ministry


    Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.(Getty Images)

    Reuters

    Updated: January 30th, 2021

    Exclusive: Ethiopia to seek debt relief under G20 debt framework – ministry

    Ethiopia plans to seek a restructuring of its sovereign debt under a new G20 common framework and is looking at all the available options, the country’s finance ministry told Reuters on Friday.

    G20 countries agreed in November for the first time to a common approach for restructuring government debt to help ease the financial strain of some developing countries pushed towards the risk of default by costs of the coronavirus crisis.

    Chad became on Wednesday the first country to officially request a debt restructuring under the new framework and a French finance ministry told Reuters on Thursday that Zambia and Ethiopia were most likely to follow suit.

    Asked if Ethiopia was looking to seek a debt restructuring under the G20 framework, Finance Ministry spokesman Semereta Sewasew said: “Yes, Ethiopia will look at all available debt treatment options under the G20 communique issued in November.”

    Ethiopia’s government bond due for repayment in 2024 which it issued back in late 2014 saw its biggest ever daily fall. It plunged 8.4 cents on the dollar from roughly par to just under 92 cents.

    Ethiopia is already benefiting from a suspension of interest payments to its official sector creditors through the end of June under an initiative between the G20 and the Paris Club of creditor nations.

    Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ART TALK: Awol Erizku’s Photos on Display at New York City’s Bus Stops

    These photographs are part of “New Visions for Iris,” the first public art exhibition by the Los Angeles–based, Ethiopian American artist Awol Erizku. Commissioned by Public Art Fund, the exhibition appears on over 200 bus shelters across New York City (and over 150 in Chicago). Erizku dedicated it to his 1-year-old daughter, Iris. (Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY and the artist)

    Curbed

    If you pass by a bus shelter between now and June 20, take a closer look at it. You might spy the image of a Muslim man in a Kobe jersey kneeling in prayer next to a motorcycle, or a still life with a toy cart, irises, a light meter, and magnetic letters from the Amharic alphabet. These photographs are part of “New Visions for Iris,” the first public art exhibition by the Los Angeles–based, Ethiopian American artist Awol Erizku. Commissioned by Public Art Fund, the exhibition appears on over 200 bus shelters across New York City (and over 150 in Chicago). Erizku dedicated it to his 1-year-old daughter, Iris.

    “[Iris’s] influence on this work is possibility,” Erizku says. “She’s American, she’s Ethiopian, and because I wasn’t able to see these kinds of images growing up, I wanted to make sure she did.” The kind of images he’s referring to include modern representations of Muslim men, African symbols, and his own personal history. “To be honest, I am ashamed I don’t know as much about my culture as I would like, and I wanted to give her these [references] early on.”


    (Photo: Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY and the artist)

    The references are also entry points to conversations about religion, spirituality, race, identity, and personal history — conversations that many of us are having since the Black Lives Matter protests, the increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans, and the general upheaval the city has experienced in the past year.

    “This exhibition is about coming to terms with fatherhood and having a daughter that’s coming into this world at a very tumultuous year, and finding ways to elicit certain conversations as she’s growing up,” Erizku says.

    Erizku first became famous for work that subverted European masterpieces with Afrocentric references, like his 2009 Girl With a Bamboo Earring portrait, which riffs on Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring painting, and his 2013 portrait series of sex workers in Addis Ababa posed in the manner of Ingres’s odalisques and Manet’s Olympia. His 2015 short film “Serendipity,” which screened at MoMA, featured him smashing a bust of David and replacing it with one of Nefertiti. The 2017 maternity photos he took of Beyoncé — which referenced Madonna-and-child motifs and included original artwork he made the year before in collaboration with the floral designer Sarah Lineberger — nearly broke Instagram. But lately, he’s felt strongly about moving away from the Western philosophies and references he’s been indoctrinated with and creating his own canon. In 2017, his anti-Trump “Make America Great Again” exhibition explored the power of Emory Douglas’s Black Panther logo. This has led him to develop a new visual language he’s calling “Afro-esotericism” — an index of objects, symbols, and people that are meaningful and influential to him: Cowrie shells, African masks and statues, musical instruments, the Qur’an, flowers, and more. This reinvention is also partly a response to how popular his older work has become. His style has been copied time and time again, to the point where he feels like he’s lost ownership of it and it’s no longer associated with him.

    Now Erizku’s photographs appropriate the dramatic lighting and saturated colors of commercial advertising, which is designed to stop you in your tracks. He uses it as a kind of bait and switch. Instead of selling you sneakers, he’s inviting you into his cultural universe.

    He walked us through a few of the images in the series.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopian-American Artist Awol Erizku’s Photo of Poet Amanda Gorman on TIME Magazine‘s New Cover


    TIME Magazine‘s new cover features American poet Amanda Gorman, photographed by Ethiopian-American artist Awol Erizku. (Photo of ​Awol Erizku by Jeff Vespa)

    Fad Magazine

    Updated: February 12th, 2021

    AMANDA GORMAN, PHOTOGRAPHED BY ARTIST AWOL ERIZKU FOR TIME COVER.

    TIME Magazine‘s new cover features American poet Amanda Gorman, photographed by Ethiopian-American artist Awol Erizku. Erizku is quickly becoming one of the most iconic photographers of our time.

    Erizku is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, film, sculpture and installation, creating a new vernacular that bridges the gap between African and African American visual culture, referencing art history, hip hop and spirituality, amongst other subjects, in his work.

    “I was interested in allowing her to own the space that she’s in right now,” Erizku says. “We were going for timelessness, something that felt classical” and tied in to the “resurgence of a Black renaissance.”

    It was a special moment for him, too. “Like many who witnessed the recent presidential Inauguration, I was captivated by her poem and her exquisite delivery,” says Erizku, who is based in Los Angeles and has exhibited at institutions including New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. “For TIME, I wanted to extricate her from the political dimension and immerse it in a more cosmic atmosphere to add to the weight of her words.”

    In a separate image featured inside the magazine, Gorman holds a white birdcage in a nod to the birdcage ring she wore on inauguration day. (That ring was a gift from Oprah, referring to previous inauguration poet Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”)

    “It needed a layer of depth that only poetry can explain,” Erizku says of the image.

    A team of Black creative professionals prepared Gorman for the portraits: Jason Bolden styled her, Autumn Moultrie did her makeup, Khiry provided jewellery and the dress was from Greta Constantine.

    The issue features Michelle Obama in conversation with American poet Amanda Gorman, whose poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ read at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony touched hearts and minds all over the world. The article, which covers issues such as the role of art in activism and the pressures Black women face in the spotlight, is also accompanied by a video shot and directed by Erizku.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID-19: Biden Calls 500,000 U.S. Death Toll “Heartbreaking Milestone”

    From left, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, bow their heads during a ceremony to honor the 500,000 Americans that died from COVID-19, at the White House, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo)

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — With sunset remarks and a national moment of silence, President Joe Biden on Monday confronted head-on the country’s once-unimaginable loss — half a million Americans in the COVID-19 pandemic — as he tried to strike a balance between mourning and hope.

    Addressing the “grim, heartbreaking milestone” directly and publicly, Biden stepped to a lectern in the White House Cross Hall, unhooked his face mask and delivered an emotion-filled eulogy for more than 500,000 Americans he said he felt he knew.

    “We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There’s no such thing,” he said Monday evening. “There’s nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary.”

    “Just like that,” he added, “so many of them took their last breath alone.”

    A president whose own life has been marked by family tragedy, Biden spoke in deeply personal terms, referencing his own losses as he tried to comfort the huge number of Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the pandemic.

    “I know all too well. I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens,” said Biden, who has long addressed grief more powerfully than perhaps any other American public figure. “I know what it’s like when you are there, holding their hands, as they look in your eye and they slip away. That black hole in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it.”

    The president, who lost his first wife and baby daughter in a car collision and later an adult son to brain cancer, leavened the grief with a message of hope.

    “This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we’ll remember each person we’ve lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind.”

    He said, “We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or, on the news. We must do so to honor the dead. But, equally important, to care for the living.”

    The president ordered flags on federal property lowered to half staff for five days and then led the moment of communal mourning for those lost to a virus that often prevents people from gathering to remember their loved ones. Monday’s bleak threshold of 500,000 deaths was playing out against contradictory crosscurrents: an encouraging drop in coronavirus cases and worries about the spread of more contagious variants.

    Biden’s management of the pandemic will surely define at least the first year of his presidency, and his response has showcased the inherent tension between preparing the nation for dark weeks ahead while also offering optimism about pushing out vaccines that could, eventually, bring this American tragedy to a close.

    After he spoke, the president along with first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff stood outside the White House for a moment of silence at sundown. Black bunting draped the doorway they walked through. Five hundred brilliantly lit candles — each standing for 1,000 people lost — illuminated the stairways on either side of them as the Marine Band played a mournful rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

    The milestone comes just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. fatality from the coronavirus. The pandemic has since swept across the world and the U.S., stressing the nation’s health care system, rattling its economy and rewriting the rules of everyday society.

    In one of his many symbolic breaks with his predecessor, Biden has not shied away from offering remembrances for the lives lost to the virus. His first stop after arriving in Washington on the eve of his inauguration was to attend a twilight ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to mourn the dead.

    That somber moment on the eve of Biden’s inauguration — typically a celebratory time when America marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation.

    The COVID-19 death total in the United States had just crossed 400,000 when Biden took the oath of office. An additional 100,000 have died in the past month.

    Former President Donald Trump invariably looked to play down the total, initially claiming the virus would go away on its own and later locking into a prediction that America would suffer far fewer than 100,000 deaths. Once the total eclipsed that mark, Trump shifted gears again and said that scale of loss was actually a success story because it could have been much worse.

    Outside of perfunctory tweets marking the milestones of 100,000 and 200,000 deaths, Trump oversaw no moment of national mourning, no memorial service. At the Republican National Convention, he made no mention of the suffering, leaving that to first lady Melania Trump.

    And at campaign rallies across the nation, he erroneously predicted that the nation was “rounding the corner” on the virus while he disregarded safety measures such as masks and pushed governors to lift restrictions against public health advice. In audio tapes released last fall, it was revealed that Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in March that “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”

    Biden, by contrast, has long drawn on his own personal tragedy as he comforts those who grieve. He has pledged to level with the American public on the severity of the crisis and has repeatedly warned that the nation was going through a “very dark winter,” one now challenged by the arrival of more contagious virus variants.

    Biden also has deliberately set expectations low — particularly on vaccinations and when the nation can return to normal — knowing he could land a political win by exceeding them. He is on track to far exceed his initial promise to deliver 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days, with some public health experts now urging him to set a far more ambitious goal. The administration says it expects to have enough vaccine available for every American by the end of July.

    Biden’s reference to next Christmas for a possible return to normalcy raised eyebrows across a pandemic-weary nation and seemed less optimistic than projections made by others in his own administration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has suggested a summer comeback.

    Related:

    500,000 people should not have died in a country as ‘rich and sophisticated’ as U.S., Fauci says

    U.S. Death Toll From COVID-19 Passes the 500,000 Mark (TIME)

    In Aurora, Colorado An Ethiopian Church Becomes A Trusted COVID Vaccination Site

    COVID-19: Ethiopia Says It Has Secured 9 Million Doses of Vaccines Till April

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Profile: Dr. Rahel Nardos, Meet the Voice of University of Minnesota’s New Global Focus on Women’s Health

    Dr. Rahel Nardos is connecting the University of Minnesota with low-resource locations to improve healthcare access. (Courtesy photo)

    Minnesota Monthly Magazine

    What do Minnesota’s Indigenous, immigrant, African American, and refugee communities have in common with women in low-resource countries around the world? They’re all chronically underserved by healthcare providers. So says Rahel Nardos, MD, the new director of global women’s health at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility (CGHSR). And she aims to change that.

    Nardos was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She came to the U.S. for college on a scholarship, then attended Yale Medical School, where she met her husband, Damien Fair, who was pursuing his PhD in neuroscience. They moved to Addis Ababa after completing their studies, where Nardos cared for women with obstetric fistulas, a devastating condition in which a hole forms in the birth canal following childbirth.

    “Having grown up there and seen the scarce situation, where the quality of medical care and education was compromised, that planted the seed for me to want to figure out ways we can create better health systems and build capacities in low-resource settings,” says Nardos.

    In Ethiopia, Nardos worked with victims of some of the world’s worst health inequities—including women ostracized from their communities due to a medical condition that was itself a result of inadequate obstetric and gynecological care. “That got me interested in specializing in urogynecology,” says Nardos, who pursued fellowship training and a master’s degree in clinical research at the same time. “I’m very interested in improving care through research.”

    She went on to work with Kaiser Permanente and Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, where she founded Footsteps to Healing, a program that supports surgical care for women with injuries after childbirth.

    In 2020, amid a global pandemic and widespread civil unrest, Nardos and Fair were jointly recruited by the University of Minnesota and made a new home in the Twin Cities. While Fair leads the U’s Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, Nardos is bringing her trusted global partnerships to the table to help CGHSR form stronger and more effective relationships with healthcare programs and providers around the world.

    “I’m also looking at how we can leverage our collective passion and experience in underserved care right here in our communities,” she adds. “We have people right here who don’t have access to quality care, such as immigrants and people with cultural practices that may compromise their health. We want to create programs that tap into our collective experiences, talents, passions, and partnership models to do meaningful work both globally and locally.”

    Nardos is drawing on the U’s resources and expertise in areas spanning preventive care, health policy, leadership building, clinical capacity building, and advances in telehealth to improve care for women in low-resource settings. The goal? “To help support our partners and train our residents and fellows so they become providers who care about health equity and disparities, and are actively working to address it in their own communities,” says Nardos.

    She’s even taking a mindfulness course at the U’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, and thinking about how to translate what she’s learning into cognitive strategies to help manage pain and irritative bladder symptoms in patients with urogynecological conditions.

    Though she’s mining and connecting resources across a wide range of university programs, Nardos is crystal clear on her mission: to have a tangible impact in the lives of real, underserved women, far from the halls of academia. “How do we define success? We have to be careful not to define it academically—how many papers you publish or grants you get,” she notes. “How is it translating into improving health outcomes on the ground?”

    Learn more about Dr. Nardos and the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility at globalhealthcenter.umn.edu

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopian Startup Gebeya Launches New Mobile App To Connect Freelancers To Employers

    Ethiopia's tech startup Gebeya Inc., an online marketplace for jobs, has announced the launch of its latest mobile App called Gebeya Talent, a new platform through which it is expanding access to its network across Africa and around the globe. (Photo: Gebeya Inc)

    Digital Times Africa

    Gebeya, an Ethiopian startup has launched its new app, Gebeya Talent, a portal through which it is expanding access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    Gebeya is an online talent marketplace focused on cultivating the potentials of African youth, training them with technical skills, and helping them find jobs.

    The app bridges the gap between African talents and employers through its easy application process, automatic matching, and a no-bidding process where they get paid.

    “We strive to be the most-referenced freelance African talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a must,” said Amadou Daffe, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Gebeya.

    “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from one to two weeks. Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    Founded in 2016, the startup formerly leveraged on manual processes but has now scaled to automation and improved processes. Gebeya says it would be adding new features to the platform and further optimize the process throughout the year.

    Ethiopia’s Gebeya launches app to help freelancers access work opportunities


    (Image courtesy of Gebeya Talent)

    Disrupt Africa

    Ethiopian startup Gebeya, a pan-African online talent marketplace, has launched Gebeya Talent, a new app through which it is expanding access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    Gebeya focuses on cultivating the untapped tech potential of African youth to prepare them for the demands of the global market, training young people with technical skills and helping them find jobs.

    Its new app, Gebeya Talent, provides African talent seeking their next freelance work opportunity with access to a quick and easy application process, automatic matching, and a no-bidding process where they get paid at rates that represent their capabilities and experience.

    Prior to the release of the Gebeya Talent app, the process to apply to join Gebeya’s talent network was largely manual, requiring intensive human involvement. Now, leveraging improved processes and automation, the process has greatly improved, and Gebeya said it will be adding additional features to streamline and further optimise the process throughout the year.

    “We strive to be the most-referenced freelance African talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a must,” said Amadou Daffe, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Gebeya.

    “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from one to two weeks. Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    Below is the full press release from Gebeya Inc. shared on linkedin by Becky Tsadik, Director of Marketing at Gebeya Inc: “I’m so excited to share that Gebeya Inc. has just launched a mobile app that will transform the landscape for freelance talent in Africa. Our development team has been hard at work building a sleek, sophisticated app to connect talent with opportunities on the continent and beyond.”

    Gebeya Inc. Launches Gebeya Talent App to Transform African Talent Acquisition

    Gebeya Inc. announced today the launch of its new app: Gebeya Talent. With this, the Pan-African online talent marketplace will expand access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    African talent seeking their next freelance work opportunity will now have access to these features:

  • A quick and easy application process
  • Save time with automatic matching with exciting projects inline with their skill sets
  • No bidding; get paid at rates that represent their capabilities and experience level; get paid in multiple currencies
  • Being part of an engaging, growing community with exclusive professional networking, events, free upskilling, and mentorship
  • Showcase their best work via custom portfolio and profile


    Gebeya team members. (Photo: Gebeya Inc.)

    Prior to the release of the Gebeya Talent app, the process to apply to join our talent network was largely manual, requiring intensive human involvement.

    Now, leveraging improved processes and automation, the process has greatly improved. Throughout the year, additional features will be added to streamline and further optimize the process, and leverage the full power of artificial intelligence and automation. From application, to testing, from interview to onboarding, potential candidates can expect to enjoy a seamless experience.

    “We strive to be THE most-referenced freelance African Talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a MUST,” said Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-founder of Gebeya. “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. “Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    The year 2020 was abuzz with phrases like “future of work,” “gig economy,” and “remote work.” The release of the Gebeya Talent app proves that this bold, new future predicted has arrived. Access to opportunities for talent has expanded, as they are no longer restricted to their immediate geographic location; we follow a remote-first work model. And: anyone can download the app.

    “This is only the beginning,” said Thierno Niang, Chief Platform Officer at Gebeya. “We launched a mobile app before a web application, because all of our talent have access to a phone. As we add features to the product, we will also expand to include a web app.”

    The most in-demand talent for startups and corporations include: software development, graphics & design, project management, digital marketing, product management, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. But, as market needs evolve, so will the Gebeya Talent pool.

    The Gebeya Talent app grants access for talented professionals in Africa and its diaspora to join a community built with them in mind. Rather than bid against millions of freelancers in an anonymous pool of talent, they can be assured that every opportunity caters to their skill set and agreed-upon rate. No more underbidding, missed payments, or ghosted clients. Because Gebeya manages the entire process of matching, plus administrative and finance processes, talents are ensured timely and fair delivery of payment in exchange for their work.

    Within the next three-to-five years, we anticipate identifying and vetting the top 100,000 talent. From that, we expect to onboard the top 20,000 best. If you’re a talent from Africa or of African descent, seeking to join a community that will care about you, download the Gebeya Talent app and apply today.

    A web-based application to connect clients of all sizes, including individual entrepreneurs, startups, and large enterprises with talent, will launch later this month. This will be for clients that are seeking to: diversify their workforce, augment their existing team, or expand into new markets without the hassle of opening a physical office. Our goal is that clients will be matched with talent within seconds, and within 24-to-48 hours of contract-signing, begin the work.

  • Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Debo Engineering, A Jimma Based Agritech Startup


    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering, part of a burgeoning technology startup scene in Ethiopia that’s blazing a trail in various fields. Debo Engineering has announced that it has developed an app that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. (Courtesy photo)

    Tech in Africa

    Ethiopia Agritech startup develops an App that detects plant disease

    Debo Engineering, a startup based in Jimma has developed an app that automatically detects then classifies plant diseases through image detection once it runs the image through an algorithm.

    Debo engineering designs and develops smart engineering solutions for the agricultural sector. The startup banks on applied engineering centering on newly evolved technologies such as ML, artificial intelligence, IoT, image processing, mobile computing, and big data.

    Debo has a desktop application connecting commercial farms and research institutes in making farm analysis and drone rental services in the case of large rental farms. Most of the startup’s customers are urban farmers operating in Jimma city. Debo served over 300 customers in the last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds and have received several recognitions to date. The team clinched the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 Business Competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition. This has helped them raise initial funding to begin the implementation of their business ideas.

    Meet This Jimma Based Agritech Startup That Developed An App That Detects Plant Disease

    Shega

    Debo Engineering, A Jimma based agritech startup, developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection.

    Debo engineering is a startup that design and develop smart business applications solution in the agriculture sector. The startup uses applied engineering discipline centered on newly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, ML, IOT, image processing, big data, and mobile computing.

    Debo developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. The solution is available via a monthly subscription on the web and mobile application. It provides a recommendation to be taken for the user after detect plant disease.

    Debo also provides a desktop application that helps commercials farms and research institutes to make farm analysis as well as drone renting services for large commercial farms.

    Even though most of their customers are urban farmers that operate in Jimma city and nearby, Debo has been able to serve more than 300 customers last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds. The startup has received many recognitions so far. The team was the winner of the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 business competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition.

    These recognitions have helped them in raising the initial fund to start implementing their business idea.

    Debo plans to add more features and use wireless sensor networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) that can be easily deployed in farm fields and continuously send data.

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Qene Tech, Creators of Kukulu & Gebeta Video Games


    Dawit Abraham, Qene Technologies Co-founder and CEO. (Photo: Qene Tech)

    Ventures Africa

    DAWIT ABRAHAM AND HIRUY AMANUEL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF AWARD-WINNING MOBILE GAMING STUDIO, QENE GAMES

    As one of the top gaming studios in Africa, Qene Games already has a 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App under its belt, along with a bright future ahead.

    A part of this Ethiopian company’s vision is to incorporate African roots into the games created. Qene Games launched its first mobile 3D game in 2018 called Kukulu. The firm then spent almost a year problem-solving to establish a global friendly African game brand for the international market. The original African game set expectations high after winning the 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App and Qene Games is set to launch the iOS version in 2021 behind their latest release of Gebeta.

    Kukulu is a 3D runner game similar to the global hit Subway Surfers but has a plot twist of African culture integrated into the game as it takes place in a fairy-tale land type of setting. Kukulu is the name of the main character in the game, a brave chicken that finds freedom from her farmer. Gamers are taken through the African terrain as they help Kukulu journey and run for her life through levels and challenging obstacles.

    Recently, Qene Games proudly entered into a global, multi-year partnership with Carry1st. These two companies worked together to publish Gebeta, a free-to-play mobile board game that is a modern take on the traditional African and South Asian game of mancala. The game’s features include new mechanics, boosters, and tricks as it is intended to make the game more engaging with modern players as they grow in mastery.

    Qene Games also has plans to launch another addition to its ever-growing portfolio with the launch of Feta slated for 2021. Feta is a puzzle slider game with fun and challenging characteristics. Ethiopian culture is highlighted in the game, along with the country’s tradition and food. The game is a way for all audiences who play to see the beauty that Ethiopian culture brings to the world.

    Qene Games will launch the App Store version of the Kukulu game, as it is currently only available on Google Play. The company also plans to launch “Feta” and eventually become its own game publisher after closing a quiet pre-seed round of $250,000 in 2021 said the company CEO and co-founder, Dawit Abraham.

    “The software development firm, Qene Games, is excited for what the next few years and beyond holds after being the leader in raising the bar and popularity of African gaming in the technology industry. Experts at the company are generating more global content to add to future game releases,” said Hiruy Amanuel.

    About Hiruy Amanuel

    Hiruy Amanuel is a dedicated philanthropist who has invested in several educational and technological initiatives in East Africa. By increasing access to quality education and technological resources, he hopes to drive the rapid development of groundbreaking technologies throughout the Horn of Africa.

    About Dawit Abraham

    Dawit is a Senior game developer and co-founder of Qene Games which is a gaming company creating premium African mobile games for the international market. Dawit believes that Africa has a strong capacity to compete with international software industries and his goal is to make Qene Technologies one of the leading gaming companies in Africa, and eventually, the world.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    History: In Ethiopia AU to Honor Marcus Garvey With Planned Unveiling of a Statue

    The announcement said: "By erecting the Marcus Garvey Bronze Sculpture in Addis Ababa we will not only honor the legacy of one of the architects of the Pan African independence movement, but will also highlight Ethiopia as a focalpoint for Pan-Africanists to engage in constructing a unifying African heritage and destiny." (Photo: Public Domain)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 21st, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — Marcus Garvey — the renown Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist and businessman who today is regarded as one of the original leaders of the Pan African movement in the Western Hemisphere — is set to receive a prestigious and historical recognition with a planned unveiling of a permanent statute at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa.

    “Our history began, in a sense, with Ethiopia,” Marcus Garvey’s youngest son, Dr. Julius Garvey, told NNPA Newswire. “Its history goes back to the beginning of civilization. Ethiopian history is fundamental.”

    The announcement added: “By erecting the Marcus Garvey Bronze Sculpture in Addis Ababa we will not only honor the legacy of one of the architects of the Pan African independence movement, but will also highlight Ethiopia [a country that has never been colonized except for a brief occupation by Italy's Fascist forces in the 1930s] as a focalpoint for Pan-Africanists to engage in constructing a unifying African heritage and destiny.”

    Garvey’s son emphasized that when he was alive his father never actually set foot on African soil due to the colonial era travel restrictions.

    The press release stated:

    Currently the African Union has divided the African World into six regions: north, south, east, west, central, and the sixth region, the Diaspora. Garvey galvanized the Diaspora before we knew it by that name. It is only fitting that the original architect of pan-African sovereignty be recognized in the city that houses the African Union, which owes much of its ideological foundation to the philosophies and opinions of Marcus Garvey. The founding fathers of the African independence movement were highly influenced by the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, and their international newspaper, The Negro World [founded and led by Garvey].

    Organizers noted that the project is a collaborative initiative spearheaded by the Pan African Technical Association (PATA).

    According to NNPA Newswire:

    In commissioning the sculpture, Dr. Garvey joined with the Pan African Technical Association, Strictly Roots, and the renowned Los Angeles artist Mr. Nijel Binns to create the Marcus Garvey Bronze.

    Plans are to unveil the sculpture during a public ceremony on Aug. 17.

    [Garvey] is considered one of the central pillars of the Pan-Africa movement. Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League boasted more than 6 million members and over 1,000 branches in 42 countries in Africa and the Americas.

    “My father was a major proponent of the redemption of Africa, but he was never allowed to go to Africa because of the colonial policies,” Dr. Julius Garvey remarked.

    “So, taking a bust of him back to Africa is significant and historical from that perspective as well,” he said.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Interview: Meklit Hadero on Role of Music & Culture Amid Conflict in Ethiopia

    As part of "Movement,” an ongoing series from The World [a US public radio news magazine] about the lives and work of immigrant musicians, Ethiopian American musician Meklit Hadero recounts conversations with fellow musicians in Ethiopia about the unifying role of music and culture amid the conflict in Tigray. (Photo: Ethiopian-born singer Meklit Hadero shows off her guitar chops/via WAMU)

    PRI

    Ethiopian American musician Meklit Hadero: ‘We use music to talk about the things that are hard to talk about’

    As the conflict unfolds, some in the Ethiopian diaspora around the world try to make sense of it and their personal stories of migration and belonging to the country. Among them, Ethiopian American musician and cultural activist Meklit Hadero.

    “It’s a time of heartbreak for many Ethiopians,” Hadero told The World. “Hearing these stories of suffering is just absolutely tragic.”

    Hadero, who left Ethiopia for the US with her family when she was just under 2 years old, last visited Ethiopia in 2019 — before the conflict in Tigray broke out.

    She spoke with Ethiopian saxophonist Jorga Mesfin about the sense of optimism and desire for political and economic reform with the government and yet, palpable risk of ethnic violence.

    As part of “Movement,” an ongoing series from The World about the lives and work of immigrant musicians, Hadero recounts her conversations with Mesfin and other fellow artists during that 2019 trip — and discusses the role of music and culture in the country amid the Tigray conflict.

    “Calls for unity can feel impossible when history has not been reconciled, but the cost of not looking each other in the eye also feels too heavy to bear. How do we move through this? Like George [Mesfin], I often find it easier to face these impossible questions as an artist with music rather than with words,” Meklit said. “We use music to talk about the things that are hard to talk about.”

    Audio: Meklit Hadero on the Role of Music & Culture Amid the Conflict in Ethiopia

    Related:

    Review: ‘Meklit Hadero’s Nourishing Music & Lecture’ at University of Washington


    The following is a review of Meklit Hadero’s recent on screen performance and lecture at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall courtesy of the University’s student newspaper, The Daily. (Photo by Tessa Shimizu)

    The Daily

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    Meklit nourishes us through her music in Meany Center performance and lecture

    Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero’s joy is infectious. Listeners are enveloped in her warmth, even with the barrier of an electronic screen, and can’t help but feel a sense of peace while she talks and sings. Meklit invites us into her culture, and we never feel like an outsider. She is a natural storyteller who shared intimate cultural traditions in her Meany on Screen performance and lecture: “How Music Connects Us: Belonging, Wellbeing, and Sonic Lineage.”

    Meklit’s art synthesizes jazz, folk, and East African inspirations. She is the co-founder of the Nile Project, which is described as an “initiative bringing together musicians from all 11 Nile Basin countries to create music together, to tour the river and source lakes, and tour the world.” “When the People Move, The Music Moves Too,” her most recent album, was at the top of the iTunes World Music Chart.

    The multitalented artist and activist is also a National Geographic Explorer, a TED Fellow, and the chief of program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where she works to uplift BIPoC artists who in turn support the health and wellbeing of their communities.

    Meklit is often placed in the category of “world music,” however, she explained in her lecture that this term can contribute to division and othering. She prefers to view the phrase as relating to “open-armed sense of curiosity,” listening, and learning. Meklit thinks of music as a “gift of life” and global connector.

    “Every single culture in the world has music,” Meklit said during the lecture. “All music is world music.”

    Meklit hoped to nourish listeners with “kitchen table songs” in her Meany on Screen performance, recorded from San Francisco at the vibrant Studio 124. The show began with “Abbay Mado,” an Amharic praise song that describes a farmer, his life on the Blue Nile River, and the nourishing food he brings to tables. When singing this folk song, Meklit said she is reminded of the millions of people who have sung it in the past. For her, the power of folk music comes from the many voices that are contained in one piece.


    (The Daily University of Washington)

    In her performance, Meklit serenaded listeners with “Yesterday is a Tizita,” an Ethiopian song form meaning “songs of nostalgia.” The tizita holds two meanings — yesterday is a memory, and the popular Beatles song “Yesterday,” which fits into the tizita genre. According to Meklit, double entendres are an important part of the poetry and traditions of Ethiopia.

    “Kemekem (I Like your Afro)” is a traditional song from Northern Ethiopia. The phrase means freshly cut grass, but is also considered an idiom for the perfect afro, which Meklit described as the “stand tall” pride and swagger that comes from this hairstyle. In a piece from the performance, she sings: “Future is a woman // with her head held high // and an afro on her shoulders // reaching up for the sky // and the knowledge of her people // is filling up her mind // She understand manipulation // won’t fall for it this time.”

    The musician also gushed about the story behind her krar (Ethiopian harp), given to her by Dawit Seyoum, who toured with Meklit for the Nile Project.

    “It feels like a living being,” Meklit said. “It reacts to the temperature, and the air quality, and the room, and it tells me its moods, and it tells me how it’s feeling, and how exactly it needs to be played that day.”

    Traditional instruments, which are handmade, are magical. There is a specificity in which instrument you choose — each krar has its own personality. Meklit said she sees this as a metaphor for having to become connected with a specific soul in order to touch something universal.

    Meklit noted that researchers are finding out how music brings us together. A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Science found that after people listened to rhythmic music together, they performed coordinated tasks better than control groups did. With the help of music, the participants improved at sensing what was happening with their peers.

    Meklit also cited a Swedish study that shows that when people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize, in part because they are all breathing together as one entity. Music is “who we are,” Meklit said. She then discussed an MIT study which had participants listen to 150 sounds of all kinds. Per the study, there are six sets of neural clusters that process sound, but one set of neural clusters responds only to music. Meklit interprets these findings as people being “hardwired” for music.

    Meklit expressed in her lecture that she would love to see applications of these findings in our everyday lives.

    “Why can’t we play songs at the start of Zoom meetings that everyone in the call knows … imagine if everyone was singing from their respective computer screens before a meeting starts,” Meklit said. “What if we could attune better to each other?”

    Currently, Meklit is working on a new project in her capacity as a Mellon Creative Research Fellow. In collaboration with the Meany Center, “Movement” is designed as a live concert experience, with storytelling and multimedia aspects “creating a meditation on what it means to be American,” according to the Meany Center website.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Artist Spotlight: Mekdelawit of University of Massachusetts

    Mekdelawit Fissehazion's ardor for live shows began on stages in Ethiopia, long before University of Massachusetts. Mekdelawit was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. When she was 10 years old, [she] moved to Ethiopia, where she lived until coming to UMass for college. Ethiopia is where she began performing, and it influenced how she interacted with people while making music. (Daily Collegian)

    The Massachusetts Daily Collegian

    Isolation can be lonely, leaving one disconnected and uninspired without people to bounce off of. As humans we feed off of one another, we look forward to interacting, even setting up dates to do so. With quarantine and strict restrictions at the University of Massachusetts, this ability has been stripped of us, leaving a sense of mundaneness for many.

