Featured Section

Q&A: Ethiopian-American Novelist Dinaw Mengestu

Dinaw Mengestu is an Ethiopian-American novelist, freelance journalist and professor of creative writing. This week Dinaw was the keynote speaker at MLK commemorative event held via Zoom at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. The following is a Q&A with Dinaw by the University's main student newspaper The Vanderbilt Hustler. (Getty Images)

The Vanderbilt Hustler

Ethiopian-American novelist Dinaw Mengestu speaks to The Hustler about his experiences as a writer and immigrant

Vanderbilt Hustler: Your novels tell very unique immigrant narratives, how do you intend for your novels to speak to your readers?

Dinaw Mengestu: I do not know who my readers are, and I never want to underestimate them. Your readers are always a slightly-amorphous body of people. The audience that I am most concerned with, strangely enough, are my fictional characters. I feel the most obligation to my characters. That obligation can be thought of as a respect for them and their desire for the complexity and depth of experience that I think people deserve.

I am never thinking about the characters under any category or label, but I am definitely thinking about them as people who have lost a lot. As immigrants, they are people who have lost their homes, their families and in many cases, are struggling to rebuild their lives in America.

That movement away from the things they had to leave behind to the construction of a new identity, a new home, trying to make sure that experience isn’t defamiliarized and contains as many layers of meaning as I have seen in my own families and witnessed in my own life—that is the kind of experience I hope will be born out of the page.

The reader on the other end of it is hopefully present and engaged by it. Hopefully, they feel that they are reading an experience that actually is complicated. I think they can connect to the complexity because the person they are reading about is actually fully alive. It is not because it is familiar to their own experiences, but because it actually has the emotional complexity of a real, living person.

How do you think underrepresented voices in fiction can be more widely represented?

I think there are a lot of systemic problems, and I think one is making sure underrepresented voices actually feel and believe that there is a world that will represent them accurately. I think so many potential artists and voices actually count themselves out of that conversation long before anything else even happens.

Once we get a number of South Asian writers or African American or Black writers, then we have diverse writers. Why do we need another one? We have Toni Morrison—how many more of those voices do we need? There is a sense that we only need to occupy so much space. We only need to give so much room to those voices because those voices are important, but they are not really valued. They are important in the way in which they can be pointed to and signified, so we need to move further still in a cultural embrace of what it means to have a real diversity of voices.

It is not about making sure we have that experience checked off, which is oftentimes where we still are. We want to make sure that we have certain narrative trends blocked off, and once we have them blocked off, it is really easy to feel that that work is done. I think that the creators of those stories, especially the younger generations, are aware of that.

I remember the first time I tried writing my first novel, being told no one is going to care about a bunch of African immigrants in Washington D.C. I think that sense is still pervasive. I think people still feel like there is not much attention or care about who they are. So, I think we need to make sure that we are actively encouraging and inviting people to start making stories and know that there is a world of people who care about them and those narratives.

What does the American Dream mean to you?

America is very distinct in that it is the only country that has this espoused Dream. I remember writing my first novel, and people thought I was being critical of the American Dream. The characters in it do not acquire the usual trapping of American success. There is this idea that if your characters are not going around declaring how wonderful it is to be an American, they are opposed to this American Dream or this American value system. That is kind of ridiculous.

I think that this American Dream is being honest about what America is while still believing you can be a part of it. That is the radical nature of that Dream. We were talking about Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream speech on the Capitol. The fact that MLK still continued to believe in the possibility of this fight, having experienced this full-scale American violence and oppression—to still believe in something positive and better on the other side is something remarkable and a radical notion.

It is not one that is connected or tied to a material wealth. It is tied to the possibility of worth and collectively to somewhere other than where we are right now. That is a remarkable thing to believe in.

I think it is why immigrants continue to come to America. They do not believe that America is going to be a wonderful, perfect land. This idea that immigrants arrive in America delusional about the nature of America is ridiculous. They arrive fully aware of how problematic America is and yet still persist in coming and bringing their children, raising their children here and pushing America a bit forward, toward something fuller and more complicated than what it already is. That is the Dream for me. The ability to believe in it when it is giving you so many reasons not to.

What insights do you have about the turbulent events of this past week?

As people have noted, this isn’t a surprise. What we have witnessed is actually just a punctuation of four years. It is like the groundwork has been laid for years for us to get to this point. My curiosity has been: how has this been possible, and how have they created this narrative of this movement and these supporters as being somehow decent and law-abiding people? How have they managed to get away with that rhetoric when clearly what we witnessed is the exact opposite?

It is violent and unfair. But the ability to continue to present themselves as this party of law and order, of people who believe in the Constitution and are supporting democracy—that is the thing that I am most fascinated by because it is the construction of a narrative, and it is a narrative that has a lot of political power and weight. It is a narrative that to some degree exists far more on the right in its ability to assert that whatever they do is good.

Read the full interview at vanderbilthustler.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Biden Sworn in as America’s 46th President

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo via AP)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- n as a U.S. senator.

Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

Inauguration Live Updates: Biden Takes Power as Trump Leaves White House

Facing crush of crises, Biden will take helm as president

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

The very ceremony in which presidential power is transferred, a hallowed American democratic tradition, will serve as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces evocative of those in a war zone, and devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay home, Americans were exhorted, to prevent further spread of a surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States. Biden will look out over a capital city dotted with empty storefronts that attest to the pandemic’s deep economic toll and where summer protests laid bare the nation’s renewed reckoning on racial injustice.

He will not be applauded — or likely even acknowledged — by his predecessor.

Flouting tradition, Donald Trump planned to depart Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, stoked grievance among his supporters with the lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate.

Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. On his first day, Biden will take a series of executive actions — on the pandemic, climate, immigration and more — to undo the heart of Trump’s agenda. The Democrat takes office with the bonds of the republic strained and the nation reeling from challenges that rival those faced by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Biden will face a series of urgent, burning crises like we have not seen before, and they all have to be solved at once. It is very hard to find a parallel in history,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “I think we have been through a near-death experience as a democracy. Americans who will watch the new president be sworn in are now acutely aware of how fragile our democracy is and how much it needs to be protected.”

Biden will come to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he will be the oldest president inaugurated.

More history will be made at his side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president. The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

The two will be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony with few parallels in history.

Tens of thousands of troops are on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory.

The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II.

Despite security warnings, Biden declined to move the ceremony indoors and instead will address a small, socially distant crowd on the West Front of the Capitol. Some of the traditional trappings of the quadrennial ceremony will remain.

The day will begin with a reach across the aisle after four years of bitter partisan battles under Trump. Biden invited Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leaders of the Senate and House, to join him at a morning Mass, along with Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders.

Once at the Capitol, Biden will be administered the oath by Chief Justice John Roberts; Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The theme of Biden’s approximately 30-minute speech will be “America United,” and aides said it would be a call to set aside differences during a moment of national trial.

Biden will then oversee a “Pass in Review,” a military tradition that honors the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief. Then, Biden, Harris and their spouses will be joined by a bipartisan trio of former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony.

Full Coverage: Biden’s inauguration
Later, Biden will join the end of a slimmed-down inaugural parade as he moves into the White House. Because of the pandemic, much of this year’s parade will be a virtual affair featuring performances from around the nation.

In the evening, in lieu of the traditional glitzy balls that welcome a new president to Washington, Biden will take part in a televised concert that also marks the return of A-list celebrities to the White House orbit after they largely eschewed Trump. Among those in the lineup: Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at the Capitol earlier in the day.

Trump will be the first president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. He planned his own farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for the final time as president for the flight to his Florida estate.

Trump will nonetheless shadow Biden’s first days in office.

Trump’s second impeachment trial could start as early as this week. That could test the ability of the Senate, poised to come under Democratic control, to balance impeachment proceedings with confirmation hearings and votes on Biden’s Cabinet choices.

Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days that includes a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion virus relief package. On Day One, he’ll also send an immigration proposal to Capitol Hill that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.

He also planned a 10-day blitz of executive orders on matters that don’t require congressional approval — a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. Among the planned steps: rescinding travel restrictions on people from several predominantly Muslim countries; rejoining the Paris climate accord; issuing a mask mandate for those on federal property; and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the border.

The difficulties he faces are immense, to be mentioned in the same breath as Roosevelt taking office during the Great Depression or Obama, under whom Biden served eight years as vice president, during the economic collapse. And the solution may be similar.

“There is now, as there was in 1933, a vital need for leadership,” said presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, “for every national resource to be brought to bear to get the virus under control, to help produce and distribute the vaccines, to get vaccines into the arms of the people, to spur the economy to recover and get people back to work and to school.”

___

UPDATE: Biden Outlines ‘Day One’ Agenda of Executive Actions


President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.

The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.

On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.

Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.

“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”

“Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain wrote, including the $1.9 trillion virus relief bill he outlined on Thursday. Klain said that Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.

Providing a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally will be part of Biden’s agenda, according to people briefed on his plans. Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum and among those briefed, said immigrants would be put on an eight-year path. There would be a faster track for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields people from deportation who came to the U.S. as children, and for those from strife-torn countries with temporary status.

On Thursday, the new president’s second day in office, Biden would sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, Klain said. The following day, Friday, will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic.

In the following week, Klain said, Biden would take additional actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies.

More actions will be added, Klain said, once they clear legal review.

Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts.

Klain maintained that Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying “the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President.”

UPDATE: Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 & Economic Plan


President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: January 15th, 2021

Biden unveils $1.9 Trillion plan to stem COVID-19 and steady economy

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.

“We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Biden said in a nationwide address Thursday. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.”

Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.

And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it after Biden takes office next Wednesday. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress, and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

“Remember that a bipartisan $900 billion #COVID19 relief bill became law just 18 days ago,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. But Biden says that was only a down payment, and he promised more major legislation next month, focused on rebuilding the economy.

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s not time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

Still, he sought to manage expectations. “We’re better equipped to do this than any nation in the world,” he said. “But even with all these small steps, it’s going to take time.”

His relief bill would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus.

That squares with the judgment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobbying group and traditionally an adversary of Democrats. “We must defeat COVID before we can restore our economy and that requires turbocharging our vaccination efforts,” the Chamber said in a statement Thursday night that welcomed Biden’s plan but stopped short of endorsing it.

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 11 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 30 million doses have been delivered.

Biden called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure so far” and said he would provide more details about his vaccination campaign on Friday.

The plan also provides $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. It’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

The pace of vaccination in the U.S. is approaching 1 million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to 3 million a day.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans.

“We will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated,” Biden said.

Next Wednesday, when Biden is sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Ethiopia-born Naya Ali Among Winners of Inaugural Black Canadian Music Awards

Naya Ali, who was born in Ethiopia, came to Montreal as a preschooler and grew up in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Naya says the Ethiopian roots of her family has a defining influence on her art. According to the Canadian Postmedia Network: "Those songs rooted in Ethiopian culture will make up the second half of her debut album" that set to be released this year. “That’s where I’m from, those are my roots, those are my foundations,” Naya explains. “There’s a lot of history there.” (Photo: Montreal Gazette)

Post Media

Naya Ali is proud to be the only artist not from Ontario to win one of the five prizes at the inaugural Black Canadian Music Awards. The SOCAN Foundation announced Monday that the Montreal rap artist had won an award at the Toronto-based event, along with Ontario artists TOBi, RAAHiim, Hunnah and Dylan Sinclair. More than 300 artists from across Canada were competing for the awards.

It means a lot to Ali, she says, because it’s a sign her music is gaining recognition outside Montreal. Francophone hip hop in Quebec has made big progress commercially in recent years, but she feels more isolated as an anglophone rapper here, which is why it felt so good to win this prize at a Toronto-based event.

“It’s recognition,” said Ali, who was born in Ethiopia, came to Montreal as a preschooler and grew up in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. “To get an award from (songwriters group) SOCAN, it enables me to get on people’s radars, of people who haven’t heard of me before, in Toronto and across Canada. It’s going to facilitate more connections with key people, and that’s one of the greatest things about this prize.

“I never thought it was a problem being an English artist from here, being a Black woman from Montreal who raps. It kind of looks like on paper, ‘Ugh, what are the odds of this working?’ But at the end of the day, it gives me my edge.”

The stars seemed to be aligning for Ali early in 2020. She launched the first half of her debut album, Godspeed: Baptism (Prelude), in March, garnering much buzz, and she was set to launch the project at the prestigious South by Southwest festival in Austin, Tex. She was also booked to be on the same bill as hip-hop superstar Travis Scott at the Metro Metro fest in Montreal in May.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, and everything was cancelled. Like every other musical artist, Ali was stuck at home wondering what to do next, with most revenue streams shut down and little opportunity to promote her album.

But Ali isn’t one to stay down for long. The distinctive blend of gritty rapping and radio-friendly pop sounds on the eight songs on Godspeed: Baptism (Prelude) continued to win over folks in the industry. It was one of the nominees at the ADISQ gala, the Quebec music awards ceremony, as anglophone album of the year, a prize ultimately won by Patrick Watson’s Wave. Ali also had the chance to perform at the top-rated gala, delivering an intense version of Get It Right, belting it out standing on top of a giant freight container under the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

For the ADISQ performance, she wore a hoodie with names on the back of Black women killed as a result of police brutality. It also included the name of Joyce Echaquan, the Indigenous woman who died in a Joliette hospital last year as staff made degrading comments about her.

“The whole Black Lives Matter movement became more mainstream because people had a lot more time on their hands,” said Ali. “Because of confinement, they were not so distracted. Which is great. But at the end of the day, Black lives matter yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s not a trend or a wave. If you actually believe in it, then it’s something you embody every day in your actions.”

Ali says N.D.G. helped form her musical persona. “It played a great part in me becoming the person I am today. When I was a teenager, rap music was really in the streets. It opened my ears to a whole culture and community.”

Another defining influence was the Ethiopian roots of her family, and she says that’s having a greater impact on the music she’s making now. Those songs rooted in Ethiopian culture will make up the second half of her debut album, which will launch this year.

“That’s where I’m from, those are my roots, those are my foundations,” said Ali. “There’s a lot of history there.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

ህብር (Hēbēr): Exhibition by Tizta Berhan at Addis Fine Art in Ethiopia

The art show, which is also available to view online at Addis Fine Art's website during the pandemic, features Tizta's oil paintings portraying "scenes of affection, intimacy, and closeness.” (Photo: Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 15th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — If you’re in Addis Ababa you can catch a timely and aptly titled art exhibition by Ethiopian painter Tizta Berhanu called ህብር (Hēbēr) at Addis Fine Art gallery in the capital.

“Hēbēr, meaning unity and togetherness, showcases new works by the artist and marks the opening of the gallery’s second exhibition space in the Noah Centrum building, Addis Ababa,” the announcement states, noting that the display is also the artist’s debut solo exhibition at their space.

The art show is also currently available to view online at Addis Fine Art’s website, and features Tizta’s oil paintings portraying “scenes of affection, intimacy, and closeness.. From moments of melancholy to elation, Tizta’s bold use of colors provides each painting with its own distinctive emotional tone; her luminescent red paintings, for instance, conjure images of love and passion, while the oceanic blue works convey a sense of despondency.”


From top: Tizta Berhanu, Siblings, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 140 cm; Tizta Berhanu Reassurance, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 140 cm; Tizta Berhanu, Discontent, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 150 x 180 cm; Tizta Berhanu Stability, 2020 Oil on canvas, 140 x 140 cm. (Addis Fine Art)

According to the press release:

Trained as a figurative painter at the Alle School of Fine Art and Design in Addis Ababa, Tizta uses oil paintings to interrogate every facet of human emotions. From moments of melancholy to elation, the full litany of our emotional life is on display. The protagonists in Tizta’s canvases can be found seeking comfort in the bosom of a sympathetic listener or brooding, flanked by apparently concerned loved ones. The artist captures outpourings of vulnerability, love, excitement and sadness, and immortalises them in powerful images.

The scenes depicting affection, intimacy and closeness are hallmarks of Tizta’s work, which take on a particular poignancy in our new context of social distancing, increasing polarization and conflicts between communities. The paintings in this show evoke a certain nostalgia for the times when expressing our emotions physically and supporting each other with care was the norm – and remind us of the importance of such acts.

If You Attend:

You can learn more about the exhibition at addisfineart.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

‘Deliver Addis’: Feleg Tsegaye, The Man Behind Ethiopia’s First Online Food Delivery Service

Feleg Tsegaye, founder of Deliver Addis. (Photo: Howwemadeitinafrica)

Face 2 Face Africa

The man behind Ethiopia’s first online restaurant delivery service changing how people dine

Feleg Tsegaye was born to exiled Ethiopian parents in the United States. When he was 24 years old, he moved to Ethiopia to start the country’s first-ever online restaurant delivery service. Prior to leaving the U.S, he worked at the US Federal Reserve Bank.

In 2015, he launched Deliver Addis, an online restaurant delivery service in Ethiopia which allows customers to place orders from their favorite restaurants and also discover new ones. For Tsegaye, it was his own way of not only creating jobs in his country of origin but to change the way Ethiopians dine.

“What really prompted me to pursue this was the fact that we were creating a completely new industry that did not exist in Ethiopia,” Tsegaye told How We Made It In Africa. “It’s about getting customers what they want in the convenience of their homes and offices. It’s also about generating business for small and medium enterprises – like restaurants that cannot afford space or a good location – and creating jobs for young people as back-office staff or drivers.”

Across Africa, businesses being operated solely online are fast gaining popularity on the continent. This has been largely due to the spread of internet connectivity across the continent. While in some countries internet usage is low, it is high in other states.

Playing a pioneering role in Ethiopia’s e-commerce sector didn’t come easy for Tsegaye. At the time, internet penetration was low and was largely a platform not known to many in the country. Nonetheless, he persisted and now controls a big share of the market.

He was also confronted with other challenges such as the absence of addresses, power outages and inadequate internet connection.

“Our first internet shutdown was when I was on a flight to the US,” he recalled. In 2016, Ethiopia declared a state of emergency due to political instability, resulting in the shutdown of internet connectivity in the country.

“As an e-commerce business, that’s pretty much the worst possible thing that can happen – and I wasn’t even there when it happened,” he said. Although the business was unprepared for the internet shutdown, Tsegaye took advantage of the situation to do some intensive servicing and maintenance of his delivery bikes.

While at it, he took steps to keep the business afloat by designing offline processes for ordering – by phone, or SMS, when available. This saw order volumes go up. In June 2020, he secured funding from the Impact Angel Network to increase its capacity and efficiency to bring on new products and services and expand market share.

Following growing demand due to COVID-19, he expanded his services to include an online marketplace that enables Ethiopian consumers to shop for groceries and other essential goods online.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Biden-Harris Name Yohannes Abraham NSC Chief of Staff

Yohannes Abraham has been named Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the White House National Security Council in the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. (Photos: Harvard and Transition website)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 10th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — The Transition Office of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris continue to release a diverse list of appointments “that looks like America” to serve in their incoming administration. The latest hires include Ethiopian American Yohannes Abraham, who has been named Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the White House National Security Council.

As the press release highlighted:

Yohannes Abraham currently serves as the Executive Director of the Biden-Harris Transition, overseeing preparation for the implementation of Biden-Harris policy, personnel, and management priorities. He is also on the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he lectures on management. During the Obama-Biden administration, Abraham served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the National Economic Council. He also worked as Chief of Staff of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, where his team partnered with cities, states, and other key stakeholders to manage crises and support domestic and national security policy priorities. Abraham has also served on the leadership team of the Vanguard Group’s global investment unit and as a Senior Advisor at the Obama Foundation. A native of Springfield, Virginia, Abraham holds a BA from Yale College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.