    Yet, for others, isolation can be incredibly cathartic, especially for creative introverts. Sophomore Mekdelawit Fissehazion released her first EP, “We Can Stay Here,” last April, in the midst of quarantine. While everyone else was losing their minds trying to figure out a way to spend their time alone, Fissehazion found peace.

    “That period of my life was a really big time for healing. It was after I got out of some really bad relationship stuff. That EP reflects it a lot — I just needed to get it out into the world,” she said. “For example, ‘We Can Stay Here’ is about a new person, but you have so many walls up because you don’t want to get hurt like last time. And then ‘Better Know’ was just straight up being like, bro, I miss you. But what can I do about it? You did me wrong. It’s really just exploring the emotions after heartbreak.”

    Through the release of her first project, she was able to find a release within herself. The EP itself is mostly freestyles, making her pain feel genuine and stories that much more remarkable.

    This sense of such raw realness, especially for a newer artist, did not fall on deaf ears. Her social media was flooded with Instagram reposts and hundreds of shares. The fact is the UMass community was truly rocking with her.

    “I really am so grateful that anybody listens to my music, it makes me so happy,” Fissehazion said. “I don’t think people realize how nerve wracking it is to put all your thoughts and emotions into a song and give it to people. The fact that they receive it and actually mess with it enough to post it and tell their friends about it means a lot to me.”

    Yet, unfortunately, because the EP was released during quarantine, Fissehazion couldn’t feel the tangible love from her audience that comes with release parties and live shows, something that is important to her as an artist.

    “I thrive off of performing, I really love it,” she said. “It’s a different feeling because recording music is a very tedious process, and I love it. But at the same time, singing, being in front of people and interacting with the audience, is very nice.”

    Before UMass students were sent home in March, the young artist performed at the Black History Month Showcase, an event hosted by the UMass Black Student Union. Yet, her ardor for live shows began on stages in Ethiopia, long before UMass.

    Fissehazion was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, where her parents’ taste in music was affected by their shift to American culture. This in turn influenced the music she listened to growing up.

    “Maryland is where I first started listening to R&B and singing with my cousins,” Fissehazion said. She recalled some of the artists that inspired her in her adolescence being Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Keri Hilson, T-Pain and Beyoncé.

    Audio: Mekdelawit · We Can Stay Here

    “I was obsessed with Beyoncé when I was really young,” she said. “I would beg my mom to buy me the World Tour CDs, watch them and learn every single rendition of every single song so I could sing exactly like her. When I really got into ‘Yoncé, that changed my life as a young kid. And my music taste. That was really where it began.”

    When she was 10 years old, Fissehazion moved to Ethiopia, where she lived until coming to UMass for college. Ethiopia is where she began performing, and it influenced how she interacted with people while making music.

    Her cousin, Adonis, served as a mentor-like figure for her when she first started out. She began experimenting with GarageBand and singing over her own production, yet it wasn’t until she and Adonis began working together that she began taking her craft to the next level and releasing music.

    “He produced and rapped, then I would write and hop on the song, and we would just release like that,” she said.

    The two have a few songs together and plan on releasing more collaborative music in the future. But for now, Fissehazion has been focusing on her solo career and trying to sharpen it as much as possible.

    “I’m just trying to make sure I’m really focused on quality right now,” she said, regarding a project in the works. “My previous project was mostly just freestyles, so now I’m actually taking my time and writing songs.”

    The songwriting process for the artist comes in waves of poetry — or pure spontaneous inspiration.

    “I’ll take certain lines from previous poetry and put them in where they fit sometimes,” she said. “Especially like the second verses, they always take me longer to write than the first ones because the first ones are just an outpour of ideas.”

    She refers to “Better Know”as the song she is most proud of because of the lyrics. Now, since she has more familiarity in terms of mixing and mastering, Fissehazion would like to work on it again for a re-release.

    Last April, she was able to use her heartbreak from previous semesters as fuel to create beautiful art. “We Can Stay Here” is dreamy, smooth and something you would listen to in a bubble bath while lighting a eucalyptus scented candle — knowing that at the end of the day, you have yourself and that’s all that matters.


    Mekdelawit (Daily Collegian)

    Now, her motivation to create comes in letting out those last bits of frustration and painting a fuller picture of her story.

    “I guess quarantine really made it hard because musicians and artists in general thrive on going through things to write music. And even though it is good sometimes to make sad music, I feel like a lot of the music that I made during quarantine… was more sad,” she said. “I don’t want people to feel that way from my music all the time. I’m really trying to pick the things that are more relatable, that are gonna touch different parts of people’s hearts, instead of depression.”

    With the release of “We Can Stay Here,” she did not have as many eyes on her because it was her first project. But now the stress of releasing a project under a larger audience is all too real, paired with the inevitable self-doubt that comes with being an artist.

    “I’m in my head a lot, self-doubt is a killer,” Fissehazion said. “For real, it’ll beat you down and everything. I’m starting to be more patient with myself and finding the joy in creating again, because it comes with a lot of pressure. You put pressure on yourself, because you want to be so great.”

    Conquering something as vicious as your own brain can lead to magnificent outcomes, such as a new single, “Motions” that is merely weeks away from release. Keep your eyes peeled for that and future projects from the 19-year-old R&B artist.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In Aurora, Colorado An Ethiopian Church Becomes A Trusted COVID Vaccination Site

    A woman receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine during an equity clinic held at Saint Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Aurora, Colorado on Feb. 13, 2021. (Photo: KUNC)

    KUNC

    For months, the halls of Saint Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church have stood mostly empty.

    COVID-19 restrictions prevent the congregation from sharing meals. Services are mainly held online. Holidays come and go without the usual mass celebrations.

    But on a recent, chilly morning, the church’s cafeteria was once again buzzing with activity. On the menu: 300 COVID-19 vaccines specifically reserved for congregants and other immigrant and refugee residents from the community.

    “I’m very happy,” said Mergersa Edeye, a longtime member of the congregation, after getting his vaccine. “Many of us wouldn’t have this opportunity otherwise.”

    The church partnered with Democratic state Rep. Naquetta Ricks and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to become an equity clinic — one of dozens taking place across the state. The pop-up vaccine distribution sites are designed to help quash racial disparities emerging in the rollout.


    Congregants walk through the parking lot of Saint Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Aurora. (KUNC)


    A man exits the front door of Saint Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Aurora. (KUNC)

    For church leaders, the decision to host the clinic was easy.

    Girma Tilahun, vice chair of the church’s board, said many congregants have encountered language or transportation barriers when trying to make appointments elsewhere. Having the clinic on site eliminates excuses not to get vaccinated.

    “We educate everyone that the vaccine is important for them, just like masks,” Tilahun said. “They all know that (they need to get vaccinated) if they want to come back to the church. If they don’t take the vaccine, they’ll have to stay home.”

    Still, hesitancy has been an issue. A husband and wife recently came to Tilahun and said they were suspicious of the 15-minute wait period required for all patients.

    Tilahun, along with a nurse in the congregation, were able to explain it was just a safety precaution. Feeling assured, the couple went ahead with getting their doses, Tilahun said.

    “It’s a small percentage (of those who don’t want it),” he said. “Most of our members do.”

    Yohannes Feye, one of Saint Mary’s priests, thought getting the vaccine would be a bigger deal. But when he rolled up his sleeve during the church’s equity clinic, he was shocked.

    “It’s like a regular flu vaccination,” Feye said. “I didn’t feel anything.”

    Feye said the pandemic has hit his congregation hard. A lot of people have gotten sick with COVID-19. A few have died.

    He wanted to get vaccinated to encourage others to do the same.

    “It’s good for the community. It’s good for the country. It’s good for a lot of people’s health so we stop transmitting the virus to each other,” Feye said. ‘So I will advocate as much as I can.”

    Read the full article at kunc.org »

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    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray

    "In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region," said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: New York Tristate GERD Support Virtual Launch Event February 20th

    The New York Tristate Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Support is launching its first community virtual meeting Saturday February 20, 2021 at 2:00 PM." Guest speakers include Ethiopia's Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Seleshi Bekele and Ethiopia's Ambassador to the United Nations Taye Atske, as well as Lemlem Fiseha, member of GERD Negotiating Team from New York. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 19th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — If there is one thing that the vast majority of Ethiopians around the world agree on — across the diverse political spectrum — it’s that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a national pride and a homegrown solution to transform Ethiopia into an economic regional superpower, leaving behind its long-lingering image of poverty once and for all.

    This weekend a diverse group of Ethiopians here in the New York area are launching a public relations initiative to help educate the international community including U.S. elected officials and American scholars about Ethiopia’s Nile river dam project, which when completed will become the largest hydropower plant in Africa.

    According to the announcement “the NY Tristate Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Support is launching its first community virtual meeting Saturday, February 20th at 2:00 PM.”

    Guest speakers include Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Seleshi Bekele and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Taye Atske, as well as Lemlem Fiseha, member of GERD Negotiating Team (New York).

    “We Ethiopians and American-Ethiopians in the New York-TriState area formed the GERD Support group in September 2020 to advocate the completion of the GERD’s construction to realize its peaceful and equitable agenda by mobilizing the public and financial support needed,” Wondmagegne Masresha, Chair of the New York Tristate GERD support group, said in a statement. “As part of our advocacy, we have sent GERD fact sheets and advocacy letters to US Senators, House Representatives, research institutes and think thank groups.”

    Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, a member of the GERD Support Group, added that the local initiative is “keen to join forces and work together with similar Ethiopian and American GERD supporters and advocates in other US states.”

    If You Attend:

    NY Tristate GERD Support Virtual Launch Event
    Feb 20, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
    Zoom Link:
    Click register and receive your meeting ID and passcode
    More info at www.NYtristate4GERD.org

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: US to Unlink Trump Era Aid Cut to Ethiopia From GERD, Plans Special Envoy for Horn of Africa

    Ethiopians were furious after former President Donald Trump last year directed the suspension of aid to their country in a rare example of his direct involvement in an African issue. Ethiopia had left a U.S.-led attempt to mediate the dispute with Egypt, alleging bias. Trump also caused an uproar by saying downstream Egypt would "blow up" the dam project that Cairo considers an existential threat. - AP (Getty Images)

    Reuters

    US to Unlink Paused Ethiopian Aid from Dam Policy

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said Washington will unlink its pause on some aid to Ethiopia from its policy on the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam that sparked a long-running dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration will review U.S. policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and will assess the role the administration can play in facilitating a solution between the countries.

    Filling started in July

    A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

    “We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” Price said.

    The temporary pause on certain U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia affects $272 million in development and security assistance to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that the resumption of assistance will be assessed on a number of factors and that the decision has been shared with Addis Ababa.

    Among the factors assessed will be “whether each paused program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred subsequent to the pause being put in place,” a State Department spokesperson said.

    Trouble in Tigray region

    The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

    Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam after the summer rains last year despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that it should first reach a binding agreement on the dam’s operation.

    Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its fresh water supplies, more than 90% of which come from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan then Egypt and is the Nile’s main tributary.

    Aid cut to Ethiopia

    Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

    Then-U.S. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia had broken a U.S.-brokered agreement to resolve the dispute, forcing him to cut funds. The United States cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

    Ethiopia in October summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from Trump over their dispute.

    Related:

    US: Aid pause to Ethiopia no longer linked to dam dispute (AP)

    Biden Mulls Special Envoy for Horn of Africa (FP)


    The post, if created, would bring more diplomatic firepower to the brewing crisis in Ethiopia as members of Biden’s cabinet and other senior State Department nominees await confirmation. (Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff during the first visit of President Joe Biden to the State Department in Washington on Feb. 4./ GETTY IMAGES)

    Foreign Policy Magazine

    This article is part of Foreign Policy’s ongoing coverage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, detailing key administration policies as they get drafted—and the people who will put them into practice.

    The Biden administration is weighing plans to establish a new special envoy for the Horn of Africa to address political instability and conflict in the East African region, including a brewing civil war and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, current and former officials familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.

    The new special envoy post could fill a diplomatic leadership gap in the administration’s foreign-policy ranks as it works to install other senior officials in the State Department, a process that could take weeks or even months to complete, as they require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. Special envoy posts do not require Senate confirmation.

    A new Horn of Africa envoy would have their work cut out for them: Sudan is undergoing a delicate political transition after three decades under a dictatorship, South Sudan is wracked by chronic instability and corruption, and the fragile government of Somalia is grappling with ongoing threats from the al-Shabab terrorist group and political gridlock that has delayed national elections. An ongoing dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over a major dam project adds another layer of complexity to the tensions in the region.

    The most pressing crisis in the eyes of many U.S. policymakers, however, is in Ethiopia. In November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the ruling party in the country’s northern Tigray region, after accusing it of attacking a government military base. Conflict has ravaged the region since then, marked by thousands of deaths, millions in need of humanitarian assistance, and widespread reports of interethnic violence. U.S. officials fear that the conflict could turn into a full-blown regional crisis, with turmoil spilling over into neighboring Eritrea and Sudan.

    While officials cautioned no final decision has yet been made, one top contender for the potential job is Donald Booth, a seasoned diplomatic troubleshooter in the region who currently serves as U.S. special envoy for Sudan and has previously served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

    Some experts welcomed more attention to the Horn of Africa but cautioned against the new administration relying too heavily on special envoy posts. “I don’t want us to get back into the practice of throwing special envoys at every problem set. It often saps the State Department’s resources and authorities in ways that aren’t productive,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, and a former senior U.S. intelligence analyst. “But in this case, it is urgent, and there aren’t enough senior people in the region.”

    With less than a month in office, President Joe Biden doesn’t yet have his full cabinet in place, let alone many senior posts across the State Department that require Senate confirmation. Biden has yet to name a nominee for the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and the U.S. ambassador posts in Eritrea and Sudan are unfilled, held in an acting capacity by lower-ranking diplomats. The next U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Geeta Pasi, is expected to arrive at her post shortly.

    A State Department spokesperson did not confirm the administration was set on creating the new special envoy post when asked for comment. “Africa is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration, and we are committed to re-invigorating our relationships throughout Africa from a position of mutual respect and partnership. This includes deepening our engagement on the challenging issues present in the Horn of Africa,” the spokesperson said. “Senior-level engagement on a consistent basis will be a signal of our commitment. The Administration is actively considering a range of options to ensure that our staffing, including any use of Special Envoys, supports implementation of our strategy.”

    One big question would be whether the new special envoy post would report directly to the president or secretary of state, or to the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. The former would be viewed as more empowered to negotiate on behalf of Washington, with a direct line to the president or his cabinet.

    Some administration insiders have also floated the idea of tapping a former senior U.S. lawmaker for the job, arguing someone with political clout could engage directly with senior African leaders, including Ethiopia’s Abiy. (Biden has eyed former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for a senior diplomatic post, such as an ambassadorship in South Africa or Europe, according to Axios.)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    WATCH: 19-Year-Old Lemlem Hailu Beats World Champion In Fastest 3K of 2021

    Ethiopia’s Lemlem Hailu wins the 3,000m race at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour in Torun, Poland, on Wednesday. (FloTrack)

    FloTrack

    19-year-old Lemlem Hailu showed her Lievin victory wasn’t a fluke and sprinted away from steeplechase world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech on the final lap of the 2021 World Indoor Tour Torun Meeting in a 2021 world leading 8:31.24 3,000m.

    Video: 19-Year-Old Lemlem Hailu Beats World Champion In Fastest 3K of 2021


    Ethiopia’s Lemlem Hailu wins the 3,000m race at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour in Torun, Poland, on Thursday, February 18, 2021. (FloTrack)

    Related:

    Watch: Habitam Alemu dominated the women’s 800m | 2021 World Indoor Tour Torun

    FloTrack

    Habitam Alemu dominated the women’s 800m at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour Torun Meeting. After going through the first 400m in 57.63, she finished in a meet record of 1:58​.19. It would have been an Ethiopian indoor record, had Gudaf Tsegay not ran 1:57​.52 a week earlier.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ART TALK: Tenbeete Solomon, DC Muralist Shares Her Favorite Spots on U Street

    Tenbeete Solomon paints a mural outside of K Street shop &pizza in Washington, D.C. As the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, Tenbeete Solomon has long been surrounded by art. Her dad was an accomplished artist who went to Parsons on a full ride. “Art was in my life before I knew I was an artist,” she says. | PHOTO BY SHAUGHN COOPER

    Thrillist

    DC Muralist Shares Her Favorite Spots in the Historic U Street Neighborhood

    If you’ve ever taken a walk around downtown DC, public art practically jumps out at you from the walls. That’s certainly the case with the bold and beautiful work of Tenbeete Solomon, aka Trap Bob, whose art can be seen in U Street, NOMA, and Takoma Park, just to name a few spots. Her vibrant, stylized art usually comes with a message whether it’s obvious—like “Fight The Power” or “Know Your Rights”—or merely symbolized in the powerful Black figures she depicts.

    As the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, Solomon has long been surrounded by art. Her dad was an accomplished artist who went to Parsons on a full ride. Ironically, it was something she never considered for herself until the end of her college career studying marketing at University of Maryland. “Art was in my life before I knew I was an artist and then marketing came in before I knew I needed that,” she says. “If you’re creative, having a business education is really important.”

    Soon, she put that education and skill to good use when she started getting her work into DC galleries. “When I started out, I was obsessed with painting hands, so I was able to have a series with some consistency,” she says, adding that she was influenced early on by the bright and whimsical images of Lisa Frank. “My first year I was showing in DC, I did about 50 shows. Yeah, a show like every weekend.”


    PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAP BOB

    DC businesses small and large came calling and she was commissioned to paint a mural for BET promoting Lena Waithe’s show Twenties outside of Cloak & Dagger. Plus, her work can be found in Alethia Tanner Park in NOMA, outside K Street shop &pizza, on Takoma Park picnic tables, and on the exterior wall of Hotel Zena on 14th Street.

    This ever-present public art is one of the reasons Solomon loves DC, which she says is vastly different from its tourist reputation. “The cultural and creative scene doesn’t have anything to do with Capitol Hill and politics,” she says. “It’s very colorful, bold, and loud. Everyone is doing art, hosting live shows, and Go-Go is playing somewhere multiple times a day.”

    The U Street area specifically speaks to Solomon—not only because some of her work can be found there, but because of its historical significance and feeling of community. Known in the 1920s as “Black Broadway,” U Street was the center of DC’s cultural, artistic, and activist scenes.

    “It feels like a gathering hub for people in the city,” she says, mentioning iconic spots like Ben’s Chili Bowl and the T-Mobile store, famous for blasting Go-Go beats. “Everyone seems to end up at U Street and Shaw and there’s just always something to do no matter the time of day.”

    Next time you visit U Street, be sure to pop by some of Solomon’s favorite places for live music and vegan eats, snap a photo with one of her murals, and appreciate the significant role the neighborhood has played in shaping DC.

    Read more »

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    Business: Seattle Coffee Importer Expands QMS From Mexico to Ethiopia

    Mengistu Itefa (seated) acted as an intern on behalf of Ethiopia’s Asikana producer cooperative to implement the FincaLab system. Here he’s showing photos to members of the PROCAA group in Nayarit, Mexico. (Photo: courtesy of San Cristobal Coffee Importers)

    Daily Coffee News

    Seattle-area green coffee company San Cristobal Coffee Importers has expanded its producer-centered quality management and traceability system, called FincaLab, from Mexico to Ethiopia.

    San Cristobal, which was focused mainly on trading partners and relationships in parts of Nayarit, Mexico, since its founding in 1996, has been honing the system there for more than a decade, attempting to engage coffee producers in quality management processes from seed to cup.

    The proprietary quality management system (QMS) is now reflected for the first time outside Nayarit through a transcontinental internship involving members of the Asikana cooperative in Oromia, Ethiopia. The internship and implementation has resulted in the Ethiopian producer group’s first coffee exports.

    FincaLab was developed by San Cristobal and a trading and warehousing partner in Nayarit called Costa Oro. The system involves extended ICO marks on each bag of green coffee along with corresponding barcodes that trace coffees to the farm level and detail processing methods, coffee variety and other distinct features.


    The first exports of traceable Asikana coffee reached the United States late last year. (Photo: San Cristobal Coffee)

    The system is designed for traceability throughout the supply stream, while its also designed to ensure that farmers are receiving adequate compensation though continued access to markets via the centralized platform.

    “Our model organization, Grupo Terruño Nayarita (GTNAY), has some 600 producer members spread throughout six coffee-producing communities and eight local societies across the state of Nayarit,” San Cristobal President and FincaLab developer James Kosalos recently told DCN. “Without a quality management system (QMS) and a centralized corporate structure in place, any one producer from one of these locations has no guarantee they will have a buyer for a given harvest, and they have no insurance if their coffee quality is not good.”

    Though the system has proven beneficial to buyers and sellers alike, expanding it to producer partners in Ethiopia required more than mere barcodes. It took lengthy in-person commitments, including multiple flights from Ethiopia to Mexico and vice versa over the course of two years.

    Said Kosalos, “The intern, Mengistu Itefa, observed all the details of the FincaLab QMS [in Nayarit], from the picking of fruit to the milling of the resulting coffee and the loading of containers with coffee in barcode-labeled bags destined for the U.S., Australia, and Great Britain — each with an internet traceable serial number.”


    Mengistu Itefa implementing the FincaLab system in Ethiopia. ((Photo: San Cristobal Coffee)

    Though palate calibration and logistical issues and a host of other factors made the prospect of translating the QMS daunting, the first container of FincaLab-generated, traceable coffees from Ethiopia successfully arrived late last year.

    San Cristobal said that despite some recent challenges due to civil unrest and supply disruptions in parts of Ethiopia, it plans to continue implementing the FincaLab system to ensure a more equitable supply chain.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In New York, Ethiopian Community Hosts Online Yekatit 12 Program February 21

    Guest speakers include Jeff Pearce, Toronto-based Canadian journalist and author, whose famous book 'Prevail' features profiles of Ethiopian heroes from the second Italian-Ethiopian war including Jagama Kello, Ambassador Imru Zelleke, Lekelash Bayan, Lorenzo Taezaz and African-American pilot John Robinson. (Photo: ECMAA)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 18th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association, in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Justice, will host an online event this weekend in remembrance of Yekatit 12 and the Ethiopian lives lost at the Addis Ababa massacre on February 19, 1937.

    Guest speakers include Jeff Pearce, Toronto-based Canadian journalist and author, whose famous book Prevail features profiles of Ethiopian heroes from the second Italian-Ethiopian war including Jagama Kello, Ambassador Imru Zelleke, Lekelash Bayan, Lorenzo Taezaz and African-American pilot John Robinson.

    The announcement adds that Mr. Nicola A. DeMarco, an Italian-American human rights activist who served in the Axum Obelisk Return Committee, will also be featured as a guest speaker.

    Per wiki:

    Yekatit 12 (Amharic: የካቲት ፲፪) is a date in the Ethiopian calendar which refers to the massacre and imprisonment of Ethiopians by the Italian occupation forces following an attempted assassination of Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, Marquis of Negele, Viceroy of Italian East Africa, on February 19, 1937. Graziani had led the Italian forces to victory over the Ethiopians in the Second Italian invasion of Ethiopia and was supreme governor of Italian East Africa. This has been described as the worst massacre in Ethiopian history.

    Estimates vary on the number of people killed in the three days that followed the attempt on Graziani’s life. Ethiopian sources estimated that 30,000 people were killed by the Italians, while Italian sources claimed that only a few hundred were killed. A 2017 history of the massacre estimated that 19,200 people were killed, 20 percent of the population of Addis Ababa. Over the following week, numerous Ethiopians suspected of opposing Italian rule were rounded up and executed, including members of the Black Lions and other members of the aristocracy. Emperor Haile Selassie had sent 125 men abroad to receive college education, but most of them were killed. Many more were imprisoned, even collaborators such as Ras Gebre Haywot, the son of Ras Mikael of Wollo, Brehane Markos, and Ayale Gebre, who had helped the Italians identify the two men who made the attempt on Graziani’s life.

    ——
    If You Attend:
    Yekatit 12: An Online Commemoration
    Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 3PM ET
    Click here to register
    More info at ecmaany.org.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Freelance Journalist Job Announcement

    We are looking for a journalism student to host a weekly news podcast on a freelance basis. (Stock image)

    Job Announcement

    Position: Freelance Journalist

    Application Deadline: 2/24/21

    Location: United States of America

    Position Description

    We are looking for a journalism student to host a weekly news podcast on a freelance basis. Responsibilities include:

  • Host podcast episode (weekly)
  • Light editing of host script
  • Read 15-30 sec ad scripts for podcast advertisers to air during weekly episodes

    Time Commitment Required: 5hrs/week

    Qualifications

  • Currently enrolled in an accredited journalism program.
  • United States based
  • Proficient in Amharic
  • Excellent communication and time management skills.
  • Capacity to work with minimal supervision.
  • Self-motivated, disciplined approach to work.

    All interested parties can send resumes via email to CallingCardLLC@gmail.com and info@Tadias.com. Please be sure to include both addresses when sending.

    Provide links to social accounts:
    Twitter:
    Instagram:
    Linkedin:
    Facebook:

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  • Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Debo Engineering, A Jimma Based Agritech Startup

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering, part of a burgeoning technology startup scene in Ethiopia that's blazing a trail in various fields. Debo Engineering has announced that it has developed an app that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. (Courtesy photo)

    Tech in Africa

    Ethiopia Agritech startup develops an App that detects plant disease

    Debo Engineering, a startup based in Jimma has developed an app that automatically detects then classifies plant diseases through image detection once it runs the image through an algorithm.

    Debo engineering designs and develops smart engineering solutions for the agricultural sector. The startup banks on applied engineering centering on newly evolved technologies such as ML, artificial intelligence, IoT, image processing, mobile computing, and big data.

    Debo has a desktop application connecting commercial farms and research institutes in making farm analysis and drone rental services in the case of large rental farms. Most of the startup’s customers are urban farmers operating in Jimma city. Debo served over 300 customers in the last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds and have received several recognitions to date. The team clinched the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 Business Competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition. This has helped them raise initial funding to begin the implementation of their business ideas.

    Meet This Jimma Based Agritech Startup That Developed An App That Detects Plant Disease

    Shega

    Debo Engineering, A Jimma based agritech startup, developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection.

    Debo engineering is a startup that design and develop smart business applications solution in the agriculture sector. The startup uses applied engineering discipline centered on newly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, ML, IOT, image processing, big data, and mobile computing.

    Debo developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. The solution is available via a monthly subscription on the web and mobile application. It provides a recommendation to be taken for the user after detect plant disease.

    Debo also provides a desktop application that helps commercials farms and research institutes to make farm analysis as well as drone renting services for large commercial farms.

    Even though most of their customers are urban farmers that operate in Jimma city and nearby, Debo has been able to serve more than 300 customers last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds. The startup has received many recognitions so far. The team was the winner of the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 business competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition.

    These recognitions have helped them in raising the initial fund to start implementing their business idea.

    Debo plans to add more features and use wireless sensor networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) that can be easily deployed in farm fields and continuously send data.

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Qene Tech, Creators of Kukulu & Gebeta Video Games


    Dawit Abraham, Qene Technologies Co-founder and CEO. (Photo: Qene Tech)

    Ventures Africa

    DAWIT ABRAHAM AND HIRUY AMANUEL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF AWARD-WINNING MOBILE GAMING STUDIO, QENE GAMES

    As one of the top gaming studios in Africa, Qene Games already has a 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App under its belt, along with a bright future ahead.

    A part of this Ethiopian company’s vision is to incorporate African roots into the games created. Qene Games launched its first mobile 3D game in 2018 called Kukulu. The firm then spent almost a year problem-solving to establish a global friendly African game brand for the international market. The original African game set expectations high after winning the 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App and Qene Games is set to launch the iOS version in 2021 behind their latest release of Gebeta.

    Kukulu is a 3D runner game similar to the global hit Subway Surfers but has a plot twist of African culture integrated into the game as it takes place in a fairy-tale land type of setting. Kukulu is the name of the main character in the game, a brave chicken that finds freedom from her farmer. Gamers are taken through the African terrain as they help Kukulu journey and run for her life through levels and challenging obstacles.

    Recently, Qene Games proudly entered into a global, multi-year partnership with Carry1st. These two companies worked together to publish Gebeta, a free-to-play mobile board game that is a modern take on the traditional African and South Asian game of mancala. The game’s features include new mechanics, boosters, and tricks as it is intended to make the game more engaging with modern players as they grow in mastery.

    Qene Games also has plans to launch another addition to its ever-growing portfolio with the launch of Feta slated for 2021. Feta is a puzzle slider game with fun and challenging characteristics. Ethiopian culture is highlighted in the game, along with the country’s tradition and food. The game is a way for all audiences who play to see the beauty that Ethiopian culture brings to the world.

    Qene Games will launch the App Store version of the Kukulu game, as it is currently only available on Google Play. The company also plans to launch “Feta” and eventually become its own game publisher after closing a quiet pre-seed round of $250,000 in 2021 said the company CEO and co-founder, Dawit Abraham.

    “The software development firm, Qene Games, is excited for what the next few years and beyond holds after being the leader in raising the bar and popularity of African gaming in the technology industry. Experts at the company are generating more global content to add to future game releases,” said Hiruy Amanuel.

    About Hiruy Amanuel

    Hiruy Amanuel is a dedicated philanthropist who has invested in several educational and technological initiatives in East Africa. By increasing access to quality education and technological resources, he hopes to drive the rapid development of groundbreaking technologies throughout the Horn of Africa.

    About Dawit Abraham

    Dawit is a Senior game developer and co-founder of Qene Games which is a gaming company creating premium African mobile games for the international market. Dawit believes that Africa has a strong capacity to compete with international software industries and his goal is to make Qene Technologies one of the leading gaming companies in Africa, and eventually, the world.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Qene Tech, Creators of Kukulu & Gebeta Video Games

    Dawit Abraham, Qene Technologies Co-founder and CEO. (Photo: Qene Tech)

    Ventures Africa

    DAWIT ABRAHAM AND HIRUY AMANUEL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF AWARD-WINNING MOBILE GAMING STUDIO, QENE GAMES

    As one of the top gaming studios in Africa, Qene Games already has a 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App under its belt, along with a bright future ahead.

    A part of this Ethiopian company’s vision is to incorporate African roots into the games created. Qene Games launched its first mobile 3D game in 2018 called Kukulu. The firm then spent almost a year problem-solving to establish a global friendly African game brand for the international market. The original African game set expectations high after winning the 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App and Qene Games is set to launch the iOS version in 2021 behind their latest release of Gebeta.

    Kukulu is a 3D runner game similar to the global hit Subway Surfers but has a plot twist of African culture integrated into the game as it takes place in a fairy-tale land type of setting. Kukulu is the name of the main character in the game, a brave chicken that finds freedom from her farmer. Gamers are taken through the African terrain as they help Kukulu journey and run for her life through levels and challenging obstacles.

    Recently, Qene Games proudly entered into a global, multi-year partnership with Carry1st. These two companies worked together to publish Gebeta, a free-to-play mobile board game that is a modern take on the traditional African and South Asian game of mancala. The game’s features include new mechanics, boosters, and tricks as it is intended to make the game more engaging with modern players as they grow in mastery.

    Qene Games also has plans to launch another addition to its ever-growing portfolio with the launch of Feta slated for 2021. Feta is a puzzle slider game with fun and challenging characteristics. Ethiopian culture is highlighted in the game, along with the country’s tradition and food. The game is a way for all audiences who play to see the beauty that Ethiopian culture brings to the world.

    Qene Games will launch the App Store version of the Kukulu game, as it is currently only available on Google Play. The company also plans to launch “Feta” and eventually become its own game publisher after closing a quiet pre-seed round of $250,000 in 2021 said the company CEO and co-founder, Dawit Abraham.

    “The software development firm, Qene Games, is excited for what the next few years and beyond holds after being the leader in raising the bar and popularity of African gaming in the technology industry. Experts at the company are generating more global content to add to future game releases,” said Hiruy Amanuel.

    About Hiruy Amanuel

    Hiruy Amanuel is a dedicated philanthropist who has invested in several educational and technological initiatives in East Africa. By increasing access to quality education and technological resources, he hopes to drive the rapid development of groundbreaking technologies throughout the Horn of Africa.

    About Dawit Abraham

    Dawit is a Senior game developer and co-founder of Qene Games which is a gaming company creating premium African mobile games for the international market. Dawit believes that Africa has a strong capacity to compete with international software industries and his goal is to make Qene Technologies one of the leading gaming companies in Africa, and eventually, the world.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    World Bank Calls for Unbiased Infrastructure Policy in Ethiopia

    The country manager elaborated further on the World Bank’s pledge to invest $200 million into the market via the new Digital Ethiopia Foundations project, saying the strategy was aimed at creating “the legal and regulatory building blocks for the digital ecosystem, in areas like e-commerce and Digital ID.” (DT)

    Developing Telecoms

    The World Bank has confirmed plans to invest $200 million into Ethiopia’s digital economy as the country liberalises its telecoms market, but has cautioned that policies aimed at encouraging new entrants to lease infrastructure from Ethio Telecom could prove counterproductive.