In a statement President-elect Joe Biden said: “The National Security Council plays a critical role in keeping our nation safe and secure. These crisis-tested, deeply experienced public servants will work tirelessly to protect the American people and restore America’s leadership in the world. They will ensure that the needs of working Americans are front and center in our national security policymaking, and our country will be better for it.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris added: “This outstanding team of dedicated public servants will be ready to hit the ground running on day one to address the transnational challenges facing the American people — from climate to cyber. They reflect the very best of our nation and they have the knowledge and experience to help build our nation back better for all Americans.”

And incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said: “I am proud to announce that these incredibly accomplished individuals will be joining the National Security Council. They will bring a wide range of perspectives to tackling the defining challenges of our time, and I thank them for their willingness to serve their country.”

Below are the biographies of the NSC appointees named in alphabetical order as provided in the press release of the Biden-Harris Transition team:

Yohannes Abraham, Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary

Yohannes Abraham currently serves as the Executive Director of the Biden-Harris Transition, overseeing preparation for the implementation of Biden-Harris policy, personnel, and management priorities. He is also on the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he lectures on management. During the Obama-Biden administration, Abraham served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the National Economic Council. He also worked as Chief of Staff of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, where his team partnered with cities, states, and other key stakeholders to manage crises and support domestic and national security policy priorities. Abraham has also served on the leadership team of the Vanguard Group’s global investment unit and as a Senior Advisor at the Obama Foundation. A native of Springfield, Virginia, Abraham holds a BA from Yale College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.

Sasha Baker, Senior Director for Strategic Planning

Sasha Baker was most recently national security advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren and served as a Deputy Policy Director for her presidential campaign. Previously, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. Baker was a career budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, joining as a Presidential Management Fellow and serving in homeland and national security roles and as a Special Assistant to the OMB Director. She began her government career as a research assistant for the House Armed Services Committee. Originally from New Jersey, Baker is a graduate of Dartmouth College and received an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Ariana Berengaut, Senior Advisor to the National Security Advisor

Ariana Berengaut currently serves on the NSC Agency Review Team with the Biden-Harris Transition and held the COVID-19 policy portfolio as a volunteer on the Biden-Harris Campaign. She previously was a founding director at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. She served in the Obama Administration as speechwriter and counselor to then-Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and, prior to that, as chief speechwriter and senior advisor to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. She started her career as a researcher at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and worked on the 2008 Obama campaign. Born in Washington, D.C., she attended Brandeis University and the University of Oxford, completing her graduate fieldwork in southeastern Uganda.

Tanya Bradsher, Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement

Tanya Bradsher is the National Security Agency lead on the Biden-Harris Transition Team. Prior to her role on transition, she served as Chief of Staff for Congressman Don Beyer. Bradsher served as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama-Biden administration, led Veteran and Military Family outreach in the Office of Public Engagement, and served as the Assistant Press Secretary on the National Security Council. Bradsher is an Iraq war veteran who served 20 years in the United States Army and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Bradsher was born in Virginia, is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The George Washington University. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three daughters.

Rebecca Brocato, Senior Director for Legislative Affairs

Rebecca Brocato was Director of Strategy and Government Affairs at National Security Action. During the Obama-Biden Administration, she served in the White House as Director for Legislative Affairs on the National Security Council and as House Legislative Affairs Liaison. She worked previously on Middle East policy at the State Department and as an aide to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). Brocato began her career as a researcher focused on West and Central Africa. A Baltimore native, she is a graduate of Harvard and Oxford.

Elizabeth Cameron, Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense

Elizabeth (Beth) Cameron is the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Vice President for Global Biological Policy and Programs and a volunteer with the Biden-Harris transition team. She previously served on the White House National Security Council staff, where she stood up the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense and helped launch the Global Health Security Agenda. She also served at the Department of Defense as an Office Director and Senior Advisor and at the Department of State where she focused on global threat reduction programs. She was a policy director with the American Cancer Society and an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow in the health policy office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Cameron holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the Human Genetics and Molecular Biology Program at the Johns Hopkins University and is a graduate of the University of Virginia and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Raised in Maryland, she lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband.

Tarun Chhabra, Senior Director for Technology and National Security

Tarun Chhabra is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University. He was previously a Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. During the Obama-Biden Administration, Chhabra served on the National Security Council staff as Director for Strategic Planning and Director for Human Rights and National Security Issues, and at the Pentagon as a speechwriter to the Secretary of Defense. Born in Tennessee and raised in Louisiana, Chhabra is a first-generation American and a graduate of Stanford University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School.

Caitlin Durkovich, Senior Director for Resilience and Response

Caitlin Durkovich serves on the Department Homeland of Security (DHS) Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition. She is a Director at Toffler Associates and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. Caitlin served as Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection and as Chief of Staff for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (the predecessor to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) at DHS during the Obama-Biden Administration. Caitlin was also a member of the Mission Assurance/Business Continuity Team at Booz Allen Hamilton. She helped launch the Internet Security Alliance in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, and iDefense, an early cyber threat intelligence service. Born in New Mexico, Caitlin is a graduate of Duke University.

Jon Finer, Principal Deputy National Security Advisor

Jon Finer serves as Deputy Head of Foreign and National Security Policy on the Biden-Harris Transition team. He previously served in the Obama White House and State Department, including as Middle East Advisor and Foreign Policy Speechwriter to then-Vice President Biden and as Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning for Secretary of State John Kerry. Finer began his career as a journalist in Asia and covered several conflicts, including the Iraq War, as a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post. Since leaving government, he has held positions in academia, at think tanks, and in the private sector. He has an A.B. from Harvard; a M.Phil from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Finer was born and raised in Vermont, where his parents still live, and has three younger siblings.

Juan Gonzalez, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere

Juan Sebastian Gonzalez serves on the Biden-Harris Transition Appointments Team as a Deputy for National Security Agencies. He was previously a Senior Fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Gonzalez served in the Obama-Biden Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and in the White House as Special Advisor to Vice President Biden and National Security Council Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs. In 2017, Gonzalez was appointed by Senator Chuck Schumer to serve as a Commissioner on the bipartisan Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission, and represented the Biden campaign on the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on Immigration. Born in Colombia and raised in New York, Gonzalez is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and son.

Sumona Guha, Senior Director for South Asia

Sumona Guha was co-chair of the South Asia foreign policy working group on the Biden-Harris campaign, and serves on the transition’s State Department Agency Review Team. Guha is Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group. Previously, she served in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer and later, on the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff where she focused on South Asia. During the Obama-Biden Administration, she was Special Advisor for national security affairs to Vice President Biden. Guha is a graduate of Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three children.

Ryan Harper, Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Executive Secretary

Ryan Harper currently serves as the Director of Planning and Staff Secretary for the Biden-Harris Transition. He previously served in a number of foreign policy and national security positions during the Obama-Biden Administration at USAID and the Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Defense. He has also held positions at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to the transition, Harper was an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Co., where he worked with public sector defense, development, and intelligence organizations. Originally from Massachusetts, he is a graduate of Stanford Law School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the College of the Holy Cross. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife.

Peter Harrell, Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness

Peter Evans Harrell is a member of the Biden-Harris Transition working on the State Department Agency Review Team and on international economic and trade policy. Since 2015, he has served as an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and as a lawyer in private practice. He has also taught international trade law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. From 2009 to 2014, he served in the Obama-Biden Administration on the State Department Policy Planning Staff and as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Earlier in his career, Harrell worked as a journalist and as a staffer on the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign. Harrell was born in Baltimore and raised in Atlanta, where he currently resides with his wife, two children, and cat. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Yale Law School.

Emily Horne, Senior Director for Press and NSC Spokesperson

Emily Horne serves as a volunteer on the Biden-Harris Transition Team leading communications for several national security Cabinet nominees. She joins the Biden-Harris Administration from the Brookings Institution, where she was Vice President of Communications. Horne was previously a civil servant at the State Department, where she began as an intern and served in a number of public affairs roles including Assistant Press Secretary and Director of Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, Communications Director for the Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, and Spokesperson for South and Central Asian Affairs. She also served as head of global policy communications at Twitter. Originally from Michigan, Horne holds a B.A. and M.A. from The George Washington University. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and their two sons.

Shanthi Kalathil, Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights

Shanthi Kalathil is currently senior director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy, where her work focuses on emerging challenges to democracy. Previously in her career, she served as a senior democracy fellow at the US Agency for International Development, an associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Hong Kong-based reporter for the Asian Wall Street Journal, and an advisor to international affairs organizations. Kalathil is the co-author of Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003). Originally from California, Kalathil is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Senior Director for Russia and Central Asia

Andrea Kendall-Taylor is the Russia policy lead for the Biden-Harris Transition. She previously served as a senior intelligence officer both as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a senior analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. Kendall-Taylor was also Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. Originally from San Diego, Kendall-Taylor is a graduate of Princeton University and received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three children.

Ella Lipin, Senior Advisor to the Principal Deputy National Security Advisor

Ella Lipin serves on the Biden-Harris Transition’s national security and foreign policy team. Prior to joining the Transition, she was national security and foreign policy advisor to Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. Lipin served as Egypt Country Director in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and in the speechwriting office of the Secretary of Defense. Raised in Oregon, Lipin is a graduate of Duke University and received an MPA from Princeton University.

Brett H. McGurk, Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa

Brett H. McGurk is currently the Frank E. Payne and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute. He has held senior national security posts across the last three administrations, most recently as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS (2015-2018). He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs at the State Department (2012-2015), Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East Affairs on the National Security Council (2007-2009), and Director for Iraq on the National Security Council (2005-2007). McGurk graduated from the University of Connecticut and Columbia University School of Law, after which he served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Melanie Nakagawa, Senior Director for Climate and Energy

Melanie Nakagawa serves on the Biden-Harris Transition focused on climate change and energy. In the Obama-Biden Administration Nakagawa was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation at the U.S. State Department and served as a strategic advisor on climate change to the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the Policy Planning Staff. Most recently, she was Director of Climate Strategy at Princeville Capital, leading their climate and sustainability investment strategy to back technology-enabled companies delivering transformative solutions to climate change. Earlier in her career she was the Senior Energy and Environment Counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She provides her expertise on the Board of the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, REVERB Advisory Board, and as a Loomis Council Member. Born in New Jersey, Nakagawa earned a J.D. and M.A. in International Affairs from American University’s Washington College of Law and School of International Service, and an A.B. from Brown University.

Carlyn Reichel, Senior Director for Speechwriting and Strategic Initiatives

Carlyn Reichel is a member of the National Security Council Agency Review Team on the Biden Transition. On the Biden-Harris Campaign, she served as both Director of Speechwriting and Foreign Policy Director. Prior to the campaign, Reichel was the founding Communications Director for the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Reichel joined the Department of State during the Obama-Biden Administration as a Presidential Management Fellow and went on to work as a speechwriter for foreign policy and national security officials at the State Department, the NSC, and the Office of the Vice President. Reichel grew up in Georgia, graduated from Stanford University, and earned her Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Dr. Amanda Sloat, Senior Director for Europe

Dr. Amanda Sloat is currently serving on the policy team for the Biden-Harris Transition Team. Prior to this role, she was a Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. She was also a non-resident fellow in the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at Harvard Kennedy School. During the Obama-Biden Administration, Sloat served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs at the State Department. She also served as senior advisor to the White House’s Middle East coordinator and as senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. She previously worked as senior professional staff with responsibility for Europe policy on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. Before her government service, Sloat was a senior program officer with the National Democratic Institute and a postdoctoral fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. She has written widely on European politics, including a book (Scotland in Europe: A Study of Multi-Level Governance). Originally from Michigan, Sloat is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University and holds a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh.

Related:

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team (UPDATE)

Spotlight: Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in U.S.

Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Hana Getachew, the Ethiopian-American Founder of Bolé Road Textiles

Hana Getachew, founder of the Brooklyn-based Bolé Road Textiles that sells home linens, fabric, pillows, and more, all hand-woven in Ethiopia. (Photo via Refinery29)

Refinery29

For Hana Getachew, the Ethiopian-American founder of Bolé Road Textiles, a love of textiles can be traced back to childhood, stemming from one garment in particular: her mother’s dress for the Mels, an Ethiopian tradition that takes place during a wedding ceremony. She remembers it in excruciating detail — from the olive green shade and the waist-cinching A-line silhouette, right down to the gilded threadwork and golden daisies.

“We’d always take it out and play with it. We were obsessed with it,” Getachew says. There were others, too, that she loved: dresses from friends and family, brought when they visited from Ethiopia. “In Ethiopia, weavers would come up with non-traditional syncopated patterns, with elements of symmetry and diamond designs. That has stayed with me, and I put a lot of it into my work today.”

Getachew speaks about her career as two different lives: her life as an interior designer (before she launched Bolé Road), and her life after. It’s the latter — as the mastermind behind the home decor brand inspired by her own connections to family and the African diaspora — that has granted her the liberty to experiment and express herself genuinely through a world enriched in color, shapes, textures, and patterns.
“I knew I was a good interior designer, but I felt like anyone could do it. It wasn’t unique to me; I wanted to find something that is essential to my soul,” she says about working at an architecture firm for almost 11 years, decorating commercial interiors and offices. “One day, my coworker told me her friend quit her full-time job to work on her pillow business. And I was like, Yes, that’s what I’m gonna do.”


Bolé Road Textiles


Bolé Road Textiles

The concept for Bolé Road lived in her mind for almost eight years before she found the courage to execute it. In 2008, the same year Getachew’s ideas were growing, everyone around her was losing their jobs, which led many of them to dream-chase and become entrepreneurs. “The maker movement,” she proclaims. “I’m very risk-averse, which is not a good trait as an entrepreneur. That’s why I didn’t leap into this, but when I saw a whole movement happening, I thought maybe I could do this too.”
ADVERTISEMENT

Getachew left her career in interior design in 2014, but spent years prior to that preparing for the transition. She took free business classes at NYC Small Business Services and scouted artisans through word of mouth, the internet, and asking around in Ethiopia. A year later, she officially launched her brand on the same day as the Brooklyn Designs annual show. (The best piece of advice she received: “Just start, don’t overthink it.”)

“It was an amazing event, and it was an incredible way to launch, rather than hit publish on a website and wait,” she says, likening the experience to a graduation, being surrounded by family, friends, and former coworkers. “Those kinds of events are really great for understanding how people respond to [your product] and getting your first round of feedback.”

Everything about Bolé Road revolves around intention, identity, and gratitude to the heritage and community that supported Getachew most, from the colors and patterns inspired by Ethiopian landscapes to the name of the company.

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethio-American Oballa Oballa Sworn in as Austin, Minnesota City Council Member

Ethiopian American Oballa Oballa who was elected as a city Council member in Austin, Minnesota this past November has been sworn into office. (Photo: Oballa Oballa speaking at the Austin city Council Chambers in Minnesota on Monday, January 4th, 2021 after being sworn in as council member/by Bethel Gessesse/Mshale)

Mshale

By Bethel Gessesse

Oballa Oballa sworn in as Austin City Council member

AUSTIN, Minn. – Ethiopian-born Oballa Oballa was sworn in Monday to take his seat as the new Austin City Council member representing First Ward. The city staggered the swearing in of new council members and the mayor throughout the day to adhere to coronavirus pandemic social distancing guidelines with Oballa taking his oath of office shortly after 2PM.

Oballa, who was elected in November, is the first person of color elected to the Austin City Council. The city, a 15-minute drive from the Iowa-Minnesota border is named after Austin R. Nichols, the city’s first European settler.

Following the oath of office – administered by City Administrative Services Director Tom Dankert – Oballa outlined his priorities for his next four years on the council.


City Administrative Services Director Tom Dankert administers the oath of office to Oballa Oballa on Monday, January 4th, 2021. (Photo by Bethel Gessesse)

“Less than 5 years ago, I was in a refugee camp hoping and praying that I would have the opportunity at a better life. A year ago, I became a US citizen. And now, I stand before you as a council member,” Oballa said.

“We got more work to do… For our city to thrive we have to work hard and build more housing, affordable daycare, bring more jobs, and keep people of Austin in Austin,” Oballa stated, sharing a glimpse of the platform that helped him win in November.

The state’s Democratic Party dispatched its director of civic engagement Ian Oundo to witness the historic occasion.

“As a party it shows that in addition to the work we are doing in the Twin Cities, we continue to work to expand our base in rural Minnesota,” Oundo said in an interview with Mshale after the brief ceremony. “We have to understand that the face of our community is changing all over the state of Minnesota and all those voices have to be represented.

Not even the mask that city administrator Craig Clark was wearing could hide the joy he was feeling, calling the day “historic” as he spoke with Mshale. According to Clark, the moment was not an accident.

“There is excitement out there that a new era is upon us, it is a culmination of a lot of work from a lot of people to be purposeful about being inclusive and this is a manifestation of that,” said Clark.

Due to the pandemic, only a few people could be allowed into the council chambers to witness the occasion but they made it clear they understood the significance of the moment.

Oballa’s Aunt, Adalg Ojullu, was ecstatic. She drove almost 200 miles from the neighboring state of South Dakota to witness his nephew taking the oath of office.

“His picture will remain in this building forever, I am so proud of him and the people of Austin that elected him,” said Ojullu.

Echoing her sentiments were two Austin community leaders, Ojoye Akane and Santino Deng. Both said Oballa’s election will help them in their on-going efforts to encourage more civic engagement from the African immigrant community.

Mike Dean is the executive director of LEADMN, a statewide community college association where Oballa honed some of his leadership skills.

Dean spoke to Mshale after the swearing in and said: “If you look out there and you see the pictures of the former city council members, they are all white, so this represents a sea change within the City of Austin and greater Minnesota, it’s amazing what Oballa has done here.”

Watch: Oballa Oballa Swearing-in Ceremony in Austin, Minnesota

Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

Sahan Journal

November 7th, 2020

Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

“This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

TADIAS Year in Review: 2020 in Pictures

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)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Updated: December 31st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Our cover picture of Dr. Tsion Firew — who was one of the many brave healthcare workers who were on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic earlier this year in New York City — captures the kernel of the year that was 2020. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 300,000 people across America.

Beyond the ongoing global health and social crisis, there were some optimistic moments in 2020 including the swift development of a vaccine as well as the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election.

Some of the inspiring news stories we highlighted on our website this year include the recent naming of Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, who was voted “the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.”

Equally exciting was the announcement in September that Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste’s blockbusters new novel The Shadow King was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world.

Similarly two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew and Elizabeth Giorgis, were named winners of the 2020 African Studies Book Prize.

In the art world there was our feature of Free Art Felega, a virtual Ethiopia exhibition organized by German-based Ethiopian artist Yenatfenta Abate, bringing together artists from Ethiopia and the Diaspora. As the announcement stated: The basic concept was “based on the focus of life and work of the participating artists in times of COVID-19 and the reflection of joint work in the context of the social challenge caused by the changing environment.”

We wish our readers around the world a healthier and more prosperous 2021! Below are some of the top stories we’ve shared on Tadias this past year.

Happy New Year!