    Ousmane Dione, World Bank country director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan, warned that deployments could stall if new operators were pushed to lease infrastructure from Ethio Telecom rather than independent tower firms, arguing that it would be best if market entrants were able to “make rational decisions whether to build their own infrastructure.”

    “To benefit fully from competition does not mean offering preferential treatment to Ethio Telecom but rather creating a level playing field on which it can compete fairly with its new rivals,” argued Dione. He noted that rural areas could be particularly badly affected.

    Ethio Telecom has long held a monopoly in the market, with the bidding process for two new universal licences currently underway as Ethiopia moves towards opening up its telecoms sector. Operator groups including Etisalat, MTN, Orange, STC and a consortium headed by Vodafone are competing for the licences.

    However, Dione noted that regulations governing the construction of private infrastructure and restricting foreign ownership of finance providers would be damaging both to new entrants seeking to set up financial offerings as well as Ethio Telecom.

    “Ultimately, policies that seek to protect Ethio Telecom’s infrastructure by allowing it to charge high prices for interconnection will end up harming the company,” added Dione.

    The country manager elaborated further on the World Bank’s pledge to invest $200 million into the market via the new Digital Ethiopia Foundations project, saying the strategy was aimed at creating “the legal and regulatory building blocks for the digital ecosystem, in areas like e-commerce and Digital ID.”

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Extends Deadline for New Telecom License Bids by a Month


    Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalize the economy because of the huge size of the market, which serves more than 100 million people. (Photo: Ethio Telecom)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 2nd, 2021

    Ethiopia has extended the deadline for telecom firms to bid for new operating licenses by a month to April 5, the sector regulator said on Monday, citing requests from interested companies.

    The Horn of Africa nation’s telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalize the economy because of the huge size of the market, which serves more than 100 million people.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is pressing ahead with the auction of the new licenses and the sale of a 45% stake in state monopoly Ethio Telecoms, in spite of a military conflict in the northern Tigray region.

    Firms will be required to submit their technical and financial bids by April 5, compared with a previous deadline of March 5, the Ethiopian Communications Authority said in a statement.

    Winners will be given full operating licenses, but they will not be allowed to offer mobile phone-based financial services, government officials said last year.

    They will also be required to set up their own network infrastructure, such as cellphone towers, they said.

    Kenya’s top operator Safaricom, which has expressed an interest in a consortium with Vodafone and Vodacom, estimated in 2019 it would have to pay about $1 billion for a new license.

    Other firms that have expressed an interest include South Africa’s MTN, Etisalat from the United Arab Emirates and France’s Orange SA.

    Related:

    Ethiopia Telecom Reports 12% Rise in H1 Revenue


    The government said last year it will retain a 55% stake in Ethio Telecom, with 40% going to international companies and the remainder to local investors. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: January 22nd, 2021

    State-run Ethio Telecom, expected to be partly sold off as Ethiopia liberalises its economy, reported a 12% rise in first-half revenue to end-December to 25.6 billion birr ($650 million), it said on Thursday.

    The government said last year it will retain a 55% stake in Ethio Telecom, with 40% going to international companies and the remainder to local investors.

    Ethio Telecom said mobile voice services contributed 49% of the revenue and data services some 26%.

    The company plans to launch mobile money services soon, it said, but did not give a timeframe.

    In June, the telecoms regulator said it had received 12 bids for two telecom licences the government plans to award to multinational companies.

    The regulator has not given a deadline for when it will award the licences.

    Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalise the economy as a protected market which serves more than 110 million people.

    ($1 = 39.3650 birr)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    U.S. Announces Young African Leaders Initiative 10th Anniversary Competition

    Established in 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the U.S. Government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Over the past decade, YALI grew from 115 young leaders to include more than 24,000 alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program. (Courtesy photo)

    The Wilson Center

    In celebration of the 10th anniversary of YALI, the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the Wilson Center, is pleased to announce the YALI 10 Year Anniversary Competition under the theme “YALI at 10: My Life, My Community, and My World.”

    Selected submissions will be showcased at the YALI 10th anniversary virtual summit in May 2021, where we will celebrate a decade of YALI change-makers and their achievements. Submissions may include videos, short essays, poems, songs, spoken word, and sketches. They may also be showcased at a Live Stream event scheduled in fall 2021 or by the Department of State.

    YALI alumni and active Network members who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership in their communities are invited to describe or demonstrate how YALI has impacted your personal and professional development, and how you’ve made a difference in your communities and around the world. Individuals or alumni groups may compete and submissions may be in written, video, audio, or multimedia format. Individual submissions should correspond to one of YALI’s three curriculum tracks. Group submissions may be cross-cutting across tracks.

    Established in 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the U.S. Government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Over the past decade, YALI grew from 115 young leaders to include more than 24,000 alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program, four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) in Africa, and an extensive digital community called the YALI Network with more than 650,000 members. These programs aim to strengthen democratic institutions and good governance, spur economic growth and prosperity, and foster peace and security in Africa.

    Platform(s)

    Entries from this contest may be announced and promoted on various Woodrow Wilson Center, YALI, and Department of State Social Media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn but contest entry and administration will take place through e-mail.

    Want to enter? Click here for submission content guidelines.

    Related:

    In Ethiopia, U.S. Embassy Launches Media Training for Journalists Covering Election


    The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved. (U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia)

    Press Release

    U.S. Embassy Supports Ethiopian Journalists in Elections Training

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: On February 8, 2021 the U.S. Embassy launched the first of 25 week-long media trainings throughout Ethiopia. This comprehensive media capacity project will train approximately 500-700 journalists across the country. The U.S. Embassy has invested $450,000 (17,730,000 million birr) in this project.

    The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved. At the launch, Amanda Jacobsen, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, underscored to journalists, “Your role as media professionals is critical in both uncovering and addressing the needs and challenges of citizens, as well as questioning sources, diversifying the types of people you interview, and countering mis- and disinformation as part of your daily responsibilities.”

    Election-related topics to be covered include effective elections reporting; identifying mis- and dis information; and COVID-19 reporting techniques. The workshops will be facilitated by experienced Ethiopian journalists and professors from leading Ethiopian schools of journalism. An American media specialist developed the curriculum for the five-day sessions.

    The initiative is implemented by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs, with support from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, and in partnership with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and Addis Ababa University’s School of Journalism and Communications.

    In addition, experienced American media specialists will provide hands-on, tailored training at various Ethiopian newsrooms on investigative journalism techniques beginning in March 2021.

    The United States has invested nearly $35 million to support Ethiopia’s efforts to organize, administer, and conduct free and fair elections. U.S. assistance is helping build the capacity of the NEBE, political parties, civil society, and independent media to contribute to a free, fair, and peaceful electoral process, ensuring greater transparency and promoting meaningful participation among all citizens—with a focus on women, youth, and other traditionally marginalized groups. The United States is also supporting an international election observation effort.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ruth Negga To Play Josephine Baker In ABC Limited Series

    Ruth Negga, the Ethiopian-Irish actress, is set to play the legendary Josephine Baker, an American-born French Jazz Age performer and civil rights activist, in an upcoming Limited Series At ABC Signature. (Photo: Ruth Negga and Josephine Baker/AP)

    Deadline

    Ruth Negga To Star In Josephine Baker Limited Series At ABC Signature From Dee Harris-Lawrence, Millicent Shelton & LeBron James’ SpringHill Company

    EXCLUSIVE: The remarkable story of Josephine Baker, one of the most influential female entertainers of the 20th century, will be the subject of Josephine, a limited drama series in development at ABC Signature, with Ruth Negga attached to star as the legendary Jazz Age performer and civil rights activist.

    Negga also executive produces the project, which hails from David Makes Man showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence, Emmy-nominated director Millicent Shelton (30 Rock), LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s The Springhill Company and ABC Signature. Josephine stems from The Springhill Company’s overall deal with ABC Signature.

    Written by Harris-Lawrence and to be directed by Shelton, Josephine is a raw and unflinching look at the force of nature that was Josephine Baker, the biggest Black female artist of her time. From international superstar and decorated WWII spy, to civil rights activist and flawed mother, Josephine delves into the raw talent, sexual fluidity, struggles and bold life of an icon.

    Negga, Harris-Lawrence and Shelton executive produce with The Springhill Company.

    Born in Missouri in 1906, Baker started her career at 15 when she appeared onstage in several New York shows. At 19, she moved to France, which would become her adopted home country.

    There, she almost immediately found success as one of Europe’s most popular and highest-paid performers. Early on, she was renowned as a dancer, and was among the most celebrated performers to headline the revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris. She won admiration of cultural figures such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and E.E. Cummings, earning herself nicknames like “Black Venus” and “Black Pearl.” Baker sang professionally for the first time in 1930, and several years later landed film roles as a singer in Zou-Zou and Princesse Tam-Tam.

    Baker worked for the French Resistance during World War II, and during the 1950s and ’60s devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States. Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the U.S. and had an active role in the civil rights movement. She was a speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, and in 1968, she was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the U.S. by Coretta Scott King, following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, but declined the offer out of concern for the welfare of her children. Just two years after making a comeback to the stage, Baker died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1975, and was buried with military honors.

    Decades later, Baker’s life and work continues to influence top entertainment figures such as Beyoncé, who has portrayed her on various occasions. Baker also was portrayed by Diana Ross on Broadway and television in An Evening with Diana Ross, by Karine Plantadit in the biopic Frida and by Cush Jumbo in her debut play Josephine and I. In HBO’s 1991 biopic, The Josephine Baker Story, Baker was played by Lynn Whitfield, who won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, becoming the first Black actress to win the category.

    Baker was recently discovered by a new generation through HBO’s very influential 2020 series Lovecraft Country, which featured the American-born French entertainer, played by Carra Patterson. Also last year, Studiocanal, CPB Films and Leyland Films announced that they are developing an English-language drama series about Baker.

    Negga, best known for her starring roles in the film Loving and the AMC series Preacher, is repped by ICM Partners, Principal Entertainment and Markham Froggat and Irwin.

    For Harris-Lawrence, Josephine falls outside of the big overall deal she recently signed with Warner Bros. TV, where she serves an exec producer/co-showrunner on All Rise and exec producer/showrunner on David Makes Man. Prior to that, she was co-executive producer on Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G., Shots Fired and Star as well as Zoo, the ABC Signature-produced Detroit 1-8-7 and Saving Grace. She is repped by Rain Management Group and Gordon M. Bobb at Del Shaw Moonves.

    Shelton, who has played a key role in putting Josephine together, landed an Emmy nomination for 30 Rock, becoming the first African-American woman to be nominated in the directing for a comedy series category. The prolific music video and TV helmer has been one of ABC Signature’s go-to directors for Black-ish. She has also directed episodes of P-Valley, Insecure, The Walking Dead, Titans and the Starz comedy pilot Run the World, which was picked up to series. Shelton’s has TV directing work has earned her 10 NAACP Image Award nominations and three wins. She recently signed on to direct Netflix’s feature thriller End of the Road starring Queen Latifah. Shelton is repped by ICM Partners, Rain Management Group and Del Shaw Moonves.

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ruth Negga as ‘Hamlet’ American Premiere

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Review: ‘Meklit Hadero’s Nourishing Music & Lecture’ at University of Washington

    The following is a review of Meklit Hadero’s recent on screen performance and lecture at the University of Washington's Meany Hall courtesy of the University's student newspaper, The Daily. (Photo by Tessa Shimizu)

    The Daily

    Meklit nourishes us through her music in Meany Center performance and lecture

    Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero’s joy is infectious. Listeners are enveloped in her warmth, even with the barrier of an electronic screen, and can’t help but feel a sense of peace while she talks and sings. Meklit invites us into her culture, and we never feel like an outsider. She is a natural storyteller who shared intimate cultural traditions in her Meany on Screen performance and lecture: “How Music Connects Us: Belonging, Wellbeing, and Sonic Lineage.”

    Meklit’s art synthesizes jazz, folk, and East African inspirations. She is the co-founder of the Nile Project, which is described as an “initiative bringing together musicians from all 11 Nile Basin countries to create music together, to tour the river and source lakes, and tour the world.” “When the People Move, The Music Moves Too,” her most recent album, was at the top of the iTunes World Music Chart.

    The multitalented artist and activist is also a National Geographic Explorer, a TED Fellow, and the chief of program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where she works to uplift BIPoC artists who in turn support the health and wellbeing of their communities.

    Meklit is often placed in the category of “world music,” however, she explained in her lecture that this term can contribute to division and othering. She prefers to view the phrase as relating to “open-armed sense of curiosity,” listening, and learning. Meklit thinks of music as a “gift of life” and global connector.

    “Every single culture in the world has music,” Meklit said during the lecture. “All music is world music.”

    Meklit hoped to nourish listeners with “kitchen table songs” in her Meany on Screen performance, recorded from San Francisco at the vibrant Studio 124. The show began with “Abbay Mado,” an Amharic praise song that describes a farmer, his life on the Blue Nile River, and the nourishing food he brings to tables. When singing this folk song, Meklit said she is reminded of the millions of people who have sung it in the past. For her, the power of folk music comes from the many voices that are contained in one piece.


    (The Daily University of Washington)

    In her performance, Meklit serenaded listeners with “Yesterday is a Tizita,” an Ethiopian song form meaning “songs of nostalgia.” The tizita holds two meanings — yesterday is a memory, and the popular Beatles song “Yesterday,” which fits into the tizita genre. According to Meklit, double entendres are an important part of the poetry and traditions of Ethiopia.

    “Kemekem (I Like your Afro)” is a traditional song from Northern Ethiopia. The phrase means freshly cut grass, but is also considered an idiom for the perfect afro, which Meklit described as the “stand tall” pride and swagger that comes from this hairstyle. In a piece from the performance, she sings: “Future is a woman // with her head held high // and an afro on her shoulders // reaching up for the sky // and the knowledge of her people // is filling up her mind // She understand manipulation // won’t fall for it this time.”

    The musician also gushed about the story behind her krar (Ethiopian harp), given to her by Dawit Seyoum, who toured with Meklit for the Nile Project.

    “It feels like a living being,” Meklit said. “It reacts to the temperature, and the air quality, and the room, and it tells me its moods, and it tells me how it’s feeling, and how exactly it needs to be played that day.”

    Traditional instruments, which are handmade, are magical. There is a specificity in which instrument you choose — each krar has its own personality. Meklit said she sees this as a metaphor for having to become connected with a specific soul in order to touch something universal.

    Meklit noted that researchers are finding out how music brings us together. A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Science found that after people listened to rhythmic music together, they performed coordinated tasks better than control groups did. With the help of music, the participants improved at sensing what was happening with their peers.

    Meklit also cited a Swedish study that shows that when people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize, in part because they are all breathing together as one entity. Music is “who we are,” Meklit said. She then discussed an MIT study which had participants listen to 150 sounds of all kinds. Per the study, there are six sets of neural clusters that process sound, but one set of neural clusters responds only to music. Meklit interprets these findings as people being “hardwired” for music.

    Meklit expressed in her lecture that she would love to see applications of these findings in our everyday lives.

    “Why can’t we play songs at the start of Zoom meetings that everyone in the call knows … imagine if everyone was singing from their respective computer screens before a meeting starts,” Meklit said. “What if we could attune better to each other?”

    Currently, Meklit is working on a new project in her capacity as a Mellon Creative Research Fellow. In collaboration with the Meany Center, “Movement” is designed as a live concert experience, with storytelling and multimedia aspects “creating a meditation on what it means to be American,” according to the Meany Center website.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Q & A: Desta Gallery Owner Emebet Korn of Mill Valley, California

    Desta Gallery owner Emebet Korn arranges a piece on display at her gallery in Mill Valley, California. (Marin Independent Journal)

    Marin Independent Journal

    When Emebet Korn moved to San Anselmo from San Francisco more than 20 years ago, then pregnant with her daughter, she dreamed of opening a gallery in town. She imagined a place to highlight emerging and established artists — especially from the Bay Area — offer receptions and events, and foster a greater community.

    Although it took more than a decade, she made the leap and opened Desta Gallery in San Anselmo — the name means joy in Amharic, the Ethiopian-born Korn’s native language — nearly seven years ago.

    Then, in the middle of a pandemic, she closed the San Anselmo location and re-opened it in September in Mill Valley, at 100 Throckmorton Ave.

    Her experiences as a design consultant and the owner of a high-end women’s apparel line, as well as her philanthropic background co-founding a nonprofit that served her home country, help inform her contemporary-focused gallery, where she offers art consultancy, hand-delivers artwork and showcases exhibits.

    Q What made you want to move the gallery to Mill Valley?

    A The culture of Mill Valley. They support the arts, be it fine art, the Tuesday ArtWalks, the film festival, Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival and more. The Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce is very active with supporting businesses, and also what attracted me is being close to the city, so that people from all over the Bay Area visit.

    Q With everything that’s gone on this year, what it’s like being a woman gallerist of color in Marin?

    A I have only had people be supportive of me and my business. I definitely feel vulnerable, thinking all these thoughts that I have never thought about before, like are people seeing me as this Black person, or just another immigrant? It’s mindboggling why there’s such separation. We are in 2020, people should not be thinking this way. This is not something I was raised with. I went to an international school where everyone was from all over and we played with each other as one. My children are interracial. I feel very strongly that it’s important to see people for who they are, not their skin color.

    Q Growing up in Ethiopia, were you interested in art?

    A I have been passionate about art all my life. Since a young age, I’ve loved drawing, painting, anything creative. I came here from Ethiopia and studied fashion design and art.

    Q What does the gallery name mean to you?

    A It reflects on what I do, besides loving the creative world and wanting to support artists, working with clients, helping them find their voice and bringing joy to them. When a client buys a painting, and it’s a right fit, if you look at their eyes, they are twinkling, the spirit is lifting up. That’s why I am in this. Art reaches deep inside our souls and connects us to our deeper emotions, feelings and perceptions. Also, I introduce my clients to artworks that challenge them. I feel works that offer some resistance are often the ones that provide expansion and self-discovery.

    Q What’s it been like having to navigate COVID?

    A At the beginning of COVID, it was a little bit shocking to have to close your business, then now what, and I went into reflection, a lot of meditation and a lot of time thinking about it and how should I proceed. As time passed, what I realized is yes, we are in difficult times, but that doesn’t stop us from still enjoying the good things in our lives. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties, also reflect on the positives that are surrounding us. I decided to keep forging ahead, as long as I am doing it the safest way, and I am. It’s not a bad thing to go to galleries and look at art, even if you don’t buy anything at this time. Just be inspired and it’s good to refresh your spirit.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: End of Trump’s Impeachment Trial Opens a New Chapter for Biden

    President Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Camp David, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    Biden White House seeks to turn page on Trump

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The end of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial opens a new chapter for his successor in the White House.

    But while President Joe Biden and his team are eager to move past the impeachment, the bitterly partisan tone of the proceedings underscores the deep challenges ahead as the president and his party try to push forward their agenda and address historic crises.

    Biden, who was at the Camp David presidential retreat when the Senate voted Saturday to acquit Trump, had acknowledged that Democrats needed to hold the former president responsible for the siege of the U.S. Capitol but did not welcome the way it distracted from his agenda.

    The trial ended with every Democrat and seven Republicans voting to convict Trump, but the 57-43 vote was far from the two-third threshold required for conviction. Whether the seven GOP votes against Trump offered Biden any new hope for bipartisan cooperation within Congress remained an open question.

    In a statement, Biden referenced those GOP votes in favor of convicting the former president — and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s own indictment of Trump’s actions — as evidence that “the substance of the charge,” that Trump was responsible for inciting violence at the Capitol, is “not in dispute.”

    But he quickly moved on to the work ahead, sounding a note of unity and declaring that “this sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile” and that “each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

    “It’s a task we must undertake together. As the United States of America,” Biden said.


    President Joe Biden walks on the Colonnade to Marine One for departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Washington. Biden is en route to Camp David. (AP Photo)

    Biden made a point of not watching the trial live, choosing to comment only briefly on the searing images of the riot that gripped the nation. Though his White House publicly argued that the trial did not hinder their plans, aides privately worried that a lengthy proceeding could bog down the Senate and slow the passage of his massive COVID-19 relief bill. That $1.9 trillion proposal is just the first part of a sweeping legislative agenda Biden hopes to pass as he battles the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 480,000 Americans and rattled the nation’s economy.

    “The No. 1 priority for Democrats and the Biden administration is going to be to deliver on the promises that have been made on the pandemic, both on the vaccine front and the economic front,” said Democratic strategist Josh Schwerin.

    The end of the impeachment trial frees the party to focus on less divisive and more broadly popular issues and policies, like the coronavirus relief package, which polls show has significant support among Americans.

    Throughout his campaign, Biden worked to avoid being defined by Trump and his controversies and instead sought to draw a contrast on policy and competence, a guiding principle that he and his aides have carried over into the White House.

    His team kept up a steady drumbeat of events during the trial, including an update on vaccine development and Biden’s first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief. With the proceedings on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue now over, the White House plans to increase its efforts to spotlight the fight against the pandemic and push past Trump’s chaos.

    Former Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota predicted that in a state like hers, where Trump won 65% of the vote, focusing on those urgent issues would make more headway with average voters now.

    “What we have to be talking about is the economy — getting the economy back working, and turning the page” on the last administration, she said. “Good policy is good politics. We need to get back to that.”

    Democrats have a decision to make in how to deal with Trump going forward. While the end of the impeachment trial offers a clear opportunity for the party to focus squarely on its own agenda, Trump can also be a potent political weapon for Democrats, not to mention a big driver of campaign cash.

    After Saturday’s vote, American Bridge 21st Century, the Democratic Party’s opposition research arm, issued a statement calling out senators from Ohio and Florida, two states that Democrats are targeting in the 2022 election, for voting against convicting Trump.

    “Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, and nearly every other Senate Republican put their loyalty to Donald Trump ahead of the rule of law, the Capitol police officers who protect them every day, and the oaths they swore to uphold the Constitution,” said Bradley Beychock, the group’s president, calling the senators “spineless sycophants.”

    Still, Schwerin cautioned that Trump can’t be Democrats’ “primary focus.”

    “We shouldn’t ignore the fact that a lot of the problems that the country is dealing with are because of Trump’s failures, but he shouldn’t be the focus of every fundraising email and press release. We should be looking forward,” he said.

    Biden plans to keep up a busy schedule focused on the coronavirus pandemic in the coming week.

    The president will make his first official domestic trips this week: a TV town hall in Wisconsin on Tuesday to talk to Americans impacted by the coronavirus and a visit to a Pfizer vaccine facility in Michigan on Thursday.

    White House legislative affairs staffers were poised to work with House committees on crafting details of the COVID-19 relief bill, which Democrats hope to vote on next month.

    Still, some within the party aren’t finished with Trump. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a leading progressive advocacy group, issued a petition Saturday night encouraging supporters to call on attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to “investigate and prosecute Trump and his entire criminal network for law breaking.”

    Biden is likely to continue to face questions about how his Justice Department will handle a number of ongoing federal and criminal probes into Trump’s businesses and his conduct as president.

    And his aides will be watching for Trump’s next moves, particularly if he claims exoneration and heats up his political activity and even points toward a 2024 campaign. The plan, for now, is to try to ignore the former president.

    Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile warned that Trump won’t make it easy but Democrats need to avoid getting sucked back into his orbit.

    “I don’t think Donald Trump is going to disappear from anyone’s lips any day soon, and that’s because Donald Trump will always seek to find ways to inject himself and serve himself,” she said.

    “While Donald Trump is figuring out who he is going to go after next, Democrats are going to figure out how they’re going to lift people up and how they’re going to protect and help the American people.”

    Watch: What Is Trump’s Future After Acquittal? | NBC Nightly News

    2 Impeachment Trials, 2 Escape Hatches for Donald Trump

    The Associated Press

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    The Senate acquitted Trump on a 57-43 vote Saturday, well short of the 67 needed to convict him. (AP)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial centered on a phone call Americans never heard with the leader of a country very far away. The trial went on for two weeks of he-said-she-said. There was a mountain of evidence to pore over but not one drop of blood to see.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial was a steroidal sequel centered on the rage, violence and anguish of one day in Washington. There was nothing foreign or far away about it. There was blood.

    Together these trials a year apart spoke to one president’s singular capacity to get into, and out of, trouble — the story of Trump’s life. The only president to be impeached twice has once again evaded consequences, though this time as an election loser shunted off the field of play to the jeering section, at least for now.

    In a broadside against Trump every bit as brutal as that leveled by Democrats, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell declared the ex-president “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day” with his “unconscionable behavior” and “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

    “The leader of the free world cannot spend two weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe them and do reckless things,” McConnell said.

    But this was after he gave Trump an escape hatch for the ages, voting to acquit him on the grounds that the Senate, in his view, cannot legitimately try a president out of office.

    Until the conclusion of the five-day trial, the noisiest man in America stayed silent, down in Florida. But the panic, terrified whispers of officials hiding from their attackers and the crack of a fatal gunshot played out on a big screen in the Senate chamber penetrated less than six weeks earlier by the Trump-flag-waving insurrectionists.

    This time the case did not hang on a whistleblower in the bowels of the national security bureaucracy.

    This was an impeachment driven by what people saw happen and by Trump’s voluminous public rhetoric, heard that day, for weeks before, and after — until Twitter exiled him and he let his lawyers and supporters do the talking while the trial played out.

    “We saw it, we heard it, we lived it,” said the Democratic majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer. “This was the first presidential impeachment trial in history in which all senators were not only jurors and judges but were witnesses to the constitutional crime that was committed.”

    Trump’s fanciful boast five years ago that he could shoot someone in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue and still be loved by his followers was never, of course, put to the test in his presidency. But something like it was, on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    On Jan. 6, he sent his followers down that street to the Capitol, where they committed their mayhem. And in the end, that did not cost him the loyalty of enough supporters in Congress to convict him on the charge of inciting an insurrection.

    The Senate acquitted Trump on a 57-43 vote Saturday, well short of the 67 needed to convict him.

    ___

    2020

    “Sorry haters, I’m not going anywhere,” Trump declared after his Senate acquittal Feb. 5, 2020, on charges of abusing power and obstructing justice. The Senate, then under narrow Republican control, voted 52-48 to clear him of abuse of power and 53-47 to clear him of obstruction.

    It had taken Democrats some four months to get to that point, grinding through congressional inquiries into Trump’s effort to persuade Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings there. The goal was to tarnish Joe Biden, the father, as he sought the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid needed by Ukraine in its conflict with Russia were hanging in the balance. The power and resources of the U.S. government had been put in service of Trump’s personal political benefit, said the Democrats.

    To many Republicans in Congress, Democrats were merely impeaching Trump for being Trump. For others, Trump’s behavior, while troubling, didn’t rise to the extraordinary level they said was required to try to remove a president between elections.

    “I would like you to do us a favor,” Trump told Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, uttering the sentence that emerged from a rough transcript of their phone call and came to symbolize the heavy-handed lobbying by the president and his aides.

    Trump unleashed over 270 tweets when his fate was in the Senate’s hands, many attacking the process and the participants. “Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today,” said one.

    The verdict came strictly along partisan lines, with one exception. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah voted with Democrats to convict Trump of abusing power.

    McConnell, fully with the president on this one, was ready to move on. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s in the rearview mirror,” he said in response to Trump’s acquittal.

    So it was for nearly everyone, quite suddenly. In the trial’s final days, the U.S. declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, already spreading, and the first COVID-19 death was recorded in the country by the end of the month.

    ___

    2021

    Trump went tweetless during impeachment No. 2, blocked from his main social media platforms for his history of false statements and conspiracy theories about the election. He stayed low, no longer popping up for his once-frequent interviews with conservatives on TV, either.

    As in the first impeachment, no witnesses were called.

    The House Democratic impeachment managers came forward with new and graphic video from the assault and a clearer picture of how close the lawmakers trapped at the Capitol had been to the attackers hunting for them. The peril to Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, who was presiding in the Senate during the day’s election certification, also came into sharper relief.

    If there was anything like a smoking gun, it had been fired in plain sight.

    But there was little more suspense about the outcome than there had been for the Ukraine affair. Democrats never expected to win the necessary two-thirds of the vote. Seven Republicans voted with the Democrats in the end, more than anticipated but not enough. Romney was among them.

    It was known on the final day that McConnell would vote to acquit.

    It was not known that he would denounce Trump with such scorching words even while passing the hot potato to the Biden Justice Department or state attorneys general, with the observation that Trump the private citizen now is exposed to criminal and civil laws.

    “He didn’t get away with anything,” McConnell said. “Yet.”

    WATCH LIVE | Fourth day of Trump’s impeachment trial

    The Washington post

    Updated: February 11th, 2021

    Impeachment managers rest case against Trump, implore Senate to convict to prevent future violence

    House managers on Thursday wrapped up their case against former president Donald Trump, imploring the Senate to convict him while warning that he could stoke violence again.

    “We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime for which he is overwhelmingly guilty of. Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) said.

    Trump’s legal team is poised to respond on Friday, arguing that he should be acquitted. They are expected to use only one of two allotted days. A verdict could come as early as the weekend.

    The developments came on the third day of an impeachment trial in which Democrats have charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 violent takeover of the Capitol.

    Video: House managers rest case against Trump, argue for conviction

    Rioters acted on Trump’s ‘orders,’ Democrats say in trial

    WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats prosecuting Donald Trump’s impeachment said Thursday the Capitol invaders believed they were acting on “the president’s orders” and reflected his violent rhetoric when they set out to storm the building and stop the joint session of Congress that was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election.

    The prosecutors were wrapping up their opening presentation, describing in stark, personal terms the horror they faced that day and unearthing the many public and explicit instructions Trump gave his supporters — both in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack and at his midday rally that unleashed the mob on the Capitol. Videos of rioters, some posted to social medial by themselves, talked about how they were doing it all for Trump.

    “We were invited here,” said one. “Trump sent us,” said another. “He’ll be happy. We’re fighting for Trump.” Five people died.

    “They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders,” said Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado. “The president told them to be there.”

    Trump trial video unveils scope of US Capitol riot

    Trump’s lawyers will launch their defense on Friday, and the trial could wrap by weekend.

    At the White House, President Joe Biden said he believed “some minds may be changed” after senators saw chilling security video Wednesday of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, including of rioters searching menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.

    Biden said he didn’t watch any of the previous day’s proceedings live but later saw news coverage.

    This second impeachment trial, on the charge of incitement of insurrection, has echoes of last year’s impeachment over the Ukraine matter, as prosecutors warn senators that left unchecked Trump poses a danger to the civic order. Even out of office, the former president holds influence over large swaths of voters.

    The prosecutors on Thursday drew a direct line from his repeated comments condoning and even celebrating violence — praising “both sides” after the 2017 outbreak at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and urging his rally crowd last month to go to the Capitol and fight for his presidency.

    “There’s a pattern staring us in the face,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead prosecutor.

    “When Donald Trump tells the crowd as he did on January 6 to fight like hell, or you won’t have a country anymore. He meant for them to fight like hell.”

    Trump lawyers will argue later this week that his words were protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment and just a figure of speech.

    Though most of the Senate jurors seem to have made up their minds, making Trump’s acquittal likely, the never-before-seen audio and video released Wednesday is now a key exhibit in Trump’s impeachment trial as lawmakers prosecuting the case argue Trump should be convicted of inciting the siege.

    Senators sat riveted as the jarring video played in the chamber. Senators shook their heads, folded their arms and furrowed their brow. Screams from the audio and video filled the Senate chamber. Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma bent his head at one point, another GOP colleague putting his hand on his arm in comfort.

    Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, saw himself in the footage, dashing down a hallway to avoid the mob. Romney said he hadn’t realized that officer Eugene Goodman, who has been praised as a hero for luring rioters away from the Senate doors, had been the one to direct him to safety.

    “That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional,” he said.

    Videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, but the graphic compilation shown to senators Wednesday amounted to a more complete narrative, a moment-by-moment retelling of one of the nation’s most alarming days. In addition to the evident chaos and danger, it offered fresh details on the attackers, scenes of police heroism and cries of distress. And it underscored how dangerously close the rioters came to the nation’s leaders, shifting the focus of the trial from an academic debate about the Constitution to a raw retelling of the assault.

    The footage showed the mob smashing into the building, rioters engaging in hand-to-hand combat with police and audio of Capitol police officers pleading for back-up. Rioters were seen roaming the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” and eerily singing out “Where’s Nancy?” in search for Pelosi.

    Pence, who had been presiding over a session to certify Biden’s election victory over Trump — thus earning Trump’s censure — was shown being rushed to safety, where he sheltered in an office with his family just 100 feet from the rioters. Pelosi was seen being evacuated from the complex as her staff hid behind doors in her suite of offices.

    “President Trump put a target on their backs and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,” said House prosecutor Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate representing the Virgin Islands.

    The goal of the presentation was to cast Trump not as an innocent bystander but rather as the “inciter in chief” who spent months spreading falsehoods about the election.

    “This attack never would have happened, but for Donald Trump,” Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of the impeachment managers, said as she choked back emotion. “And so they came, draped in Trump’s flag, and used our flag, the American flag, to batter and to bludgeon.”

    The Trump legal team takes the floor Friday and Saturday for up to 16 hours to lay out its defense. The difficulty facing Trump’s defense became apparent at the start as his lawyers leaned on the process of the trial, unlike any other, rather than the substance of the case against the former president.

    Trump’s lawyers are likely to blame the rioters themselves for the violence.

    The first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office, Trump is also the first to be twice impeached.

    His lawyers also say he cannot be convicted because he is already gone from the White House. Even though the Senate rejected that argument in Tuesday’s vote to proceed to the trial, the legal issue could resonate with Senate Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

    While six Republicans joined with Democrats to vote to proceed with the trial on Tuesday, the 56-44 vote was far from the two-thirds threshold of 67 votes needed for conviction.

    Minds did not seem to be changing Wednesday, even after senators watched the graphic video.

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was among those leading the effort to challenge the Electoral College tally, said, “The president’s rhetoric is at times overheated, but this is not a referendum on whether you agree with everything the president says or tweets.”

    It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, and Trump has declined a request to testify.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

    The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack.

    WATCH: Rep. Neguse’s Powerful Impeachment Case at Trump’s 2nd Trial

    Watch: Trump’s Historic Second Impeachment Trial Underway | NBC Nightly News

    Trump’s historic 2nd trial opens with jarring video of siege

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats opened Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial Tuesday by showing the former president whipping up a rally crowd to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” against his reelection defeat, followed by graphic video of the deadly attack on Congress that came soon after.

    The lead House prosecutor told senators the case would present “cold, hard facts” against Trump, who is charged with inciting the mob siege of the Capitol to overturn the election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Senators sitting as jurors, many who themselves fled for safety that day, watched the jarring video of Trump supporters battling past police to storm the halls, Trump flags waving.

    “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., in opening remarks. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

    Trump is the first president to face impeachment charges after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached . The Capitol siege stunned the world as hundreds of rioters ransacked the building to try to stop the certification of Biden’s victory, a domestic attack on the nation’s seat of government unlike any in its history. Five people died.

    Acquittal is likely, but the trial will test the nation’s attitude toward his brand of presidential power, the Democrats’ resolve in pursuing him, and the loyalty of Trump’s Republican allies defending him.

    Trump’s lawyers are insisting that he is not guilty of the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection,” his fiery words just a figure of speech as he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency. But prosecutors say he “has no good defense” and they promise new evidence.

    Security remained extremely tight at the Capitol on Tuesday, a changed place after the attack, fenced off with razor wire with armed National Guard troops on patrol. The nine House managers walked across the shuttered building to prosecute the case before the Senate.

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would not be watching the trial of his predecessor.

    With senators gathered as the court of impeachment, sworn to deliver “impartial justice,” the trial was starting with debate and a vote over whether it’s constitutionally permissible to prosecute Trump after he is no longer in the White House.

    Trump’s defense team has focused on the question of constitutionality, which could resonate with Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

    Lead lawyer Bruce Castor said that no member of the former president’s defense team would do anything but condemn the violence of the “repugnant” attack, and “in the strongest possible way denounce the rioters.”

    Yet Trump’s attorney appealed to the senators as “patriots first,” and encouraged them to be “cool headed” as they assess the arguments.

    At one pivotal point, Raskin told the personal story of bringing his family to the Capitol the day of the riot, to witness the certification of the Electoral College vote, only to have his daughter and son-in-law hiding in an office, fearing for their lives.

    “Senators, this cannot be our future,” Raskin said through tears. “This cannot be the future of America.”

    The House prosecutors argued there is no “January exception” for a president on his way out the door. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., referred to the corruption case of William Belknap, a war secretary in the Grant administration, who was impeached, tried and ultimately acquitted by the Senate after leaving office.

    “President Trump was not impeached for run of the mill corruption, misconduct. He was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection – an insurrection where people died, in this building,” Neguse said. If Congress stands by, he said, “it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability.”

    It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, in part because the senators were witnesses themselves. At his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump has declined a request to testify.

    Trump’s defense team has said it plans to counter with its own cache of videos of Democratic politicians making fiery speeches. “We have some videos up our sleeve,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller said on a podcast Monday.

    Presidential impeachment trials have been conducted only three times before, leading to acquittals for Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and then Trump last year.

    Full Coverage: Trump impeachment trial
    Timothy Naftali, a clinical associate professor at New York University and an expert on impeachment, said in an interview, “This trial is one way of having that difficult national conversation about the difference between dissent and insurrection.”

    The first test Tuesday was to be on a vote on the constitutionality of the trial, signaling attitudes in the Senate. The chamber is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with a two-thirds vote, 67 senators, required for conviction.

    A similar question was posed late last month, when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky forced a vote to set aside the trial because Trump was no longer in office. At that time, 45 Republicans voted in favor of Paul’s measure. Just five Republicans joined with Democrats to pursue the trial: Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

    Because of the COVID-19 crisis, senators were allowed to spread out, including in the “marble room” just off the Senate floor, where proceedings are shown on TV, or even in the public galleries above the chamber. Most were at their desks on the opening day, however.

    Presiding was not the chief justice of the United States, as in previous presidential impeachment trials, but the chamber’s senior-most member of the majority party, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

    Under an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the substantive opening arguments will begin at noon Wednesday, with up to 16 hours per side for presentations. The trial is expected to continue into the weekend.

    In filings, lawyers for the former president lobbed a wide-ranging attack against the House case, suggesting Trump was simply exercising his First Amendment rights and dismissing the trial as “political theater” on the same Senate floor invaded by the mob.

    House impeachment managers, in their own filings, assert that Trump “betrayed the American people” and has no valid excuse or defense.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

    This time, Trump’s “stop the steal” rally rhetoric and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see.

    The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack. Five people died, including a woman shot by police inside the building and a police officer who died the next day of his injuries.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopian-American Artist Awol Erizku’s Photo of Poet Amanda Gorman on TIME Magazine‘s New Cover

    TIME Magazine‘s new cover features American poet Amanda Gorman, photographed by Ethiopian-American artist Awol Erizku. (Photo of ​Awol Erizku by Jeff Vespa)

    Fad Magazine

    AMANDA GORMAN, PHOTOGRAPHED BY ARTIST AWOL ERIZKU FOR TIME COVER.

    TIME Magazine‘s new cover features American poet Amanda Gorman, photographed by Ethiopian-American artist Awol Erizku. Erizku is quickly becoming one of the most iconic photographers of our time.

    Erizku is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, film, sculpture and installation, creating a new vernacular that bridges the gap between African and African American visual culture, referencing art history, hip hop and spirituality, amongst other subjects, in his work.

    “I was interested in allowing her to own the space that she’s in right now,” Erizku says. “We were going for timelessness, something that felt classical” and tied in to the “resurgence of a Black renaissance.”

    It was a special moment for him, too. “Like many who witnessed the recent presidential Inauguration, I was captivated by her poem and her exquisite delivery,” says Erizku, who is based in Los Angeles and has exhibited at institutions including New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. “For TIME, I wanted to extricate her from the political dimension and immerse it in a more cosmic atmosphere to add to the weight of her words.”

    In a separate image featured inside the magazine, Gorman holds a white birdcage in a nod to the birdcage ring she wore on inauguration day. (That ring was a gift from Oprah, referring to previous inauguration poet Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”)

    “It needed a layer of depth that only poetry can explain,” Erizku says of the image.

    A team of Black creative professionals prepared Gorman for the portraits: Jason Bolden styled her, Autumn Moultrie did her makeup, Khiry provided jewellery and the dress was from Greta Constantine.

    The issue features Michelle Obama in conversation with American poet Amanda Gorman, whose poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ read at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony touched hearts and minds all over the world. The article, which covers issues such as the role of art in activism and the pressures Black women face in the spotlight, is also accompanied by a video shot and directed by Erizku.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    The United Nations office in Ethiopia says it has received additional clearances for 44 international experts to assist in the humanitarian response in Tigray. (Photo: The UN office building in Addis Ababa/via ECA)

    UN Ethiopia

    Updated: February 12th, 2021

    There’s important progress between the humanitarian community and Ethiopian Gov’t and now clearances for 44 international experts to help scale up the Gov’t-led response for the people of Tigray.

    @UNEthiopia

    Related from UN News:

    Ethiopia: Government approves ‘first step’ towards Tigray emergency assistance

    Updated: February 11th, 2021

    “This clearance is a first step towards ensuring that aid workers in Tigray can deliver and ramp up the response given the rapidly rising needs in the region”, Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at the daily press briefing.

    He recalled a number of positive engagements between the Government and senior UN officials, including with Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Gilles Michaud chief of UN Safety and Security and most recently, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

    “Mr. Beasley has just wrapped up a trip to Ethiopia and he says that WFP has accepted the Government’s request to help authorities and aid partners transport aid into and within Tigray”, informed Mr. Dujarric.

    Moreover, WFP has also agreed to provide emergency food aid for up to one million people in Tigray.

    The conflict between the Government and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, when the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base. Government forces reported that the region had been secured at the end of November, but TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses. 

    Escalating humanitarian needs

    Meanwhile, around 60 more humanitarian workers from the UN and non-governmental organizations are awaiting approval in the capital Addis Ababa for deployment to Tigray.

    They also look forward to rapid authorizations for any further requests put forward.

    “While we welcome these clearances, we remain deeply concerned about the significant escalation in humanitarian needs in Tigray, where people have endured more than three months of conflict with extremely limited assistance”, said the UN spokesperson.

    He also expressed unease over continued reports of grave violations against civilians.

    “We reiterate our call for the full resumption of free and unconditional access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to the Tigray region”, Mr. Dujarric said, adding that it should include “blanket clearances” for organizations operating in the area, “so that we can immediately reach all the people in need with all the assistance they urgently require”.

    Related:

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: NYT & Yahoo Interview with Sara Menker, CEO of Gro Intelligence

    Last month The New York Times highlighted Sara Menker's company Gro Intelligence as a start-up raising money "in a bid to create business benchmarks for climate risk." This week Yahoo Finance is featuring the Ethiopian-born former Wall Street commodities trader as part of its 'Influencers' series discussing "the challenges of food security, how Covid exposed the world’s agriculture system, and why [Sara] says we may be a few years away from a global food crisis." Below are excerpts and links to both stories. (Photo by Gabriela Celeste, via Gro Intelligence)

    Yahoo Finance

    Sara Menker spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

    Born and raised in Ethiopia, Menker moved to the United States for college at Mt. Holyoke and later received a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University. She worked as a commodities trader at Morgan Stanley for eight years, but left in 2012 to improve the quality and accessibility of data in the agricultural sector.

    Two years later, she launched Gro Intelligence, which aggregates thousands of data sources to model conditions that affect global agricultural output, such as drought and floods.

    Speaking with Yahoo Finance, Menker said the protectionist policies last year that rocked the food supply chain will likely worsen as climate change exacerbates global instability.

    “More uncertainty means more protectionism,” she says.

    Read the full article and watch the video at finance.yahoo.com »

    A start-up raises money in a bid to create business benchmarks for climate risk.


    Sara Menker, the chief executive of Gro Intelligence. Credit…Gabriela Celeste, via Gro Intelligence

    The New York Times

    As companies and regulators increasingly see climate change as a business threat, the data company Gro Intelligence is devising indexes that it says can track climate risks in a granular way — and could create a new class of financial investments.

    The company is developing indexes to measure conditions like drought, floods, temperature and more, according to Sara Menker, its founder and chief executive. For example, its software aggregates 46 variables into a single measure of drought severity on a scale from zero to five.

    These indexes, along with a new $85 million fund-raising round that Gro will announce on Friday, the DealBook newsletter reports, are the latest signs of the financial industry’s efforts to generate money from environmental initiatives.

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Lucy Kassa: ‘I Reported on Ethiopia’s War. Then Came a Knock at My Door’ (LA Times)

    Lucy Kassa is a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. (Courtesy photo)

    Los Angeles Times

    By Lucy Kassa

    I Reported on Ethiopia’s Secretive War. Then Came a Knock at My Door

    Around 10:30 Monday morning, there was a knock at my door. When I answered, I saw three men I did not recognize. They barged in, knocking me to the floor.

    They did not introduce themselves; they didn’t produce any kind of ID or search warrant. They began to ransack my house.

    For nearly two years I have been reporting on Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where government forces last November launched an operation to oust the regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF.

    As an ethnic Tigrayan, I have roots in the region. But as a freelance journalist based in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, my motivation is to uncover the truth of a war that has gone mostly unreported because the Ethiopian government has severed communication lines and blocked media and humanitarian access to much of Tigray since the start of its offensive in November.

    I had just filed a story to the Los Angeles Times about a Tigrayan woman who was gang-raped by soldiers from Eritrea, who are fighting alongside Ethiopian forces, and held captive for 15 days with almost nothing to eat. The story wasn’t published until today, but it quickly became clear that the men in my house knew about it.

    They were wearing civilian clothes but carried guns. They asked me if I had relationships with the TPLF. I told them I had nothing to do with them and don’t support any political group.

    In the shadow of the war, Addis Ababa is a tense place for ethnic Tigrayans these days. In Tigray itself, at least six journalists were arrested in the first week of the fighting, according to Reporters Without Borders.

    Last month, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a reporter from a state-run TV station in Mekele, the regional capital. The reporter, Dawit Kebede Araya, had previously been detained by police and questioned about his coverage of the war.

    The men in my home threatened to kill me if I kept digging into stories about the situation in Tigray. They also harassed me about my past coverage.

    They took my laptop and a flash drive that contained pictures I had obtained from a source in the Tigrayan town of Adigrat, which showed evidence of Eritrean soldiers in several villages. Ethiopia and Eritrea officially deny that the troops are inside the country, but my reporting and many other accounts indicate otherwise. The photos I received showed uniformed Eritrean soldiers in their makeshift camps in Tigray, including some in houses they’d seized.

    A few days earlier, a therapist who has been treating the rape survivor I wrote about told me that the woman had also received a threatening phone call, warning her not to identify Eritreans as her assailants. The therapist told me to take as much care as possible with the woman’s safety, and pleaded with me to reveal little of her identity in the article.

    Before the men left, they warned that things would be harder for me the next time. On Thursday the Ethiopian government issued a statement saying I was not a “legally registered” journalist, an attempt to discredit my work.

    I no longer feel safe here. I have only my Ethiopian passport, and leaving the country is difficult anyway because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I worry the men might return, searching for more evidence of a war Ethiopia has tried to keep quiet.

    Lucy Kassa is a special correspondent.

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    COVID-19: Ethiopia Says It Has Secured 9 Million Doses of Vaccines Till April

    Ethiopia has secured nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines up until April and hopes to inoculate at least a fifth of its 110 million people by the end of the year, the health minister said on Tuesday. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: February 12th, 2021

  • Ethiopia says it has secured 9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines till April
  • Africa to Start Receiving Vaccines From Covax By End of Month
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 143,566
  • COVID-19 has dealt a blow to Ethiopia’s private higher education institutions
  • Spotlight: Webinar on COVID19 Vaccine Hosted by Ethiopian Diaspora
  • Review: How the Pandemic Has Changed Ethiopian Dining in DC Area, For Now
  • Ethiopia asks for debt relief as Covid takes toll
  • COVID-19 is largely an afterthought in camps hosting Ethiopian refugees
  • COVID-19 and food security in Ethiopia: Do social protection programs protect?
  • France Suspends Ethiopian Airlines Flights For Four Days Due to COVID-19 Violation
  • Ethiopia To Start Mask-Wearing Campaign On Campus To Fight COVID-19
  • Single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine prevents illness, but shows the threat of variants
  • COVID-19 limits activities of “Timket” celebration in Ethiopia
  • COVID-19: New Study on Preventive Practice Among Pregnant Women in Northwest Ethiopia
  • Aid Groups Warn of COVID-19 Outbreak at Ethiopian Refugee Camp in Sudan
  • Ethiopia to launch 6-month COVID-19 prevention campaign
  • Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia
  • US shifts to speed vaccinations; won’t hold back 2nd doses
  • MAP: Covid-19 vaccination tracker across the U.S.
  • ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine
  • FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in pandemic
  • US panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • In U.S. every state has its own COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Find the one for yours here.
  • Only half in US want shots as vaccine nears
  • US regulators post positive review of Pfizer vaccine data
  • Britain launches the West’s first mass coronavirus vaccination
  • Cases and deaths in the U.S. | Cases and deaths worldwide
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 117,242
  • Ethiopia’s month-long conflict hampers efforts in fighting COVID-19 outbreaks
  • How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response
  • Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Pfizer CEO confident of getting U.S. advisory panel nod for COVID-19 vaccine
  • Demand for COVID-19 tests to outstrip supply for months, says Roche CEO
  • A year into COVID-19, U.N. declares a day of ‘epidemic preparedness’
  • WHO sees limited COVID-19 vaccine doses in early 2021
  • 2nd virus vaccine shows overwhelming success in U.S. tests
  • Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine: 11 Things You Need to Know
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 100,327
  • Virus cases surpass 90K as schools reopen in Ethiopia
  • Refusing to wear a mask in Ethiopia could cost you two years in jail
  • Ethiopia: Schools to Start Regular Face to Face Classes With Covid-19 Precautions
  • 5 Ethiopian footballers contract coronavirus
  • WHO: 10% of world’s people may have been infected with virus
  • Global coronavirus death toll tops 1 million as U.N. chief warns that ‘misinformation kills’
  • ‘I feel sorry for Americans’: Baffled world watches USA
  • U.S. Covid-19 death toll surpasses 200,000
  • China’s BGI wins 1.5 million coronavirus test kit order from Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia Braces for Election Amid COVID19
  • The pandemic appears to have spared Africa so far. Scientists are struggling to explain why
  • Ethiopia opens facility to make coronavirus test kits
  • Ethiopia to make and export COVID-19 test kits
  • IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay
  • Oxford vaccine trial on hold because of potential safety issue
  • In Canada, EthioCare Volunteers Help Calgary Church Members After COVID-19 Outbreak
  • How Ethiopian Airlines’ Agility Saw It Through COVID With No Bailout
  • COVID-19: US Retailer Cancels Millions of Dollars of Garment Orders from Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 reveals risky life on the buses for Ethiopia’s child conductors
  • Ethiopians fight pandemic by early morning exercises
  • One of Ethiopia’s main coronavirus centres ‘nearly full’
  • A vision for post-pandemic mobility in African cities
  • COVID-19 Spreads Inside Ethiopian Detention Centers
  • Turkish factory in Ethiopia plans output amid COVID-19
  • Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia resist camp closure amid COVID-19 fears
  • COVID-19 is crushing Ethiopian entertainers, just when we need them the most
  • Chinese first lady donates medical supplies to Ethiopia
  • Over 25500 migrant Ethiopians return home in four months amid COVID-19 pandemic: IOM
  • In Jamaica Ethiopian Consulate Donates 1,000 Care Packages
  • Global coronavirus cases top 20M as Russia approves vaccine
  • In Ethiopia extreme Poverty Rises due to the coronavirus
  • U.S. infections surpass 5 million
  • Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million
  • Ethiopians struggle to cope with COVID-19 fears
  • 15,000 Ethiopian returnees receive emergency Covid-19 assistance at quarantine sites
  • The United States Provides Ventilators to Ethiopia to Respond to COVID-19
  • In Ethiopia, Health Ministry To Conduct 17 Million COVID-19 Tests Via Month-Long Campaign
  • Ethiopia Starts Covid Test Campaign; Cases Spike After Protests
  • As COVID starts to surge, Ethiopia battles complacency
  • Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 Response Overview
  • Ethiopian Workers Are Forced to Return Home, Some With Coronavirus
  • Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed 750,000
  • Coronavirus Deaths on the Rise in Almost Every Region of the U.S.
  • Ethiopian farmers slaughter thousands of chicks as COVID hits demand
  • Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Update Affected By Internet Cut
  • Amid Pandemic Ethiopia Launches Policy to Encourage Walking and Cycling
  • African Development Fund approves $165 m grant for Ethiopia’s national COVID-19 emergency response
  • Sponsor network gives lifeline to Ethiopians struggling under pandemic
  • Ethiopia among Forbes’ post-Covid ‘Rising Stars in Travel’
  • COVID19 Contact Tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running
  • WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit
  • World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19
  • Africa outperforms world economies in coronavirus mayhem
  • As coronavirus cases rise in U.S., public health experts urge caution
  • COVID-19 Cases Pass 10 Million Worldwide
  • U.S. tops 3.2 million reported cases
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 134,000 and Growing
  • Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen
  • Winter is coming south of the equator, along with predictions of the coronavirus’s spread
  • NYT honors coronavirus victims with powerful front page
  • Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19
  • WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million
  • World Health Organization warns against hydroxychloroquine use for covid-19
  • Experts: Trump’s threats to WHO could undercut global health
  • Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases
  • WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19
  • U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 80,000
  • U.S. Jobless Rate Spikes to 14.7%, Highest Since Great Depression
  • Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle
  • In Ethiopia, Abiy Warns of Opposition Power Grab Amid Pandemic
  • Q&A: How Ethiopia’s Health Minister is Preparing for Coronavirus
  • Young Inventor Helps Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Crisis
  • Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says
  • Researchers double U.S. COVID-19 death forecast, citing eased restrictions
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy Writes COVID-19 Related Op-Ed on World Economic Forum Blog
  • Virus deaths in D.C., Virginia and Maryland surpass 2,000
  • IMF Approves $411M in Coronavirus Aid for Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet
  • Los Angeles becomes first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents
  • Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine
  • City demolitions expose Ethiopian families to coronavirus
  • In Maryland, Wogene Debele Gave Birth Before Dying of Covid-19. She Never Got to See Her Newborn.
  • Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths top 51,000, with fatalities expected to climb
  • Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes
  • Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health Holds Webinar With Diaspora on COVID-19 Response
  • Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot
  • CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating
  • Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time info. about coronavirus to Trump admin.
  • In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot
  • COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC
  • UN COVID-19 Major airlift operation reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations
  • Ethiopia Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 100
  • In U.S., New York’s Cuomo attacks Trump’s pandemic response
  • Doctor who sounded the alarm about covid-19 is now a children’s book hero
  • Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19
  • Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers
  • IMF says COVID-19 pandemic is causing worst global economic downturn since Great Depression
  • U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus
  • Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening
  • Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000
  • Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale
  • Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19
  • WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing
  • Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency, Recruits Health Workers to Fight Virus
  • The virus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate, a Post analysis shows
  • In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000
  • U.S. Government urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases
  • Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak
  • 2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia
  • The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.
  • New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers
  • ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis
  • Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight
  • Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise
  • Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed
  • U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II
  • US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC
  • Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community
  • 2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19
  • DC Metro Area Goes on Lockdown
  • U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients
  • U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000
  • The Curious Case of Ethiopian Traditional Medicine Covid-19 Treatment & Need for Caution
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy spoke with Dr. Tedros regarding the Coronavirus response in Africa
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    Ethiopia says it has secured 9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines till April

    By Reuters

    Ethiopia has secured nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines up until April and hopes to inoculate at least a fifth of its 110 million people by the end of the year, the health minister said on Tuesday. “For now up to April we have been allocated close to nine million doses,” Lia Tadesse said. “Within this year we want to make sure we get at least 20% of the population,” she told Reuters. Ethiopia was open to possible donations of vaccines, Lia added, and said the country was not doing any procurement of doses independently but only through the COVAX facility. COVAX is co-led by the GAVI alliance which secures vaccines for poor countries, the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the U.N. Children’s Fund.

    Read more »

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

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

    By Johns Hopkins Magazine

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

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 143,566

    By Ministry of Health

    In Ethiopia, as of February 9th, 2021, there have been 143,566 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Read more »

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

    By World Bank

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

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

    The short answer: A lot!

    Read more »

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


    Photo via the World Health Organization

    By The World Health Organization

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

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

    By The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

    By Yonas Tadesse

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

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

    Read more and see the photos at theguardian.com »

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

    By Reuters

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

    Read more »

    Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million

    By Reuters

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

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

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

    Read more »

    Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpass 2.5 million

    By The Washington Post

    June 28th, 2020

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

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

    By The Washington Post

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

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

    JUNE 18, 2020

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

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

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

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

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

    Read more »

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone

    By The Associated Press

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

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health

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

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

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

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

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

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

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

    By Reuters

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

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

    By Reuters

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

    Read more »

    Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle

    By Axios

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

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


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

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

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

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

    By The Associated Press

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

    Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says

    By CBS News

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

    Los Angeles offers free testing to all county residents

    By The Washington Post

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

    Researchers Double U.S. COVID-19 Death Forecast

    By Reuters

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

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

    By NBC News

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

    Read more »

    Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

    By DW

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

    Read more »

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

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

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

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

    By The Washington Post

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

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot

    By Africa News

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

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


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

    By Liben Eabisa

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

    Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19

    By AFP

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

    Read more »

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

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

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

    Read more »

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

    By Reuters

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

    Read more »

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


    Getty Images

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

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

    Read more »

    Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000

    By The Associated Press

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

    Read more »

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

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

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

    By CGTN Africa

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

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

    By BBC

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

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

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

    One of them later issued an apology.

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

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

    Read more »

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

    By Reuters

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

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

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

    2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

    By Chicago Tribune

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

    Read more »

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

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

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

    Read more »

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


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP photo)

    By The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Associated Press

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

    Read more »

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

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


    Related:

    We Need Seismic Change, Right Now: by Marcus Samuelsson

    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

    Diaspora-based Tech Professionals Launch Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Task Force

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • WATCH: Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay Smashes 1500m World Record

    Gudaf Tsegay (left) celebrates winning the women’s 1500m in Liévin, France and setting an indoor world record time of 3min 53.09sec. The 24-year-old’s time not only broke the previous best set by Genzebe Dibaba in 2014 but – understandably – the resolve of Britain’s Laura Muir. (Reuters photo)

    The Guardian

    Ethiopian records 3min 53.09sec to shatter record

    Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia demolished the women’s 1500m indoor world record by more than two seconds on an astonishing night that will fuel yet more talk about how new track spike technology has become a gamechanger for the sport.

    The 24-year-old’s time of 3min 53.09sec at the World Indoor Tour meeting in Liévin, France not only broke the previous best set by Genzebe Dibaba in 2014 but – understandably – the resolve of Britain’s Laura Muir.

    Muir is one of the world’s finest middle-distance runners, but she was unable to keep up with Tsegay as the pacemaker led the field through the first 400m in a lightning quick 58.97.

    The gap only grew and Muir could do little as she finished more than six seconds back in 3:59.58. Her time was still good enough to break the British record.

    “My training did that,” said Tsegay, the 2019 world bronze medallist, who was running in new Adidas spikes. “The pace is my friend. I have been training really hard and I am so happy.”

    Two world records that have stood for a generation almost fell during an incredible two hours. The 20-year-old Ethiopian Getnet Wale – who is better known as a steeplechaser – produced an astonishing final kilometre to come within 0.31sec of the indoor 3,000m record that has been held by Daniel Komen since 1998.

    Read more »

    Watch: Guduf Tsegay Sets WORLD RECORD 1500m 3:53.09

    Related:

    Another Ethiopian Victory at 2021 World Indoor Tour As Getnet Wale Wins 3000m

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In Ethiopia, U.S. Embassy Launches Media Training for Journalists Covering Election

    The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved. (U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia)

    Press Release

    U.S. Embassy Supports Ethiopian Journalists in Elections Training

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: On February 8, 2021 the U.S. Embassy launched the first of 25 week-long media trainings throughout Ethiopia. This comprehensive media capacity project will train approximately 500-700 journalists across the country. The U.S. Embassy has invested $450,000 (17,730,000 million birr) in this project.

    The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved. At the launch, Amanda Jacobsen, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, underscored to journalists, “Your role as media professionals is critical in both uncovering and addressing the needs and challenges of citizens, as well as questioning sources, diversifying the types of people you interview, and countering mis- and disinformation as part of your daily responsibilities.”

    Election-related topics to be covered include effective elections reporting; identifying mis- and dis information; and COVID-19 reporting techniques. The workshops will be facilitated by experienced Ethiopian journalists and professors from leading Ethiopian schools of journalism. An American media specialist developed the curriculum for the five-day sessions.

    The initiative is implemented by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs, with support from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, and in partnership with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and Addis Ababa University’s School of Journalism and Communications.

    In addition, experienced American media specialists will provide hands-on, tailored training at various Ethiopian newsrooms on investigative journalism techniques beginning in March 2021.

    The United States has invested nearly $35 million to support Ethiopia’s efforts to organize, administer, and conduct free and fair elections. U.S. assistance is helping build the capacity of the NEBE, political parties, civil society, and independent media to contribute to a free, fair, and peaceful electoral process, ensuring greater transparency and promoting meaningful participation among all citizens—with a focus on women, youth, and other traditionally marginalized groups. The United States is also supporting an international election observation effort.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: UK’s Medics Academy & Ethiopian Medical Women’s Association Aim for More Women Leaders in Medicine

    As part of the collaboration Medics Academy will be investing £250,000 GBP (over 12 million Ethiopian Birr) in building a new learning community to provide digital access to training and support a target of 70% of female physicians in Ethiopia over the next 5 years – identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 57 countries in the world with a chronic shortage of health workers. (Life Science Newswire)

    Life Science Newswire

    Medics Academy and Ethiopian Medical Women’s Association to address health worker shortfall and strengthen women physician leaders across Ethiopia

    London/Addis Ababa Life Science Newswire – Medics.Academy – a revolutionary UK company delivering global access to world-leading medical education and the Ethiopian Medical Women’s Association (EMeWA) have signed a partnership agreement to help women physicians in Ethiopia.

    The project will help EMeWA – an organisation established by female physicians in Ethiopia – to fulfil its vision to establish an excellence center for women physicians through one of its main thematic areas of professional development.

    As part of the collaboration Medics Academy will be investing £250,000 GBP (over 12 million Ethiopian Birr) in building a new learning community to provide digital access to training and support a target of 70% of female physicians in Ethiopia over the next 5 years – identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 57 countries in the world with a chronic shortage of health workers.

    The unique collaboration has been endorsed by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and, by championing access to online education, aims to drive digital transformation to help address the country’s health workforce needs, promote professional development and achieve greater representation and leadership of women in medicine.

    Globally, the COVID-19 crisis has led to a significant shift to digital adoption that will likely persist post-pandemic. While there has been high growth in the adoption of education technology in recent years, this move has been deeply accelerated by COVID-19. Remote learning has become a vital part of education delivery and all across the world has been enrolled into the ‘new normal’.

    Dr Alastair McPhail CMG OBE, UK Ambassador to Ethiopia, said: “We are very proud of the partnerships between the UK and Ethiopia on health. The coronavirus pandemic has stretched health systems and healthcare workers to their limits.”

    “I hope that this new partnership will inspire and upskill female doctors across Ethiopia, directly contributing to high quality, equitable health services and ending the avoidable deaths of mothers and children.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    BUSINESS UPDATE: S&P Joins Fitch in Downgrade of Ethiopia on Debt Issue

    S&P said it estimated Ethiopia’s public debt repayment needs at about $5.5 billion over 2021-2024, including a $1 billion Eurobond due in 2024. The ratings agency added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed Ethiopia’s economic activity in the services and industry sectors. (Photo: Addis ababa skyline/Wiki Media)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 13th, 2021

    S&P joins Fitch in downgrade of Ethiopia on potential debt restructuring

    S&P Global Ratings on Friday downgraded Ethiopia’s long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings to ‘B-’ from ‘B’ on potential debt restructuring, announcing the move days after Fitch Ratings downgraded the country.

    “Exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopia’s structurally weak external balance sheet has deteriorated further, in our view”, S&P Global Ratings said.

    On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped nearly 2 cents as Fitch chopped Ethiopia’s credit score by two notches after Addis Ababa signaled it could be the first with an international government bond to use a new G20 ‘Common Framework’ plan.

    The scheme, which is open to over 70 of the world’s poorest countries, encourages their governments to defer or negotiate down their external debt as part of a wider debt relief program.

    S&P said it estimated Ethiopia’s public debt repayment needs at about $5.5 billion over 2021-2024, including a $1 billion Eurobond due in 2024.

    The ratings agency added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed Ethiopia’s economic activity in the services and industry sectors, including retail trade, hospitality, transportation, and construction.

    S&P described the Tigray conflict in November 2020 that followed increased tensions between the federal and local authorities as “the most significant (conflict) since Prime Minister Abby Ahmed took office in 2018.”

    “Another outbreak of armed conflict could spur wider ethnic tensions, weakening Ethiopia’s political and institutional framework and threatening the government’s transformative reform agenda”, it added.

    Ethiopia Dollar Bonds Drop After Fitch Downgrade

    Reuters

    Updated: February 11th, 2021

    LONDON – Ethiopia’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped nearly 2 cents after Fitch downgraded the country toCCC, citing the government’s plan to make use of the new G20common framework to overhaul its debt burden.

    The country’s outstanding 2024 bond dropped to as low as 92.06 cents in the dollar, according to Tradeweb data, trading close to record lows hit in late January when Ethiopia surprised markets with its announcement to seek debt relief.