Naomi Girma Voted 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year


Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, has been voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. (Photo: Us Soccer)

This year U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team captain Naomi Girma was voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. According to the sports news website U.S. Soccer, Naomi, “who played a major part in helping Stanford win the NCAA Championship in 2019 as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was the leader of the U.S. defense during the 2020 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship. As a team captain, Girma started six games during the World Cup qualifying tournament to help the USA earn a berth to the since-cancelled 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and win the regional title, defeating Mexico, 4-1 in the championship game. She finished third on the team in minutes played while marshaling a back line that played an instrumental part in allowing just one goal. The USA went 545 shutout minutes in the tournament before allowing that score.” U.S. Soccer added that Naomi, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and a first generation Ethiopian American, was “only the second pure defender to win the award in its 23-year existence. Fifteen U.S. Soccer Young Female Players of the Year have gone on to play in a senior level Women’s World Cup for the USA. The first winner, back in 1998, was current U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. Read more »

Maaza Mengiste on Booker Prize Shortlist


Maaza Mengiste is an Ethiopian-American writer and author of the novels Beneath the Lion’s Gaze and The Shadow King, the latter of which was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. (Courtesy photo)

She did it again! In 2020 Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste, who released her best-selling book The Shadow King the previous year, was named one of the final candidates for the prestigious Booker Prize. The New York-based writer was among the six authors shortlisted for the esteemed Booker Prize. The shortlist was chosen out of 162 books and as organizers noted Maaza, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is “a Fulbright Scholar and professor in the MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation programme at Queens College, she is the author of The Shadow King and Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, named one of the Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her work can be found in the New Yorker, Granta, and the New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.” Read more »

Two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew & Elizabeth Giorgis, Win the 2020 African Studies Book Prize


The award, which was announced on November 21st, 2020 during the African Studies Association’s virtual annual meeting, “recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year.” (Photos: Elizabeth W. Giorgis/@AsiaArtArchive & Adom Getachew/Princeton University Press)

Adom Getachew and Elizabeth W. Giorgis were declared winners in separate categories of the 2020 African Studies Association (ASA) book prize in November during the organization’s virtual annual meeting. Adom, the author of Worldmaking after Empire, was awarded the ASA Best Book Prize, while Elizabeth, the writer of Modernist Art in Ethiopia, was given the East African Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, which recognizes the best book on East African studies published in the previous calendar. Read more »

Dr. Wuleta Lemma Among Top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes


Dr. Wuleta Lemma is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks, an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa.” (Photo: BIA)

Dr. Wuleta Lemma, an Ethiopian American health care entrepreneur representing Ethiopia, was among the top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes announced this past summer by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative. Dr Wuleta, who is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks — an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa’ – was chosen from a pool of 22,000 candidates across the continent. According to her bio shared with Tadias: “Dr. Wuleta is a Tropical Medicine expert working for the last 25 years mostly on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, MNCH and Communicable Diseases. In the last number of years, Dr. Lemma has been involved in health projects in more than 20 countries in Africa, The Caribbean and Europe. During the past couple years, She had conducted research/evaluations on endemic health problems, Human Resource for Health (HRH), Innovative Medical Education, Behavioral Surveillance on high risk populations in a number of countries; contributed to research on Health outcomes of countries of the Horn of Africa and Health System Strengthen in Ethiopia.” Read more »

Ethio-American Scientist Sossina Haile Awarded 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship


The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina Haile for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.” (Photo: ETHIOPIA 2050 – Keynote Address/YouTube)

In December Sossina M. Haile, a Professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, was awarded the 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship, a prestigious accolade that recognizes the career contributions of scientists in her field. The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.” Dr. Sossina received the award on December 3rd during the 2020 Virtual MRS Spring/Fall Meeting, where she also delivered her lecture, Superprotonic Solid Acids for Sustainable Energy Technologies. Most recently Dr. Sossina and her team were behind a new discovery that converts ammonia to green hydrogen that’s being hailed as “a major step forward for enabling a zero-pollution, hydrogen-fueled economy.” Read more »

Rebecca Haile Elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List


Rebecca Haile, co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-based non-profit organization Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., has been elected as Board Chair of EMILY’s List, one of the largest women associations in the United States. (Photo: Rebecca Haile speaking at The Haile-Manas Academy Groundbreaking Ceremony & Luncheon in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia on December 30th, 2018/Tadias File)

Also in December, entrepreneur and philanthropist Rebecca Haile was elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List, America’s largest resource for women in politics that helps to elect Democratic female candidates into public office. The press release added: “This change in leadership comes as EMILY’s List is at its strongest position yet, following two record cycles and the incredible growth of Democratic women running for office.” The organization noted that EMILY’s List’s new Board Chair Rebecca Haile is an entrepreneur in business and philanthropy. “She is the co-founder and executive director of Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., that seeks to provide world-class educational opportunities for talented Ethiopian students and has already started its first school in central Ethiopia. Rebecca is also a Senior Advisor at Foros, an independent strategic and M&A advisory boutique firm she helped establish in 2009. Rebecca is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She is the author of Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia, a memoir of her return to Ethiopia after her family’s forced exile following the 1974 revolution and 25 years in the United States. Rebecca is a board member of the Brearley School, an independent K-12 girls’ school in New York City and a former Trustee of Freedom House, a human rights organization.” In a statement Rebecca said: “I look forward to working with the staff, the board, and our next president to change the face of American politics for generations to come.” Read more »

Marcus Samuelsson Named Guest Editor of Bon Appétit Magazine


Marcus Samuelsson visits SiriusXM Studios on February 26, 2020 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Celebrity chef, author and businessman Marcus Samuelsson, whose latest book The Rise was released in 2020, was also named guest editor of the holiday edition of Bon Appétit magazine, America’s leading food and entertainment publication since it was launched in 1956. The Editor-in-Chief of Vogue and Artistic Director of Condé Nast — the parent company of Bon Appétit — Anna Wintour said in a statement: “It’s an honor to welcome such a bold and brilliant culinary force like Marcus to the Bon Appétit team. He is a visionary and inspiration to so many in the food world and beyond, from aspiring entrepreneurs and home cooks to today’s most renowned chefs. We can’t wait for our audience to get cooking with him.” Marcus Samuelsson added: “Now is a time of seismic change not only within our culinary world but in our communities at large and we have a responsibility and opportunity to come together to show how food is a reflection of our cultures, our societal values, and our individuality. I learned from working in restaurants at a young age that you’re nobody without your crew. To make a meaningful impact means both empowering the incredible talents around you and enlisting those you admire to share their stories and lend their voice. l’m looking forward to joining forces with Sonia and the team to work toward this greater goal.” Read more »

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden


Addisu Demissie who served as a Senior Advisor to then U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party that took place in August of 2020. (Photo: 50+1 Strategies)

One of the most widely circulated and quoted stories that we did in 2020 was our interview with Addisu Demissie, who served as a Senior Advisor to the Biden campaign, and was the lead person behind the nominating convention for the Democratic Party last summer. Addisu successfully pulled off the first-ever nominating convention held online, introducing a major party ticket to American voters across the nation. Prior to the convention Addisu told Tadias: “It’s gonna be nothing like anything anyone has ever done before, but we have a mission – and that is to present Joe Biden to the country. He is somebody who has been in public life for 40 years, but still people need a better sense of who he is and what he’s fighting for.” As it turned out it was a winning strategy. Read more »

Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


On Sunday, October 25th, 2020 Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

During the closing days of the U.S. presidential election in late October 2020 Tadias hosted a well-received lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in the U.S.


The highly competitive 2020 U.S. election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office, including Samra Brouk of New York and Oballa Oballa of Austin, Minnesota. (Courtesy photos)

The 2020 highly competitive election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office including Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, who won a seat in the New York State Senate and Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Gambella, Ethiopia who captured a City Council seat in Austin, Minnesota. Samra and Oballa — who both became the first Black candidates to win their respective races — follow in the footsteps of other trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa of Nevada who two years ago became the first Ethiopian American to be elected into a statewide office; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, a Councilman in King County, Washington, as well as the late Mike Mekonnen who served as Councilor for the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts for more than a decade. Here are the bios of the current Ethiopian American office holders in the United States: Read more »

Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

Related:

Tadias 10 Arts & Culture Stories of 2019

2018 in Pictures

The 10 Best Tadias Arts & Culture Stories of 2017 in Pictures

2016 in Pictures

15 Arts & Culture Stories of 2016 in Photos

2015 in Pictures

Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015

2014 in Pictures

Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

2013 in Pictures

Top 10 Stories of 2013

Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Tragedy of Agitu Gudeta: An Ethiopian Immigrant Killed on Her Farm in Italy

Agitu Ideo Gudeta, 42, an Ethiopian migrant who became a symbol of integration in Italy, her adopted home, has been killed on her farm where she raised goats for her cheese business, police said on Wednesday. Agitu had made her home in the mountains of Trentino’s Valle dei Mocheni, making goat’s cheese and beauty products in her farm (The Happy Goat), which was built on previously abandoned land. (Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopian migrant who became symbol of integration in Italy killed on her goat farm

ROME (Reuters) – An Ethiopian migrant who became a symbol of integration in Italy, her adopted home, has been killed on her farm where she raised goats for her cheese business, police said on Wednesday.

A Ghanaian employee on her farm in the northern Italian region of Trentino has admitted to killing Agitu Ideo Gudeta, 42, with a hammer and raping her, Italian news agency Ansa reported. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

Gudeta had made her home in the mountains of Trentino’s Valle dei Mocheni, making goat’s cheese and beauty products in her farm La Capra Felice (The Happy Goat), which was built on previously abandoned land.

Her story was reported by numerous international media, including Reuters , as an example of a migrant success story in Italy at a time of rising hostility towards immigrants, fueled by the right-wing League party.

Gudeta escaped from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, in 2010 after her participation in protests against ‘land-grabbing’ angered local authorities. Activists accused the authorities of setting aside large swathes of farmland for foreign investors.

On reaching Italy she was able to use common land in the northern mountains to build her new enterprise, taking advantage of permits that give farmers access to public land to prevent local territory from being reclaimed by wild nature.

Starting off with 15 goats, she had 180 by 2018 when she became a well-known figure.

“I created my space and made myself known, there was no resistance to me,” she told Reuters in a story that year.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Washington Post Follow-up on the Unfortunate Saga of Timnit Gebru & Google

Timnit Gebru is one of the most high-profile Black women in her field and a powerful voice in the new field of ethical artificial intelligence (AI), which seeks to identity issues around bias, fairness, and responsibility. (Photo: Google AI research scientist Timnit Gebru speaks on Sept. 7, 2018, at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco/Getty Images)

The Washington Post

By Nitasha Tiku

Google hired Timnit Gebru to be an outspoken critic of unethical AI. Then she was fired for it.

Two months ago, Google promoted Timnit Gebru, co-lead of a group focused on ethical artificial intelligence, after she earned a high score on her annual employee appraisal. Gebru is one of the most high-profile Black women in her field and a powerful voice in the new field of ethical AI, which seeks to identity issues around bias, fairness, and responsibility.

In his peer review of Gebru, Jeff Dean, the head of Google Artificial Intelligence, left only one comment when asked what she could do to have a greater impact, according to documents viewed by The Washington Post: Ensure that her team helps make a promising new software tool for processing human language “consistent with our AI Principles.”

In an email thanking Dean for his review, Gebru let him know that her team was already working on a paper about the ethical risks around the same language models, which are essential to understanding the complexity of language in search queries. On Oct. 20, Dean wrote that he wanted to see a draft, adding, “definitely not my area of expertise, but would definitely learn from reading it.”

Six weeks later, Google fired Gebru while she was on vacation.

“I can’t imagine anybody else who would be safer than me,” Gebru said. “I was super visible. I’m well known in the research community, but also the regulatory space. I have a lot of grass-roots support — and this is what happened.”

Google’s star AI ethics researcher, one of a few Black women in the field, says she was fired for a critical email

In an internal memo that he later posted online explaining Gebru’s departure, Dean told employees that the paper “didn’t meet our bar for publication” and “ignored too much relevant research” on recent positive improvements to the technology. Gebru’s superiors had insisted that she and the other Google co-authors either retract the paper or remove their names. Employees in Google Research, the department that houses the ethical AI team, say authors who make claims about the benefits of large language models have not received the same scrutiny during the approval process as those who highlight the shortcomings.

Her abrupt firing shows that Google is pushing back on the kind of scrutiny that it claims to welcome, according to interviews with Gebru, current Google employees, and emails and documents viewed by The Post.

It raises doubts about Silicon Valley’s ability to self-police, especially when it comes to advanced technology that is largely unregulated and being deployed in the real world despite demonstrable bias toward marginalized groups. Already, AI systems shape decision-making in law enforcement, employment opportunity and access to health care worldwide.

That made Gebru’s perspective essential in a field that is predominantly White, Asian and male. Women comprised only 15 percent of the AI research staff at Facebook and 10 percent at Google, according to a 2018 report in Wired magazine. At Google, Black women make up 1.6 percent of the workforce.

Although Google publicly celebrated Gebru’s work identifying problems with AI, it disenfranchised the work internally by keeping it hierarchically distinct from other AI initiatives, not heeding the group’s advice, and not creating an incentive structure to put in practice the ethical findings, Gebru and other employees said.

Google declined to comment, but noted that in addition to the dozen or so staff members on Gebru’s team, 200 employees are focused on responsible AI.

Google has said that it did not fire Gebru, but accepted her “resignation,” citing her request to explain who at Google demanded that the paper be retracted, according to Dean’s memo. The company also blamed an email Gebru wrote to an employee resource group for women and allies at Google working in AI as inappropriate for a manager. The message warned the group that pushing for diversity was no use until Google leadership took accountability.

Federal study confirms racial bias of many facial-recognition systems, casts doubt on their expanding use

Rumman Chowdhury, a former global lead for responsible AI at Accenture and chief executive of Parity, a start-up that helps companies figure out how to audit algorithms, said there is a fundamental lack of respect within the industry for work on AI ethics compared with equivalent roles in other industries, such as model risk managers in quantitative hedge funds or threat analysts in cybersecurity.

“It’s being framed as the AI optimists and the people really building the stuff [versus] the rest of us negative Nellies, raining on their parade,” Chowdhury said. “You can’t help but notice, it’s like the boys will make the toys and then the girls will have to clean up.”

Google, which for decades evangelized an office culture that embraced employee dissent, has fired outspoken workers in recent years and shut down forums for exchange and questioning.

Nearly 3,000 Google employees and more than 4,000 academics, engineers and industry colleagues have signed a petition calling Gebru’s termination an act of retaliation by Google. Last week, nine Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (N.Y.), sponsor of the Algorithmic Accountability Act, a bill that would require companies to audit and correct race and gender bias in its algorithms, sent a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai asking the company to affirm its commitment to research freedom and diversity.

Read more »

Related:

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


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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 8th, 2020

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related:

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

SPOTLIGHT: Naomi Girma Voted 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year

Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, has been voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. (Photo: Us Soccer)

U.S. Soccer

CHICAGO — U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team captain Naomi Girma, who attended her first full U.S. Women’s National Team camp this year, has been voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.

Girma, who played a major part in helping Stanford win the NCAA Championship in 2019 as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was the leader of the U.S. defense during the 2020 Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship. As a team captain, Girma started six games during the World Cup qualifying tournament to help the USA earn a berth to the since-cancelled 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and win the regional title, defeating Mexico, 4-1 in the championship game. She finished third on the team in minutes played while marshalling a back line that played an instrumental part in allowing just one goal. The USA went 545 shutout minutes in the tournament before allowing that score.

“It’s been such a crazy year, but it’s always an honor to represent the USA and I’m proud of what our team was able to accomplish at the beginning of the year in Concacaf qualifying even though the World Cup got cancelled,” said Girma. “While the year didn’t go as planned, I’m especially thankful for the coaches and the medical staff who helped keep us playing some soccer and to be mentioned along with the past winners is very cool and humbling. Of course, my family – my parents and brother – have been so supportive, along with my Stanford family and the U-20 WNT family, so I’ll always appreciate everything they’ve contributed to me as a person and a player.”

In her second and final U-20 cycle, Girma was the third most experienced player on the team with 31 U-20 international caps. Girma is only the second pure defender to win the award in its 23-year existence.

Her college season for Stanford – in what would have been her junior year – was postponed to the Spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic so she did not play in a college match this Fall, but in October, Girma attended her first full U.S. Women’s National Team training camp, which took place in Colorado.

Fifteen U.S. Soccer Young Female Players of the Year have gone on to play in a senior level Women’s World Cup for the USA. The first winner, back in 1998, was current U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone.

“First and foremost, Naomi Girma is a great person and a fantastic leader,” said U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Laura Harvey. “She is highly respected by her teammates and the kind of player who always puts the team first. On the field, she is smart, brave and always pushing to improve. I know it’s rare for a defender to win this award, but it’s a credit to the impact she has on the field and on the people around her.”

Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who have earned a cap in 2020, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, National Women’s Soccer League head coaches (for the USWNT awards) and American soccer league (MLS and USL) head coaches (for the USMNT awards), select media members and former players and administrators.

Related:

Meet US Soccer Rising Star Naomi Girma (September 2016)


Ethiopian American Naomi Girma is a defender in the U.S. under-17 Women’s National team. (US Soccer)

US Soccer

September 2016

NAOMI GIRMA: A WORLDLY EXPERIENCE

In 1982, Girma Aweke arrived in the United States in search of a better life and education. After spending his early years in Ethiopia, he made his way to San Jose State University, where he studied engineering.

Seble Demissie, the second youngest of eight children, arrived in the USA in 1987 after earning her undergraduate degree in Ethiopia with the same goals. She did some short term training at the University of Pittsburgh and then earned her MBA at Long Beach State.

It was in Northern California, among the tight-knit Ethiopian community, that the two met, fell in love, married in 1995, and settled in San Jose. Living out their version of the American dream, he as an engineer in the medical field and she working in finance and banking.

Both became American citizens, and they had two children, son Nathaniel and daughter Naomi, who was born in 2000. Sixteen years later, the daughter of immigrants, a first generation American, is on the cusp of representing – and perhaps captaining — the United States in a youth Women’s World Cup.

It was the Ethiopian community that first drew Naomi Girma to soccer. (In Ethiopia, the children take the first name of their father as their last name). Girma Aweke was one of the organizers of “maleda soccer” (maleda meaning “dawn” in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia), a gathering of Ethiopian families that served to strengthen the bonds of the community.

“I was five years old when I first started playing,” said Naomi, who heads into the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan as one of the USA’s starting center backs. “Girls and boys played together and they always divided soccer games into little kids, medium kids and big kids. I always begged to play with the big kids. Eventually, my parents let me.”


A starting center-back for the U-17 WNT, Naomi Girma has captained the USA on several occasions. (Photo: US Soccer)


Naomi Girma. (Photo: US Soccer)

Through these free play weekend afternoons, which also featured other sports and a big BBQ to end the day, Naomi’s love for the game was nurtured. At age nine, she started playing club soccer for the Central Valley Crossfire and grew into one of the USA’s elite female players for her age. She has committed to Stanford University for the fall of 2018 and has captained the U.S. U-17 WNT on several occasions.

Read more at USSoccer.com »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

SPOTLIGHT: Eden Amare, Ethiopian-Israeli Rhodes Scholar Bound for Oxford

Eden Amare Yitbarek, one of two Israeli winners of the prestigious 2021 Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. (Courtesy Eden Amare Yitbarek)

The Times of Israel

Eden Amare: Ethiopian-Israeli one of 2 Rhodes scholars bound for Oxford University

Eden Amare Yitbarek, 23, studied at Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya as part of special program sponsoring Ethiopian-Israeli youngsters with leadership potential for BA degrees

An Israeli of Ethiopian background is one of two Israeli students — and the first from her community — to win a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to the University of Oxford this year.

The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate award established in 1903 with the fortune of British businessman Cecil Rhodes. Among its most famous recipients are Bill Clinton, Cory Booker, Kris Kristofferson, Dean Rusk and Edwin Hubble.

Eden Amare Yitbarek served in the IDF as a truck and emergency vehicle driver before enrolling at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, within the framework of Israel at Heart — an IDC program that gives Ethiopian-Israeli youngsters with high leadership potential the chance to earn an undergraduate degree at the institution. Eden studied Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.

The 23-year-old from the southern Red Sea city of Eilat received two Dean’s List awards for outstanding students and worked as a research assistant in the American Public Opinion toward Israel (APOI) lab at the IDC’s Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, which studies the relationship between the US and Israel. In her final year at IDC, she was accepted to the Argov Fellows Program in Leadership and Diplomacy, which aims to prepare around 20 exceptional IDC students in their final year of BA studies for future leadership positions in Israel and in the Jewish world.

Eden, who wants to study international development at Oxford, has volunteered as a teacher and mentor for refugee and migrant children in Tel Aviv.

She is currently working in Tel Aviv for Eagle Point Funding, an international consulting firm that helps to match US federal support with American high-tech start-ups and companies seeking support for R&D and business development.

Much of the Ethiopian Israeli community has had a hard time integrating into Israeli society, suffering from poverty, educational gaps and racism. Furthermore, many families have been split between those who managed to immigrate to Israel and those still waiting to do so in Gondar and Addis Ababa.

Out of 100 Rhodes scholarships given annually worldwide, two are given to outstanding Israelis.

The other Israeli Rhodes Scholar for next year is Eli Zuzovsky, 25, from Tel Aviv, who studies English and filmmaking at Harvard with a secondary field in theater.

The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and takes care of transportation to and from England. The total value of the scholarship averages approximately $70,000 per year, and up to as much as approximately $250,000 for scholars who remain at Oxford for four years in certain departments.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Yohannes Abraham: “There Was No Mutually Agreed-upon Holiday Break” in Transition Cooperation

"There was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break," Yohannes Abraham, a spokesman for Biden's transition team, told reporters Friday, rejecting the Trump administration's claim that the two sides had agreed to pause transition talks at the Pentagon. A halt in cooperation ordered by the acting Defense Secretary, a Trump loyalist, comes amid growing concern about efforts to stymie the transition. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. News

Biden Team Rejects Claims of ‘Mutually-Agreed Upon’ Pause in Transition Cooperation

PRESIDENT-ELECT Joe Biden’s transition team on Friday denied that it agreed to a break in briefings and meetings at the Pentagon, despite an assertion from acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller hours earlier of a “mutually-agreed upon holiday pause,” saying the need for continuing the transition remains a top priority.

“There was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break,” Yohannes Abraham, a spokesman for Biden’s transition team, told reporters Friday.

“In fact, we believe it’s important” that the briefings continue, he added, “as there is no time to spare” in preparing for national security contingencies ahead of Biden’s inauguration next year.

His comments came shortly after the Defense Department issued a statement from Miller, whom Trump appointed during the lame duck period days after the November election.

“Our key focus in the next two weeks is supporting essential requests for information on OWS and COVID-19 information to guarantee a flawless transition. This is my major focus area,” Miller said, referring to Operation Warp Speed – the government-wide effort to develop and distribute a coronavirus vaccine. “After the mutually-agreed upon holiday pause, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.”

Axios first reported the halt in Pentagon meetings.

The Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Miller said he remains “committed to a full and transparent transition.” His statement included figures that purport to demonstrate the Defense Department has been more cooperative with the transition team than during the period before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, including holding more briefings, releasing more documents and making more senior officials available for meetings.

However, the news comes amid growing reports that Trump and his political loyalists are working to stymie Biden’s transition amid the president’s continued claims that he won the election.

Abraham on Friday cited “constructive cooperation with many” federal agencies during the transition, but added, “We have met isolated resistance from some corners, including from political appointees at the Department of Defense.” He declined to provide more specifics.

The transition team learned on Thursday about the Pentagon’s intent to reschedule meetings for next year that were originally planned for Friday and to hold off on any further contact until Jan. 1.

“We were concerned to learn this week about an abrupt halt,” Abraham said. “We expect that decision to be reversed.”

Defense officials’ refusal to cooperate is limited to political appointees, he added.

“We thank the DOD career professionals who have made valiant efforts to be helpful over the course of this process,” Abraham said.

Trump has faced criticism throughout his tenure of attempting to politicize the military and the Defense Department, routinely considered among the institutions the American public trust most. The president has faced renewed criticism in recent days for his threats to veto the military budget despite overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.

Related:

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team (UPDATE)

Spotlight: Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in U.S.

Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Rebecca Haile Elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List

Rebecca Haile, co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-based non-profit organization Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., has been elected as Board Chair of EMILY’s List, one of the largest women associations in the United States. (Photo: Rebecca Haile speaking at The Haile-Manas Academy Groundbreaking Ceremony & Luncheon in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia on December 30th, 2018/Tadias File)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) – EMILY’s List, America’s largest resource for women in politics that helps to elect Democratic female candidates into public office, has elected Ethiopian American entrepreneur and philanthropist Rebecca Haile as its new Board Chair.

“After a second consecutive record-breaking cycle, EMILY’s List announced several leadership changes today, including EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock stepping down in spring 2021 after 11 years in charge,” the organization said in a press release. “In addition, EMILY’s List Founder and Board Chair Ellen Malcolm is becoming the Chair Emerita and EMILY’s List board member Rebecca Haile was elected Board Chair. EMILY’s List’s board also voted to form a search committee and move to the next steps in finding a new president.”

The press release added: “This change in leadership comes as EMILY’s List is at its strongest position yet, following two record cycles and the incredible growth of Democratic women running for office.”

In the past decade “EMILY’s List has raised more than $460 million for the organization and our candidates and spent $160 million in independent expenditures” while endorsing “more than 1,800 women, elected nearly 1,000 women up and down the ballot, and trained more than 14,000 women.”

The organization notes that EMILY’s List’s new Board Chair Rebecca Haile is an entrepreneur in business and philanthropy. “She is the co-founder and executive director of Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., that seeks to provide world-class educational opportunities for talented Ethiopian students and has already started its first school in central Ethiopia. Rebecca is also a Senior Advisor at Foros, an independent strategic and M&A advisory boutique firm she helped establish in 2009. Rebecca is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She is the author of Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia, a memoir of her return to Ethiopia after her family’s forced exile following the 1974 revolution and 25 years in the United States. Rebecca is a board member of the Brearley School, an independent K-12 girls’ school in New York City and a former Trustee of Freedom House, a human rights organization.”

In a statement Rebecca Haile said: “I look forward to working with the staff, the board, and our next president to change the face of American politics for generations to come.”

According to the announcement:

“With a grassroots community of over five million members, EMILY’s List helps Democratic women win competitive campaigns – across the country and up and down the ballot – by recruiting and training candidates, supporting and helping build strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, running nearly $50 million in independent expenditures in the last cycle alone, and turning out women voters and voters of color to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect the country’s first woman as vice president, 157 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 16 governors, and more than 1,300 women to state and local office. More than 40 percent of the candidates EMILY’s List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. After the 2016 election, more than 60,000 women reached out to EMILY’s List about running for office laying the groundwork for the next decade of candidates for local, state, and national offices. In our effort to elect more women in offices across the country, we have created our Run to Win program, expanded our training program, including a Training Center online, and trained thousands of women.”

“I’m so glad Rebecca will be the new Chair because she has the skills, commitment, and vision to guide us through this next transition. I’m eager to stay on the board and assist her in any way possible,” said Ellen Malcolm, EMILY’s List’s founder and Chair Emerita.

Related:

Spotlight: The Haile-Manas Academy, A New World Class School in Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Spotlight: ‘Free Art Felega,’ A Virtual Ethiopia Exhibition by Yenatfenta Abate

Founded by artist Yenatfenta Abate, the 'Free Art Felega' project offers a platform for Ethiopian artists of various disciplines internationally to display their work as well as to discuss, exchange ideas and learn from each others experiences. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 16th, 2020

‘Free Art Felega,’ A Virtual Ethiopia Exhibition by Yenatfenta Abate Bringing Artists Together

New York (TADIAS) — There are positive and optimistic art projects growing amidst the challenges of the current COVID-19 era as a much-needed meeting space for Ethiopian artists around the world. Among them is an online exhibition that was held this week called Free Art Felega 5 Disrupt, organized by German-based Ethiopian artist Yenatfenta Abate.

“The basic concept is based on the focus of life and work of the participating artists in times of COVID-19 and the reflection of joint work in the context of the social challenge caused by the changing environment,” the announcement notes. “Artists from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Diaspora with a studio in Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria, are involved.” It added: “With Free Art Felega 5 – Disrupt, a virtual platform is being created for the first time, on which artists who collaborated on prior projects work together, discussing their designs and work results and showing them online in a virtual exhibition.”

Yenatfenta, who now lives and works in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany is a graduate of the Ale School of Fine Arts and Design in Ethiopia. She staged the inaugural Free Art Felega exhibition in Ethiopia in 2004 after being awarded a scholarship by the Karl-Heinz Ditze Foundation, having started the project 8 years earlier in 1996 as an artist participating in an exchange program between Germany and Ethiopia. The program was eventually expanded into a series in partnership with the Goethe Institute Addis Ababa, which sponsored subsequent Free Art Felega shows in Ethiopia. In 2019, Free Art Felega 4 – Identity was held in collaboration with charity organizations in Addis Abeba.

“The objective of the ongoing project is the development of the abilities and skills of Ethiopian artists, especially the “liberation” from applied art in the extensive overall context of modern visual arts,” Yenatfenta says. “The original artistic training is given special consideration and is further developed through the concept of free art. She adds: “In terms of content, “Free Art Felega” guarantees to strengthen the quality of the artistic exchange, to create artistic identities and to enable artists to have a common platform in the long term.”


In 2019, Yenatfenta Abate decided to take the group of Free Art Felega 4 – Identity to charity organizations in Addis Abeba. There, the artists helped elderly and mentally disabled people, and children to deal with their everyday struggles by helping to express their feelings and thoughts through art. (Courtesy photo)


So far, there have been five complex projects of the series Free Art Felega. Yenatfenta Abate has run all projects in Addis Ababa, in cooperation with institutions like the Goethe-Institute and CIM. (Courtesy photo)


(Photo Courtesy of Free Art Felega)

The latest exhibition, Free Art Felega 5 Disrupt, is an online show that opened via Zoom on December 10th reflecting our contemporary reality, but has also provided an opportunity for a diverse and an eclectic group of Ethiopian artists to take part from various parts of the world including Germany, Ethiopia and the United States. “I am proud of all participants and especially the fact that we intensely used our times during the last months and that we worked concentrated together in those times of CoVid19,” Yenatfenta says, noting that she is working on a follow upcoming events.

Watch: Free Art Felega 5 – Disrupt – Virtual Exhibition (2020)


Free Art Felega is a project series created by artist Yenatfenta Abate. Yenatfenta developed the concept “Free Art Felega” – the search for free art – from her experience of intercultural work in artistic exchange between Germany and Ethiopia. (Video: Free Art Felega YouTube page)

Free Art Felega 5 includes several artists in two categories: “The Master Group” and the “Identity Group.”

The former features artists such as Adugna Kassa, Engedaget Legesse, Hailemariam Dendir, Henok Getachew, Leikun Nahusenay, Leykun Girma, Mekasha Haile, Mihret Dawit, Mihret Kebede, Mulugeta Gebrekidan, Ousman Hassen, Seyoum Ayalew, Simret Mesfin, Yacob Bekele, Yordanos Wube, and Zerihun Workineh.

Participants in the second group include: Alemayehu Bekele, Ananiya Zerihun, Bethelhem Tadele, Birhan Beyene, Brook Yeshitila, Etsubdink Legesse, Fasil Eyasu, Israel Woldemichael, Meron Ermias, Mulu Legesse, Omar Gobe, Selome Getachew, Selome Muleta, Tewodros Nigussie, and Tirsit Mulugeta.

As Yenatfenta sums it up”: “Art is not limited by its material but by its creator. And if the creator has a free mindset with the wish to create something new, everything is possible.”

You can learn more about the Free Art Felega project at www.freeartfelega.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

THE OTHER SIDE: New Film Raises Awareness About Ethiopia’s Abandoned Children Crisis

The short film by U.S. and Ethiopian crew including Ethiopian American producer Bemnet Yemesgen (pictured above) is based on a true story of a teenager named Abel who, like thousands of other young people in Addis Ababa, finds himself on the brink of becoming a street peddler. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 13th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — The Other side, a new film from Ethiopia, released in the United States during Thanksgiving week sheds light on the crisis of abandoned children in Ethiopia.

The short film by U.S. and Ethiopian crew led by Ethiopian American producer Bemnet Yemesgen is based on a true story of a teenager named Abel who, like thousands other young people in Addis Ababa, finds himself on the brink of becoming a street peddler. Abel is required to vacate the orphanage where he grew up when he turns 18 in a few days, leaving behind his younger brother and without any social safety net to support him as he must navigate life into adulthood as a homeless person.

Abel’s story is the epitome of a much larger problem that personifies the lives of millions of youth across the country who grow up without parents — most of whom were deserted at birth primarily because of poverty. UNICEF estimates that there are 4.5 million orphans in Ethiopia. The non-profit organization, SOS Children’s Villages, cites government statistics, and notes that in some cities such as the university city of Jimma “unmarried mothers, many of them teenagers, abandon their babies at a rate of two to three a day. Babies are abandoned at hospitals. They are left at police stations. They are put on the side of the road.” The Guardian has recently published an article tilted “Homeless Children Struggle to Survive on the Streets of Ethiopia’s Capital,” and like Abel many of them eventually find their way to Addis Ababa.

The Guardian adds:

Driven from their rural homes by family problems and lack of opportunity, more and more children are making for Addis Ababa. Alone and vulnerable, they receive no state support…Children as young as six come to the city to escape rural drudgery and, in many cases, family breakdown. “The reason is always poverty – but poverty plus [something else],” says the country director of Retrak Ethiopia, an organization that rescues street children in Addis Ababa and reunites them with their families. One recent survey found that almost half the street children sampled were living with step-parents because their biological parents had died, divorced or separated. Most come from rural villages, and especially from what researchers call Ethiopia’s “southern corridor” of migrant-sending communities, where a tradition of relocation to Addis Ababa and even further afield is well established.

In the film the The Other Side — which was developed in collaboration with NGOs including DC-based Orphan Care Ethiopia and Great Commission Ministries — Grammy-nominated Ethiopian-American recording artist Wayna plays a counselor in Abel’s orphanage called Mihret, while Abel is portrayed by American actor Ethan Herisse who is also the star of the Emmy-winning Netflix series When They See Us directed by Ava DuVernay. The film also features newcomer Adonai Girmaye Kelelom, a 15-year-old Ethiopian actor, who plays an orphan named Kiya. The filmmakers note that “though the role of Kiya stands as Kelelom’s professional debut, portraying this role has been one of ‘the best experiences [he’s] ever had,’ and has inspired him to pursue a career in acting. He aims to study acting as well as neuroscience in the United States in the near future.”


Grammy-nominated Ethiopian-American recording artist Wayna along with producer Bemnet Yemesgen and writer and director Josh Leong during the filming process in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)


The Ethiopia film crew. (Courtesy photos)

In addition to Bemnet — an Ethiopian-American producer, writer, and director — the film’s Ethiopia crew includes Frehiwot Berhane (Casting Director), Yabsra Megersa (Unit Production Director), Daniel Belay (First Assistant Camera), Beferdu Teffera (Sound Mixer), Temima Hulala (Key Makeup Artist), Tedos Teffera (Location Manager), Yodahe Zerihun (Translator), Abdirebi Daniel (Translator) and Nahom Semunegus (Boom Operator).

On its website the U.S. team states that “in order to allow the country to tell its own story, we wanted to collaborate with Ethiopian filmmakers in and around Addis Ababa.” They include writer and director Josh Leong, Producer and Assistant Director Sofia Bara, Director of photography Tom Ingwersen, Associated Producer Sophia Loren Heriveaux, Marketing Directors Celia Tewey and Grace Sessinghaus, Script Supervisor Olivia Bfournier, Art Director Cameron Protzman and Director of Business Development Phillip Kearney.

In a press release the filmmakers emphasize that “The Other Side seeks to raise awareness for Ethiopia’s abandoned children crisis through narrative film, and the team is currently seeking partners for the development of a feature-length version of the film.” The media release adds: “The film has reached the eyes of Ethiopian Ambassador Fitsum Arega, as well as the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. The nation’s capital is actually the second largest Ethiopian city in the world (by population), behind Addis Ababa.”

So far “the film has been accepted into 10 major festivals (4 Academy Award®-Qualifying), winning Best Short at the Greenwich International Festival. THE OTHER SIDE enjoyed an NYC Premiere at the Urbanworld Film Festival and an LA Premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, in partnership with HBO and WarnerMedia. The film was also included at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage.”

You can learn more about the film at www.theothersideshortfilm.com.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theothersidefilm2020/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theothersidefilm2020

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 8th, 2020

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related:

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethio-American Scientist Sossina Haile Awarded 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship

The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it's honoring Dr. Sossina Haile for her "fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor." (Photo: ETHIOPIA 2050 - Keynote Address/YouTube)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 2nd, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Sossina M. Haile, a Professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, has been awarded the 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship, a prestigious accolade that recognizes the career contributions of scientists in her field.

The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.”

Dr. Sossina will receive the award on Thursday, December 3rd during the 2020 Virtual MRS Spring/Fall Meeting, where she is also scheduled to present her lecture, Superprotonic Solid Acids for Sustainable Energy Technologies.

Most recently Dr. Sossina and her team were behind a new discovery that converts ammonia to green hydrogen that’s being hailed as “a major step forward for enabling a zero-pollution, hydrogen-fueled economy.”

Dr. Sossina, one of the leading researchers in the world in the area of renewable energy, envisions that her new finding will particularly be useful in reshaping the transportation industry. Northwestern University cites the Environmental Protection Agency noting that “in 2018, the movement of people and goods by cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes and other vehicles accounted for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.–more than any other economic sector.”

“Battery-powered vehicles are great, but there’s certainly a question of range and material supply,” Dr. Sossina said. “Converting ammonia to hydrogen on-site and in a distributed way would allow you to drive into a fueling station and get pressurized hydrogen for your car. There’s also a growing interest for hydrogen fuel cells for the aviation industry because batteries are so heavy.”


Sossina Haile is a fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramics Society, the African Academy of Sciences, and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and serves on the editorial boards of Materials Horizons, Annual Review of Materials Research and Joule. (Photo: Courtesy of Northwestern University)

According to MRS:

Sossina Haile assumed her role as Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University in 2015, after serving 18 years on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. She earned her PhD degree in materials science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, and spent two years, 1991-1993, at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany, first as a Fulbright Fellow then as a Humboldt Fellow.

Haile’s research broadly encompasses materials, especially oxides, for sustainable electrochemical energy technologies. Her work in fuel cell science and technology has pushed the field to new insights and record performance metrics. In parallel, she has created new avenues for harnessing sunlight to meet rising energy demands. Haile has published approximately 200 articles and holds 14 patents on these and other topics.

Among her many awards, in 2008 Haile received an American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellowship from the U.S. National Science Foundation in recognition of “her timely and transformative research in the energy field and her dedication to inclusive mentoring, education and outreach across many levels.” In 2010, she was the recipient of the Chemical Pioneer Award (American Institute of Chemists), and in 2012, the International Ceramics Prize (World Academy of Ceramics). Haile is a fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramics Society, the African Academy of Sciences, and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and serves on the editorial boards of Materials Horizons, Annual Review of Materials Research and Joule. Her professional service includes past membership on the board of the Materials Research Society, and current membership on the board of Ethiopia Education Initiatives.