    “(This is) the first negative spillover from last week’s decision to go for the G20 Common Framework, a process that no euro bond issuer has been though yet, and one that could take some time, especially as private sector creditors have to be included,” said Simon Quijano-Evans, chief economist at Gemcorp Capital.

    Fitch said earlier that the downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of theG20 framework, “which although still an untested mechanism,explicitly raises the risk of a default event.”

    Related:

    Update: Ethiopia Will Approach Private Creditors Only as a Last Resort

    Fitch Downgrades Ethiopia Due to Debt Restructuring


    The downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of the G20 “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)” (G20 CF), which although still an untested mechanism, explicitly raises the risk of a default event. (Fitch Ratings)

    Fitch Ratings

    Fitch Downgrades Ethiopia to ‘CCC’

    Fitch Ratings – Hong Kong – 09 Feb 2021: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Ethiopia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘CCC’ from ‘B’.

    Fitch typically does not assign Outlooks or apply modifiers to sovereigns with a rating of ‘CCC’ or below.

    KEY RATING DRIVERS

    The downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of the G20 “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)” (G20 CF), which although still an untested mechanism, explicitly raises the risk of a default event.

    The G20 CF, agreed in November 2020 by the G20 and Paris Club, goes beyond the DSSI that took effect in May 2020, in that it requires countries to seek debt treatment by private creditors and that this should be comparable with the debt treatment provided by official bilateral creditors. This could mean that Ethiopia’s one outstanding Eurobond and other commercial debt would need to be restructured, potentially representing a distressed debt exchange under Fitch’s sovereign rating criteria. There remains uncertainty over how the G20 CF will be implemented in practice, including the requirement for private sector participation and comparable treatment. Fitch’s sovereign ratings apply to borrowing from the private sector, so official bilateral debt relief does not constitute a default, although it can point to increasing credit stress.

    Within the context of Paris Club agreements, comparable treatment requirements are not always enforced and the scope of debt included can vary. The Paris Club states that the requirement for comparable treatment by other creditors can be waived in some circumstances, including when the debt represents only a small proportion of the country’s debt burden.

    The focus of Ethiopia’s engagement with the G20 CF will be on official bilateral debt, as reprofiling of this will have the biggest impact on overall debt sustainability. Nonetheless, the terms of the framework clearly create risk that private sector creditors will also be negatively affected. The G20 statement on the G20 CF indicates that debt treatments will not typically involve debt write-offs or cancellation unless deemed necessary. The focus will instead be on some combination of lowering coupons and lengthening grace periods and maturities. The extent of debt treatment required will be based upon the outcome of the IMF’s Debt Sustainability Analysis for Ethiopia, which is currently being updated. However, any material change of terms for private creditors, including the lowering of coupons or the extension of maturities, would be consistent with the definition of default in Fitch’s criteria.

    The bulk of Ethiopia’s public external debt is official multilateral and bilateral debt. Government and government-guaranteed external debt was USD25 billion in fiscal year 2020 (FY20, which ended in June 2020). Of this, USD3.3 billion was owed to private creditors. This includes Ethiopia’s outstanding USD1 billion Eurobond (1% of GDP) due in December 2024, with minimal annual debt service of USD66 million until the maturity; and USD2.3 billion government-guaranteed debt owed to foreign commercial banks and suppliers. Other SOE debt to private creditors which relates to Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Airlines is a further USD3.3 billion. While this is not guaranteed by the government, it represents a potential contingent liability.

    Ethiopia’s external finances are a rating weakness and this is the main factor behind the intention of using the G20 CF. Persistent current account deficits (CAD), low FX reserves and rising external debt repayments present risks to external debt sustainability. Ethiopia’s external financing requirements, at more than USD5 billion on average in FY21-FY22 including federal government and SOE amortisation, are high relative to FX reserves, which we forecast to remain at around USD3 billion. Reserves cover only around two months of current external payments.

    The CAD narrowed to 4.1% of GDP in FY20 as imports declined, maintaining the trend since FY15 when the CAD was 12.5% of GDP. We forecast the CAD to hover around 4% of GDP, although this does not incorporate potential import costs associated with vaccines to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Smaller CADs have not eased pressure on FX reserves because net FDI has been lacklustre (averaging 2.7% of GDP in FY19-FY20) and net external borrowing has moderated with negative net borrowing by SOEs. The central bank has allowed sharper exchange rate depreciation, but the currency nonetheless remains overvalued, with a weaker rate in the parallel market. Proposed sales of mobile licenses and a stake in Ethio Telecom, the state-owned telecoms company, are an upside risk to FDI inflows and reserves in FY21-FY22.

    The IMF assessed Ethiopia at high risk of external debt distress in its latest assessment in 2020, with Ethiopia breaching thresholds on external debt service/exports and the present value of external debt/exports. An improvement from high to moderate risk is a central aim of the three-year arrangement with the IMF agreed in late 2019 under the Extended Credit Facility and the Extended Fund Facility. Given the difficulty of substantially boosting exports in the near term, the main route to achieve this is via reducing debt service costs. Within the IMF programme, the authorities planned by the first review to undertake additional reprofiling of bilateral loans but this has not yet happened. The pandemic has placed further emphasis on debt reprofiling.

    Ethiopia and the IMF reached staff-level agreement on the first review of the programme in August 2020, but this awaits board approval. The Fund’s press release recognised that performance had mostly been good, but also emphasised the need for financial support from Ethiopia’s international partners including through debt reprofiling.

    Ethiopia’s ‘CCC’ IDRs also reflect the following key rating drivers:

    Strong economic growth potential and an improving policy framework support the rating, while double-digit inflation, low development and governance indicators and elevated political risks weigh on the rating.

    The coronavirus pandemic continues to present significant risks to Ethiopia, but the negative economic impacts since the onset have been somewhat contained so far. Given that the fiscal year ends in June, we do expect more of a hit to growth in FY21 than FY20, but forecast a return to growth rates in the 6%-7% range over the medium term. The government has maintained considerable budgetary discipline, with moderate increases in the general government budget deficit, to 2.8% of GDP, and government debt/GDP (31.5%), while total SOE debt/GDP (25.6%) has fallen. However, the pandemic presents risks of upward pressure on spending. Government financing has continued its transition towards market-based T-bill auctions and away from the long-standing system of direct advances from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE, the central bank). This is a core part of the IMF programme, which seeks to promote monetary policy reforms to help gradually tackle inflation that has remained extremely high at close to 20%.

    The military conflict in the Tigray region from November 2020 has underlined ongoing political risks in Ethiopia as well as for Ethiopia’s international relations. Considerable domestic political uncertainty, related to the delayed 2020 parliamentary election (now planned for June) and ongoing ethnic and regional tensions within the country, remains a risk to Ethiopia’s credit metrics, in Fitch’s view. Greater political unrest could, for example, act as a drag on FDI and tax collection and exert further upward pressure on inflation. It could also lead to worsening relations with some bilateral partners and hold up donor flows, as illustrated by the suspension of some flows from the EU in December.

    ESG – Governance: Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score (RS) of 5 for both Political Stability and Rights and for the Rule of Law, Institutional and Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption, as is the case for all sovereigns. Theses scores reflect the high weight that the World Bank Governance Indicators (WBGI) have in our proprietary Sovereign Rating Model. Ethiopia has a low WBGI ranking in the 25th percentile, reflecting in particular political instability, as well as low scores for voice and accountability and regulatory quality.

    RATING SENSITIVITIES

    The main factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action/downgrade:

    - Structural Features: Stronger evidence that Ethiopia’s engagement in the G20 CF will lead to comparable treatment for private sector creditors consistent with a default event under Fitch’s criteria.

    - External Finances: Increased external vulnerability that heightens the risk of default irrespective of the G20 CF, such as the emergence of external financing gaps and downward pressure on already low foreign-exchange reserves.

    The main factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating action/upgrade are:

    - Structural Features: Clarity that the G20 CF will not lead to a default event.

    - External Finances: Stronger external finances with acceleration in exports, for example, leading to smaller CADs and higher foreign-currency reserves.

    SOVEREIGN RATING MODEL (SRM) AND QUALITATIVE OVERLAY (QO)

    In accordance with the rating criteria for ratings in the ‘CCC’ range and below, Fitch’s sovereign rating committee has not used the SRM and QO to explain the ratings, which are instead guided by the rating definitions.

    Fitch’s SRM is the agency’s proprietary multiple regression rating model that employs 18 variables based on three-year centred averages, including one year of forecasts, to produce a score equivalent to a LT FC IDR. Fitch’s QO is a forward-looking qualitative framework designed to allow for adjustment to the SRM output to assign the final rating, reflecting factors within our criteria that are not fully quantifiable and/or not fully reflected in the SRM.

    BEST/WORST CASE RATING SCENARIO

    International scale credit ratings of Sovereigns, Public Finance and Infrastructure issuers have a best-case rating upgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a positive direction) of three notches over a three-year rating horizon; and a worst-case rating downgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a negative direction) of three notches over three years. The complete span of best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings for all rating categories ranges from ‘AAA’ to ‘D’. Best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings are based on historical performance. For more information about the methodology used to determine sector-specific best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings, visit [https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10111579].

    KEY ASSUMPTIONS

    We assume that Ethiopia pursues involvement in the G20 CF.

    We expect global economic trends and commodity prices to develop as outlined in Fitch’s Global Economic Outlook.

    REFERENCES FOR SUBSTANTIALLY MATERIAL SOURCE CITED AS KEY DRIVER OF RATING
    The principal sources of information used in the analysis are described in the Applicable Criteria.

    ESG CONSIDERATIONS

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 5 for Political Stability and Rights as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and a key rating driver with a high weight.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 5 for Rule of Law, Institutional & Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and are a key rating driver with a high weight.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 4 for Human Rights and Political Freedoms as the Voice and Accountability pillar of the World Bank Governance Indicators is relevant to the rating and a rating driver.

    Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 4 for Creditor Rights as willingness to service and repay debt is relevant to the rating and is a rating driver, as for all sovereigns.

    Except for the matters discussed above, the highest level of ESG credit relevance, if present, is a score of 3. This means ESG issues are credit-neutral or have only a minimal credit impact on the entity(ies), either due to their nature or to the way in which they are being managed by the entity(ies). For more information on Fitch’s ESG Relevance Scores, visit www.fitchratings.com/esg.

    Africa Report: Ethiopia Debt Restructuring Plan Faces Hurdles of Transparency


    (Reuters photo)

    The Africa Report

    Ethiopia’s plan to seek debt restructuring under a G20 common framework agreed in November triggered a sell-off in African debt at the end of January on fears of a contagion effect.

    The framework enables debtor countries to seek an IMF programme to strengthen their economies and renegotiate their debts with public and private creditors. But such a debt restructuring for Ethiopia would face barriers due a lack of transparency, analysts say.

    Any attempt to reconcile balance of payments and published public external debt figures with underlying debt-creating flows shows information gaps and supports “a narrative of opaque lending”, argues Irmgard Erasmus, senior financial economist at NKC African Economics in Cape Town.

    Along with Djibouti and Zambia, Ethiopia’s dealings with China “raise the probability of higher-than-estimated debt contracted by extra-budgetary units (EBUs) as well as potentially large contingent liabilities,” she writes in a research note.

    China does not publish official or non-official bilateral debt agreements with central governments or state-owned enterprises, she notes.

    The channel through which private-sector participation in the framework can be forced is not clear, Erasmus says.

    “The agreement of the principles of the G20 Common Framework is positive but negotiations in actual restructurings are likely to be challenging,” says Mark Bohlund, senior credit research analyst at REDD Intelligence in London. Lack of clarity on what is owed to China is one obstacle. While he hasn’t seen any firm evidence of Chinese loans to Ethiopia being understated, there is “less transparency” on Chinese lending, he says.

    The fact that India and Turkey, which are non-Paris club G20 lenders, are the largest bilateral creditors after China, may complicate an Ethiopian restructuring, Bohlund says.

    A further stumbling block is reluctance from debtor nations to participate in fear of adverse credit rating actions. African countries intending to tap international debt markets this year, such as Tunisia, Ghana and Kenya, may be reluctant to join the initiative, Erasmus says.

    Unrealistic growth outlook

    For Africa, recent sharp declines in external borrowing costs for many countries amid global optimism on emerging markets provides a “silver lining” to the cloud of debt woes, according to Jacques Nel, head of Africa macro at NKC. “Markets are now open to lending to many sub-Saharan African sovereigns, which could provide the necessary fiscal breathing room in 2021.”

    But official Ethiopian projections for annual economic growth of 8.4% are dismissed by Erasmus. NKC predicts growth of 2.2% given the “dire fiscal position and balance of payments risks.”

    “The near-term outlook is clouded by political tensions ahead of the June election, reputational risks related to armed conflict in Tigray, an upsurge in desert locust infestation and forex shortages,” Erasmus writes.

    That means the long-awaited liberalisation of Ethiopia’s high-potential sectors such as telecommunications and banking is now urgent. This would be the “crucial first step in addressing structural vulnerability and lowering government debt dependence,” Erasmus argues.

    Read more »

    UPDATE: Ethiopia May Engage Private Creditors After Debt Review


    Ethiopia is looking to offset the impact of the pandemic on its economy. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: February 2nd, 2021

    Ethiopia may approach private creditors for debt talks after it reviews liabilities with official lenders amid security risks that are adding to investors’ worries.

    The nation’s Eurobonds plunged the most on record last week after State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign said the government will seek to restructure its external debt under a Group of 20 debt-suspension program. With no details on how the decision would affect holders of Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds, many investors responded by selling the securities.

    Only after talks involving official creditors, which the International Monetary Fund is assisting with, will the government be able to inform other creditors on the “need for broader debt treatment discussions,” the finance ministry said in a press statement on Monday.

    Yields on Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds climbed 26 basis points to 8.85% by 1:50 p.m. in London after jumping 207 points on Friday to the highest since May. The premium investors demand to hold the nation’s dollar bonds rather than U.S. Treasuries widened 31 basis points to 807, compared with the 538 average for African sovereign issuers, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes.

    “In theory, a common framework should speed up the debt restructuring process, but it remains to be tested,” Morgan Stanley & Co. analysts Jaiparan Khurana and Simon Waever said in a note. “Questions around enforceability of the MoU terms to the private sector still persist, especially considering that the private sector is not a signatory.”

    Ethiopia is the second African country after Chad to announce plans to review debt under the G-20 common framework, which aims to include China and private lenders into a global debt-relief push.

    Ethiopia, like other African nations, is looking to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy. Ethiopia’s position is, however, exacerbated by fighting in the northern Tigray region and a border dispute with Sudan that’s threating to further destabilize the region.

    “Possible implementation of the debt treatment under the Common Framework will address the debt vulnerabilities of the country, while preserving long-term access to international financial markets,” the finance ministry said in the statement. That will help in “unlocking more growth potential,” it said.

    As with earlier bilateral debt relief, including via the Paris Club, Eurobond holders can choose not to participate in the program, according to the Morgan Stanley analysts. “The key issue would be how insistent bilateral creditors would be on the private sector participating,” they said.

    Related:

    Ethiopia to Seek Debt Relief Under G20 Debt Framework – Ministry


    Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.(Getty Images)

    Reuters

    Updated: January 30th, 2021

    Exclusive: Ethiopia to seek debt relief under G20 debt framework – ministry

    Ethiopia plans to seek a restructuring of its sovereign debt under a new G20 common framework and is looking at all the available options, the country’s finance ministry told Reuters on Friday.

    G20 countries agreed in November for the first time to a common approach for restructuring government debt to help ease the financial strain of some developing countries pushed towards the risk of default by costs of the coronavirus crisis.

    Chad became on Wednesday the first country to officially request a debt restructuring under the new framework and a French finance ministry told Reuters on Thursday that Zambia and Ethiopia were most likely to follow suit.

    Asked if Ethiopia was looking to seek a debt restructuring under the G20 framework, Finance Ministry spokesman Semereta Sewasew said: “Yes, Ethiopia will look at all available debt treatment options under the G20 communique issued in November.”

    Ethiopia’s government bond due for repayment in 2024 which it issued back in late 2014 saw its biggest ever daily fall. It plunged 8.4 cents on the dollar from roughly par to just under 92 cents.

    Ethiopia is already benefiting from a suspension of interest payments to its official sector creditors through the end of June under an initiative between the G20 and the Paris Club of creditor nations.

    Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ETHIOPIA UPDATE: Govt Okays ’1st Step’ Tigray Emergency Assistance – UN News

    UN agencies have received approval from the Ethiopian Government for 25 international staff to provide humanitarian assistance inside the country’s conflict-torn Tigray region, the UN Spokesperson said on Monday. (UN News)

    UN News

    Ethiopia: Government approves ‘first step’ towards Tigray emergency assistance

    “This clearance is a first step towards ensuring that aid workers in Tigray can deliver and ramp up the response given the rapidly rising needs in the region”, Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at the daily press briefing.

    He recalled a number of positive engagements between the Government and senior UN officials, including with Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Gilles Michaud chief of UN Safety and Security and most recently, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

    “Mr. Beasley has just wrapped up a trip to Ethiopia and he says that WFP has accepted the Government’s request to help authorities and aid partners transport aid into and within Tigray”, informed Mr. Dujarric.

    Moreover, WFP has also agreed to provide emergency food aid for up to one million people in Tigray.

    The conflict between the Government and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, when the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base. Government forces reported that the region had been secured at the end of November, but TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses. 

    Escalating humanitarian needs

    Meanwhile, around 60 more humanitarian workers from the UN and non-governmental organizations are awaiting approval in the capital Addis Ababa for deployment to Tigray.

    They also look forward to rapid authorizations for any further requests put forward.

    “While we welcome these clearances, we remain deeply concerned about the significant escalation in humanitarian needs in Tigray, where people have endured more than three months of conflict with extremely limited assistance”, said the UN spokesperson.

    He also expressed unease over continued reports of grave violations against civilians.

    “We reiterate our call for the full resumption of free and unconditional access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to the Tigray region”, Mr. Dujarric said, adding that it should include “blanket clearances” for organizations operating in the area, “so that we can immediately reach all the people in need with all the assistance they urgently require”.

    Related:

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    WATCH: Rep. Neguse’s Powerful Impeachment Case at Trump’s 2nd Trial

    U.S. House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., speaks during the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (Senate TV via AP)

    NBC News

    Rep. Neguse Argues Impeachment Trial Of Former President Trump As Constitutional

    Rep. Joe Neguse argued that the impeachment trial of former President Trump was constitutional, saying “presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.”

    WATCH: Rep. Neguse Makes Impeachment Case at Trump’s 2nd Senate Trial in DC

    Watch: Trump’s Historic Second Impeachment Trial Underway | NBC Nightly News

    Trump’s historic 2nd trial opens with jarring video of siege

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats opened Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial Tuesday by showing the former president whipping up a rally crowd to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” against his reelection defeat, followed by graphic video of the deadly attack on Congress that came soon after.

    The lead House prosecutor told senators the case would present “cold, hard facts” against Trump, who is charged with inciting the mob siege of the Capitol to overturn the election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Senators sitting as jurors, many who themselves fled for safety that day, watched the jarring video of Trump supporters battling past police to storm the halls, Trump flags waving.

    “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., in opening remarks. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

    Trump is the first president to face impeachment charges after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached . The Capitol siege stunned the world as hundreds of rioters ransacked the building to try to stop the certification of Biden’s victory, a domestic attack on the nation’s seat of government unlike any in its history. Five people died.

    Acquittal is likely, but the trial will test the nation’s attitude toward his brand of presidential power, the Democrats’ resolve in pursuing him, and the loyalty of Trump’s Republican allies defending him.

    Trump’s lawyers are insisting that he is not guilty of the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection,” his fiery words just a figure of speech as he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency. But prosecutors say he “has no good defense” and they promise new evidence.

    Security remained extremely tight at the Capitol on Tuesday, a changed place after the attack, fenced off with razor wire with armed National Guard troops on patrol. The nine House managers walked across the shuttered building to prosecute the case before the Senate.

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would not be watching the trial of his predecessor.

    With senators gathered as the court of impeachment, sworn to deliver “impartial justice,” the trial was starting with debate and a vote over whether it’s constitutionally permissible to prosecute Trump after he is no longer in the White House.

    Trump’s defense team has focused on the question of constitutionality, which could resonate with Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

    Lead lawyer Bruce Castor said that no member of the former president’s defense team would do anything but condemn the violence of the “repugnant” attack, and “in the strongest possible way denounce the rioters.”

    Yet Trump’s attorney appealed to the senators as “patriots first,” and encouraged them to be “cool headed” as they assess the arguments.

    At one pivotal point, Raskin told the personal story of bringing his family to the Capitol the day of the riot, to witness the certification of the Electoral College vote, only to have his daughter and son-in-law hiding in an office, fearing for their lives.

    “Senators, this cannot be our future,” Raskin said through tears. “This cannot be the future of America.”

    The House prosecutors argued there is no “January exception” for a president on his way out the door. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., referred to the corruption case of William Belknap, a war secretary in the Grant administration, who was impeached, tried and ultimately acquitted by the Senate after leaving office.

    “President Trump was not impeached for run of the mill corruption, misconduct. He was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection – an insurrection where people died, in this building,” Neguse said. If Congress stands by, he said, “it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability.”

    It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, in part because the senators were witnesses themselves. At his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump has declined a request to testify.

    Trump’s defense team has said it plans to counter with its own cache of videos of Democratic politicians making fiery speeches. “We have some videos up our sleeve,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller said on a podcast Monday.

    Presidential impeachment trials have been conducted only three times before, leading to acquittals for Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and then Trump last year.

    Full Coverage: Trump impeachment trial
    Timothy Naftali, a clinical associate professor at New York University and an expert on impeachment, said in an interview, “This trial is one way of having that difficult national conversation about the difference between dissent and insurrection.”

    The first test Tuesday was to be on a vote on the constitutionality of the trial, signaling attitudes in the Senate. The chamber is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with a two-thirds vote, 67 senators, required for conviction.

    A similar question was posed late last month, when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky forced a vote to set aside the trial because Trump was no longer in office. At that time, 45 Republicans voted in favor of Paul’s measure. Just five Republicans joined with Democrats to pursue the trial: Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

    Because of the COVID-19 crisis, senators were allowed to spread out, including in the “marble room” just off the Senate floor, where proceedings are shown on TV, or even in the public galleries above the chamber. Most were at their desks on the opening day, however.

    Presiding was not the chief justice of the United States, as in previous presidential impeachment trials, but the chamber’s senior-most member of the majority party, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

    Under an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the substantive opening arguments will begin at noon Wednesday, with up to 16 hours per side for presentations. The trial is expected to continue into the weekend.

    In filings, lawyers for the former president lobbed a wide-ranging attack against the House case, suggesting Trump was simply exercising his First Amendment rights and dismissing the trial as “political theater” on the same Senate floor invaded by the mob.

    House impeachment managers, in their own filings, assert that Trump “betrayed the American people” and has no valid excuse or defense.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

    This time, Trump’s “stop the steal” rally rhetoric and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see.

    The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack. Five people died, including a woman shot by police inside the building and a police officer who died the next day of his injuries.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: Another Ethiopian Victory at World Indoor Tour As Getnet Wale Wins 3000m

    Ethiopia's Getnet Wale wins the 3000m race at the 2021 World Indoor Tour in Lievin, France on Tuesday. Although he missed the world record by .08. seconds, Getnet's time was the fastest in the world, indoors or out, in over 21 years. (Photo: FloTrack YouTube)

    Lets Run

    Getnet Wale of Ethiopia, best known before today as the 2019 Diamond League steeplechase champion, ripped a 7:24.98 in the 3000m, and missed the world record by .08. In the process, he led four men under 7:30 for the first time ever indoors. Wale’s time was the fastest in the world, indoors or out, in over 21 years. Only Daniel Komen (7:20.67) and Hicham El Guerrouj (7:23.09) have ever gone faster under any conditions.

    Video: Getnet Wale of Ethiopia wins 3000m | 2021 World Indoor Tour Lievin, France


    Getnet Wale ran a 7:24​.98 in the 3000m, and missed the world record by only .08 seconds and four men broke 7:30​ for the first time ever indoors at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour Lievin meeting. (FloTrack)

    WATCH: Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay Smashes 1500m World Record


    Gudaf Tsegay (left) celebrates winning the women’s 1500m in Liévin, France and setting an indoor world record time of 3min 53.09sec. The 24-year-old’s time not only broke the previous best set by Genzebe Dibaba in 2014 but – understandably – the resolve of Britain’s Laura Muir. (Reuters photo)

    The Guardian

    Ethiopian records 3min 53.09sec to shatter record

    Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia demolished the women’s 1500m indoor world record by more than two seconds on an astonishing night that will fuel yet more talk about how new track spike technology has become a gamechanger for the sport.

    The 24-year-old’s time of 3min 53.09sec at the World Indoor Tour meeting in Liévin, France not only broke the previous best set by Genzebe Dibaba in 2014 but – understandably – the resolve of Britain’s Laura Muir.

    Muir is one of the world’s finest middle-distance runners, but she was unable to keep up with Tsegay as the pacemaker led the field through the first 400m in a lightning quick 58.97.

    The gap only grew and Muir could do little as she finished more than six seconds back in 3:59.58. Her time was still good enough to break the British record.

    “My training did that,” said Tsegay, the 2019 world bronze medallist, who was running in new Adidas spikes. “The pace is my friend. I have been training really hard and I am so happy.”

    Two world records that have stood for a generation almost fell during an incredible two hours. The 20-year-old Ethiopian Getnet Wale – who is better known as a steeplechaser – produced an astonishing final kilometre to come within 0.31sec of the indoor 3,000m record that has been held by Daniel Komen since 1998.

    Read more »

    Watch: Guduf Tsegay Sets WORLD RECORD 1500m 3:53.09

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: The Weeknd Rocks Tampa with Super Bowl Halftime Show

    Abel rocked Raymond James Stadium Sunday in between halves, headlining the Pepsi Halftime Show solo ... as promised. For starters, almost 80% of his set was done on an elevated platform from high up in the bleachers -- away from pretty much everyone below. (TMZ)

    TMZ

    The Weeknd came, he saw, and he conquered his Super Bowl halftime performance … and, boy, was this one different in the midst of a pandemic.

    Abel rocked Raymond James Stadium Sunday in between halves, headlining the Pepsi Halftime Show solo … as promised. For starters, almost 80% of his set was done on an elevated platform from high up in the bleachers — away from pretty much everyone below.

    They built an elaborate stage for the guy — complete with a makeshift cityscape made in the fashion of Las Vegas and kinda NYC too. Weeknd was surrounded by a bunch of would-be clones that changed costumes throughout, but started out with masks and glowing red eyes.

    Of course, TW was in his signature red blazer, black gloves and MJ-esque shoes. He ran through a few of his hits, including ‘Starboy,’ ‘The Hills’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face.’ He then ran backstage into a house of mirrors type of set, reminiscent of his ‘Blinding Lights’ music vid.

    Weeknd continued to sing snippets of ‘I Feel It Coming,’ ‘Save Your Tears,’ and ‘Earned It’ — that’s when the party got on the move … down to the field level where he kept the show going.

    Almost the entire gridiron was flooded with Abel lookalikes, but all of them had their faces bandaged … with the OG eventually joining them as they wrapped a choreographed dance routine. He then led them into a march down field, and went on to sing ‘BL,’ which was capped off with a crazy firework show and the so-called clones running around him in elaborate circles before falling to the ground and lying still, with only Weeknd left standing.

    It was pretty neat — but perhaps most noteworthy … the fact fans couldn’t come on down and join in on the fun. Still, Weeknd made the most of it … and the crowd seemed to love every minute, as they could be heard screaming from the stands.

    The whole thing ran about 14 minutes, and seemed to go off without a hitch. Well done, all!

    Related:

    Spotlight: 5 Things to Know About The Weeknd


    It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida., and he’s taking no chances on its success. (AP photo)

    WUSA9

    From The Weeknd’s unusual stage name to his musical influences, here are a few things you may not know about the Super Bowl halftime performer.

    It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the halftime show at Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he’s taking no chances on its success.

    “We all grow up watching the world’s biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position,” the singer said when it was announced in November. “I’m humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage.”

    How honored? The Weeknd told Billboard last week that he’s put up $7 million of his own money to “make this halftime show be what he envisioned.”

    The Weeknd broke though into mainstream with his smash hit “Can’t Feel My Face” that was featured on his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” which topped the Billboard 200 in 2015 and won a Grammy. He’s had three other chart-topping albums including his recent offering “After Hours,” which was released in March 2020.

    The Weeknd’s 2020 hit single “Blinding Lights” became his fifth song to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He’s also won Grammys for his album “Starboy” and the song “Earned It.” That song also earned him an Oscar nomination after it appeared in the movie “Fifty Shades Of Grey.”

    If you’re unfamiliar with The Weeknd, an artist known for being somewhat press averse, here are five things to know before he takes the field in Tampa.

    What is The Weeknd’s real name?

    Abel Tesfaye. He was born in Toronto, Canada, on February 16, 1990.

    Why is he The Weeknd and not The Weekend?

    Tesfaye wanted to call himself The Weekend, according to E!, but an Ontario band already had dibs on the name. So, he just dropped a vowel.

    He did crossword puzzles to improve his vocabulary

    Tesfaye was a high school dropout, according to a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. He did crossword puzzles to up his vocabulary. He said then he wished he was a more eloquent speaker. “Me not finishing school — in my head, I still have this insecurity when I’m talking to someone educated,” he said.

    Michael Jackson was a huge influence due to The Weeknd’s heritage

    Tesfaye said Michael Jackson was an influence on his career not only for the King of Pop’s music, but due to Tesfaye’s family roots. Although he was born in Toronto, his parents were from Ethiopia.

    “People forget — ‘We Are the World’ is for Ethiopia,” he told Rolling Stone, referencing the 1985 song Jackson wrote with Lionel Richie to raise money to combat famine in Africa. “At home, if it wasn’t Ethiopian music, it was Michael. He was our icon.” He told Vanity Fair that Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” helped him find his voice.

    A run-in with police helped him ‘smarten up’

    In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Tesfaye said he had a “near-miss” with the law that he described as “bad enough for me to smarten up, to focus.” While he didn’t elaborate, he said he knew he was given a second chance. “And you either take the experience and think, ‘This is it, final straw’, or you don’t. And the next move after that? It’s your entire life. You become who you become because of the next move you make.”

    Tesfaye joins a list of celebrated musicians who have played during Super Bowl halftime shows, including Madonna, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and last year’s duo of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

    Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company is executive producing the halftime show for a second year. Jesse Collins, who has produced the BET Awards and is working on this year’s Grammys and Oscars telecasts, will serve as an executive producer.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    TIME: Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam on Steering the Legendary Label Through the Pandemic

    Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. Below is Time Magazine's interview with Ethiopia. (Photo: Camera Press/Redux)

    TIME

    The pandemic rocked the music industry. Live performances, which are such a critical part of driving the business (and making fans euphoric) were quickly shut down last year. Concerts are going to be slow to return. (Who’s up for crowding next to sweaty strangers, yelling at the top of their lungs?) Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. She helped one artist cope with depression when a much anticipated record was postponed and, in the outbreak’s early days, counseled another to take the virus more seriously. “There was a lot of misinformation about COVID and communities that it was hitting,” she said. Habtemariam remembers one young artist who was still going out on the town telling her, “Oh no, that’s a rich-people thing.”

    While live shows floundered, music delivered comfort to people stuck in their homes and apartments. Total audio consumption, which includes streaming and album sales, was up 11.6 % in 2020, according to MRC Data. And for Habtemariam, 41, the past year helped her ongoing mission to make the legendary Motown brand relevant in today’s culture. Back in 2015, she signed a joint venture with Quality Control Music, an influential hip-hop label based in Atlanta, leading to a string of megahits from hot young artists including the Migos, Lil Yachty and Lil Baby. Lil Baby, an Atlanta rapper, singer and songwriter, had the best-selling album of 2020, according to MRC Data, beating out Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. And Lil Baby’s single “The Bigger Picture,” released after the murder of George Floyd, became an unofficial protest anthem played at marches and rallies throughout the country. It has more than 112 million views on YouTube.

    Habtemariam, who started her music career as an unpaid intern at 14, recently joined TIME for a video conversation on the pressures of taking over a storied label, the perils of social media for artists and her favorite live venues.

    (This interview with Motown Records president Ethiopia Habtemariam has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

    So, what have you been listening to, to get through the pandemic?

    I went through a phase around April, May, when I was like going down memory lane of my childhood, reminiscing on songs that I grew up on. Middle school, high school years. And it was actually therapeutic in many ways. It kind of helped me get through a lot of the different emotions and feelings that I was having, and also it reminded me of why I fell in love with music.

    Rumor has it that you were a big TLC fan.

    I still think that they don’t get the credit they deserve because they were so huge! TLC, Aaliyah, Missy [Elliott], Lauryn Hill—I was a massive Janet Jackson fan as well.

    I’m a huge fan of music, period. I’m a daughter of immigrants. My parents are both Ethiopian, and I’m Ethiopian American. I grew up in the South. So here I am, this young girl, with a name like Ethiopia; I was a bit of an alien, but music was my salvation. It was my escape, but it was also a bridge for me to connect and build friendships.