Related:

Outstanding Women in Science: Interview with Professor Sossina Haile

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Ethio-American Artist Meklit Hadero’s New Radio Show “Movement”

“Movement,” which is also a podcast and live show, is created and produced by Meklit Hadero, along with producer Ian Coss and editor Julie Caine. (Photo: Yolk Images)

PRI

“Movement,” a one-hour special from The World, tells stories of global migration through music. Co-hosted by The World’s host Marco Werman and Ethiopian American singer Meklit Hadero, the show blends song and narrative in a meditation on what it means to be American.

We follow a once-undocumented singer in San Francisco on a long-awaited trip back to Mexico, reflect on the experience of exile with a Syrian DJ, and hear a Sudanese American artist play his first-ever show in Sudan — all guided by Hadero as she reflects on her own American story.

“Movement,” which is also a podcast and live show, is created and produced by Hadero, along with producer Ian Coss and editor Julie Caine.

For singer, composer and cultural activist Meklit Hadero, her Ethiopian identity was often expressed at home through food and language and music. Hadero left Ethiopia with her family when she was just under two years old, and they came to the United States as refugees, settling in Brooklyn, New York.

Hadero recalls how her parents often played old, garbled tapes of Ethiopian music from legends such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke and Mary Armede. Inspired by these sounds, Hadero went on to pursue a music career based in Oakland, California, that has redefined the Ethiopian jazz genre.

With an electrifying stage presence, Hadero has graced venues from New York to Nairobi and beyond. She skyrocketed to fame in 2015 for her TED talk, “The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds,” watched by more than 1.2 million viewers. Her latest album, “When the People Move, the Music Moves Too,” pays homage to her “sonic homeland,” fusing Ethiopian traditional folk and jazz with American beats.

In 2011, Hadero manifested a long-held dream to return to Ethiopia, to play a concert with other Ethiopian American musicians in the northern city of Gondar, famous for its castles and rich history. That trip affirmed a sense of belonging for Hadero in Ethiopia. “That night, at the foot of the castles, something clicked,” she says. “You are made of the motion between two countries.”

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

NYT Features Anna Getaneh’s African Mosaique in Ethiopia

Anna Getaneh, a former fashion model in Paris and New York, opened African Mosaique [in Addis Ababa] almost four years ago in a home her father had built. (NYT)

The New York Times

An Ethiopian Boutique Showcasing Artisanal Design

Not far from Addis Ababa’s British Embassy, in a quiet residential enclave just off a busy thoroughfare, stands a lovely tree-shaded villa. It’s here that Anna Getaneh opened her boutique, African Mosaique, almost four years ago, in a home her father had built and where she spent some of her childhood years.

Past the garage — now a coffee shop — and the foyer are erstwhile living and dining areas: airy showrooms for a gallery-worthy display of Ms. Getaneh’s diaphanous dresses, patterned blazers and colorful accessories, which incorporate traditional Ethiopian fabrics and craftsmanship, filtered through Ms. Getaneh’s global lens.

“My starting point is textiles,” she said. “I grew up appreciating fabrics, and what kind of colors and what kind of motifs are worn, and their significance. I always felt that these are such great stories to share and tell.”

Many of the designs on display incorporate shema, an Ethiopian handwoven fabric, and kitenge, the African wax print fabric popular across much of the continent. For example, a brightly colored long dress made of kitenge is priced at 4,500 Ethiopian birr, or about $120, while a white shema woven dress is 3,000 birr, or about $80.

But the fabric is merely a starting point. “I love being able to use basic fabrics and adding value; we do embroidery, we do beading, which is really what our story is here in Africa,” Ms. Getaneh said. “You hear about artisanal work in the rest of the world, and that’s luxury — couture is all handmade, for example. Whereas here, that value has never been a given.”

The boutique’s international sensibility makes sense, given that African Mosaique’s origins are many miles and many years removed from its current setting in Ethiopia’s capital.

The daughter of a career diplomat and a fashion designer, Ms. Getaneh was born and raised overseas; as a model, she spent nine years working in Paris and New York. It was in New York that she founded the Ethiopian Children’s Fund to build schools in rural Ethiopia, which led to the 1996 opening of a fund-raising fashion showcase she named African Mosaique.

“I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to show images of dying children, of problems, of war and all the turmoil that we have in Africa,” she said. “I wanted to put the spotlight on something positive.”

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Biden Nominates Former Obama Official Antony Blinken as U.S. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken (center) has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. (Photo: Biden with Tony Blinken, Susan Rice [Blinken's former boss] and John F. Kerry listen as President Barack Obama addresses reporters in November 2013. /Reuters)

The Associated Press

Antony Blinken has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances.

In nominating Blinken, Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his short list to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons.

Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Coons’ departure from the Senate would have come as other Democratic senators are being considered for administrative posts and the party is hoping to win back the Senate. Control hangs on the result of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.

Biden is likely to name his Cabinet picks in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once. Advisers to the president-elect’s transition have said they’ll make their first Cabinet announcements on Tuesday.

If Biden focuses on national security that day, Michèle Flournoy, a veteran of Pentagon policy jobs, is a top choice to lead the Defense Department. Jake Sullivan, a longtime adviser to Biden and Hillary Clinton, is also in the mix for a top job, including White House national security adviser.

For his part, Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

Biden’s secretary of state would inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.

Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.

A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.

“Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day,” Blinken told The Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”

Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top of the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said Sunday the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

“We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to begin the transition. Joining the growing list were Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, told ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome and called Trump’s legal team seeking to overturn the election a “national embarrassment.”

Meanwhile, planning was underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration Jan. 20. Klain said the Biden team was consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

“They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

Related:

Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris


In a Twitter post Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden Campaign)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 9th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

“My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 8th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

She adds:

As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

Let’s do this!

Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

Sahan Journal

Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

“This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

Read more »

—-

BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

The Washington Post

Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

“It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

Read more »

Related:

Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 28th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

So vote on November 3rd.

Related:

‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


(Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: October 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

If You Attend:

Click here to lean more and RSVP.

—-

Related:

Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

“As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


(Courtesy photo)

The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

If You Attend

Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

Related:

Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Helen Amelga

Updated: October 16th, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

1. Register to vote

2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

Related:

Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


Related:

Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

What does it mean to be a leader?
In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

Young Interviewers

Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

Read more »

Related:

Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 23rd, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

“We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


(Courtesy photos)

Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

BET News Special

HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

Related:

Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 18th, 2020

No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

“Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

Read more »

Related:

Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 13th, 2020

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

Read more »

Related:

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 9, 2020

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 8, 2020

It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

Read more »

81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release

Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

Name, Category, Prize Year:

Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
James P. Allison Medicine 2018
Richard Axel Medicine 2004
David Baltimore Medicine 1975
J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
Steven Chu Physics 1997
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
David J. Gross Physics 2004
John L. Hall Physics 2005
Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
John C. Mather Physics 2006
Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
James Peebles Physics 2019
Arno Penzias Physics 1978
Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
H. David Politzer Physics 2004
Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
David J. Wineland Physics 2012

Related

Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

The Washington Post

Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

“You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

“Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

“If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

Read more »

Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

The Intercept

August, 29th, 2020

The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

Read the full article at theintercept.com »

Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

Sat 29 Aug 2020

Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Read more »

Related:

‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 29th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

“As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

“We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

“I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

“We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

“There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

“I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

“I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

August 28th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

“He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

“We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

“It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

“God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

Related:

Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 21st, 2020

Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

“Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

Updated: August 20th, 2020

Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

“The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

“Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

“This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

“Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

“It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 19th, 2020

Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 18th, 2020

Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

“In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

Read more »

Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

Read more »

Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

Related:

‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew & Elizabeth Giorgis, Win African Studies Book Prize

The award-- which was announced on Saturday, November 21st, 2020 during the African Studies Association's virtual annual meeting -- "recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year." (Photos: Elizabeth W. Giorgis/@AsiaArtArchive & Adom Getachew/Princeton University Press)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 23rd, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Adom Getachew and Elizabeth W. Giorgis were declared winners in separate categories of the 2020 African Studies Association (ASA) book prize on Saturday during the organization’s virtual annual meeting.

Adom, the author of Worldmaking after Empire, was awarded the ASA Best Book Prize, while Elizabeth, the writer of Modernist Art in Ethiopia, was given the East African Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, which recognizes the best book on East African studies published in the previous calendar.

“Thank you to everyone who attended the ASA 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting,” ASA said in a press release noting “it was an invigorating experience filled with brilliant presentations and astounding scholarship.”

According to its website: “Established in 1957, the African Studies Association is the flagship membership organization devoted to enhancing the exchange of information about Africa. With almost 2,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, the African Studies Association encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa, past and present. Based in the United States, the ASA supports understanding of an entire continent in each facet of its political, economic, social, cultural, artistic, scientific, and environmental landscape..[and] members include scholars, students, teachers, activists, development professionals, policymakers and donors.”

In her book entitled Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination that was published by Princeton University Press in 2019, Adom Getachew shows how prominent Black scholars and leaders of the twentieth century such as W.E.B Du Bois, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, Julius Nyerere and others had aimed to reshape the international paradigm in respect to race-relations globally beyond post-colonial self-determination and nation-building. The Princeton University Press notes: “Using archival sources from Barbados, Trinidad, Ghana, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, Worldmaking after Empire recasts the history of decolonization, reconsiders the failure of anticolonial nationalism, and offers a new perspective on debates about today’s international order.”

And Elizabeth Giorgis’ book Modernist Art in Ethiopia, “explores the varied precedents of the country’s political and intellectual history to understand the ways in which the import and range of visual narratives were mediated across different moments, and to reveal the conditions that account for the extraordinary dynamism of the visual arts in Ethiopia,” states the Ohio University Press, which published the book last year. “In locating its arguments at the intersection of visual culture and literary and performance studies, Modernist Art in Ethiopia details how innovations in visual art intersected with shifts in philosophical and ideological narratives of modernity. The result is profoundly innovative work—a bold intellectual, cultural, and political history of Ethiopia, with art as its centerpiece.”

In addition to Adom and Elizabeth the finalists for the 2020 ASA Book Prize included Kamari Maxine Clarke, Affective Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Pan-Africanist Pushback, Duke University Press, 2019; Adeline Masquelier, Fada: Boredom and Belonging in Niger, University of Chicago Press, 2019; and Ndubueze Mbah, Emergent Masculinities: Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age, Ohio University Press, 2019.

SPOTLIGHT: Two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew & Elizabeth Giorgis, Named Finalists for African Studies Book Prize

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 21st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Adom Getachew, the author of Worldmaking after Empire, and Elizabeth W. Giorgis, the writer of Modernist Art in Ethiopia, have been named finalists for this year’s African Studies Association (ASA) book prize.

The organization said the award — which will be formally announced on November 21st during its virtual annual meeting — “recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year. The ASA began awarding the prize in 1965.”

In her book entitled Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination that was published by Princeton University Press in 2019, Adom Getachew shows how prominent Black scholars and leaders of the twentieth century such as W.E.B Du Bois, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, Julius Nyerere and others had aimed to reshape the international paradigm in respect to race-relations globally beyond post-colonial self-determination and nation-building. The Princeton University Press notes: “Using archival sources from Barbados, Trinidad, Ghana, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, Worldmaking after Empire recasts the history of decolonization, reconsiders the failure of anticolonial nationalism, and offers a new perspective on debates about today’s international order.”

And Elizabeth Giorgis’ book Modernist Art in Ethiopia, “explores the varied precedents of the country’s political and intellectual history to understand the ways in which the import and range of visual narratives were mediated across different moments, and to reveal the conditions that account for the extraordinary dynamism of the visual arts in Ethiopia,” states the Ohio University Press, which published the book last year. “In locating its arguments at the intersection of visual culture and literary and performance studies, Modernist Art in Ethiopia details how innovations in visual art intersected with shifts in philosophical and ideological narratives of modernity. The result is profoundly innovative work—a bold intellectual, cultural, and political history of Ethiopia, with art as its centerpiece.”

Additional finalists for the 2020 ASA Book Prize include Kamari Maxine Clarke, Affective Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Pan-Africanist Pushback, Duke University Press, 2019; Adeline Masquelier, Fada: Boredom and Belonging in Niger, University of Chicago Press, 2019; and Ndubueze Mbah, Emergent Masculinities: Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age, Ohio University Press, 2019.

According to its website: “Established in 1957, the African Studies Association is the flagship membership organization devoted to enhancing the exchange of information about Africa. With almost 2,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, the African Studies Association encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa, past and present. Based in the United States, the ASA supports understanding of an entire continent in each facet of its political, economic, social, cultural, artistic, scientific, and environmental landscape..[and] members include scholars, students, teachers, activists, development professionals, policymakers and donors.”

You can learn more about the association at africanstudies.org.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris

In a Twitter post Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden Campaign)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 9th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

“My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 8th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

She adds:

As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

Let’s do this!

Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

Sahan Journal

Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

“This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

Read more »

—-

BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

The Washington Post

Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

“It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

Read more »

Related:

Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 28th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

So vote on November 3rd.

Related:

‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


(Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: October 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

If You Attend:

Click here to lean more and RSVP.

—-

Related:

Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

“As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


(Courtesy photo)

The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

If You Attend

Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

Related:

Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Helen Amelga

Updated: October 16th, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

1. Register to vote

2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

Related:

Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


Related:

Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

What does it mean to be a leader?
In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

Young Interviewers

Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

Read more »

Related:

Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 23rd, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

“We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


(Courtesy photos)

Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

BET News Special

HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

Related:

Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 18th, 2020

No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

“Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

Read more »

Related:

Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 13th, 2020

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

Read more »

Related:

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 9, 2020

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 8, 2020

It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

Read more »

81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release

Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

Name, Category, Prize Year:

Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
James P. Allison Medicine 2018
Richard Axel Medicine 2004
David Baltimore Medicine 1975
J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
Steven Chu Physics 1997
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
David J. Gross Physics 2004
John L. Hall Physics 2005
Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
John C. Mather Physics 2006
Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
James Peebles Physics 2019
Arno Penzias Physics 1978
Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
H. David Politzer Physics 2004
Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
David J. Wineland Physics 2012

Related

Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

The Washington Post

Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

“You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

“Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

“If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

Read more »

Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

The Intercept

August, 29th, 2020

The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

Read the full article at theintercept.com »

Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

Sat 29 Aug 2020

Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Read more »

Related:

‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 29th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

“As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

“We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

“I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

“We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

“There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

“I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

“I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

August 28th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

“He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

“We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

“It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

“God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

Related:

Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 21st, 2020

Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

“Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

Updated: August 20th, 2020

Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

“The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

“Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

“This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

“Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

“It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 19th, 2020

Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 18th, 2020

Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

“In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

Read more »

Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

Read more »

Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

Related:

‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

New Film Highlights the Hidden Cost of Civil War: Screening of ‘Finding Sally’

As Ethiopia once again finds itself on the brink of civil war, a timely new film tilted 'Finding Sally' will screen this week highlighting the hidden cost of civil war and the lifetime trauma that it leaves behind on individuals and families. The virtual event, which is set to take place on Thursday, Nov. 19th, features guest speakers Tamara Dawit, the film's Director, & Fisseha Tekle, Amnesty's Researcher for Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — This week the Heinrich Böll Foundation is hosting an online screening and discussion of the new Ethiopian documentary film Finding Sally that narrates the riveting account of a young Ethiopian college student in Canada in the 1970s who became one of the most wanted opposition activists in Ethiopia.

The virtual event, which is set to take place on Thursday, November 19th, features guest speakers Tamara Dawit, the film’s Director, and Fisseha Tekle, Amnesty International’s Researcher for Ethiopia.

As Tamara — who was born and raised in Canada but now lives and works in Ethiopia — told Tadias in an interview last Spring the film follows her own personal search to discover the untold truth about what exactly happened to her long-lost aunt Selamawit (Sally). Tamara noted: “The film poses the question that arises when someone you love disappears without a trace: how do you cope?”

Per the announcement: “Finding Sally tells the story of a 23-year-old woman from an upper-class family who became a communist rebel with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party. Idealistic and in love, Sally got caught up in her country’s revolutionary fervour and landed on the military government’s most wanted list. She went underground and her family never saw her again. Four decades after Sally’s disappearance, Tamara Dawit pieces together the mysterious life of her aunt Sally. She revisits the Ethiopian Revolution and the terrible massacre that followed, which resulted in nearly every Ethiopian family losing a loved one. Her quest leads her to question notions of belonging, personal convictions and political ideals at a time when Ethiopia is going through important political changes once again.”

If You Attend:

Finding Sally
Online screening and discussion
Thursday, 19 November, 7.00 – 9.15 pm (CET)
Registration
The access information will be sent to you via e-mail 24 h prior to the event and, again, 2 h prior to the event.

Related:

Q&A with Filmmaker Tamara Dawit


Filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 16th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — An Ethiopian documentary film Finding Sally is set to make its world premiere on April 30th in a newly created TV platform called ‘Hot Docs at Home on CBC,’ which was launched in Canada as the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancelation of film festivals around the world.

In Finding Sally the filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit tells the moving story of her long-lost aunt, Selamawit (Sally), who turned from a fun-loving college student in Canada in the 1970s into one of the most wanted opposition activists in Ethiopia.

Tamara herself — who was born and raised in Canada but now lives and works in Ethiopia — had not heard of Sally until later in her life.

Below is our full Q&A with Filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit:

TADIAS: Congratulations on the upcoming World Premiere of Finding Sally. Please tell our readers about the film and the inspiration behind it.

Tamara Mariam Dawit: The film tracks my personal investigation into the life of my aunt Selamawit (Sally), an Ethiopian aristocrat-turned-communist-rebel who disappeared during the Ethiopian Revolution.

The film poses the question that arises when someone you love disappears without a trace: how do you cope? It explores not only how my family has managed this loss, but also how the entire country has managed the loss, pain, and trauma of the Red Terror. My family is just a small example of how many Ethiopians are still dealing with those deaths, and how the fear of public mourning under the military government forced so many people to suffer in silence.

My aunt Sally and many of her peers lost their lives fighting for what they believed could be a better Ethiopia. They envisioned a united and democratic Ethiopia that would embrace everyone equally – something I think is still possible despite the dangerous ethnic divisions that plague Ethiopia today. I hope that Finding Sally can be a plea for freedom of speech and critical thinking, and also an indictment of silence in general in Ethiopia. I hope that this film can be a catalyst to discussing the country’s past and engaging in critical discourse about the road ahead.

TADIAS: In your media statement you mentioned that you were in your thirties when you first saw the photo of your aunt Selamawit (Sally). How did you discover the picture? Can you give our readers the historical context of why her story remained a family secret for so many years?

Tamara: I first found out about Sally nearly ten years ago when I was visiting my grandmother’s house in Addis Ababa. My grandmother was displaying a new photo on the mantel above her fireplace of a beautiful woman who was unfamiliar to me. This was Sally and it was the first time I had seen an image of Sally. It took some time before my grandmother and the rest of my family started to feel comfortable to talk to me about who Sally was and the ultimate result of that is this film.

I think that the main reason I didn’t know about Sally was because remembering her or talking about her has always been very painful for my family. Many Ethiopians and Eritreans lost relatives during the Red Terror and there are many painful and personal experiences that we don’t talk about. I asked my grandmother if she would be OK with me making a film about Sally’s life. She was supportive of this because she realized younger generations like me had no knowledge about Sally and her peers, what they had stood for and had done. She wanted Sally and her vision of a better and more just Ethiopia to be remembered. She wanted young Ethiopians today to be able to learn from their past.

TADIAS: A daughter of a diplomat (your grandfather), Sally had transformed herself from a young, vibrant and outgoing university student in Canada during the 1970s into an underground political activist in Ethiopia. In the course of your research what are some of the most surprising things you learned about your aunt as well as your family and Ethiopia in general?