    How did the pandemic disrupt your release schedule? You still managed to have one of the biggest albums of the year, with Lil Baby’s My Turn.

    I remember it vividly because we scheduled some in-stores for him. I remember coming to Atlanta and making sure everyone had hand sanitizer. And then everything shut down, and we had to really come together to figure out how we were going to move forward.

    We put it out Feb. 28, and it was massive. The response was incredible; everything was great. And two weeks later, the world shuts down. One of the things that was in the plan was, of course, a huge tour.

    Read more »

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    SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Menna Demessie Appointed Senior Vice President at Universal Music Group

    Universal Music Group (UMG) has appointed Dr. Menna Demessie as Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the company’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC), effective immediately. (Photo credit: Duane Prokop)

    Press Release

    UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP APPOINTS DR. MENNA DEMESSIE SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TASK FORCE FOR MEANINGFUL CHANGE

    SANTA MONICA – Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, announced today that Dr. Menna Demessie has been appointed Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the company’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC), effective immediately. TFMC was established in June 2020 by UMG’s Chairman and CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge, as a force for social justice in the music industry and beyond.

    Dr. Demessie, a political scientist and social justice advocate with a deep track record of civic and educational empowerment, will manage the TFMC and its activities. The company also announced UMG’s EVP, Chief People and Inclusion Officer, Eric Hutcherson, will join Jeff Harleston, General Counsel and EVP Business & Legal Affairs, UMG and interim CEO, Def Jam Records, and Ethiopia Habtemariam, President, Motown Records, as a co-chair of the TFMC.

    In making this announcement, Ethiopia Habtemariam said, “From the start, we’ve been energized by the commitment and passion of the TFMC – an organization powered by UMG executives from across the company who volunteer their time for this important work. We’re excited to welcome Dr. Demessie to the UMG family and to have the benefit of her experience in social justice work and as a leader at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, to help advance the ongoing efforts of the TFMC to drive meaningful, long-term change.”

    “Over the past year we have seen the best of humanity rise up to deal with the worst of ongoing racial and social injustices around the world. It was out of this need that the TFMC was created and we’re proud of what we have accomplished in our first seven months. Having Dr. Demessie join UMG and oversee the TFMC’s efforts is a further statement of our commitment to the fight for equality and social justice,” said Jeff Harleston.

    “Dr. Demessie has demonstrated over the course of her illustrious career her commitment to social justice and a studied understanding of diversity and inclusion, public policy and government, human rights and international relations. Her perspective will enhance the reach of what the TFMC can accomplish and we’re excited to have her join us in our efforts,” said Eric Hutcherson.

    Dr. Demessie said, “It’s been incredible watching what UMG’s TFMC has accomplished over the past seven months. From the voter initiatives, civic engagement and community support through charitable giving to new internal programs, UMG has demonstrated a commitment to real, lasting change and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this organization. I want to thank Sir Lucian, Jeff, Eric and Ethiopia for this opportunity and their support as we continue the important work of the TFMC.”

    Prior to joining UMG, Dr. Demessie served as Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research; and the Leadership Institute at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. where she led the foundation’s research and policy initiatives affecting African Americans and the global Black community in areas including education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, voting rights and public health among many others for the past nine years. Dr. Demessie has spearheaded several partnerships with the White House, the U.S. Congress and recently led CBCF efforts to establish the National Racial Equity Initiative for Social Justice, established critical research, social justice scholarships for HBCUs, and Congressman John Lewis Social Justice Fellows to work in Congress and continue the pipeline for African Americans to be leaders in public policy.

    Dr. Demessie is a published race and ethnic politics expert and one of five U.S. scholars to receive the prestigious American Political Science Congressional Fellowship in 2010. She also served on Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s legislative staff working on federal unemployment legislation, antipoverty initiatives, and foreign affairs. She is a twice-elected alumni board member of the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and currently serves on the American Political Science Association Council and the Board of Trustees at Western Reserve Academy. She is also a member of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

    As an Adjunct Professor for the University of California Washington Center, Dr. Demessie teaches courses on race and ethnic politics, Black Lives Matter and social movements, and public opinion and public policy. She holds a dual B.A. in economics and law & society from Oberlin College and a joint PhD in public policy and political science from the University of Michigan.

    About Universal Music Group

    Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company.

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    UPDATE: UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    The United Nations’ food agency says it has reached a deal with Ethiopia to expand access for aid workers and “scale up” operations in the country’s conflict-hit Tigray region. (Getty Images)

    Al Jazeera

    World Food Programme says it will ‘scale up’ operations in embattled northern region after reaching a deal with Addis Ababa.

    The United Nations’ food agency says it has reached a deal with Ethiopia to expand access for aid workers and “scale up” operations in the country’s conflict-hit Tigray region.

    David Beasley, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP), made the announcement late on Saturday amid growing fears of a humanitarian catastrophe in Tigray, a region of more than five million people.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on November 4 ordered air raids and a ground offensive against Tigray’s former governing party – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – after its forces attacked federal army bases in the northern region. Abiy declared victory on November 28 after the TPLF withdrew from the regional capital, Mekelle, and other main cities, but low-level fighting has continued.

    Thousands of people are believed to have died and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes since fighting began. Both sides deny their forces have committed atrocities, and blame their rivals for the killing of civilians.

    Top UN officials and international NGOs have repeatedly complained about access restrictions to Tigray.

    The government and the WFP “have agreed on concrete steps to expand access for humanitarians across Tigray, and WFP will scale up its operations”, Beasley said on Twitter following a visit to the Mekelle.

    “Nearly 3 million people need our help NOW and we have no time to waste,” he added.

    A WFP statement said Ethiopian officials had agreed to speed up reviews of aid workers’ requests to move within the embattled region.

    The WFP’s statement also said the agreement had agreed to government requests to provide emergency food aid to one million people in Tigray and help with transport to hard-to-reach rural areas.

    Ethiopian Peace Minister Muferihat Kamil said in a separate statement the government was “moving with urgency to approve requests for international staff movements into and within Tigray”.

    The new terms fall “under the existing agreement” between the government and the UN on aid, according to the WFP statement.

    That agreement restricted UN access to areas under government control. In early December, a UN team visiting refugees in Tigray region was shot at after failing to stop at two checkpoints, according to the government.

    But a senior UN official told the AFP news agency the progress was nevertheless “significant” and would facilitate access deeper into Tigray.

    “It’s not good enough to just stick to the safe routes, the secure routes,” the official said. “Our role is to be determined to get to where the last person in need is, and the presence of militias should not really hamper us.”

    The WFP statement noted that “armed escorts for humanitarian cargo and personnel will be undertaken as a last resort”.

    Tigray remains largely cut off to media, making it difficult to assess the situation on the ground.

    The UN official noted that “insecure areas [are] were “many and significant”.

    A new UN report earlier this month said life for civilians in Tigray has become “extremely alarming” amid growing hunger and a “volatile and unpredictable” security situation.

    “Reports from aid workers on the ground indicate a rising in acute malnutrition across the region,” it said, according to The Associated Press news agency. “Only 1 percent of the nearly 920 nutrition treatment facilities in Tigray are reachable.”

    Starvation has also become a big concern. “Many households are expected to have already depleted their food stocks, or are expected to deplete their food stocks in the next two months,” according to a new report posted on Thursday by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which is funded and managed by the United States.

    The report said more parts of central and eastern Tigray likely will enter Emergency Phase 4, a step below famine, in the coming weeks.

    The government has played down fears of widespread starvation while touting its own efforts to meet the needs of the population. It says it has provided emergency food aid to 1.8 million people.

    During a visit to Ethiopia last week, UN refugees chief Filippo Grandi stressed the need for a more efficient system of facilitating access for aid workers and distributing aid.

    “We heard from everywhere, including from the local authorities, that more is needed” beyond what the government is providing, Grandi said.

    “The situation as I said is very grave, is very urgent. Without further action, it will get worse.”

    Related:

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

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    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    On social media, pro- and anti-government groups continue to vie for control of the conflict narrative. Both sides are quick to accuse the other of spreading intentionally false information. (Photo: Petros Teka via Twitter @dw_akademie)

    The Washington Post

    Claims about disinformation may be undermining online activism.

    Nearly three months have passed since the conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began. Despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s assurance that the military operation ended in late November, the conflict in Tigray is far from over. United Nations officials this week cited reports that Ethiopian troops may not have the region under their command, and warned of grave food shortages, calling for the government to allow aid workers to enter the region.

    On social media, pro- and anti-government groups continue to vie for control of the conflict narrative. Abiy released a statement on Tuesday encouraging Ethiopians to launch an offensive against the TPLF’s distortions and “lies” in the international arena. Our analysis of over 500,000 tweets related to Tigray helps explain the intensifying information conflict.

    We collected and analyzed tweets between Nov. 4 and Jan. 20 to try to understand the kinds of information being circulated, and the effects of different messaging campaigns. We found that both sides are quick to accuse the other of spreading intentionally false information — though actual disinformation accounts for a surprisingly small proportion of tweets about the conflict.

    Ethiopia’s conflict continues online

    Knowing what’s really going on in Tigray’s conflict is difficult, given a communications blackout in much of the region. The government has also not allowed humanitarian access to areas that reportedly have experienced atrocities or are in urgent need of assistance. It is in this opaque information environment that people have taken to Twitter.

    Overall volume of tweets gathered using Twitter’s fire hose API (between 80 and 100 percent of all tweets), via Meltwater software. Content data collected and analyzed using Python and Twitter’s search and streaming APIs.

    Pro-Tigray activism online

    #StandWithTigray is a central source of activism for pro-Tigray campaigns. Its website shares instructions for using Twitter, along with pre-written content for followers to share. Their online presence can broadly be divided into three categories: “old” and “new” activist accounts; and accounts with opaque credentials.

    “Old” activist accounts are largely based in Ethiopia, Europe and North America. Although their activism does not necessarily predate the conflict, their Twitter accounts often do. They demonstrate a high degree of digital literacy, posting lots of original content and engaging with other users.

    “New” activist accounts were created throughout the conflict. We found over 3,000 such accounts between November and the end of January. These accounts demonstrate a low level of digital literacy, few followers and short-term engagement.

    Accounts with opaque credentials claim expertise or positions aimed at boosting their credibility. They claim to be academics or aid workers but have little or no online presence beyond Twitter, making their credentials difficult to verify. These accounts may be problematic because they can obtain significant “reach” based on unsubstantiated claims.

    Do these tweets contain disinformation and misinformation?

    Our analysis showed that the majority of content produced by the #StandWithTigray campaign is digital activism, which seeks to raise international awareness about the conflict. The #StandwithTigray campaign is organized similarly to many other social justice campaigns on social media. Pre-written tweets build momentum around hashtags and connect to potential influencers like foreign officials, U.N. agencies or foreign ministries. This is a standard approach for activists, who usually don’t have the resources to employ the kinds of PR firms that many governments rely on to manage information (and disinformation) strategies.

    Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict reflects unresolved ethnic tensions

    It’s important to distinguish between disinformation, which is the intentional spread of false or misleading information, and misinformation, which is unintentional. When false claims could be read as intentional — like when TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael reported that Ethiopian forces had bombed the Tekeze dam — it’s often tough to verify information because of communications blackouts or limited physical access. Most who go on to spread that information have no means of verifying what they are sharing. Combating the spread of false information would require opening access to all areas of Tigray.

    Pro-government information campaigns

    The government has the advantage of being able to channel strategic messages through high-profile or official government accounts with very large followings. This means they are able to spread information widely without relying heavily on new accounts or copy-and-paste campaigns.

    Pro-government online activism tends to be more responsive than proactive. The #UnityForEthiopia website, which appeared in response to #StandWithTigray, similarly includes instructions for creating Twitter accounts and has a repository of pre-written tweets. We found that new accounts created between November and January were responsible for 30 percent of all #UnityForEthiopia tweets during the two most active days of the campaign — Jan. 1 and Jan. 6.

    A blurry information environment

    By blocking communications and access to Tigray, the government helped create conditions where disinformation and misinformation can thrive. At the start of the military incursion into Tigray, pro-government accounts and government officials warned of a “Digital Woyane,” a TPLF-funded effort to undermine government actions in the region. In December, Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency claimed that the TPLF was producing over 20,000 tweets containing disinformation daily — a finding that is not supported by our data set. This narrative gained significant traction, with pro-government activists labeling almost all tweets about potential government wrongdoing as TPLF-funded disinformation.

    The government’s State of Emergency Fact Check account, for example, responded to examples of misinformation spread by pro-Tigray accounts by issuing corrective statements, co-opting the work of independent fact-checkers. The government’s strategy seems to be to aimed at undermining the credibility of its critics, while sometimes combating pro-Tigray campaigns with their own campaigns.

    Read more »

    Related:

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

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    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    "I cannot deny that the removal of the TPLF has fueled unease in the international community. Concerns about ethnic profiling in Tigray and obstacles to humanitarian relief abound. My government is determined to address and dispel these concerns." - ABIY AHMED. (Photo: Office of the Prime Minister -Ethiopia)

    Project Syndicate

    BY ABIY AHMED

    Toward a Peaceful Order in the Horn of Africa

    The Ethiopian government’s victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front came at a high cost, and the humanitarian situation in northern Tigray remains grave. But only an Ethiopia at peace, with a government bound by humane norms of conduct, can play a constructive role across the region and beyond.

    ADDIS ABABA – Operations undertaken by the Ethiopian federal government have freed the Tigrayan people from decades of misrule by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This has ignited new hopes, but also anxieties, about Ethiopia’s future and its role in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

    The hopes stem from the removal – for good – of the corrupt and dictatorial TPLF. Ethiopians can now imagine a future based not on ethnic chauvinism, but on unity, equality, freedom, and democracy. Moreover, the source of ethnic division that had poisoned inter-state relations across the Horn of Africa has now been overcome.

    But I cannot deny that the removal of the TPLF has fueled unease in the international community. Concerns about ethnic profiling in Tigray and obstacles to humanitarian relief abound. My government is determined to address and dispel these concerns.

    So, to borrow from Thomas Jefferson, “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” compels me to explain why my government acted to restore peace in Tigray, how we are alleviating suffering there, and why our efforts – supported, I hope, by the international community – will benefit all my country’s people, including those in Tigray and throughout the Greater Horn.

    No government can tolerate its soldiers and innocent civilians being ambushed and killed in their dozens, as happened at the hands of the TPLF last autumn. My primary duty as prime minister and commander in chief of the national armed forces, after all, is to protect Ethiopia and its people from internal and external enemies.

    Our operations in Tigray were designed to restore peace and order quickly. In this, we succeeded, but the suffering and deaths that occurred despite our best efforts have caused much distress for me personally as well as for all peace-loving people here and abroad.

    Ending the suffering in Tigray and around the country is now my highest priority. This is why I am calling for the United Nations and international relief agencies to work with my government so that we can, together, deliver effective relief to all in Tigray who need it.

    Meanwhile, we are working, day and night, to deliver necessary supplies to our citizens in Tigray and to those in want in neighboring provinces, as well as to ensure that human rights are respected and normal lives restored. To succeed, many challenges must be overcome. For example, reconnecting communication lines deliberately destroyed by the TPLF is testing our capacity to deliver humanitarian aid. In this work of reconstruction, the international community can be of enormous help.

    My government is also prepared to assist community leaders in Tigray who are dedicated to peace. Indeed, we are already reaching out to them.

    The international community understood what the TPLF was. Many had condemned its ethnic-based violence. Sadly, some were ready to turn a blind eye to TPLF torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Without the TPLF, it was said, Ethiopia risked fragmenting along ethnic lines, like Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Ethiopia’s collapse, the argument went, would usher in chaos across the Horn of Africa.

    Common sense tells us that a regime based on ethnic division cannot last; but, as the saying goes, common sense is not always common. Fortunately, human societies can tolerate racial, ethnic, and religious violence for only so long.

    In the roughly five years leading to my election in April 2018 as leader of the then-ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which until then had included the TPLF, popular challenges to the regime multiplied. The TPLF responded with its usual brutality. The 2018 vote moved the country in a new and inclusive direction. The political party I now lead is the first in Ethiopia that is not based on race, religion, or ethnicity.

    The TPLF’s regional policy was a crude extension of its domestic divide-and-rule strategy. TPLF Ethiopia, for example, adopted a policy of exclusion and ostracism toward Eritrea, against which it waged proxy wars from the sovereign territory of unstable neighboring countries – entrenching their fragility.

    An Ethiopia free of the TPLF will champion peace and inclusive development. Internally, our “New Ethiopia” will be based on equality among all of our constituent groups, including the suffering people of Tigray. Externally, we will act in a way that recognizes that our national interests are inseparably linked to those of our neighbors.

    The peace deal signed with Eritrea in 2018 is a living example of what Ethiopia is able and willing to do. That agreement resolved a violent two-decade-old stalemate, and allowed Eritrea to reintegrate within the Horn and the global community. Most important, its citizens, and those in my country residing along the border, can now live without the shadow of war hanging over them.

    My government has also sought to reset Ethiopia’s relations with our other neighbors. Following the political crisis in Sudan in 2019, Ethiopia was instrumental in bringing that country back from the brink of civil war, helping create a transitional government of civilians and military representatives. Likewise, Ethiopia’s stabilizing role in Somalia is second to none, and our efforts to bring stability to South Sudan are unbroken.

    Ethiopia’s current foreign policy is premised on a belief that closer regional integration benefits all. Our efforts to make operational the African Continental Free Trade Area is a key part of this.

    Read more »

    Related:

    In Ethiopia’s digital battle over the Tigray region, facts are casualties

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    Ethiopian-Born D.C. Businessman, Yimaj “Steve” Kalifa, Helps Howard University Fight The Pandemic

    Ethiopian-American businessman Yimaj “Steve” Kalifa has built a personal wealth estimated at $100 million. As the Jacksonville Free Press notes: "Now at a time when COVID-19 has struck nearly 38,000 residents of [Washington,D.C.] and killed more than 900, Kalifa is paying back to the community that helped him build his fortune." (The Jacksonville Free Press)

    Jacksonville Free Press

    As an immigrant from Ethiopia, Washington, D.C., businessman Yimaj “Steve” Kalifa is living the American Dream, having built a personal wealth estimated at $100 million. Now at a time when COVID-19 has struck nearly 38,000 residents of the District and killed more than 900, Kalifa is paying back to the community that helped him build his fortune.

    At the urging of a friend with connections to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office, one of Kalifa’s companies, Capital Medical Supply Inc., donated 30,000 pieces of personal protection equipment to a Howard University virus testing center.

    The friend was Armstrong Williams, political commentator and chief executive officer of Howard Stirk Holdings.

    “It’s really sad what’s going on, so I really wanted to do something for the community that’s given so much to me,” said Kalifa, 53. “So, Armstrong called me and said, ‘Let’s buy these masks.’ He reached out to the city, which reached out to Howard’s Unity Clinic, and that’s how it happened.”

    With a $1 million grant awarded in 2020, Howard University launched a testing site in the impoverished neighborhood of Benning Road Northeast, whose residents are disproportionately affected by pre-existing health conditions that make them susceptible to the novel coronavirus.

    The site, which offers free testing four days a week to walk-ins, was impacted by a citywide shortage of personal protective equipment.

    “The donation was very helpful at a time when the use of masks was critical to helping to curb the spread of the virus, especially in the minority community,” said Hugh E. Mighty, M.D., dean of the Howard University College of Medicine and vice president for clinical affairs. “We are grateful to Mr. Kalifa and Mr. Williams for their generous donations and support of the community.”

    The site is now providing COVID-19 vaccinations, and will extend the program as more vaccine doses become available, Mighty said. Citywide, 83,125 doses have been delivered, with 62,219 administered as of the end of January, according to a monthly COVID-19 situational report released by Bowser’s office.

    An additional 10,975 doses are expected to be delivered this week.

    Although he incurred a personal cost of about $100,000, Kalifa said it was Williams’ connection to the mayor that made the personal protective equipment donation possible.

    “I don’t have her cellphone number; he does,” Kalifa said. “So, he definitely gets credit for that.”

    Building his empire

    A self-described serial entrepreneur, Kalifa entered the business world in 2006, traveling to more than 20 states opening branches of a home health care company owned by three doctors and based in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles.

    “On one trip, I went to Allentown, Pennsylvania, when the property owner offered to sell me the whole building for $30,000,” Kalifa said. “Coming from LA, that was a great price. That was the first property I purchased. But, from that point, in every state that I purchased a property, I leased it back to the three doctors. It was a lot of work starting out on my own, but that was the start of Capital View General Construction Inc.”

    CVGC (doing business as Mitchell Heating and Cooling) is now a multimillion-dollar company specializing in commercial construction, road construction, residential construction and renovation projects in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.

    CVGC and Mechanical Solutions Inc., a Denver-based heating, ventilation and air conditioning company, make up the bulk of Kalifa’s business portfolio. He also operates Capitol Medical Supply Inc., a durable medical equipment company in the District, and Source Cuisine, which, in 2019, outbid the former owner of Taylor Gourmet in a bankruptcy auction to reopen four locations of the popular D.C. sandwich shop.

    Medical staff at Howard University give a Covid-19 vaccination dose. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
    Opposites attract

    Williams, 59, a black conservative commentator and owner of several television stations through his company, is known for a brand of rhetoric that often runs counter to voices on the American left. He met Kalifa about 10 years ago at the Congressional Black Caucus dinner. He acknowledges that he and Kalifa agree on little besides a mutual interest in building their respective business holdings.

    “We have opposing views, but we have a civil discourse,” said Williams. “We agree on business, and we learn from each other. But, if everybody agreed with everybody, somebody’s not necessary.

    “My first impression on meeting Steve was that he is very free, he’s truly free. We can agree on legal, moral and ethical things; I respect that. He’s built the $100 million health care and real estate portfolio around the world that he always wanted to. Steve’s a great guy; he’s my brother.”

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    Meet Prof. Hirut Woldemariam of Ethiopia Vying To Become Africa’s Next Education & Science Leader

    Professor Hirut Woldemariam, Ethiopia's candidate to become the next African Union Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. (Photo: MOSHE)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 6th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) – This weekend African Union (AU) leaders are meeting virtually for their “34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly” that under normal circumstances would have been held at the organization’s headquarters in Addis Ababa if it was not for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    The AU gathering is also taking place as the continental body has announced a high-level job opening based in Ethiopia’s capital for Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.

    Among those who have applied for the position and is now considered a top candidate for the post is Ethiopia’s Hirut Woldemariam, the first female professor at Addis Ababa University’s Colleges of Social Science and Humanities and the first woman Vice President of the University. Professor Hirut, who was also more recently the founding Minister of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Ethiopia, is currently an Advisor to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.


    Prof. Hirut Woldemariam. (Photo via twitter @ProfHirutWM)

    In her departing message last summer Prof. Hirut told employees of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education that “it was a joy for me to work tirelessly with you to build the Ministry of Science and Higher Education from the ground up. Together we have reformed the higher education sector as never before. For the first time in the history of Ethiopian higher education, the 46 public universities are designated into three categories: Research, Applied Sciences, and Comprehensive Universities. Conditions are now ripe for each university to build centers of excellence and blossom using its human resource and leadership capabilities, and comparative local advantages.”

    Prof. Hirut argues that her extensive managerial experiences perfectly qualifies her for the African Union position, which according to the job description requires a “demonstrated intellectual leadership, creativity and proven ability to propose new ideas and lead on new ways of working across silos in a complementary and synergistic way for a prosperous and peaceful Africa.”

    In a recent interview with a local publication in Ethiopia, Abyssinia Business Network, Prof. Hirut noted:

    My vision is to enable inclusive, relevant, high-quality education and foster Africa-centric science and a deep culture of innovation that will unleash the potential of Africa’s youth for the continent’s rightful and timely advancement as aspired in Agenda 2063. We have to make a paradigm shift to do things differently to unlock Africa’s indigenous knowledge of our ancestors; to make the best out of Africa’s talent, wisdom, and vibrant energy of the youth. We have to invest in the youth, on the next generation through Africa-relevant quality education, advancement of science, technology and innovation. Otherwise, we cannot ensure to have a prosperous and globally influential continent that we always aspire to see.

    In an enthusiastic support of her candidacy Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tweeted:

    I am pleased to endorse Prof. Hirut Woldemariam, Ethiopia’s Candidate for AU Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology & Innovation. Having served in my Cabinet as Minister and currently serving as my Social Sector Advisor, Prof Hirut is an exceptional candidate.”

    For his part Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen added:

    I am honored to support the candidacy of Prof. Hirut Woldemariam to AU Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. I hope pertinent organs will be mindful of her outstanding professional caliber and ethical behavior, a perfect resume for the post.

    In her twitter feed Prof. Hirut Woldemariam also shared another coveted endorsement from Kenyan Professor of Linguistics Kumbo Sure who sent the following video recommending the Ethiopian candidate.

    Below is an excerpt and a link to a profile of Prof. Hirut Woldemariam via awib.org:

    Professor Hirut Woldemariam: Fearless Woman Still on The Rise

    Hirut Woldemariam (PhD) is the Social Advisor for Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali with a Ministerial rank. She is a candidate for the position of a Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of the African Union.

    Hirut was born in Debre Markos, Gojjam, and is the first of four to her mother of Debre Markos and father, a teacher from the South—Kambata community. When Hirut was about four years old her father got a scholarship to major in History and the family moved to Addis Ababa. The children attended public school. Hirut joined Addis Ababa University (AAU) and was assigned a dorm with senior Linguistic students whose heated discussions about language and what it constitutes influenced her to join the field.


    Prof. Hirut Woldemariam. (awib.org)

    After graduation, Hirut joined the Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Culture as a Researcher. Her role in the organization involved developing a language policy, creating words for new ideas and concepts, and developing acronyms usage guidelines. She also earned a master’s degree. Later, she joined AAU’s Linguistic and Philology Department as a lecturer. After serving the university for a year, Hirut was awarded a PhD scholarship for a joint program given by AAU and the University of Cologne. Her thesis focused on analyzing and identifying the relation of an endangered language of the Gedicho with other Omotic languages. When she returned, Hirut was appointed Head of the Linguistic Department. Initially, she was hesitant to accept the offer but then asked herself, “Why not?” This marked her first leadership position, and she was the only young woman to hold such a position at a university.

    Heading the department, Hirut engaged in intensive research projects in collaboration with the Norwegian Development Agency-NORAD. In the effort to prove herself and fellow young women, she engaged in: organizing international conferences; launching the first PhD program in Ge’ez philology, Arabic, and ancient manuscripts; and starting a bachelor degree program in sign language. In a couple of years, the President of the university, Professor Andreas Eshete, who witnessed her braveness and hard work, picked her for the position of Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, making her the first woman to hold the position. She was responsible for staff promotion, curriculum development, and handling student affairs. Aligning with her belief that “hard work always pays back” and “one opportunity leads to the next,” it was not too long when she was promoted as Vice President for International Affairs. She was responsible for AAU’s international partnership and strategic planning programs.

    The Ministry of Education used to organize an annual conference for all public universities’ presidents and vice presidents. Professor Hirut found herself to be the only woman in the crowd. She submitted to the Minister and the rest of the participants that had it been in other parts of the world, any decision made during the conference would have been disqualified as it is being made in the absence of representatives of half of the population. The move triggered the consciousness of the academic leadership and led to the appointment of women to at least vice presidency positions.

    Hirut recalls in several instances she had felt out of place for being the only woman. When she started being conscious of her situation, she challenged herself to be “deaf” to any negative voice either coming from colleagues, the community, or herself. She focused on her target and gave no room for fault. Living in a society that gives women small chances to assume leadership positions and to break the glass ceiling, one must stay focused on goals. “The more you keep on focusing on the bigger picture—through time and experience—you will develop confidence and also be conscious of the fact that pressure makes diamonds,” Hirut said.

    Besides her role at the university, Dr. Hirut became part of the Ethiopian Public Diplomacy Delegation. She participated in missions to Cairo to conduct public diplomacy in relation to the GERD. She was put in the spotlight for engaging the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in an emotional dialogue on the importance of building the dam to tremendously change the livelihood of the Ethiopian people—especially women. By the end of the mission President al-Sisi told the Ethiopian Public Diplomacy team that with a new government in the country, “Egypt does not refuse the development of Ethiopia and the GERD.”

    During the premiership of Hailemariam Desalegn—a time the government was looking for technocrats for ministerial positions—Hirut was selected among the six runners; she was the only woman. That was also the time the AAU was considering her for a full professorship position. She succeeded in attaining the ministerial post preceding the professorship. Her first ministerial position was Minister of Culture and Tourism.

    In 2018, when Abiy Ahmed became the prime minister and reshuffled his cabinet, Hirut became his pick for Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. Later that year, the prime minister appointed her to lead the newly created Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

    Read more »

    Click here to learn more and follow Prof. Hirut Woldemariam’s progress on social media.

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    Video: President Biden’s Message to AU

    As African Union (AU) leaders hold a two-day online summit this weekend amid the global Coronavirus pandemic and other local humanitarian issues, U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday sent the following uplifting video message to the Summit participants. “The United States stands ready to be your partner, in solidarity, support, and mutual respect," President Biden said. "We believe in the nations of Africa." (White House photo)

    Press Release

    President Joe Biden’s virtual remarks on the occasion of the 34th African Union Summit!

    His message emphasized our eagerness to “rebuild partnerships around the world and re-engage with international institutions like the African Union,” in order to better support the people of Africa on everything from battling the COVID-19 pandemic to working with the AU to address conflicts that are costing lives across the Continent.

    “The United States stands ready to be your partner, in solidarity, support, and mutual respect. We believe in the nations of Africa. In the continent-wide spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. And though the challenges are great, there is no doubt that our nations, our people, and the African Union are up to this task.” – President Biden’s uplifting message to the African Union.

    UPDATE: In Call With PM Abiy, Blinken Affirms U.S.-Ethiopia Bilateral Relationship, Concern About Humanitarian Crisis


    U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers remarks to employees at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 2021. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

    Press Release

    Secretary Blinken’s Call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

    OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON

    The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:‎

    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral relationship. Secretary Blinken expressed our grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region and urged immediate, full, and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life. The Secretary also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Ethiopia’s reform agenda and our support for upcoming national elections, regional peace and security, democracy and human rights, justice and accountability, and economic prosperity for all Ethiopians.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed the call on Twitter:

    Thank you @SecBlinken for commitment to support #Ethiopia’s deep reforms that we will pursue undetterred. Our aspirations to democratize and build a multidimensional prosperous & peaceful country for all will be enhanced through strengthened Ethiopia-US relations.

    Abiy Ahmed Ali

    Blinken tweeted:

    I spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister @AbiyAhmedAli to express concern about the crisis in Tigray and urge safe and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life. Despite current challenges, the U.S. stands ready to support reforms and peaceful elections.

    Secretary Antony Blinken

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    A Tour Through Little Ethiopia in LA

    Fekere Gebre-Mariam, owner of Rosalind’s Restaurant in LA's Little Ethiopia, and his youngest daughter, Meklit, simply call this neighborhood home. (LA Eater)

    LA Eater

    Look closer at the restaurants on Fairfax Avenue with its founding family

    The heavily trafficked stretch of Ethiopian-owned businesses along Fairfax Avenue goes by a few different names. It was initially known as Little Addis — a nod to Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa — when entrepreneurial Ethiopians began laying down roots between Olympic Boulevard and Whitworth Drive in the late ’80s and early ’90s. As the number of restaurants, grocers, clothiers, and salons grew along the corridor, the street was officially anointed Little Ethiopia by the Los Angeles City Council in 2002. But 68-year-old Fekere Gebre-Mariam and his youngest daughter, Meklit, simply call this neighborhood home.

    Fairfax Avenue was in a state of transition when Fekere opened the first Ethiopian restaurant there in 1989. The area had previously been known for its thriving Orthodox Jewish community and an accompanying collection of largely Jewish businesses. But over time, the commercial cluster began to wane as owners retired and younger generations grew disinterested in continuing their families’ traditions. The block’s fast-changing demographics and dynamics provided the all-important real estate to make Fekere’s dream of establishing a nucleus for LA’s Ethiopian community a reality. In the years following the opening of Rosalind’s Restaurant, Fekere wooed more Ethiopian businesses to settle on the street and played an instrumental role in nurturing what would ultimately grow into Little Ethiopia.

    The area was by all accounts burgeoning by the time Meklit was born in 1993. She grew up among the storefronts on Fairfax and remembers the streets brimming every September in celebration of the Ethiopian new year and running into friends and family every Sunday following church services. And she’ll never forget when she — an 11-year-old self-proclaimed tomboy — was crowned Miss Little Ethiopia in 2004. She donned a fabulous flowy traditional Ethiopian dress and rode through the heart of Little Ethiopia in a top-down convertible waving her hands and grinning from ear to ear in an official parade.

    “This is our family’s legacy, my dad’s legacy,” says Meklit. “There’s a little bit of LA that will always have a part of him and our family.”

    Nobody knows the history of Little Ethiopia better than Fekere, and nobody understands its vibrant soul like Meklit, so Eater LA tapped this father-daughter duo to show us around the block — sharing some about its founding and a bit about where it’s going — all while touring their go-to restaurants for tongue-tinglingly, throat-clenchingly spicy food. Let’s get right to it.