Tamara: I think the main thing that I learned in researching Sally’s life is that everyone was telling me their own version of Sally and of her life – the version that they themselves where comfortable with remembering. I think the most interesting thing I learned about was how incredibly brave Sally was, not only to take up arms for a cause she believed in but also to use her voice to speak up on behalf of women in Ethiopia. One specific incident I learned about was when Sally was invited to give a speech to a group of graduating women’s group in Akaki just outside of Addis Ababa. Rather than stick to safe content Sally gave a speech where she literally told the Derg off. It was after this that she had to go into hiding and cut off contact with her family. I also learned that she had used my Grandmother’s VW Beetle as the getaway car when she was involved in an assassination attempt on Mengistu Haile Mariam.

TADIAS: In many respects Sally’s story is that of a generation of Ethiopians. As you note her story ‘unfolds alongside that of The Red Terror.’ Was the filmmaking process at all a healing experience? Did it bring closure for your family?

Tamara: I hope that the film was a healing process for my family. It certainly caused everyone to reflect and spend time together talking about Sally. Something they admitted they hadn’t done as a group since her death. I also think that there are many Sallys in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and I hope that this film sparks more conversations and thus healing in households across the Diaspora.

TADIAS: It took you about eight years to finish making the film. What was your overall experience like? What is your advice to aspiring independent filmmakers?

Tamara: Making any film is certainly a labor of love and a slow process. But it took a long time also because I spent years researching about Sally, the Red Terror, Ethiopian History, the EPRP before even starting to film anything. It is also incredibly challenging to finance African stories. I was very lucky due to Sally and my family having lived in Canada to have been able to have the film produced and financed in Canada. I do film training programs in Addis and it is also a challenge to get filmmakers interested in making docs. I hope that when we screen Finding Sally in Ethiopia it may inspire more filmmakers to try out the format.

TADIAS: Finding Sally is set to make its world premier on Hot Docs at Home on CBC on April 30th. Can you tell us about the new platform, which was launched recently as a special TV series in response to the coronavirus pandemic? How can people view the film and what are your future plans in terms of screenings specifically for the Ethiopian Diaspora audiences?

Tamara: The opportunity to air the film on CBC occurred because of the impact of COVID and the general inability to host festival screenings. This is a great partnership between Hot Docs and the CBC to help promote the films to audiences in Canada. Viewers will be able to watch the film on CBC, CBC Doc Channel or CBC GEM. The current viewing is just in Canada, but once it is safe to gather again then we will be able to rebook some festival screenings and also arrange community screenings for the Ethiopian and Eritrean Diaspora. Those are the screenings and discussions that I am most interested in. We will also air an Amharic version of the film in Ethiopia in the future.

TADIAS: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Tamara: One of my main motivations for starting to direct was a frustration in watching films about Ethiopia at festivals or on TV that were not made by Ethiopians and where most of those speaking about Ethiopia where also westerners. These films had a western gaze. In contrast, this film is from my point of view as a daughter of Ethiopia, as a member of the Diaspora who has moved back. It is also specifically only from the point of view of women. I chose specifically not to interview any men for the film. As I found when researching about the Red Terror that most of the content was from the perspective of men. I wanted to make a space for women to talk about the past and future of Ethiopia.

TADIAS: Thank you again Tamara. We wish you all the best and much success with the film!

Tamara: Thank you

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization

On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: November 3rd, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

So vote on November 3rd.

Related:

Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Helen Amelga

Updated: October 16th, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

1. Register to vote

2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

Related:

Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


Related:

Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

What does it mean to be a leader?
In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

Young Interviewers

Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

Read more »

Related:

Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 23rd, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

“We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


(Courtesy photos)

Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

BET News Special

HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

Related:

Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 18th, 2020

No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

“Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

Read more »

Related:

Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 13th, 2020

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

Read more »

Related:

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 9, 2020

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 8, 2020

It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

Read more »

81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release

Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

Name, Category, Prize Year:

Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
James P. Allison Medicine 2018
Richard Axel Medicine 2004
David Baltimore Medicine 1975
J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
Steven Chu Physics 1997
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
David J. Gross Physics 2004
John L. Hall Physics 2005
Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
John C. Mather Physics 2006
Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
James Peebles Physics 2019
Arno Penzias Physics 1978
Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
H. David Politzer Physics 2004
Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
David J. Wineland Physics 2012

Related

Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

The Washington Post

Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

“You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

“Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

“If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

Read more »

Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

The Intercept

August, 29th, 2020

The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

Read the full article at theintercept.com »

Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

Sat 29 Aug 2020

Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Read more »

Related:

‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 29th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

“As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

“We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

“I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

“We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

“There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

“I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

“I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

August 28th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

“He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

“We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

“It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

“God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

Related:

Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 21st, 2020

Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

“Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

Updated: August 20th, 2020

Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

“The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

“Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

“This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

“Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

“It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 19th, 2020

Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 18th, 2020

Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

“In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

Read more »

Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

Read more »

Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

Related:

‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias Hosts Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization

On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine will host a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization. We invite you to join us for a lively discussion on building political power through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office. (Photos: Courtesy of the participants)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 24th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — This coming weekend on Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine will host a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions.

Panelists include Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama;; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event will open with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

We invite you to join us for a lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th 7:00 PM EST (4:00 PM PST).

Eventbrite RSVP required.

Click here to register and receive your Zoom ID.

Related:

‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


(Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: October 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

If You Attend:

Click here to lean more and RSVP.

—-

Related:

Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

“As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


(Courtesy photo)

The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

If You Attend

Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

Related:

Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Helen Amelga

Updated: October 16th, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

1. Register to vote

2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

Related:

Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


Related:

Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

What does it mean to be a leader?
In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

Young Interviewers

Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

Read more »

Related:

Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 23rd, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

“We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


(Courtesy photos)

Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

BET News Special

HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

Related:

Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 18th, 2020

No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

“Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

Read more »

Related:

Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 13th, 2020

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

Read more »

Related:

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 9, 2020

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 8, 2020

It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

Read more »

81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release

Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

Name, Category, Prize Year:

Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
James P. Allison Medicine 2018
Richard Axel Medicine 2004
David Baltimore Medicine 1975
J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
Steven Chu Physics 1997
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
David J. Gross Physics 2004
John L. Hall Physics 2005
Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
John C. Mather Physics 2006
Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
James Peebles Physics 2019
Arno Penzias Physics 1978
Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
H. David Politzer Physics 2004
Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
David J. Wineland Physics 2012

Related

Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

The Washington Post

Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

“You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

“Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

“If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

Read more »

Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

The Intercept

August, 29th, 2020

The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

Read the full article at theintercept.com »

Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

Sat 29 Aug 2020

Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Read more »

Related:

‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 29th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

“As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

“We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

“I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

“We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

“There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

“I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

“I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

August 28th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

“He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

“We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

“It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

“God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

Related:

Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 21st, 2020

Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

“Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

Updated: August 20th, 2020

Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

“The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

“Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

“This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

“Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

“It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 19th, 2020

Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 18th, 2020

Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

“In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

Read more »

Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

Read more »

Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

Related:

‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation

Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 19th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation this week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

“As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


(Courtesy photo)

The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

If You Attend

Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

Related:

Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Helen Amelga

Updated: October 16th, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

1. Register to vote

2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

Related:

Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


Related:

Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

What does it mean to be a leader?
In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

Young Interviewers

Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

Read more »

Related:

Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 23rd, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

“We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


(Courtesy photos)

Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

BET News Special

HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

Related:

Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 18th, 2020

No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

“Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

Read more »

Related:

Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 13th, 2020

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

Read more »

Related:

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 9, 2020

Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: September 8, 2020

It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

Read more »

81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release

Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

Name, Category, Prize Year:

Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
James P. Allison Medicine 2018
Richard Axel Medicine 2004
David Baltimore Medicine 1975
J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
Steven Chu Physics 1997
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
David J. Gross Physics 2004
John L. Hall Physics 2005
Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
John C. Mather Physics 2006
Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
James Peebles Physics 2019
Arno Penzias Physics 1978
Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
H. David Politzer Physics 2004
Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
David J. Wineland Physics 2012

Related

Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

The Washington Post

Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

“You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

“Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

“If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

“Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

Read more »

Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

The Intercept

August, 29th, 2020

The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

Read the full article at theintercept.com »

Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

Sat 29 Aug 2020

Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Read more »

Related:

‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 29th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

“As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

“We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

“I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

“We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

“There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

“I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

“I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

August 28th, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

“He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

“We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

“It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

“God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

Related:

Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 21st, 2020

Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

“Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

Updated: August 20th, 2020

Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

“The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

“Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

“This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

“Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

“It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 19th, 2020

Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 18th, 2020

Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

“In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

Read more »

Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

Read more »

Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

Related:

‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Fashion Spotlight: Amsale Unveils Fall 2021 Collection

Founded by Amsale Aberra and Neil Brown, The Amsale Group is one of the world’s leading luxury bridal houses, and widely credited as the inventor of the modern wedding dress. A Black-owned business headquartered in New York City with a salon on Madison Avenue. (Photo: Courtesy of Amsale)

Press Release

AMSALE UNVEILS ITS FALL 2021 BRIDAL COLLECTIONS TO CELEBRATE THE COUTURE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF ITS NYC ATELIER

NEW YORK, October 7, 2020 — This season, AMSALE celebrates couture with a range of collections that bring the focus back to impeccable craftsmanship and tailoring—the foundation on which the fashion house was built. “The collections are very tightly edited, but each piece is special and especially considered for each different bride,” says AMSALE Design DirectorMargo Lafontaine. “The current times have given extra meaning to getting dressed up—so there’s a little more drama, a little more attention to detail, craft and texture.” The Fall 2021couture collection was produced entirely in AMSALE’s Manhattan atelier and—along with newLittle White Dress, Bridesmaids and Nouvelle Amsale styles—pays tribute to the brand’s three-decade-deep roots.

Amsale Couture Fall 2021

With wedding celebrations pared down, brides are looking to their gowns to up the wow factor.The Fall 2021 couture collection delivers, with dramatic embellishments like crystal-encrustedshoulder straps and stunning sashes that extend past the train. Yet there’s also an element ofsoftness, showing through in sheer textures and hand-painted details. The bold and refinedcome together in pieces like a sculptural one-shoulder gown with an asymmetrical back sashand a crepe gown with plunging backline and trailing streamers to the train. A cornerstone of thecollection is a convertible raffia stitched organza ballgown with removable bodice overlay. “Itgoes from strapless to jewel-neck with a cap sleeve,” Lafontaine describes. “In times like these,there’s a need for flexibility.”

Little White Dress Fall 2021

The design team upped the ante for the Little White Dress collection, previously most popularfor supporting events like the rehearsal dinner or brunch. “The gowns are more dressed up anddetailed than in past seasons, so that they can truly stand in for wedding gowns,” Lafontainesays. “Brides’ plans are changing and we want to be there to support them with the perfectpiece for a town hall elopement or backyard microwedding.” Classic, refined brides will love theduchess satin strapless gown with a circle skirt and back bow, while boho-leaning brides willgravitate toward the chic taffeta wrap dress. Design details like sheer lace and flutter skirtsmake each piece unique.

Amsale Bridesmaids Fall 2021

Lafontaine wanted to convey a sense of ease and casual elegance with this season’s gowns.Draped styles in the label’s signature crepe fabric, plus fluid Satin wrap dresses with cowl necklines or alluring criss-crossed back straps offer something soft yet sleek. Continuing theexploration of pairing matte and shine—first introduced last season—is a range of gowns thatcombine a fluid satin bodice with crepe skirt for a dual-tone appearance. Feminine touches likelong gathered sleeves complete the collection.

Nouvelle Amsale

AMSALE re-introduces its Spring 2021 Nouvelle Amsale collection this season to supportretailers who were shut down during the spring, but reinvigorates the range with six newshowstoppers. Each piece has one standout focal point, from an origami-inspired bow at theback of an architectural Mikado ballgown to a surprising sheer embroidered back on a stretchcrepe sheath. Garden-inspired twists give the gowns a softer touch and embellishments add afeminine feel. A brand-new jumpsuit is perfect for the modern bride getting hitched at city hall.

Amsale Fall 2021 from Amsale on Vimeo.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard

In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Helen Amelga

Updated: October 16th, 2020

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

1. Register to vote

2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

Related:

Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 21st, 2020

Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

“Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

Reuters

Updated: August 20th, 2020

Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

“The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

“Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

“This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

“Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

“It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 19th, 2020

Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

“In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 18th, 2020

Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

“Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

“My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

“In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

Read more »

Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

Read more »

Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

Related:

‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

Unfortunately the male-dominated and usually misogynistic Ethiopian opposition political media in the Diaspora is already attacking Senator Kamala Harris, the U.S. vice presidential candidate, as "ሴቷ ኦባማ" (as if that's an insult) displaying their deeply ingrained prejudice against women in general and particularly against Black American women of power (see Susan Rice). Below is a recent Politico Magazine feature reflecting on the timely topic through the eyes of female political observers in the U.S. (Photo: @KamalaHarris/Twitter)

Politico Magazine

Updated: August 15th, 2020

‘She May Very Well Hold the Key to Biden’s Win’: Women have appeared on presidential tickets before—in 1984, 2008 and 2016. Is anything different this time? 17 women weigh in.

Will it be different this time?

Female vice presidential candidates appeared on major party tickets in 1984 and 2008, and in 2016, a woman headed the ticket. Each time, headlines heralded the historic choice; each time, for any number of reasons, the ticket lost. Those races also gave us a window into how women running for executive office are treated in the U.S.: The candidates were more likely than men to be questioned about their spouses; their attire and looks often became a part of the story; they had to make extra effort to show they were “tough” enough to serve.

Now that Senator Kamala Harris has become the third female VP candidate on a major-party ticket in history, Politico Magazine asked some smart female political observers to tell us: How will things be different for this VP choice, for this woman, and for this race? Or has nothing changed at all? Here’s what they had to say.

***

‘Her demeanor, her delivery, and her personal life will be under the same microscope’
Treva Lindsey is associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality Studies at the Ohio State University.

Without question, sexism, patriarchy and misogyny remain intractable forces in electoral politics. Leading up to the announcement of Senator Kamala Harris as the vice presidential candidate, rumors circulated regarding concerns about her ambition and assertiveness. As a Black and South Asian American woman, Harris endured and will continue to confront racialized forms of misogyny rooted in white supremacy. The global pandemic coupled with the national uprising prompted by the killing of George Floyd offers a distinct context, however, in which responses to her candidacy will unfold. While many potential voters may offer legitimate critiques of Harris, the media as well as many of her political opponents have already shown their willingness to engage sexist stereotypes to discredit the junior senator from California. The combination of racism and sexism will be palpable through Election Day—even if transmitted on less obvious frequencies.

Her attire may not receive the scrutiny Secretary Hillary Clinton’s did, but her demeanor, her delivery, and her personal life will be under the same microscope as other women who ran for executive offices. Commentary about her personality and her likability will comprise an excessive amount of the conversation around her candidacy. As a woman of color, the interconnected weight of racism and sexism will undergird reactions to her speeches, her debate style, and how she engages both her allies and adversaries. The reality is that 44 of the 45 presidents of the United States have been white men. Senator Harris will be treading familiar ground with sexism and misogyny, her identity as a woman of color means unprecedented challenges await. She will encounter both familiar and particular obstacles. Her candidacy will magnify the contours of the ceiling yet to be broken.

Read more »

Obama Accuses Trump Administration of Plot to Suppress Mail-in Votes


Former president Barack Obama accused the Trump administration of trying to suppress votes by sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service, the latest in an escalating battle over the integrity of the upcoming election. (TWP)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 14th, 2020

Former president Barack Obama accused the Trump administration of trying to suppress votes by sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service, the latest in an escalating battle over the integrity of the upcoming election.

“Everyone depends on the USPS. Seniors for their Social Security, veterans for their prescriptions, small businesses trying to keep their doors open,” Obama wrote Friday on Twitter. “They can’t be collateral damage for an administration more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus.”

Obama linked to a podcast interview he did with his former campaign manager David Plouffe, in which he criticized President Trump’s management of the pandemic and praised former vice president Joe Biden for his selection of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) as a running mate.

“Kamala is somebody I’ve known for years. She is smart. She is tough,” Obama said in an interview with Plouffe’s “Campaign HQ” podcast. “She is somebody who I think will be able to share the stage with Mike Pence, or whoever else, and dissect some of the terrible decisions that have been made over the last four years that have helped create worse problems than were necessary in the midst of this pandemic.”

Obama cited a combination of factors he believed should encourage voters to turn out in large numbers to vote in the weeks leading up Nov. 3, including fears that the Trump administration and Republicans would try to undermine the voting process because of a “consuming hatred of government.” Still, Obama warned that record turnout was not a given.

“The one thing we can control is voting,” he said. “We can cast our ballots like we never have before. And I do think maybe there’s one aspect of this that I should probably address, and that is voting among young people, in particular.”

Citing traditionally low turnout among younger voters, Obama encouraged young people to increase their level of participation by voting early and volunteering to work at polling places during the pandemic.

Biden and Harris Come Out Swinging


Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris take the stage Wednesday at a campaign event in Wilmington, Del., their first joint appearance since Biden named Harris as his running mate. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Updated: August 13, 2020

Biden formally introduces Harris as the Democratic ticket goes after Trump

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris opened a new front in the presidential campaign on Wednesday, forcefully prosecuting their case against President Trump and attempting to showcase a much different vision for the country as the Democratic ticket appeared together for the first time.

In what were perhaps the most crisp and focused speeches either has given during the presidential campaign, the new running mates defined how they will pursue the general election: with a sharp focus on what they cast as Trump’s inadequacies, an embrace of the power of women, a call to action on climate change and a defense of the protesters who have filled America’s streets in recent months.

While Biden briefly fended off some of Trump’s recent attacks — “Whining is what Donald Trump does best — better than any president in American history” — the senator from California homed in on Trump’s competence. She said he had mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, with the result being illness, death and unemployment. She urged the nation to seize on optimism, to celebrate the immigrant experience and to simply move on from the last four years.

“America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him, a president who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve,” Harris said, ticking off tectonic shifts in the country, including racial unrest, the shattered economy and the pandemic.

Read more »


Biden Picks Kamala Harris as Running Mate, First Black Woman


“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden tweeted. In a text message to supporters, Biden said, “Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump.” (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 11th, 2020

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket and acknowledging the vital role Black voters will play in his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden tweeted. In a text message to supporters, Biden said, “Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump”

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington.

In choosing Harris, Biden is embracing a former rival from the Democratic primary who is familiar with the unique rigor of a national campaign. Harris, a 55-year-old first-term senator, is also one of the party’s most prominent figures and quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.

Harris joins Biden in the 2020 race at a moment of unprecedented national crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people in the U.S., far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused an economic collapse. Unrest, meanwhile, has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.

Trump’s uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he enters the fall campaign in strong position against the president. In adding Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues such as health care and her background in law enforcement in the nation’s largest state.

Harris’ record as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco was heavily scrutinized during the Democratic primary and turned off some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of systemic racism in the legal system and police brutality. She tried to strike a balance on these issues, declaring herself a “progressive prosecutor” who backs law enforcement reforms.

Biden, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president, has spent months weighing who would fill that same role in his White House. He pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration among Democrats that the presidential race would center on two white men in their 70s.

Biden’s search was expansive, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive, Florida Rep. Val Demings, whose impeachment prosecution of Trump won plaudits, California Rep. Karen Bass, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose passionate response to unrest in her city garnered national attention.

Rice congratulated Harris on her selection, calling her a “tenacious and trailblazing leader.” Rice said she would support Biden and Harris “with all my energy and commitment.”

Bass tweeted, “@KamalaHarris is a great choice for Vice President. Her tenacious pursuit of justice and relentless advocacy for the people is what is needed right now.”

A woman has never served as president or vice president in the United States. Two women have been nominated as running mates on major party tickets: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Their party lost in the general election.

The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year. If elected, Biden would be 78 when he’s inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency. He’s spoken of himself as a transitional figure and hasn’t fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024. If he declines to do so, his running mate would likely become a front-runner for the nomination that year.

Born in Oakland to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco’s district attorney. In the role, she created a reentry program for low-level drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.

She was elected California’s attorney general in 2010, the first woman and Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure crisis. She declined to defend the state’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage and was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As her national profile grew, Harris built a reputation around her work as a prosecutor. After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during congressional hearings. In one memorable moment last year, Harris tripped up Attorney General William Barr when she repeatedly pressed him on whether Trump or other White House officials pressured him to investigate certain people.

Harris launched her presidential campaign in early 2019 with the slogan “Kamala Harris For the People,” a reference to her courtroom work. She was one of the highest-profile contenders in a crowded Democratic primary and attracted 20,000 people to her first campaign rally in Oakland.

But the early promise of her campaign eventually faded. Her law enforcement background prompted skepticism from some progressives, and she struggled to land on a consistent message that resonated with voters. Facing fundraising problems, Harris abruptly withdrew from the race in December 2019, two months before the first votes of the primary were cast.

One of Harris’ standout moments of her presidential campaign came at the expense of Biden. During a debate, Harris said Biden made “very hurtful” comments about his past work with segregationist senators and slammed his opposition to busing as schools began to integrate in the 1970s.

“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”

Shaken by the attack, Biden called her comments “a mischaracterization of my position.”

The exchange resurfaced recently one of Biden’s closest friends and a co-chair of his vice presidential vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, still harbors concerns about the debate and that Harris hadn’t expressed regret. The comments attributed to Dodd and first reported by Politico drew condemnation, especially from influential Democratic women who said Harris was being held to a standard that wouldn’t apply to a man running for president.

Some Biden confidants said Harris’ campaign attack did irritate the former vice president, who had a friendly relationship with her. Harris was also close with Biden’s late son, Beau, who served as Delaware attorney general while she held the same post in California.

But Biden and Harris have since returned to a warm relationship.

“Joe has empathy, he has a proven track record of leadership and more than ever before we need a president of the United States who understands who the people are, sees them where they are, and has a genuine desire to help and knows how to fight to get us where we need to be,” Harris said at an event for Biden earlier this summer.

At the same event, she bluntly attacked Trump, labeling him a “drug pusher” for his promotion of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus, which has not been proved to be an effective treatment and may even be more harmful. After Trump tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in response to protests about the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody, Harris said his remarks “yet again show what racism looks like.”

Harris has taken a tougher stand on policing since Floyd’s killing. She co-sponsored legislation in June that would ban police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, set a national use-of-force standard and create a national police misconduct registry, among other things. It would also reform the qualified immunity system that shields officers from liability.

The list included practices Harris did not vocally fight to reform while leading California’s Department of Justice. Although she required DOJ officers to wear body cameras, she did not support legislation mandating it statewide. And while she now wants independent investigations of police shootings, she didn’t support a 2015 California bill that would have required her office to take on such cases.

“We made progress, but clearly we are not at the place yet as a country where we need to be and California is no exception,” she told The Associated Press recently. But the national focus on racial injustice now shows “there’s no reason that we have to continue to wait.”

Related:

This Woman Could Become 1st Female U.S. President

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Interview: Helen Amelga, California Senate Field Rep & Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Biden Announces Plans to Invest Billions in Black-Owned Businesses (UPDATE)

100 Days Out From Election Day: Michelle Obama Makes Voter Registration Push

Election in the Time of The Pandemic: Report on Absentee Voting in U.S

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Ethiopian Records Crowdfunding for New Album ‘ወል’ (Togetherness)

Ethiopian Records' next release is a double-EP called Wel'ወል' by Endeguena Mulu. (Courtesy image)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 6th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — The timely upcoming album by independent music producer Endeguena Mulu — a trailblazer in the Ethiopian electronic music scene and the person behind Ethiopian Records — is aptly titled Wel ‘ወል’ (Amharic for togetherness) and is inspired by Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebremedhin’s audio tapes, specifically his recordings of the poem Aba Geda.

“Wel stands for togetherness which is the notion of this EP,” the artist shares, adding that the album will be “a 10 track double EP with two videos and an array of works of art.” It also features a collaboration with 23 creative professionals.

Wel ‘ወል’ will be Endeguena’s fifth official album. In a press release announcing an online crowdfunding campaign on the Indiegogo platform, to further engage the public behind the music project, Endeguena says that his latest work “is about unity..a unity that doesn’t deny harsh truths, as true solidarity is based on facts.”

The announcement adds that: “as the world experiences momentous challenges from poverty, racism, wars, global warming, unprecedented economic inequality and other many social injustices, as well as the ever-present COVID-19 pandemic, we are slowly realizing that unity is crucial. That it is the time to listen to each other and develop respect for one another, practice love and solidarity to combat such social ills and build a healthier world. Wel EP reimagines a world where we come together as one and move towards common goals in tackling the many societal problems we face as a species. Wel is a call of unity and revolves around the concept of የጋራ or common for all, because without a minimum of unity, all the changes we seek for our world are not possible.”

The crowdfunding campaign includes “a number of cool perks, which include a digital copy of the EP, a private virtual concert, signed digital materials, and personal thank you notes as well as Executive Producer credit.”

You can learn more and support the project at www.indiegogo.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

Addisu Demissie currently serves as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and is responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party that is scheduled to open on August 17th, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo: 50+1 Strategies)

Tadias Magazine

By Tseday Alehegn

Updated: August 10th, 2020

Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

New York (TADIAS) — As the Democratic Party prepares to officially nominate Joe Biden as its candidate to become the next President of the United States, veteran campaign strategist Addisu Demissie is the person in charge of putting together the nominating convention that kicks off on August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The convention — one of the most anticipated American political events during a presidential election season — promises to be nothing but traditional this year amid the growing Coronavirus pandemic, which makes Addisu’s role all the more challenging and historic.

“My job is essentially to produce the convention,” Addisu told Tadias in a recent interview. “I do everything from the program, to the budget management, to fundraising, to political relations with members of Congress or with Governors or what have you.” He added: “It’s kind of a little bit of everything. No one day is like any other, that’s for sure. We’re trying to produce a convention in the midst of a pandemic. It’s gonna be nothing like anything anyone has ever done before, but we have a mission – and that is to present Joe Biden to the country. He is somebody who has been in public life for 40 years, but still people need a better sense of who he is and what he’s fighting for.”

Addisu, who is also a Principal & Co-Founder of 50+1 Strategies, a California-based consulting firm, comes armed with years of campaign experience including managing Senator Cory Booker’s 2013 Senate campaign and more recently his presidential campaign, as well as Gavin Newsom’s 2018 campaign for California governor, and working as National Director of Voter Outreach for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Addisu’s first got involved in politics when he joined Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign prior to attending law school.

“I went back to school thinking I’d be leaving campaigns and go back to my original path, which was to be a civil rights lawyer, but I discovered that I missed the campaign,” Addisu said. “So all during law school I worked on campaigns. And then I graduated in 2008 and basically it was ‘do I go become a lawyer or do I go back into politics’ and I decided to go back to politics. Friends that I had worked with on campaigns starting in 2003 connected me and I ended up working on Obama presidential campaign’s as Get-Out-The-Vote Director in Ohio. That was really the fork in the road for me in terms of my career path.”

Below is our full interview with Addisu Demissie:

TADIAS: Please tell us a bit about yourself, where you grew up and were raised, your focus in school and college.

Addisu Demissie: I was born in Windsor in Ontario, Canada. My mother’s side is Black American and my grandmother is Black Canadian. My father’s side is Ethiopian. My dad came to Windsor to attend college and met my mother. I was raised in Toronto until the age of 11 and then became a U.S. citizen and moved to Atlanta, which became my first home in America. For high school I attended a boarding school in Massachusetts and then attended Yale for undergraduate studies. I grew up steeped in Ethiopian culture as well as American and Canadian. I’m Canadian by birth, American by choice and Ethiopian by ethnicity, history and tradition.

TADIAS: What were some early experiences that made you decide that you wanted to study political science in college, go to law school and then become active in state and national political campaigns?

Addisu: I actually started out as pre-med student in college. I was into math and sciences my whole schooling years, but I took a law class about civil rights during my sophomore year in college and I found myself liking it a lot more than I did my science classes. In my junior year I started asking myself “am I doing math and science because I’ve been doing it for 12 years or do I actually want to be a doctor or scientist?” I realized that I didn’t really want it anymore and basically took political science courses through my junior and senior years to get a political science degree. When I graduated from college I moved to Washington D.C. to work for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. That was my first job out of college and it started me on my path in politics.

I ended up in Washington because I had taken a class in the fall semester of my senior year with a Connecticut Supreme Court Justice named Flemming Norcott, who taught a civil rights law course about Blacks and the law, which was seminal in my life and I wanted to work for the NAACP legal defense fund. By spring semester of my senior year I found a job opening at LDF and while I didn’t get the job that I had applied for in New York I received an offer from the Executive Director to work in Washington D.C.

TADIAS: You’ve worked on several presidential campaigns as well as served as Political Director of the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America project in 2009. What are some of the memorable highlights and lessons learned?

Addisu: I worked for the 2004 Kerry campaign before going to law school. I went back to school thinking I’d be leaving campaigns and go back to my original path, which was to be a civil rights lawyer, but I discovered that I missed campaign. So all during law school I worked on campaigns. And then I graduated in 2008 and basically it was ‘do I go become a lawyer or do I go back into politics’ and I decided to go back to politics. Friends that I had worked with on campaigns starting in 2003 connected me and I ended up becoming Obama campaign’s Get-Out-The-Vote Director in Ohio. That was really the fork in the road for me in terms of my career path.

TADIAS: As Principal of 50+1 Strategies you successfully led as Campaign Manager for Cory Booker and Gavin Newsom’s campaigns among other candidates. Can you share more about what motivated you to found your own organization?

Addisu: I started my own organization in 2011. I was getting married and my wife wanted to move to California, so I left Washington D.C. in 2010, and in the middle of 2011 I decided to start my own firm and figure out how I was going to continue working in politics and campaigns without having to keep flying to different places around the country to run campaigns. I started seeking out clients and doing it on my own. I currently have two big clients — one is the upcoming Democratic Convention and working for Biden’s campaign and the other is a new organization called More Than a Vote.

TADIAS: You are now Senior Advisor for presidential candidate Joe Biden and working on the 2020 Democratic Convention. Can you tell us more about your current work?

Addisu: My job is essentially to produce the convention, which starts on August 17th. I do everything from the program, to the budget management, to fundraising, to political relations with members of Congress or with Governors or what have you. It’s kind of a little bit of everything. No one day is like any other that’s for sure. We’re trying to produce a convention in the midst of a pandemic. It’s gonna be nothing like anything anyone has ever done before, but we have a mission – and that is to present Joe Biden to the country. He is somebody who has been in public life for 40 years, but still people need a better sense of who he is and what he’s fighting for. The job of the convention, every year, and especially this year, is to communicate that to the country and to the world. And I’m in charge of helping to make that happen.

TADIAS: You’ve also focused on fighting voter suppression with the organization More Than a Vote. Can you share more about their focus and how others can get more informed and involved?

Addisu: This is my other big client, and once the convention ends, it will be my main client as I want to put a lot of work into it for obvious reasons. I got connected through people I know who put me in touch with Maverick Carter who runs James LeBron’s organization as well as Adam Mendelsohn who is his Communications Advisor. And they had been talking about this idea with LeBron and others to have a coalition of athletes that can engage politically. They wanted someone to help lead the organization and I feel that I am the right person because you need someone who understands politics and understands campaigns and at the same time it’s as much a cultural movement as it is a political one. We’re trying to use culturally relevant figures to create politically relevant content that’s authentic, that’s grounded and real and raw. We got it off the ground in June, largely to be honest because of the murder of George Floyd and Breona Taylor and others, which galvanized athletes to action and wanted to put their voices together and lift it up, in this moment and beyond, on behalf of black people in America. So that is what we are doing. We’re building an organization just like any other, any union or political organization that exists out there to advocate for people – these are just people who have as big a platform as anyone and as loud a voice as anybody to make change. And they are ready to use it, and I’m ready to help them do it.

TADIAS: Who are the mentors who have inspired and encouraged you to blaze your trail?

Addisu: My dad obviously. He died five and half years ago. He was always supportive and proud of what I was doing. I would say he was initially confused when I switched my major from biochemistry to political science in college, and very confused when I decided to move to Iowa to work for John Kerry. I was gonna be a doctor, and then I scrapped that. And then I got a law degree and he was like “phew, he’s back on track.” Then I went back to politics and he was like “what the hell are you doing?” But I think once he saw me work for Obama and go to the White House and run Corey Booker’s campaign for Senate (the first one I ran) – he was like ‘okay I get that this is an actual career and actual profession and I appreciate it,’ and he was always great and definitely encouraging and supportive.

Professionally, Ben Jealous helped me get my first job on the Kerry campaign, and has been someone that I’ve stayed in touch with and has been helpful to me. I definitely look up to him as a justice warrior and he is a great guy. Terry McAulife, Former Governor of Virginia, who was my boss in 2004, taught me a lot about politics and about how to treat people and how to be a leader when he was the DNC Chair and I was his assistant. He has really been a great mentor to me. Corey Booker is certainly on that list too. He’s someone I look up to as a person of character. He’s a real mentor. I’ve ran his campaign for Senate and President, and he’s somebody who models good behavior as a public figure and somebody who has not compromised his values or his character to get to very high places in politics. There is this public image, and sometimes a private one as well, about the need to be a backstabbing, manipulative person to get ahead in politics and I actually don’t believe that. And Corey and Terry are proof of that. They’re just good people..people of high character, and good moral values who are in it for the right reasons. I’d like to think of myself as that and I’ve also tried to model myself after the way they conduct themselves and I definitely look up to both of them.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve had many people open doors for me like Elaine Jones when she was head of NAACP legal defense fund. My whole career wouldn’t have happened without her if she hadn’t spotted me and said, “you know what, you should go to Washington. You’ll be really good at this if you just get the opportunity.” I think I was 20 years old when I interviewed with her. Leslie Proll, who was also my boss at LDF, is someone that I still keep in touch with and who remains a big champion for me. To have people want to help you at a young age and see something in you, and want to lift you up, and put you in positions to succeed is a pretty cool thing. I’ve been lucky to have that at basically every stage of my career.

TADIAS: What do you like most about your work? What are the challenges?

Addisu: As I’ve gotten older what I really like about it is that every day I feel like I’m making a difference, which I know sounds trite, but every time I’ve tried to go into a profession or a job that doesn’t have a mission-driven basis then I fail. Money is not enough of a motivator for me, prestige is not a big enough motivator for me. I need mission. I need purpose in my professional work – what gets me up in the morning is doing mission-based work. I work 16 to17 hours a day right now because I got these two huge projects that I’m leading, but I don’t care because I love it. I feel like I’m changing the world. And when I see people like Corey introduce legislation or Gavin do something great here in California I’m like “you know what? I helped to put them there.” When Barack Obama got elected and passed the Affordable Care Act I may have had a very small piece in the broad scheme of things in doing it but I know that I did something that helped move the ball forward and that is what motivates me.

I think the challenge of this work is, first of all, there are very long and difficult hours and most of it is not glamourous. It’s very hard relational work that you put a lot of labor into, and so you’re really tired on a physical and emotional level if you do this work every day. It’s also slow, you don’t get everything that you want. You know, this moment even now that we’re in with George Floyd and the BLM movement gaining power, rightly so, it feels like I’ve seen this movie before and I’m thinking ‘is this gonna be the time where it has a different ending or not?’ I don’t know. But you gotta have hope that it is. Every once in a while you get your Affordable Care Acts, but more often than not you get nothing. And you gotta remember those wins, so that the losses that we had in 2016 or the one I had with Corey’s presidential campaign don’t land so hard, because you lose more often than you win or you get half wins. Pure victories are very rare. Election night 2008 was one of the greatest nights of my life, but I don’t think I’ve had that feeling in politics more than five times. That sort of ‘we did it’ pure, joy, bliss and feeling like we accomplished exactly what we set out to accomplish – it doesn’t happen very often. You’re reaching for that every day but in 20 years it has come five times – that’s few and far between. Oftentimes you have little wins that accumulate, and you gotta celebrate those, and ultimately something good happens at the end of the rainbow.

TADIAS: Your mission and work and the choices you made – your story is a brand new story for us. What advice would you give the young generation. What message would you share with them in terms of moving from being “interested in politics and political campaigns” to actually doing the footwork. Not just getting engaged themselves but getting communities mobilized?

Addisu: I think the key thing that I’ve learned in both doing it and now being in senior roles is how important ‘just doing it’ is. The people who stand out, and grow, and who succeed and ascend in this business, it’s a meritocracy. Hard work and throwing yourself into it and not looking for glory is what really pays off. And also, start your own thing. We’ve seen with the March for our Lives, the Women’s March that a lot of it is grassroots-driven. It’s just people saying “I’m sick of it, I’m doing it myself. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll figure it out while I go along.”

The entrepreneurial spirit in our community, and many others, is there when it comes to business, but it’s not there when it comes to politics. Both Yohannes [Abraham] and I, we both started at the bottom. We didn’t try to jump in at the middle, or get jobs that have fancy titles. We were field organizers, which is the lowest on the totem pole when it comes to campaigns, but you gotta start there. Everybody starts there, that’s how you learn. That’s how you meet people. That’s how you grow your network. That’s how you get into positions that we are in right now after years of toiling. And you can’t rush that process. It happens fast if you let it happen but if you force it, it doesn’t happen. Think about Yohannes he went from being a field organizer in Iowa in 2007 to running the transition in 2020. That’s not that long, and frankly four years ago he was running the biggest office in the White House. That’s what you can actually do in this business. But you gotta start somewhere and learn it.

Tseday Alehegn is Co-Founder & Editor of Tadias.

Related:

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Interview: Helen Amelga, California Senate Field Rep & Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Trace Muzika, A New Channel for Music From Ethiopia & Diaspora

Trace Muzika, which is set to launch on Aug 1, 2020 on habeshaview-app, aims to be an international hub for urban and contemporary Ethiopian music targeting audiences both at home and abroad. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 1st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — This month Trace Muzika, a channel dedicated to non-stop music from Ethiopia and its Diaspora will launch on the online streaming service habeshaview.

“TRACE Muzika is the only channel exclusively dedicated to the latest and greatest music videos from Ethiopia,” the announcement states, noting that the channel will be available starting Aug 1st on the habeshaview-app. “It airs the most popular music genres, focusing on the latest in Ethio Rap, Gospel, Ethiopian Reggae, and Afrobeats.” The press release added that the channel includes music from diverse regions in Ethiopia and features various artists including “Lij Michael, Betty G, Zerit Kebede, Asge Dendasho, Rahel Getu, Sancho, Tsedi, and Sayat Demissie.” Trace Muzika also shares a “daily Top 10 Eskista Countdown, and an official ranking of the Top 10 Ethiopian songs.”

ABOUT HABESHAVIEW TV

habeshaview is a privately held film distribution and media company that was established in 2014. habeshaview promotes the rich cultural heritage of several diaspora communities, history, traditions, socio-economic development, business environment, tourism and current affairs. habeshaview’s vision is to work with different nations and to bring their national TV content and selected films and programs to the international market. We believe that this is the best way for diaspora communities to stay in touch with one another and to keep up to date with development taking place within their own countries. Visit habeshaview.com for more information.