    Rosalind’s Restaurant

    The way Fekere remembers it, Little Ethiopia was inspired by Koreatown. After finishing his undergraduate degree at USC, he lived in an apartment on Kingsley between Wilshire and Eighth and observed firsthand as the Korean community flourished north of Olympic Boulevard. At first, the newly opened restaurants and markets only filled a few strip malls, but soon businesses ballooned to occupy entire city blocks and ultimately three square miles of the city. “We [saw] how Koreatown was growing by the year and then we say, ‘Wow, that is interesting. Why don’t we have our own area? Why don’t we have our own restaurants?’” he says. “So that thing was going through my mind for a while.” This audacious idea stayed with Fekere as he pursued a career in real estate following college.

    Fekere purchased the original Rosalind’s West African Cuisine from its owners in 1988 when a client’s deal fell through on the La Cienega space. But when the building’s owner took it over after a year of business, Rosalind’s moved to its current digs on Fairfax Avenue. The restaurant’s original menu carried over with the relocation and included specialties from Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia, in addition to Ethiopian standbys. The restaurant eventually streamlined its offerings as demand for Ethiopian cuisine grew along with the local Ethiopian population.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Review: How the Pandemic Has Changed Ethiopian Dining in DC Area, For Now

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID-19: Ethiopia In Line to Receive Vaccines From Covax By End of Month

    Covax, the global program that strives to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines, has allocated millions of doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s shots to African countries and aims for its first deliveries by the end of the month. Nigeria, the most populous nation on the continent, stands to receive 16 million doses, while Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in line for 9 million and 7 million doses respectively, according to an interim distribution forecast published Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: February 6th, 2021

  • Africa to Start Receiving Vaccines From Covax By End of Month
  • Spotlight: Webinar on COVID19 Vaccine Hosted by Ethiopian Diaspora
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 141,453
  • Review: How the Pandemic Has Changed Ethiopian Dining in DC Area, For Now
  • Ethiopia asks for debt relief as Covid takes toll
  • COVID-19 is largely an afterthought in camps hosting Ethiopian refugees
  • COVID-19 and food security in Ethiopia: Do social protection programs protect?
  • France Suspends Ethiopian Airlines Flights For Four Days Due to COVID-19 Violation
  • Ethiopia To Start Mask-Wearing Campaign On Campus To Fight COVID-19
  • Single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine prevents illness, but shows the threat of variants
  • COVID-19 limits activities of “Timket” celebration in Ethiopia
  • COVID-19: New Study on Preventive Practice Among Pregnant Women in Northwest Ethiopia
  • Aid Groups Warn of COVID-19 Outbreak at Ethiopian Refugee Camp in Sudan
  • Ethiopia to launch 6-month COVID-19 prevention campaign
  • Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia
  • US shifts to speed vaccinations; won’t hold back 2nd doses
  • MAP: Covid-19 vaccination tracker across the U.S.
  • ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine
  • FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in pandemic
  • US panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • In U.S. every state has its own COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Find the one for yours here.
  • Only half in US want shots as vaccine nears
  • US regulators post positive review of Pfizer vaccine data
  • Britain launches the West’s first mass coronavirus vaccination
  • Cases and deaths in the U.S. | Cases and deaths worldwide
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 117,242
  • Ethiopia’s month-long conflict hampers efforts in fighting COVID-19 outbreaks
  • How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response
  • Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Pfizer CEO confident of getting U.S. advisory panel nod for COVID-19 vaccine
  • Demand for COVID-19 tests to outstrip supply for months, says Roche CEO
  • A year into COVID-19, U.N. declares a day of ‘epidemic preparedness’
  • WHO sees limited COVID-19 vaccine doses in early 2021
  • 2nd virus vaccine shows overwhelming success in U.S. tests
  • Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine: 11 Things You Need to Know
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 100,327
  • Virus cases surpass 90K as schools reopen in Ethiopia
  • Refusing to wear a mask in Ethiopia could cost you two years in jail
  • Ethiopia: Schools to Start Regular Face to Face Classes With Covid-19 Precautions
  • 5 Ethiopian footballers contract coronavirus
  • WHO: 10% of world’s people may have been infected with virus
  • Global coronavirus death toll tops 1 million as U.N. chief warns that ‘misinformation kills’
  • ‘I feel sorry for Americans’: Baffled world watches USA
  • U.S. Covid-19 death toll surpasses 200,000
  • China’s BGI wins 1.5 million coronavirus test kit order from Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia Braces for Election Amid COVID19
  • The pandemic appears to have spared Africa so far. Scientists are struggling to explain why
  • Ethiopia opens facility to make coronavirus test kits
  • Ethiopia to make and export COVID-19 test kits
  • IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay
  • Oxford vaccine trial on hold because of potential safety issue
  • In Canada, EthioCare Volunteers Help Calgary Church Members After COVID-19 Outbreak
  • How Ethiopian Airlines’ Agility Saw It Through COVID With No Bailout
  • COVID-19: US Retailer Cancels Millions of Dollars of Garment Orders from Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 reveals risky life on the buses for Ethiopia’s child conductors
  • Ethiopians fight pandemic by early morning exercises
  • One of Ethiopia’s main coronavirus centres ‘nearly full’
  • A vision for post-pandemic mobility in African cities
  • COVID-19 Spreads Inside Ethiopian Detention Centers
  • Turkish factory in Ethiopia plans output amid COVID-19
  • Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia resist camp closure amid COVID-19 fears
  • COVID-19 is crushing Ethiopian entertainers, just when we need them the most
  • Chinese first lady donates medical supplies to Ethiopia
  • Over 25500 migrant Ethiopians return home in four months amid COVID-19 pandemic: IOM
  • In Jamaica Ethiopian Consulate Donates 1,000 Care Packages
  • Global coronavirus cases top 20M as Russia approves vaccine
  • In Ethiopia extreme Poverty Rises due to the coronavirus
  • U.S. infections surpass 5 million
  • Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million
  • Ethiopians struggle to cope with COVID-19 fears
  • 15,000 Ethiopian returnees receive emergency Covid-19 assistance at quarantine sites
  • The United States Provides Ventilators to Ethiopia to Respond to COVID-19
  • In Ethiopia, Health Ministry To Conduct 17 Million COVID-19 Tests Via Month-Long Campaign
  • Ethiopia Starts Covid Test Campaign; Cases Spike After Protests
  • As COVID starts to surge, Ethiopia battles complacency
  • Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 Response Overview
  • Ethiopian Workers Are Forced to Return Home, Some With Coronavirus
  • Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed 750,000
  • Coronavirus Deaths on the Rise in Almost Every Region of the U.S.
  • Ethiopian farmers slaughter thousands of chicks as COVID hits demand
  • Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Update Affected By Internet Cut
  • Amid Pandemic Ethiopia Launches Policy to Encourage Walking and Cycling
  • African Development Fund approves $165 m grant for Ethiopia’s national COVID-19 emergency response
  • Sponsor network gives lifeline to Ethiopians struggling under pandemic
  • Ethiopia among Forbes’ post-Covid ‘Rising Stars in Travel’
  • COVID19 Contact Tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running
  • WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit
  • World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19
  • Africa outperforms world economies in coronavirus mayhem
  • As coronavirus cases rise in U.S., public health experts urge caution
  • COVID-19 Cases Pass 10 Million Worldwide
  • U.S. tops 3.2 million reported cases
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 134,000 and Growing
  • Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen
  • Winter is coming south of the equator, along with predictions of the coronavirus’s spread
  • NYT honors coronavirus victims with powerful front page
  • Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19
  • WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million
  • World Health Organization warns against hydroxychloroquine use for covid-19
  • Experts: Trump’s threats to WHO could undercut global health
  • Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases
  • WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19
  • U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 80,000
  • U.S. Jobless Rate Spikes to 14.7%, Highest Since Great Depression
  • Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle
  • In Ethiopia, Abiy Warns of Opposition Power Grab Amid Pandemic
  • Q&A: How Ethiopia’s Health Minister is Preparing for Coronavirus
  • Young Inventor Helps Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Crisis
  • Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says
  • Researchers double U.S. COVID-19 death forecast, citing eased restrictions
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy Writes COVID-19 Related Op-Ed on World Economic Forum Blog
  • Virus deaths in D.C., Virginia and Maryland surpass 2,000
  • IMF Approves $411M in Coronavirus Aid for Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet
  • Los Angeles becomes first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents
  • Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine
  • City demolitions expose Ethiopian families to coronavirus
  • In Maryland, Wogene Debele Gave Birth Before Dying of Covid-19. She Never Got to See Her Newborn.
  • Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths top 51,000, with fatalities expected to climb
  • Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes
  • Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health Holds Webinar With Diaspora on COVID-19 Response
  • Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot
  • CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating
  • Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time info. about coronavirus to Trump admin.
  • In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot
  • COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC
  • UN COVID-19 Major airlift operation reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations
  • Ethiopia Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 100
  • In U.S., New York’s Cuomo attacks Trump’s pandemic response
  • Doctor who sounded the alarm about covid-19 is now a children’s book hero
  • Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19
  • Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers
  • IMF says COVID-19 pandemic is causing worst global economic downturn since Great Depression
  • U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus
  • Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening
  • Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000
  • Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale
  • Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19
  • WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing
  • Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency, Recruits Health Workers to Fight Virus
  • The virus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate, a Post analysis shows
  • In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000
  • U.S. Government urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases
  • Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak
  • 2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia
  • The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.
  • New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers
  • ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis
  • Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight
  • Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise
  • Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed
  • U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II
  • US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC
  • Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community
  • 2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19
  • DC Metro Area Goes on Lockdown
  • U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients
  • U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000
  • The Curious Case of Ethiopian Traditional Medicine Covid-19 Treatment & Need for Caution
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy spoke with Dr. Tedros regarding the Coronavirus response in Africa
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

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

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

    By Johns Hopkins Magazine

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

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 141,453

    By Ministry of Health

    In Ethiopia, as of February 6th, 2021, there have been 141,453 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Read more »

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

    By World Bank

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

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

    The short answer: A lot!

    Read more »

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


    Photo via the World Health Organization

    By The World Health Organization

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

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

    By The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

    By Yonas Tadesse

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

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

    Read more and see the photos at theguardian.com »

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

    By Reuters

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

    Read more »

    Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million

    By Reuters

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

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

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

    Read more »

    Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpass 2.5 million

    By The Washington Post

    June 28th, 2020

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

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

    By The Washington Post

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

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

    JUNE 18, 2020

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

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

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

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

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

    Read more »

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone

    By The Associated Press

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

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health

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

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

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

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

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

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

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

    By Reuters

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

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

    By Reuters

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

    Read more »

    Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle

    By Axios

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

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


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

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

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

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

    By The Associated Press

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

    Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says

    By CBS News

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

    Los Angeles offers free testing to all county residents

    By The Washington Post

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

    Researchers Double U.S. COVID-19 Death Forecast

    By Reuters

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

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

    By NBC News

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

    Read more »

    Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

    By DW

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

    Read more »

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

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

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

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

    By The Washington Post

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

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot

    By Africa News

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

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


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

    By Liben Eabisa

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

    Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19

    By AFP

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

    Read more »

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

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

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

    Read more »

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

    By Reuters

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

    Read more »

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


    Getty Images

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

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

    Read more »

    Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000

    By The Associated Press

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

    Read more »

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

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

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

    By CGTN Africa

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

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

    By BBC

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

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

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

    One of them later issued an apology.

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

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

    Read more »

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

    By Reuters

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

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

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

    2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia

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

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

    Read more »

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


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

    By Chicago Tribune

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

    Read more »

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

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

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

    Read more »

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


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP photo)

    By The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Associated Press

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

    Read more »

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

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


    Related:

    We Need Seismic Change, Right Now: by Marcus Samuelsson

    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

    Diaspora-based Tech Professionals Launch Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Task Force

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • UPDATE: In Call With PM Abiy, Blinken Affirms U.S.-Ethiopia Bilateral Relationship, Concern About Humanitarian Crisis

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers remarks to employees at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 2021. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

    Press Release

    Secretary Blinken’s Call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

    OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON

    The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:‎

    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral relationship. Secretary Blinken expressed our grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region and urged immediate, full, and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life. The Secretary also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Ethiopia’s reform agenda and our support for upcoming national elections, regional peace and security, democracy and human rights, justice and accountability, and economic prosperity for all Ethiopians.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed the call on Twitter:

    Thank you @SecBlinken for commitment to support #Ethiopia’s deep reforms that we will pursue undetterred. Our aspirations to democratize and build a multidimensional prosperous & peaceful country for all will be enhanced through strengthened Ethiopia-US relations.

    Abiy Ahmed Ali

    Blinken tweeted:

    I spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister @AbiyAhmedAli to express concern about the crisis in Tigray and urge safe and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life. Despite current challenges, the U.S. stands ready to support reforms and peaceful elections.

    Secretary Antony Blinken

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Webinar on COVID19 Vaccine Hosted by Ethiopian Diaspora

    The online conference, which takes place via Zoom on Saturday, February 6, will focus on "plans, preparation and strategies for COVID-19 vaccine introduction in Ethiopia." (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 3rd, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) – This weekend People to People & Ethiopian Diaspora Advisory Council on COVID-19 are hosting a timely webinar titled “Addressing Fear and Hope – COVID-19 Vaccines.”

    According to the announcement the online conference, which takes place via Zoom on Saturday, February 6, will focus on “plans, preparation and strategies for COVID-19 vaccine introduction in Ethiopia.”

    Featured guests include Ethiopia’s Minister of Health Dr. Lia Tadesse and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega who are scheduled to deliver opening remarks as well as Dr. Ebba Abate, Director General of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI).

    The keynote speaker is Prof. Tilahun Yilma, Distinguished Professor of Virology at the University of California, Davis, whose presentation covers “the safety and efficacy of available vaccines for COVID-19.”

    Other speakers are Dr. Gebeyehu Teferi, Chief of Infectious Disease at Unity Health Care in Washington DC; Dr. Muluken Yohannes, Special Advisor to Anglophone Africa at GAVI board; Prof. Yonas Geda, Psychiatrist and Behavioral Neurologist; and Dr. Zelalem Mekuria of Ohio State’s Global One Health initiative (GOHI).

    The program notes that Webinar topics include “COVID19 vaccine diplomacy” (Ambassador Fitsum Arega), “COVID19 epidemiology and public health measures in Ethiopia” (Dr. Ebba Abate), “COVID-19 vaccine introduction, planning and strategies” (Dr. Muluken Yohannes), SARS COV2 variants of concern (Dr. Zelalem Mekuria), “Discipline: the missing link between public health measures and ‘being caught by Corona’” (Prof. Yonas Geda).

    The event will be moderated by Prof. Demissie Alemayehu of Columbia University’s Department of Statistics. Welcoming remarks will be delivered by Dr. Enawgaw Mehari, President of P2P & Chair of EDAC-C, while closing remarks will be made by Dr. Kebede Begna, Hematologist/Oncologist at Mayo Clinic.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to resgister.

    Related:

    The Latest: Ethiopia Coronavirus Update

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: 5 Things to Know About The Weeknd Before His Super Bowl Show

    It's Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida., and he's taking no chances on its success. (AP photo)

    WUSA9

    From The Weeknd’s unusual stage name to his musical influences, here are a few things you may not know about the Super Bowl halftime performer.

    It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the halftime show at Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he’s taking no chances on its success.

    “We all grow up watching the world’s biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position,” the singer said when it was announced in November. “I’m humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage.”

    How honored? The Weeknd told Billboard last week that he’s put up $7 million of his own money to “make this halftime show be what he envisioned.”

    The Weeknd broke though into mainstream with his smash hit “Can’t Feel My Face” that was featured on his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” which topped the Billboard 200 in 2015 and won a Grammy. He’s had three other chart-topping albums including his recent offering “After Hours,” which was released in March 2020.

    The Weeknd’s 2020 hit single “Blinding Lights” became his fifth song to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He’s also won Grammys for his album “Starboy” and the song “Earned It.” That song also earned him an Oscar nomination after it appeared in the movie “Fifty Shades Of Grey.”

    If you’re unfamiliar with The Weeknd, an artist known for being somewhat press averse, here are five things to know before he takes the field in Tampa.

    What is The Weeknd’s real name?

    Abel Tesfaye. He was born in Toronto, Canada, on February 16, 1990.

    Why is he The Weeknd and not The Weekend?

    Tesfaye wanted to call himself The Weekend, according to E!, but an Ontario band already had dibs on the name. So, he just dropped a vowel.

    He did crossword puzzles to improve his vocabulary

    Tesfaye was a high school dropout, according to a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. He did crossword puzzles to up his vocabulary. He said then he wished he was a more eloquent speaker. “Me not finishing school — in my head, I still have this insecurity when I’m talking to someone educated,” he said.

    Michael Jackson was a huge influence due to The Weeknd’s heritage

    Tesfaye said Michael Jackson was an influence on his career not only for the King of Pop’s music, but due to Tesfaye’s family roots. Although he was born in Toronto, his parents were from Ethiopia.

    “People forget — ‘We Are the World’ is for Ethiopia,” he told Rolling Stone, referencing the 1985 song Jackson wrote with Lionel Richie to raise money to combat famine in Africa. “At home, if it wasn’t Ethiopian music, it was Michael. He was our icon.” He told Vanity Fair that Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” helped him find his voice.

    A run-in with police helped him ‘smarten up’

    In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Tesfaye said he had a “near-miss” with the law that he described as “bad enough for me to smarten up, to focus.” While he didn’t elaborate, he said he knew he was given a second chance. “And you either take the experience and think, ‘This is it, final straw’, or you don’t. And the next move after that? It’s your entire life. You become who you become because of the next move you make.”

    Tesfaye joins a list of celebrated musicians who have played during Super Bowl halftime shows, including Madonna, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and last year’s duo of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

    Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company is executive producing the halftime show for a second year. Jesse Collins, who has produced the BET Awards and is working on this year’s Grammys and Oscars telecasts, will serve as an executive producer.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Review: How the Pandemic Has Changed Ethiopian Dining in DC Area, For Now

    From left, Admassu Mekonnen, Wubeshet Mehari, Milka Tesfaye and Deriba Reba share lunch at Nazret Ethiopian Restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia. (The Washington Post)

    The Washington Post

    Ethiopian dining is as much about community as food. The pandemic has changed that, for now.

    A businessman from Addis Ababa has dined on occasion during the pandemic at Nazret Ethiopia Restaurant (3821 S George Mason Dr. D, Falls Church, 703-347-9911; nazretethiopiarestaurant.com). The man — who is quite wealthy, says chef-owner Endalkachew Mekonnen — usually requests a spot in the corner of the dining room and politely asks the proprietor to keep the tables around him clear of other customers. He tries to eat early in the evening, or later at night, to avoid what passes for a crowd during the coronavirus pandemic.

    “He tells me I can charge him any amount but usually we don’t charge him” for the special accommodation, Mekonnen says. Instead, the businessman tips well, frequently handing the owner a C-note for his troubles.

    Say what you want about the entitlement of the rich and their ability to bend the world to their will with the flash of a little cash. But when it comes to the warmth, culture and exchange of the Ethiopian table, this businessman is as bereft as the rest of us. The pandemic has cast its shadow over our lives for almost a year now, and it has been particularly cruel to the restaurant industry. I’d argue, though, that few cuisines have suffered as much as the one from East Africa — the one that’s so prominent on the streets of Washington and in many of its suburbs.


    Chef-owner Endalkachew Mekonnen at Nazret. (The Washington Post)

    Read more »

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    Q & A: Rebecca Haile on the Opening of the Haile-Manas Academy in Ethiopia

    "Opening day was simply magical," says Rebecca Haile, co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-based non-profit organization Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., which manages the school located in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia. "After nearly five years of hard work, it was wonderful to welcome the students, Ethiopia’s future leaders—they are the reason we took this on!" (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 8th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) – Last month the Haile-Manas Academy (HMA), located in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia, officially welcomed its first students becoming among the top high schools in Ethiopia offering international-standard curriculum and a brand new and state-of-the-art campus.

    The project is also a successful example of how Ethiopian Americans are investing in the future of their ancestral homeland. Rebecca, who lives in New York City, is a Lawyer, Mother, Author, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist who was also recently elected as Board Chair of EMILY’s List, one of the largest women associations in the United States.

    “Ethiopian Americans can support us by spreading the word and making sure everyone in their network here and in Ethiopia knows about this ambitious new school,” Rebecca says regarding HMA. “And I invite everyone to join us in investing in Ethiopia’s future.”

    Below is our Q & A with Rebecca Haile about the inauguration of the Haile-Manas Academy in Ethiopia.

    TADIAS: You did it Rebecca! Congratulations on the opening of HMA! Please tell us about the
    class of 2024 and how it feels to welcome the school’s first students?

    Rebecca Haile: Thank you! Opening day was simply magical. After nearly five years of hard work, it was wonderful to welcome the students, Ethiopia’s future leaders—they are the reason we took this on! Our inaugural group, the Class of 2024, is made up of 35 incredible kids coming from different regions/linguistic backgrounds. They are already leaning into their new environment and I cannot wait to watch them take off.

    TADIAS: The last time we featured HMA it was a few months after the ground-breaking ceremony to build the school from scratch in 2019. Please tell us about some of the major works that were done in between that culminated with the inauguration of the academy in January 2021?

    Rebecca: I can put our work in three categories. First, we built an entire campus from the ground up, and it is just beautiful. Second, we hired extraordinary school leaders—our head of school and deputy head—who have in turn recruited an exceptional founding faculty and staff. And third, we’ve worked to spread the word in order to recruit students and to start building the network of supporters and donors we need to keep admitting deserving kids without regard to their ability to pay.

    TADIAS: How was the project impacted by the pandemic and how are you managing the challenges so far?

    Rebecca: It would be easier if you asked me how it wasn’t impacted! I’ve joked about needing Plans B, C, and D…We had construction delays, for example right how we have a temporary kitchen and dining hall set up while we wait for the permanent kitchen to be completed. Our student recruiting process was cut short in the spring as we could not travel to or around Ethiopia after February 2020, which is why we have a smaller class of 35 rather than of 100, as initially intended. Most significantly the start of school was delayed, from September 2020 to January 2021, and faculty now have the challenge of providing students what they need in a truncated academic year. Of course we are not alone here, as the problem of lost learning time due to the pandemic is a global phenomenon.

    TADIAS: And what are the plans to mitigate COVID-19 for this academic year?

    Rebecca: We are fortunate to be living and learning on a campus designed for many more people, so have enough space for social distancing in the dorms and classrooms. We have established a comprehensive set of COVID-19 protocols, such as monthly testing, vigilant mask-wearing and hand hygiene, and keeping students and their faculty advisors grouped in small “families” of 10-12 who eat all meals together. We are also limiting trips off campus and limiting visits from outsiders.

    TADIAS: In addition to being housed in a brand-new, state-of-the-art building and campus the Haile-Manas Academy also offers an international-standard curriculum. Please share with us about the school’s management and teaching staff as well as some of the student programs?
     
    Rebecca: A main theme for us is partnership. Our school leaders are Head of School Kari Ostrem, a Princeton trained engineer, and Tesfaye Kifle, who joined us from ICS in Addis. Both are extraordinary educators with years of experience and complementary skills. They have recruited a group of Ethiopian and international faculty who will teach their subjects in teams—our faculty will learn from each other and be more effective as a result.

    In terms of teaching and programs, we have three organizing principles: rigor, relevance and relationships. Our courses cover the rigorous Ethiopian National Curriculum while building 21st Century skills such as creativity and collaboration. Our residential curriculum, which includes student-developed clubs, gives students the structure to be leaders in areas that are relevant to them. Finally, our advisory program, the on-campus family, gives every student the opportunity to build relationships with adults and students from across the country.

    TADIAS: Please tell us about the application process for those students who want to join HMA next year. What are the academic and financial requirements?

    Rebecca: Admission to HMA is merit based. Interested students are asked to submit a short letter of interest along with their middle school transcripts to info@ethiopiaed.org. Students who meet our minimum requirements will be invited to sit for the HMA admissions exams, which we hope to administer in several large cities, and top performers will then be invited for interviews after which we will extend offers of admission to finalists. Fees for tuition, room and board are around $10,000USD/year, and our desire is to admit students without regard to their ability to pay, to the extent possible. This first year, thanks to the support of generous donors, all 35 members of HMA’s Class of 2024 are receiving full scholarships.

    The exact dates and locations of our admission events and entrance exams will be on our website as soon as they are confirmed, so all interested families should check in mid-February for details and the closest location for events and exams.

    TADIAS: How can Ethiopians in America contribute and get involved with the Ethiopia Education Initiatives?

    Rebecca: Ethiopian Americans can support us by spreading the word and making sure everyone in their network here and in Ethiopia knows about this ambitious new school. I hope everyone will sign up to receive our newsletters. And I invite everyone to join us in investing in Ethiopia’s future by making a contribution of any amount so we can admit deserving students without regard to their ability to pay. It is easy to make a one-time donation and/or sign up to be a monthly donor on our website here.

    TADIAS: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

    Rebecca: I’d like to thank the many individuals who have helped us reach this milestone. It’s been so gratifying to see people embrace this model school as “our” collective project, for the benefit of Ethiopia. Tadias has been a part of that, thank you so much for being an advocate.

    Also, since this is a magazine for Ethiopian Americans many of whom grew up in the US like me, I’ll share a small point of personal pride, which is that on opening day I gave my entire welcome speech in Amharic. I could not have done that three years ago—my Amharic has really improved! I know I made lots of mistakes, but I accomplished my goal of communicating with students and their families. It makes me really happy to think that I could model for our students–who will now be working hard to perfect their English—the importance of being a life-long learner, of taking risks and of not being afraid to make mistakes.

    TADIAS: Thank you, Rebecca, and congrats again! We wish you all the best in 2021!

    You can learn more about The Haile-Manas Academy and support the Ethiopia Education Initiatives at ethiopiaeducationinitiatives.org

    Related:

    Spotlight: The Haile-Manas Academy, A New World Class School in Ethiopia

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    UPDATE: Ethiopia May Engage Private Creditors After Debt Review

    Ethiopia is looking to offset the impact of the pandemic on its economy. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Ethiopia may approach private creditors for debt talks after it reviews liabilities with official lenders amid security risks that are adding to investors’ worries.

    The nation’s Eurobonds plunged the most on record last week after State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign said the government will seek to restructure its external debt under a Group of 20 debt-suspension program. With no details on how the decision would affect holders of Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds, many investors responded by selling the securities.

    Only after talks involving official creditors, which the International Monetary Fund is assisting with, will the government be able to inform other creditors on the “need for broader debt treatment discussions,” the finance ministry said in a press statement on Monday.

    Yields on Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds climbed 26 basis points to 8.85% by 1:50 p.m. in London after jumping 207 points on Friday to the highest since May. The premium investors demand to hold the nation’s dollar bonds rather than U.S. Treasuries widened 31 basis points to 807, compared with the 538 average for African sovereign issuers, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes.

    “In theory, a common framework should speed up the debt restructuring process, but it remains to be tested,” Morgan Stanley & Co. analysts Jaiparan Khurana and Simon Waever said in a note. “Questions around enforceability of the MoU terms to the private sector still persist, especially considering that the private sector is not a signatory.”

    Ethiopia is the second African country after Chad to announce plans to review debt under the G-20 common framework, which aims to include China and private lenders into a global debt-relief push.

    Ethiopia, like other African nations, is looking to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy. Ethiopia’s position is, however, exacerbated by fighting in the northern Tigray region and a border dispute with Sudan that’s threating to further destabilize the region.

    “Possible implementation of the debt treatment under the Common Framework will address the debt vulnerabilities of the country, while preserving long-term access to international financial markets,” the finance ministry said in the statement. That will help in “unlocking more growth potential,” it said.

    As with earlier bilateral debt relief, including via the Paris Club, Eurobond holders can choose not to participate in the program, according to the Morgan Stanley analysts. “The key issue would be how insistent bilateral creditors would be on the private sector participating,” they said.

    Related:

    Ethiopia to Seek Debt Relief Under G20 Debt Framework – Ministry


    Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.(Getty Images)

    Reuters

    Updated: January 30th, 2021

    Exclusive: Ethiopia to seek debt relief under G20 debt framework – ministry

    Ethiopia plans to seek a restructuring of its sovereign debt under a new G20 common framework and is looking at all the available options, the country’s finance ministry told Reuters on Friday.

    G20 countries agreed in November for the first time to a common approach for restructuring government debt to help ease the financial strain of some developing countries pushed towards the risk of default by costs of the coronavirus crisis.

    Chad became on Wednesday the first country to officially request a debt restructuring under the new framework and a French finance ministry told Reuters on Thursday that Zambia and Ethiopia were most likely to follow suit.

    Asked if Ethiopia was looking to seek a debt restructuring under the G20 framework, Finance Ministry spokesman Semereta Sewasew said: “Yes, Ethiopia will look at all available debt treatment options under the G20 communique issued in November.”

    Ethiopia’s government bond due for repayment in 2024 which it issued back in late 2014 saw its biggest ever daily fall. It plunged 8.4 cents on the dollar from roughly par to just under 92 cents.

    Ethiopia is already benefiting from a suspension of interest payments to its official sector creditors through the end of June under an initiative between the G20 and the Paris Club of creditor nations.

    Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Extends Deadline for New Telecom License Bids by a Month

    Ethiopia's telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalize the economy because of the huge size of the market, which serves more than 100 million people. (Photo: Ethio Telecom)

    Reuters

    Ethiopia has extended the deadline for telecom firms to bid for new operating licenses by a month to April 5, the sector regulator said on Monday, citing requests from interested companies.

    The Horn of Africa nation’s telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalize the economy because of the huge size of the market, which serves more than 100 million people.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is pressing ahead with the auction of the new licenses and the sale of a 45% stake in state monopoly Ethio Telecoms, in spite of a military conflict in the northern Tigray region.

    Firms will be required to submit their technical and financial bids by April 5, compared with a previous deadline of March 5, the Ethiopian Communications Authority said in a statement.

    Winners will be given full operating licenses, but they will not be allowed to offer mobile phone-based financial services, government officials said last year.

    They will also be required to set up their own network infrastructure, such as cellphone towers, they said.

    Kenya’s top operator Safaricom, which has expressed an interest in a consortium with Vodafone and Vodacom, estimated in 2019 it would have to pay about $1 billion for a new license.

    Other firms that have expressed an interest include South Africa’s MTN, Etisalat from the United Arab Emirates and France’s Orange SA.

    Related:

    Ethiopia Telecom Reports 12% Rise in H1 Revenue


    The government said last year it will retain a 55% stake in Ethio Telecom, with 40% going to international companies and the remainder to local investors. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: January 22nd, 2021

    State-run Ethio Telecom, expected to be partly sold off as Ethiopia liberalises its economy, reported a 12% rise in first-half revenue to end-December to 25.6 billion birr ($650 million), it said on Thursday.

    The government said last year it will retain a 55% stake in Ethio Telecom, with 40% going to international companies and the remainder to local investors.

    Ethio Telecom said mobile voice services contributed 49% of the revenue and data services some 26%.

    The company plans to launch mobile money services soon, it said, but did not give a timeframe.

    In June, the telecoms regulator said it had received 12 bids for two telecom licences the government plans to award to multinational companies.

    The regulator has not given a deadline for when it will award the licences.

    Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalise the economy as a protected market which serves more than 110 million people.

    ($1 = 39.3650 birr)

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    Unrealized Victory of the Battle of Adwa: By Professor Ayele Bekerie

    February is Black History Month and below is Professor Ayele Bekerie's reflection on the 125th anniversary of Ethiopia's victory at the Battle of Adwa, which is considered "a turning point in modern African history." (Photo: War Veterans heading to Adwa hand-in-hand to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Adwa in March 1896. By Ayele Bekerie)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

    February 1st, 2021

    Unrealized Victory of the Battle of Adwa: Unity Then for Freedom and Unity Now for Transformation

    Mekelle University, Ethiopia (TADIAS) — The Ethiopians, 125 years ago, reversed the course of colonial history. At the Battle of Adwa, on March 1, 1896, they successfully unsettled the colonizers and paved the way for anti-colonial resistance in Africa. They charted a new strategy to ultimately defeat colonialism in Africa and elsewhere. The united and highly disciplined Ethiopian force achieved irreversible victory at the battlefield and obliged the Italians to retreat and return back to their native land. To be concise, at Adwa, Africa defeated Europe. Simply put, Adwa became a turning point in modern African history.

    The Italians call the Battle of Adwa, the Battle of Aba Gerima, a mountain top location that was used as a command center for the Ethiopian military leadership. It was next to Aba Gerima, at the foot of Mount Kidane Mehret, the first and by far the most decisive battle took place. Later, the battle site was named mindibdib, which means total annihilation. The Italians’ ambition for colonial expansion came to a halt at the foot of the majestic mountains of Abba Gerima, as well as Mount Kidane Mehret and Mount Gesseso. These mountains, including Mount Belah, Mount Raeyo, Mount Enda Kidane Mehret, Mount Solado and Mount Zubin Daero, form not only spectacular landscape of Adwa and its surroundings, but they also remain as mountains of natural fortress for Ethiopian fighters. They are remarkable landmarks of Adwa. Ethiopians fought the Italians at sites of their choosing.


    The mountains of Adwa, Permanent Landmarks of Victory. (Photo by Chester Higgins of the New York
    Times)

    Imminent historians and other scholars have written extensively about the Battle. One of the most comprehensive and scientific historical narratives on the Battle of Adwa is Raymond Jonas’s The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire in 2011. Jonas’s widely praised book for its fair treatment of all the key players and deeds of the Battle, is a second book on the subject. The first book on the Battle was written by a British Journalist August Wilde, who witnessed the Battle and wrote the first book entitled Modern Abyssinia in 1903. Contrary to Jonas, Wylde wrote the book ‘to prevent another white failure in Ethiopia.’

    The major newspapers and magazines of the world placed the victory in their cover pages. Afro-Brazilian newspaper, which is recently revived, named itself ‘O Menelick.’ Parents were quick to name their offspring, from Hungary to France, Menelik, Taitu, Balcha, and Allula. The European Press reported the victory favorably. Vanity Fair, for instance, published in its cover page, a colored lithograph of Emperor Menelik II. Le Petit Journal also had the victory in its front page. Even the victory at Amba Alage triggered Italian students from Rome University to march on the streets of Rome shouting ‘Viva Menelik!’

    Pan-Africanist Benito Sylvain travelled to Addis Ababa from Paris to congratulate Emperor Menelik on his victory. He later served as a delegate to the first Pan-African Congress in 1900 in London representing Ethiopia and Haiti. The Haitian Dr. Sylvain had a chance to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Haitian Revolution of 1804 in Addis Ababa.

    The National Archive and Library Agency (NALA) has a large collection of manuscripts and documents in Amharic on the Battle of Adwa. Among the Ethiopian scholars who documented and written about the Battle are: Belata Mersea Hazen Wolde Qirqos, Dejazmach Doctor Zewde Gebre Selassie, Dejazemach Kebede Tesema, Aleqa Taye Gebre Mariam, Fitawrari Tekle Hawariat Tekle Mariam and Dejazemach Zewde Reta as well as Paulos Gnogno. A useful source of the Battle also includes Tsehafe Tezaz Gebre Selassie’s Tarike Zemen Ze Dagmawi Menelik Nehuse Negest Ze Ethiopia (Historical Period of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia) published in Amharic in 1967.

    Abuna Gerima’s summit was the command center in which the commander of the Ethiopian force (foot soldiers and cavalry), Ras Mekonnen Wolde Mikael monitored troop movements of the enemy. He had the height advantage to survey and give orders to his lieutenants. The Italians gathered at their fortress at Sawrya not far from the final battle fields and headed to Adwa. They marched at night with the intent of surprise attack at the break of day. The fateful night was rainy and the Italians got lost in the many mountains of Adwa. By the time, they made their way to the first battlefield, the Ethiopians were ready to encircle and defeat them within hours. The Ethiopians were aided by spies who provided the latest information regarding the movement of the Italians.

    Ras Mekonnen’s memorial statue in Harar, eastern Ethiopia, was sadly destroyed by a mob following the assassination of Artist Hachalu Hundesa in 2019. Ras Mekonnen served his country both as diplomat and military commander. He was by far the most trusted advisor to the Emperor. His army from eastern Ethiopia fought battles at Amba Alage, Mekelle and Adwa. In all the three cases, they were victorious, given that they made priceless sacrifices to achieve their goal. Fighters from Harar sustained heavy losses in an attempt to dislodge the Italians from their fortress at Endayesus in Mekelle. The freedom we enjoy and the country we love was made possible because of the sacrifices of our gallant fighting traditions of our ancestors. Erecting and keeping monuments to our heroes are the least we can do to ascertain our Ethiopian identity and nationhood ascertained by historical deeds.

    Abuna Gerima is the site of one of the oldest Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church monasteries. It houses a rare collection of religious manuscripts. It is now famous worldwide, for it is home to the earliest illuminated parchment bible in the world. The Bible (Old and New Testaments) is carbon-dated in a laboratory at Oxford University to circa 6th century of the Common Era. The manuscript was written in Ge’ez, which literally means free, is the ancient and classical language of Ethiopia. Abune Gerima. given its multiple historic relevance, ought to be preferred destination for visit and spiritual fulfillment. Besides, the great general Ras Alula Aba Nega, who started resisting the Italian colonizers long before the Battle of Adwa during the reign of Emperor Yohannes IV and continued at Adwa, buried at the monastery. His cemetery is built few years ago and is standing intact.

    The Italian colonization strategy was based on exploitation of ethnic and religious differences in Ethiopia. They tried to play one regional king against another. They also attempted to draw Muslim Ethiopians to their side. Often the colonizers strategy rests upon the introduction of Christianity to the so-called natives. That was a trick that cannot be duplicated in Ethiopia. Ethiopians embraced Christianity almost since the beginning of the faith. Christianity was perhaps introduced here earlier than Rome. Simply, Christianity has deeper roots in Ethiopia and therefore cannot be used as a tool of colonization. Furthermore, divide and rule strategy was decisively countered when Ethiopians were able to set aside their differences and fought the enemy as one. Besides, Menelik and Taitu as leaders and partners were harmonious and understanding with each other. They both vigorously campaigned for the unification of the empire. They were also endowed with strategic acumen.

    Their exemplary joint campaign did not stop at Adwa. In post-Adwa Ethiopia, the co-leaders were engaged in establishing, for the first time, the instruments of modern state. The co-leaders introduced electricity, automobile, telephone, photography, and railway. In addition, bank, hospitals, hotel service, piped water and police force.

    In the last three decades, systematic campaign was carried out by the enemy from within in an attempt to diminish the significance of the victory at the Battle of Adwa. Some said the Battle was not necessary, others lament that the victory did not result in unity, and the rest from the enemy camp resorted to raw insults of the heroic leaders. It is one thing to conduct constructive criticism of the execution of the Battle and historical journeys of the post-Adwa Ethiopia. That was not the case. Recent events in the north clearly showed that the enemy from within was aiming to dismember the country. Scramble for Africa may have begun in 1884 and left behind a colonial legacy that will take years to fully undress and undo. What we have witnessed in the last few years was an attempt to restore the scramble for Africa with the intent of settling accounts in Ethiopia, the only country that has never been colonized. Enemies from within and without collude to write what they thought would be the final chapter of the scramble for Africa. This time it is planned but failed to be executed in Ethiopia by covertly engaging in destabilizing the state. It is clear from the remarkable unity displayed by Ethiopians in supporting the Ethiopian National Defense Forces when attacked in the north. The Ethiopians are saying no to scramble for Ethiopia.

    Apart from wanton destruction of Ras Mekonnen Wolde Mikael’s statue in Harar, these past years, we have witnessed additional physical assaults on memorials of our heroines. The cemetery-monument of Ras Abate BwaYalew, the young and skillful gunner, at Debre Libanos Monastery, was dismantled in the name of development. The monument was built by his family members. Since they have saved the monument in picture forms, heritage guardians should mobilize forces to rebuild the Ras Abate’s memorial at the chosen site.

    Two years ago, Ethiopians in the diaspora and at home, sought to lay a foundation stone to build a memorial park for Empress Taitu in Adwa Bridge Park in Addis Ababa. Announcement was made and guests were invited to undertake the event. Alemtsehay Wodajo, who runs Taitu Cultural Center, an institution named after Empress Taitu in Washington D.C., was a co-host of the event together with the Addis Ababa City administration. Unfortunately, the event was unexpectedly cancelled without any explanation. Empress Taitu made significant contribution to the building of modern Ethiopia. She led her own specialized forces at the Battle. She also organized 10,000 women logisticians to provide water for the army at the battlefields. She certainly deserves a statue in Addis Ababa she found.

    While we are at it, it is important to remember that the first hotel in Addis Ababa, Taitu Hotel was damaged by fire. To this date, it is not fully restored. Tadias did a story on the damaged caused to the historic building at the time of the incident.

    Another disappointment regarding Adwa is the unfulfilled dream to establish Adwa Pan-African University (APAU). The foundation stone is laid in the presence of the former Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn and some African leaders, including President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in April 2018. Land is endowed. Concept paper is written. Local and international conferences conducted on the subject. Architectural design is completed. And yet APAU still remains a dream deferred.

    While the implementation of APAU in Adwa is on hold, the Addis Ababa City Administration is constructing a massive cultural and commercial center at ground zero, the center-most of Addis Ababa, not far from the statue of Emperor Menelik II and St George Church in Arada sub-city. The complex structure displays the letter A for Adwa on its roof. The Center once completed will have a museum, shopping centers, cafes and entertainment units.

    Contrary to the popular and misleading notion, the Ethiopians were well-armed and prepared to confront the invading Italian army. For instance, the Ethiopians acquired artillery that was by far superior to the Italians. While the Ethiopian artillery hit range was 4,500 meters, the Italians counterpart was limited to 3,800 hit range. The Ethiopian army had 70,000 modern rifles and 5 million rounds of ammunition. The Battle was not fought with spears and shields alone. The cavalry unit may have used spears and shields extensively. And yet, historians have recorded the agility and the speed with which the horses manage the hills up or down during battle engagements. In short, as one observer puts it, “Emperor Menelik II built an army that is reasonably comparable to the European colonizers in weaponry and personnel.”


    Children playing with an abandoned artillery left at Mindibdib, the site of the first decisive battle. Ethiopians routed the Italian battalion within hours of the engagement. (Photo by Ayele Bekerie)

    One-hundred-and-a-quarter century passed since the Ethiopian army defeated the Italian colonial invaders at the Battle of Adwa. As if to compensate for the gallant but unsuccessful resistance against the colonial encroachment of the 18 th and 19 centuries in Africa, the Ethiopians decisively affirmed with their victory the beginning of the end of colonialism. The Italians were assigned the Horn of Africa at the 1884/85 Berlin Conference where 14 European countries were in attendance. Once Austrian-occupied Italy expected a quick victory for their almost 20,000 strong invasion forces.

    As one observer puts it, given Italy’s fractured nature of nation-state building and imperial ambition, they were not capable of challenging the Menelik’s war-tested and united force and diplomatically sophisticated Ethiopian state. Emperor Menelik engaged Europe diplomatically to acquire modern weapons. He successfully played one European colonial power against another in order to keep Ethiopia free of their colonial encroachments. Local or European diplomats like Alfred Ilg conducted effective public relation campaign in Europe.

    The Ethiopians also excelled the Italians in intelligence gatherings and effective use. The Ethiopians had the latest information, thanks to the works of Basha Awalom and Ato Gebre Hiwot, who chose to serve and remain loyal to the national agenda of. As a result, their intelligence gathering and sharing information regarding the movement of the Italian battalions with the Ethiopian military leadership at Adwa, made a critical difference in tilting the victory to the home front.

    Instead of enhancing historical achievements thereby addressing peaceable co-existence, we expend a great deal of resources to narrow and stultify our sense of who we are. Ethnic identity seems to have absolute priority over our Ethiopian identity. Our approach to ethnicity is so dangerous that we are willing to carry out the most heinous violent crimes against those who are conveniently labeled outsiders.

    In the last thirty years, identity gravitated to extreme and divisive positions. Identity is defined by negative legitimacy. That means, one defines his or her identity by mere sense of victimhood and by blaming and hating others.

    I argue that the full meaning and relevance of the victory at Adwa has yet to be realized within Ethiopia, as Maimre Mennsemay also noted. It was the power of multiple and united voices that enabled Ethiopians to be victorious. That that formula of unity should be repeated now to counter the large-scale displacements and violence encountered by our fellow Ethiopians throughout the country to this date.

    Killel is a killer. Killel discriminates. Killel hast turned into fatal division of us versus them. Killel is a thriving ground for political opportunists and ethno-racists. Killel appears to be a sure way to let ethno-nationalists, driven by selfishness, continuously make attempts to dismember the country. Killel or what has evolved to be self-governing mechanism is in actuality an instrument to displace and kill those who are labeled outsiders. The maxim of Adwa is to respect geographical and cultural diversity and to strive in unison as one country and people to build a better and stronger nation. Most historians also agree that Adwa paved the way for the ultimate demise of colonialism in Africa and elsewhere.

    About the author:

    Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of PhD Program in Heritage Studies and Coordinator of International Affairs at Mekelle University’s Institute of Paleo-Environment and Heritage Conservation. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in the United States. Ayele Bekerie is a contributing author in the acclaimed book, “One House: The Battle of Adwa 1896 -100 Years.” He is also the author of the award-winning book “Ethiopic, An African Writing System: Its History and Principles” — among many other published works.

    Related:

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

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    Video: A Timely Conversation on New U.S. Policy Toward Africa

    The online event, which took place today (Monday, Feb. 1st, 2021) was hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), featuring New York Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, the newly elected Chairman of the powerful U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as Ethiopian Journalist and independent media advocate Tsedale Lemma, Founder and Editor of Addis Standard, and Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan multimedia and communications specialist, blogger, journalist and activist. (Photos via CSIS)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    February 1st, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This morning a timely conversation on new U.S. policy toward Africa including a discussion about Ethiopia was held in Washington, D.C.

    The online event, which was hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), featured New York Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, the newly elected Chairman of the powerful U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the first Black Member of Congress to serve as Chair of that committee, as well as Ethiopian Journalist and independent media advocate Tsedale Lemma, Founder and Editor of Addis Standard, and Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan multimedia and communications specialist, blogger, journalist and activist.

    According to the announcement Representative Meeks outlined “his vision for a reimagined approach to U.S.-Africa policy in a democratically controlled house and senate.” And for their part Tsedale and Rosebell in conversation with Rep. Meeks focused on current affairs in their respective countries and “and the impact of the Capitol attack on the U.S. government’s credibility,” concluding “with key recommendations for the new Biden Administration.”

    Watch: Online Event — A New U.S. Policy Toward Africa — A Conversation with Chairman Gregory Meeks and Africa (CSIS)

    Related:

    Video: President Biden’s Designate Ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Ethiopia


    Among the questions that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield — a veteran American diplomat who was the head of the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs until 2017 — was asked about during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday included her take on the current situation in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 27th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — President Joe Biden’s nominee for US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield fielded lawmakers’ questions during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

    Among the questions that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield — a veteran American diplomat who was the head of the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs until 2017 — was asked about during her confirmation hearing included her take on the current situation in Ethiopia.

    Below is video of her answer regarding Ethiopia:

    Related:

    Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor Holds Final News Briefing


    Ambassador Michael Raynor. (VOA)

    Voice of America

    By Eskinder Firew

    Departing US Envoy Warns Ethiopia Against Violence

    ADDIS ABABA – Calling Ethiopia “the critical actor in Horn of Africa stability,” outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor voiced confidence in a strengthened bilateral relationship but warned that violence – especially in the northern Tigray region – threatens the country’s progress.

    “We remain concerned about ethnic violence around the country and the threat it poses to achieving the country’s potential,” Raynor said of Ethiopia, speaking at a press conference Monday in Addis Ababa, the capital.

    It was Raynor’s final news briefing as ambassador, a post he has held since September 2017. He has focused on Africa for many of his 30-plus years as a diplomat.

    Rivalries among some of Ethiopia’s 80 ethnic groups have spawned deadly violence, including the Jan. 12 killings of more than 80 civilians in Metekel, a town in the western Benishangul-Gumaz region, the Associated Press reported, citing information from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Raynor said the U.S. government also is “particularly alarmed by the ongoing situation in Tigray,” where Ethiopian federal forces launched a military operation in early November to put down a rebellion by regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Ethiopia’s government said that it had regained control of the region by late November, but reports of extrajudicial killings and other sporadic violence have continued to filter out.

    Since the conflict’s outbreak, more than 58,000 have fled northern Ethiopia for neighboring Tigray, the International Organization for Migration reported Monday. While thousands are believed to have been killed and many more internally displaced, numbers are difficult to verify because of limited communications with, and access to, Tigray. The United Nations estimates that roughly 4.5 million people in Tigray desperately need food, medicine and other basics, and U.N. agencies have criticized Ethiopian authorities for blocking humanitarian aid.

    “After almost three months, we’re still not seeing enough humanitarian assistance reach the most vulnerable areas,” Raynor told journalists. “Much more needs to be done, and urgently, to ensure humanitarian organizations – both Ethiopian and international – have full and secure access to the region to provide lifesaving support to the millions of people who are suffering.”

    The U.N’s special representative on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, last week released a statement that she was “greatly concerned by serious allegations of sexual violence” in the region.

    Raynor acknowledged that concern, saying the U.S. government continues “to call on all parties to cease any hostilities, ensure the protection of all civilians in Tigray, including refugees and humanitarian workers, and to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law.”

    He also brought up the U.S. assessment that soldiers from Eritrea were helping Ethiopian federal forces in Tigray, despite Ethiopian authorities’ denials.

    “We continue to be troubled by the activities of Eritrean actors in the Tigray region,” Raynor said, “and we continue to call for an immediate halt to — and independent investigations of — all credible reports of atrocities. sexual violence, human rights violations of all kinds in Tigray and other places.”

    Improved bilateral relations

    Raynor said that when Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April 2018, replacing Hailemariam Desalegn after 23 years and introducing an array of reforms, “there was a fundamental reset, a realignment of core values fully in sync with U.S. core values, both in terms of economic opportunity and job creation and in terms of political space and respect for rights. So that formed a strong basis for us to expand our engagement.”

    During his tenure as ambassador, Raynor said, the U.S. government “brought well over $3 billion” to support Ethiopia’s governance, development and humanitarian priorities. These range from enhancing the country’s food security and health systems to reforming judicial activities and updating economic policies to encourage private investment.

    Raynor also observed that Ethiopia’s ability “to focus on our areas of partnership has been strained by some degree due to the rate of ethnic tensions and Ethiopian-on-Ethiopian violence and certainly the current Tigray crisis. But by and large I feel very optimistic about the trajectory we have been on and that my successor will be able to build upon.”

    A successor has not yet been named.

    “This is a pivotal time for Ethiopia,” Raynor said. “What Ethiopia does in the coming months — particularly in promoting democracy, organizing free and fair credible elections this year, protecting basic human rights including freedom of the press and freedom of expression, resolving conflict and addressing ethnic tension, maintaining regional harmony and promoting economic opportunity — will impact this country’s prospects for generations to come.”

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    In Ethiopia AU to Honor Marcus Garvey With Planned Unveiling of a Statue

    The announcement said: "By erecting the Marcus Garvey Bronze Sculpture in Addis Ababa we will not only honor the legacy of one of the architects of the Pan African independence movement, but will also highlight Ethiopia as a focalpoint for Pan-Africanists to engage in constructing a unifying African heritage and destiny." (Photo: Public Domain)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 21st, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — Marcus Garvey — the renown Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist and businessman who today is regarded as one of the original leaders of the Pan African movement in the Western Hemisphere — is set to receive a prestigious and historical recognition with a planned unveiling of a permanent statute at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa.

    “Our history began, in a sense, with Ethiopia,” Marcus Garvey’s youngest son, Dr. Julius Garvey, told NNPA Newswire. “Its history goes back to the beginning of civilization. Ethiopian history is fundamental.”

    The announcement added: “By erecting the Marcus Garvey Bronze Sculpture in Addis Ababa we will not only honor the legacy of one of the architects of the Pan African independence movement, but will also highlight Ethiopia [a country that has never been colonized except for a brief occupation by Italy's Fascist forces in the 1930s] as a focalpoint for Pan-Africanists to engage in constructing a unifying African heritage and destiny.”

    Garvey’s son emphasized that when he was alive his father never actually set foot on African soil due to the colonial era travel restrictions.

    The press release stated:

    Currently the African Union has divided the African World into six regions: north, south, east, west, central, and the sixth region, the Diaspora. Garvey galvanized the Diaspora before we knew it by that name. It is only fitting that the original architect of pan-African sovereignty be recognized in the city that houses the African Union, which owes much of its ideological foundation to the philosophies and opinions of Marcus Garvey. The founding fathers of the African independence movement were highly influenced by the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, and their international newspaper, The Negro World [founded and led by Garvey].

    Organizers noted that the project is a collaborative initiative spearheaded by the Pan African Technical Association (PATA).

    According to NNPA Newswire:

    In commissioning the sculpture, Dr. Garvey joined with the Pan African Technical Association, Strictly Roots, and the renowned Los Angeles artist Mr. Nijel Binns to create the Marcus Garvey Bronze.

    Plans are to unveil the sculpture during a public ceremony on Aug. 17.

    [Garvey] is considered one of the central pillars of the Pan-Africa movement. Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League boasted more than 6 million members and over 1,000 branches in 42 countries in Africa and the Americas.

    “My father was a major proponent of the redemption of Africa, but he was never allowed to go to Africa because of the colonial policies,” Dr. Julius Garvey remarked.

    “So, taking a bust of him back to Africa is significant and historical from that perspective as well,” he said.

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    Update: Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia

    "Now other aid organizations are beginning to appear, little by little, in some areas, we still don't know the real impact of this crisis," Doctors Without Borders says in a press release. "MSF teams are currently delivering medical care in different areas of central, south, and northwestern Tigray. MSF teams are also responding to the health needs of displaced people at the border of the Amhara region and in Sudan." (Photo: MSF)

    Doctors Without Borders

    Press Release

    Since early November, a military escalation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has caused widespread violence and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Albert Viñas, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), provided the following account today:

    Almost three months after the start of the conflict, I am struck by how difficult it has been—and continues to be—to access a community with such acute needs in such a densely populated area. Considering the means and capacity of international organizations and the UN, the fact that this is happening is a failure of the humanitarian world.

    Supporting hospitals affected by the violence

    After several attempts, I finally entered the capital of Tigray, Mekele, with the first MSF team on December 16, more than a month after the violence started. The city was quiet. There was electricity, but no basic supplies. The local hospital was running at 30 to 40 percent of its capacity, with very little medication [supplies]. Most significantly, there were almost no patients, which is always a very bad sign. We evaluated the hospital, with the idea of referring patients there as soon as possible from Adigrat, 120 kilometers to the north.

    We arrived in Adigrat, the second most populous city in Tigray, on December 19. The situation was very tense, and the hospital was in terrible condition. Most of the health staff had left, and there were hardly any medicines. There was no food, no water, and no money. Some patients who had been admitted with traumatic injuries were malnourished.

    We supplied the hospital with medicines and bought an emergency supply of food from the markets that were still open. Together with the remaining hospital staff, we cleaned the building and organized the collection of waste. Little by little, we rehabilitated the hospital so that it could function as a medical referral center.

    On December 27 we entered the towns of Adwa and Axum, to the west of Adigrat, in central Tigray. There we found a similar situation: no electricity and no water. All the medicines had been stolen from Adwa general hospital, and the hospital furniture and equipment were broken. Fortunately, the Don Bosco institution in Adwa had converted its clinic into an emergency hospital with a small operating theater. In Axum, the 200-bed university hospital had not been attacked, but it was only operating at 10 percent capacity.

    On roads where the security situation remained uncertain, we trucked food, medicine, and oxygen to these hospitals and began to support the most essential medical departments, such as the operating theaters, maternity units, and emergency rooms, and to refer critical patients.

    Medical needs going unseen and unmet

    Beyond the hospitals, around 80 or 90 percent of the health centers that we visited between Mekele and Axum were not functional, either due to a lack of staff or because they had suffered robberies. When primary care services do not exist, people can’t access or be referred to hospitals.

    For example, before the crisis, [on average] two appendicitis operations were performed per day at Adigrat hospital. In the past two months, they haven’t done a single one. In every place, we saw patients arriving late. One woman had been in labor for seven days without being able to give birth. Her life was saved because we were able to transport her to Mekele. I saw people arrive at the hospital on bicycles carrying a patient from 30 kilometers away. And those were the ones who managed to get to the hospital.

    If women with complicated deliveries, seriously ill patients, and people with appendicitis and trauma injuries can’t get to hospital, you can imagine the consequences. There is a large population suffering, surely with fatal consequences. Adigrat hospital serves an area with more than one million people, and the hospital in Axum serves an area with more than three million people. If these hospitals don’t function properly and can’t be accessed, then people die at home.

    When the health system is broken, vaccinations, disease detection, and nutritional programs don’t function either. There have been no vaccinations in almost three months, so we fear there will be epidemics soon.

    In recent weeks, our mobile medical teams have started visiting areas outside the main cities, and we are reopening some health centers. We believe our presence brings a certain feeling of protection. We have seen some health staff returning to work. Only five people attended the first meeting we organized in Adwa hospital, but the second was attended by 15, and more than 40 people came to the third. Beyond medical activities, you feel that you offer people some hope: the feeling that things can improve after two months without good news.

    People fleeing violence, living in fear

    In eastern and central Tigray, we did not see large settlements of displaced people. Instead, most have taken refuge with relatives and friends, so many homes now have 20 or 25 people living together. The impact of the violence is visible in the buildings and in the cars with bullet holes.

    Especially at the beginning, we saw a population locked in their homes and living in great fear. Everyone gave us pieces of paper with phone numbers written on them and asked us to convey messages to their families. People don’t even know if their relatives and loved ones are okay, because in many places there are still no telephones or telecommunications.

    When we arrived in Adigrat, we saw lines of 500 people next to a water truck waiting to get 20 liters of water per family at most. The telephone line was restored in Adigrat just a few days ago. The situation is improving little by little, but as we moved westward to new places we found the same scenario: fewer services, less transport.

    We are very concerned about what may be happening in rural areas. We still haven’t been able to go to many places, either because of insecurity or because it is hard to obtain authorization. But we know, because community elders and traditional authorities have told us, that the situation in these places is very bad.

    Large areas of Tigray have very mountainous terrain, with winding roads that climb from 2,000 meters above sea level to 3,000 meters. Cities like Adwa and Axum are built on the fertile highlands, but a large part of the population lives in the mountains. We have heard that there are people who have fled to these more remote areas because of the violence.

    Logistical challenges, late response

    The efforts of our teams have been enormous at all levels—medical, financial, logistical, and human resources. It’s an incredible challenge without telephone or internet. At first there were no flights to Mekele and we had to move everything nearly 1,000 kilometers by road from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. You couldn’t make money transfers because the banks were all closed. Yet we managed to start our operations.

    Now other aid organizations are beginning to appear, little by little, in some areas. We still don’t know the real impact of this crisis, but we have to keep working to find out as soon as possible.

    Other MSF teams are currently delivering medical care in different areas of central, south, and northwestern Tigray. MSF teams are also responding to the health needs of displaced people at the border of the Amhara region and in Sudan.

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    Film Review: ‘Faya Dayi,’ Jessica Beshir’s Ethiopia Docu-Drama About Legend of Khat

    Sundance: Jessica Beshir's striking, black and white hybrid docu-drama meditates on the legend of khat, a stimulant leaf, which was found by Sufi Imams in search of eternity. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

    IndieWire

    ‘Faya Dayi’ Review: A Hallucinatory Documentary About Ethiopia’s Most Lucrative Cash Crop

    Ethiopian legend has it that khat, a stimulant leaf, was found by Sufi Imams in search of eternity. Inspired by this myth, Jessica Beshir’s “Faya Dayi” is a spiritual journey into the highlands of the walled city of Harar, a place immersed in the rituals surrounding this plant, Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. Through the prism of the khat trade, the film weaves a tapestry of intimate stories of people caught between government repression, khat-induced reverie, and treacherous journeys across the Red Sea, and offers a window into the dreams of the youth who long for better lives elsewhere.

    For centuries in Ethiopia, the Sufi Muslims of Harar have chewed the khat leaf for the purposes of religious meditation. Over the past three decades, khat consumption has broken out of Sufi circles and entered the mainstream to become a daily ritual among people of all ages, religions and ethnicities, for whom chewing khat is a means to achieve Merkhana — a term that describes the high one gets from what is effectively a psychoactive drug not all that different from Cannabis. It has various mental and physical effects, which include euphoria and altered states of mind. For many, Merkhana is provides an escape from everyday realities, and the only place where their hopes, and dreams can actually exist.

    Khat, for most unemployed youth, has become a way to overcome the sense of hopelessness, a way to tune out reality. They are all searching for a seemingly elusive sense of agency, as well as living with the contradictions of loving a land that makes it difficult for them to live in peace.

    In the last decade, the crops that Ethiopia primarily exported — teff, sorghum, and coffee — have been replaced by the leafy green. With social significance, it has sustained so many who have worked in the fields for generations. However familiar the work is, some young people who have grown up in its shadow want more for themselves — life away from the fields; life without khat; life entirely elsewhere. They consider leaving home and all they have ever known for something new, far away, and, while perhaps more economically beneficial, lonelier and more isolating.

    Shot entirely in stunning black and white, “Faya Dayi” opens with a long shot of a somewhat amorphous, barren landscape, nighttime, dark, crickets providing the only soundtrack, and in the distance a lone figure running playfully, starts to come into view. We see that it’s a child, as he or she runs past the camera. Cut to bewitching shots of elders indoors, some faceless, some not, chanting, giving thanks to God, separating khat leaves from their stems, and, in some cases, pounding them, as incense burns in a pot, the smoke it emits, thick and intense.

    And then a lengthy shot of an open doorway, on the other side, an ambiguous view — smoky, cavernous, vast, dark depths — a haunting score providing an exclamation mark. It’s interrupted by a meek female voiceover, almost like that of a child, beginning a story about the Harari legend of a man named Azuekherlaini, who was tasked by God to find the Maoul Hayat (water of eternal life). The fable stretches the length of the film, as the voiceover interrupts intermittently to continue where she previously ended.

    But that’s just the dressing on this striking, if enigmatic, transgenerational journey into the highlands of Harar, immersed in the rituals of khat, weaving a tapestry of hallucinatory stories that offer a window into the dreams of youth.

    Unfolding more like a hybrid scripted narrative and documentary, the central story of “Faya Dayi” doesn’t follow a straight line, as it occasionally checks in on Mohammed, a 14-year-old, and the film’s presumed primary character, who works as an errand boy for the khat users in Harar. He lives with his father who, like so many in town, chews khat daily and often fights with Mohammed due to the mood swings caused by his addiction. Mohammed becomes anxious for a better life, but to have it, he must make a treacherous journey across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopia: Director Jessica Beshir’s ‘Hairat’ Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017

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    France Suspends Ethiopian Airlines Flights For Four Days Due to COVID-19 Violation

    "Several shortcomings were noted on the arrival in France of flights of the Ethiopian Airlines company," the French transport ministry said in a statement. "It is up to the company to check that each passenger on board has a document showing a negative PCR (Covid-19) test," it added. (Photo via Twitter @flyethiopian)

    AFP

    The French government is suspending Ethiopian Airlines for four days over a failure to ensure passengers have had negative coronavirus tests, the transport ministry announced Wednesday.

    “Several shortcomings were noted on the arrival in France of flights of the Ethiopian Airlines company,” the ministry said in a statement.

    “It is up to the company to check that each passenger on board has a document showing a negative PCR (Covid-19) test,” it added.

    France warned the Ethiopian flag carrier on Tuesday but, after fresh shortcomings on Wednesday, it “decided to suspend flights by the company from Thursday January 28 to Sunday January 31 inclusive,” the statement said.

    French government spokesman Gabriel Attal had earlier Wednesday said Paris wants to consider a Europe-wide “strengthening of border rules” and “sanctions against airlines” outside the European Union which do not ensure the necessary virus checks on passengers.

    Such sanctions could lead to “a temporary or definitive ban” on landing or taking off at French airports, he added.

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    Video: Eden Alene’s ‘Set Me Free’: Israel Picks Eurovision Song Entry for 2021

    Eden Alene, 20, the first singer of Ethiopian descent to represent Israel in the annual international extravaganza, will perform the song in the first semifinal of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam on May 18. If it finishes among the top 10, she will sing it again in the May 22 final. (Photo: Eurovisionworld)

    The Times of Israel

    Eden Alene to become first Israeli of Ethiopian descent to represent Jewish state at international singing contest in May; last year’s event was canceled by pandemic

    Israel’s entry to the 2021 Eurovision song contest is “Set me free,” the Kan public broadcaster announced on Monday.

    Eden Alene, 20, the first singer of Ethiopian descent to represent Israel in the annual international extravaganza, will perform the song in the first semifinal of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam on May 18. If it finishes among the top 10, she will sing it again in the May 22 final.

    “Set me free” was chosen by Israeli audiences, edging out two other options: “La La Love” and “Ue La La.”

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    The song is mostly in English, with a smattering of Hebrew lyrics.

    Eden was Israel’s candidate for the 2020 contest, which was called off last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The song chosen for her 2020 entry was “Feker Libi,” sung in four languages — English, Hebrew, Amharic and Arabic.

    The Eurovision Song Contest has a major following in Israel. Israel hosted the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai carried off the top prize with her spunky pop anthem “Toy” in 2018.

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


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

    The Jerusalem Post

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

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    COVID-19: Ethiopia Coronavirus Update

    According to the Ministry of Health the number of coronavirus cases in Ethiopia has reached 139,408 as of February 3rd , 2021. (Photo: Fruit Seller in Addis Ababa waiting for customers during COVID-19 pandemic. Working while wearing a mask. ©Alazar Kassa/Shutterstock)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: February 3rd, 2021

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