ABOUT TRACE

TRACE is the first global ecosystem that leverages afro-urban entertainment to connect & empower the new generation and the creators with activities in 162 countries and more than 350 million users. TRACE is a signature hub for afro-urban entertainment and offers TV channels, FM radios, mobile and digital services, content, events etc. to millennial and young adults’ audiences.

Learn more about Trace Muzika and habeshaview at www.habeshaview.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: Rep. John Lewis by Ethiopian American Photographer Gediyon Kifle

Children of the photographer Gediyon Kifle meeting with Congressman John Lewis at his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. two years ago. (c)Gediyon Kifle www.PhotoGK.com

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 31st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — The following is a slide show of pictures courtesy of Ethiopian American Photographer Gediyon Kifle celebrating civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis who passed away last Friday at the age of 80.

Rep. John Lewis, who was one of the heroes of the American civil rights movement, was a speaker at the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. As AP noted: “He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, [Alabama]. At age 25 — walking at the head of the march with his hands tucked in the pockets of his tan overcoat — Lewis was knocked to the ground and beaten by police. His skull was fractured, and nationally televised images of the brutality forced the country’s attention on racial oppression in the South. Within days, King led more marches in the state, and President Lyndon Johnson soon was pressing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. The bill became law later that year, removing barriers that had barred Blacks from voting.”

“Mesmerized by John Lewis’ humility and fighting sprit” since he was a child and “inspired by his sacrifice during the last decade or so,” Gediyon shares that it has been “a privilege to photograph him and see him up close.” He added: “To experience his calming presence and generosity. And to introduce him to my children. A day I will never forget. A man I will never forget.”

Here are the photos courtesy of Gediyon Kifle:

Related:

Obama delivers call to action in eulogy for Lewis, likens tactics by Trump and administration to those by racist Southern leaders who fought civil rights


Former president Barack Obama criticized the government’s use of force against peaceful protesters at Rep. John Lewis’s (D-Ga.) funeral on July 30, 2020 in Atlanta. (The Washington Post)

Former president Barack Obama delivered a call to action in his eulogy Thursday of late congressman John Lewis, urging Congress to pass new voting rights laws and likening tactics by President Trump and his administration to those used by racist Southern leaders who fought the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Obama, speaking for 40 minutes at the pulpit where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, tied Lewis’s early life as a Freedom Rider to the nationwide protests that followed the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. He compared today’s federal agents using tear gas against peaceful protesters, an action that Trump has cheered on, to the same attacks Lewis faced on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965.

“Bull Connor may be gone, but today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” the nation’s first Black president said at Lewis’s final memorial service. “George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here there are those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting.”

Obama slams government response to policing protests, says democracy must be ‘nurtured’

Obama was one of three former presidents — along with George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — to honor the late congressman at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. A fourth, 95-year-old Jimmy Carter, too frail to travel, sent a tribute note read from the podium.

Read more »


John Lewis to be honored by Biden, lawmakers and the public as he lies in state at the Capitol

Updated: July 27th, 2020

The body of the late congressman John Lewis made a final journey Monday to the capital’s civil rights landmarks, pausing at the Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln memorials, before he lies in state at the same spot in the Capitol as presidents and other national leaders.

The motorcade took the casket of Lewis (D-Ga.) past the Lincoln Memorial, where he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, and the newly minted Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House, where the civil rights icon made his last public appearance in early June. As “Amazing Grace” could be heard, the hearse paused at the plaza.

Lewis, who was diagnosed in late December with pancreatic cancer, died July 17.

“To see him there, to see him there from one generation into the future, we’re so blessed,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “He was a titan of the civil rights movement. He was the conscience of the Congress.”

After an arrival ceremony in the Capitol’s Rotunda, a host of high-profile people will get to pay their respects inside the building, a group that will bring the 2020 presidential campaign front and center. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will be among those who will honor Lewis.

Lewis will be only the second black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol, after his close friend, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who died in October lay in state in National Statuary Hall.

Like Cummings, whose casket was then positioned in front of the door to the House chamber for the public to pay tribute, Lewis’s casket will be moved out of the Rotunda.

Read more »

Obama, Biden, White House and Others Pay Tribute to Rep. John Lewis (UPDATE)


In this 2015 photo, Rep. John Lewis joins hands with President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush during a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. (Reuters photo)

The Washington Post

John Lewis tributes pour in from leaders across the country

The tributes to Rep. John Lewis poured in Saturday morning, as leaders from across the political spectrum expressed gratitude and reverence for the civil rights icon’s commitment to racial justice, even at great personal cost.

“I first met John when I was in law school, and I told him then that he was one of my heroes. Years later, when I was elected a U.S. Senator, I told him that I stood on his shoulders,” former president Barack Obama wrote in a eulogy on Medium. “When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made.”

The Georgia Democrat, who died Friday at 80, spoke at the 1963 March on Washington. Lewis led the march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” Lewis suffered a brutal beating by police who violently confronted the demonstrators with bullwhips and nightsticks.

It was appropriate then that his final public act was to visit the newly named Black Lives Matter Plaza on a street leading to the White House — a symbol of the progress the country has made on issues of racial justice and the work that still needed to be done.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who accompanied Lewis on that visit, described him “as the conscience of Congress . . . the conscience of our nation.”

“John Lewis had faith in our nation and in the next generation,” she wrote on Twitter. “He warned us not to get lost in despair. So, in this moment of grief, we are hopeful — we are hopeful that, collectively, we can live up to his legacy.”

John Lewis to Black Lives Matter protesters: ‘Give until you can’t give anymore’

Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, released a stirring statement on behalf of himself and his wife, Jill.

“We are made in the image of God, and then there is John Lewis,” Biden began. “How could someone in flesh and blood be so courageous, so full of hope and love in the face of so much hate, violence, and vengeance?”

“He was truly a one-of-a-kind, a moral compass who always knew where to point us and which direction to march,” Biden wrote.

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, called Lewis “the truest kind of patriot.”

“He believed America could be better, even live up to its highest founding ideals of equality & liberty for all. He made good trouble to help us get there. Now it’s up to the rest of us to carry on his work,” she tweeted.

Read more »


John Lewis, Lion of Civil Rights and U.S. Congress, Dies at 80


President Barack Obama presents a 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom to U.S. Rep. John Lewis during a ceremony at the White House in Washington on Feb. 15, 2011. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Lewis’ passing late Friday night, calling him “one of the greatest heroes of American history.” (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: July 18th, 2020

ATLANTA (AP) — John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died. He was 80.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Lewis’ passing late Friday night, calling him “one of the greatest heroes of American history.”

“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing,” Pelosi said. “May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make ‘good trouble, necessary trouble.’”

The condolences for Lewis were bipartisan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Lewis was “a pioneering civil rights leader who put his life on the line to fight racism, promote equal rights, and bring our nation into greater alignment with its founding principles. ”

Lewis’s announcement in late December 2019 that he had been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer — “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now,” he said — inspired tributes from both sides of the aisle, and an unstated accord that the likely passing of this Atlanta Democrat would represent the end of an era.

The announcement of his death came just hours after the passing of the Rev. C.T. Vivian, another civil rights leader who died early Friday at 95.

Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement. He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

John Lewis 1940-2020


In this Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007, file photo, with the Capitol Dome in the background, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lewis died Friday, July 17, 2020. (AP Photo)

At age 25 — walking at the head of the march with his hands tucked in the pockets of his tan overcoat — Lewis was knocked to the ground and beaten by police. His skull was fractured, and nationally televised images of the brutality forced the country’s attention on racial oppression in the South.

Within days, King led more marches in the state, and President Lyndon Johnson soon was pressing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. The bill became law later that year, removing barriers that had barred Blacks from voting.

“John is an American hero who helped lead a movement and risked his life for our most fundamental rights; he bears scars that attest to his indefatigable spirit and persistence,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said after Lewis announced his cancer diagnosis.

Lewis joined King and four other civil rights leaders in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He spoke to the vast crowd just before King delivered his epochal “I Have a Dream” speech.

A 23-year-old firebrand, Lewis toned down his intended remarks at the insistence of others, dropping a reference to a “scorched earth” march through the South and scaling back criticisms of President John Kennedy. It was a potent speech nonetheless, in which he vowed: “By the forces of our demands, our determination and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them together in an image of God and democracy.”

It was almost immediately, and forever, overshadowed by the words of King, the man who had inspired him to activism.

Lewis was born on Feb. 21, 1940, outside the town of Troy, in Pike County, Alabama. He grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools.

As a boy, he wanted to be a minister, and practiced his oratory on the family chickens. Denied a library card because of the color of his skin, he became an avid reader, and could cite obscure historical dates and details even in his later years. He was a teenager when he first heard King preaching on the radio. They met when Lewis was seeking support to become the first Black student at Alabama’s segregated Troy State University.

He ultimately attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary and Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He began organizing sit-in demonstrations at whites-only lunch counters and volunteering as a Freedom Rider, enduring beatings and arrests while traveling around the South to challenge segregation.

Lewis helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was named its chairman in 1963, making him one of the Big Six at a tender age. The others, in addition to King, were Whitney Young of the National Urban League; A. Philip Randolph of the Negro American Labor Council; James L. Farmer Jr., of the Congress of Racial Equality; and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP. All six met at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York to plan and announce the March on Washington.

The huge demonstration galvanized the movement, but success didn’t come quickly. After extensive training in nonviolent protest, Lewis and the Rev. Hosea Williams led demonstrators on a planned march of more than 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama’s capital, on March 7, 1965. A phalanx of police blocked their exit from the Selma bridge.

Authorities shoved, then swung their truncheons, fired tear gas and charged on horseback, sending many to the hospital and horrifying much of the nation. King returned with thousands, completing the march to Montgomery before the end of the month.

Lewis turned to politics in 1981, when he was elected to the Atlanta City Council.

He won his seat in Congress in 1986 and spent much of his career in the minority. After Democrats won control of the House in 2006, Lewis became his party’s senior deputy whip, a behind-the-scenes leadership post in which he helped keep the party unified.

In an early setback for Barack Obama’s 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Lewis endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination. Lewis switched when it became clear Obama had overwhelming Black support. Obama later honored Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and they marched hand in hand in Selma on the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday attack.

In a statement following his death, President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Lewis as a “giant” who became “the conscience of the nation.”

Lewis also worked for 15 years to gain approval for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Humble and unfailingly friendly, Lewis was revered on Capitol Hill — but as one of the most liberal members of Congress, he often lost policy battles, from his effort to stop the Iraq War to his defense of young immigrants.

He met bipartisan success in Congress in 2006 when he led efforts to renew the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court later invalidated much of the law, and it became once again what it was in his youth, a work in progress. Later, when the presidency of Donald Trump challenged his civil rights legacy, Lewis made no effort to hide his pain.

Lewis refused to attend Trump’s inauguration, saying he didn’t consider him a “legitimate president” because Russians had conspired to get him elected. When Trump later complained about immigrants from “s—hole countries,” Lewis declared, “I think he is a racist … we have to try to stand up and speak up and not try to sweep it under the rug.”

Lewis said he’d been arrested 40 times in the 1960s, five more as a congressman. At 78, he told a rally he’d do it again to help reunite immigrant families separated by the Trump administration.

“There cannot be any peace in America until these young children are returned to their parents and set all of our people free,” Lewis said in June, recalling the “good trouble” he got into protesting segregation as a young man.

“If we fail to do it, history will not be kind to us,” he shouted. “I will go to the border. I’ll get arrested again. If necessary, I’m prepared to go to jail.”

In a speech the day of the House impeachment vote of Trump, Lewis explained the importance of that vote.

“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something. Our children and their children will ask us ’what did you do? what did you say?” While the vote would be hard for some, he said: “We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”

Lewis’ wife of four decades, Lillian Miles, died in 2012. They had one son, John Miles Lewis.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight on ‘Enkopa’: New Ethiopian Movie Based on True Story of a Young Migrant

Enkopa portrays the efforts for survival against the brutal and inhumane treatment of traffickers. It's a film dealing with displacement, betrayal, false hope and strength. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Enkopa is a timely new feature film based on the true story of a young Ethiopian migrant at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers. The film delves deeper into familiar headlines of a generation of Ethiopian women and their efforts to survive the often brutal and inhumane treatment they are faced with as they travel illegally through Sudan and other neighboring countries in search of a better life abroad.

The press release added: “During the journey from Ethiopia to Canada, the main character, Enkopa, is faced with sexual abuse, the constant demand for more cash from her traffickers, as well as lack of support and huge expectation from her family back home. Despite the challenges, she does encounter friendship and love. Enkopa is a film dealing with displacement, betrayal, false hope and strength.”

Enkopa is the latest release from Habeshaview, the first international Ethiopian film distribution and online streaming company. Tigist Kebede, Habeshaview’s Operations Director, says the company “is committed to raising the profile of Ethiopian films and providing audiences around the world with quality movies that inspire.”

Watch: Enkopa (እንቆጳ) NEW! Ethiopian Movie Based On True Story – Trailer

Enkopa is currently streaming on www.habeshaview.com.

Related:

WATCH: Q&A with Cast and Crew of “Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) Live From Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

Helen Amelga, Field Representative at California State Senate and Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 11th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Helen Amelga is a Field Representative at California State Senate working for Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, whose district includes the city’s famous Little-Ethiopia neighborhood. Helen, who is also the founder of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles is part of a new generation of Ethiopian Americans actively pushing for more civic engagement in our community.

Helen says civic engagement is “critically important” noting that in the U.S. “power does lie with the people and the strength of our numbers.”

In Los Angeles — where Helen was born and raised by her Ethiopian immigrant parents — there is a sizable Ethiopian population, and the community is beginning to translate that into political power, which includes the launch of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles.

“I hope that energy is transferred and carried on into the presidential and local elections in November,” Helen told Tadias in a recent interview. “If we want to see changes in terms of policy, in terms of leadership and administration it’s essential that we register, we register our friends and families and that we show up and actually vote on election day.”

Helen attended high school in Prince George County in Maryland after briefly living in Addis, and later attended college at Bowie State University in Maryland to study political science.

“Something that was interesting to me was how people lived in different places and how that was dictated by policy and the law of that land,” she says. “So that kind of sparked my interest in government.”


The Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (EDCLA) board and Helen Amelga’s boss, State Senator Holly Mitchell (middle). Courtesy photo.

Regarding the formation of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, Helen says that their platform is to educate, empower and engage. “We want to make sure that folks are [informed] about the voting process, how the power structure is distributed, and for us to be actively engaged in shaping policies, decisions and elections that directly affect our lives here.” She adds: “Ideally, we will serve as a blue print. I would like to see the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Oakland, San Diego and Washington, D.C. because it’s the local folks that know what their needs are. It’s important for us to be active where we are. Even if it’s not the Ethiopian Democratic Club there is definitely a need for some type of a national Ethiopian civic engagement platform. A number of us have talked to people in different cities on what that would look like but definitely civic engagement is needed across the country.”

Below is the audio of our interview with Helen Amelga:

Related:

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

Michelle Obama on Why You Should Vote

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Interview: Yoseph Seyoum on How to Find Job as COVID-19 Contact Tracer in U.S. Ethiopian Community

Yoseph Seyoum, CEO of PhantomALERT, is leading a new initiative that "seeks to hire, train and deploy thousands of Ethiopian Diaspora members to do contact tracing.” (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 1st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Below is an audio of our follow up interview with Yoseph Seyoum, CEO of PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company that we had previously featured when they offered a free application service to track and map the COVID-19 outbreak in real time. Now they have repurposed their app to create a national database that will help Ethiopians in the U.S. especially those with multilingual skills to find jobs as contact tracers in the community.

According to the New York State Department of Health contact tracing is “the process of contacting all people who’ve had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Contact Tracers have been hired and trained to work with state-of-the-art software to gather information on the spread of the infection.”

The method has long been a major public health tool to prevent the resurgence of infectious diseases. Experts estimate that the U.S. will need to hire hundreds of thousands of contact tracers in the months and years ahead to help control the spread of coronavirus.

Yoseph Seyoum, who is collaborating with Ethiopian-American healthcare professional groups, the Ethiopian Embassy and other community organizations on the initiative shares that this project “is managed and executed by a team of volunteers. We are all contributing based on our expertise and none of us expect any monetary compensation. We are responding to the global call to action to fight the pandemic. We are doing it for our families, for our country, and for the world. We are all in it together. We all must work together.”

Below is an audio of our interview with Yoseph Seyoum:

If you are interested in becoming a COVID-19 Contact Tracer, you can learn more and register here: https://tracers.ethiodiasporacovid.com/

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team (UPDATE)

Yohannes Abraham, who is the first Ethiopian American to serve in a senior White House role served as Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 1st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election, has hired Yohannes Abraham, a former Obama administration official, to oversee the day-to-day operation of his newly formed post-election transition team. The group led by former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman will focus on building a governing infrastructure in the event of a Biden victory in November.

According to NBC News Yohannes, who is the first Ethiopian American to serve in a senior White House role, “as chief of staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, led by Valerie Jarrett. He also served as chief operating officer of the Obama Foundation before joining the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School.”

“Given the nature of the challenges that will await (Biden) in January, I know how important it is that he selects the very best team,” Jarrett told NBC, adding of Abraham: “I can’t think of anybody more qualified to hit the ground running.”

At the end of his White House tenure four years ago Yohannes told Tadias in an interview that he credits his Ethiopian immigrant parents for instilling in him a sense of hard work and civic duty. “First and foremost, it’s my parents who are my mentors,” Yohannes told us.

“I think an important way for my generation to honor our parents and the foundation they have created for us is to be active, engaged citizens here in America. Think about it. Our parents moved to a new country, in most cases knowing no one, having nothing, and speaking little English.” He continued: They did so in the hopes of finding a better life for their families, and by and large they did. We are the beneficiaries of their choices, and we owe it to them to make the most of the opportunities they unlocked for us. We also owe it to our communities, and America writ large, to contribute to the diverse fabric of civic life. Doing so makes the country stronger, and it makes our community’s voice stronger within it.”

Yohannes also shared more about his drive to promote civic engagement and leadership adding that “as a newer immigrant community, we owe it to those who fought for justice in the country before we ever got here — Latino farmworkers, civil rights organizers, foot soldiers in the women’s suffrage movement, and so on — to be good stewards of the duty of citizenship. If a civil rights organizer could risk their life for the right to vote, what excuse do we have to not be first in line at the polls? What excuse do we have to be unregistered or apathetic? What excuse do we have to ignore the plight of other communities that may find themselves in need of allies in the face of injustice? To my mind, none. That’s why I’ve been so happy to see a surge of civic engagement amongst younger Ethiopian Americans in the past few years. I hope it’s something that will continue.”

Yohannes, who was born in the U.S., attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Virginia and later studied Political Science at Yale, before joining the historic 2008 Obama campaign and ultimately working for the Obama administration.

Related:

Biden builds out his presidential transition operation (NBC News)

Michelle Obama on Why You Should Vote

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Michelle Obama on Why You Should Vote

This year as Ethiopian Americans we will be voting in one of the most consequential elections. In the following timely article from Harper’s Bazaar former First Lady and When We All Vote Co-Chair Michelle Obama talks to Shonda Rhimes about why voting matters - maybe now more than ever. (Harper's BAZAAR)

Harper’s BAZAAR

Michelle Obama Wants You to Remember the Impact of a Single Vote

SHONDA RHIMES: The theme of this issue of Harper’s BAZAAR is hope, and I think it’s accurate to say that 2020 has been an uncomfortable year. One that I’ve found to be scary at times, frustrating at times, painful at times, and yet hopeful at times—the peaceful marches worldwide after the wrongful death of George Floyd come to mind. It’s been an important year. When you look out at the world right now, what gives you hope for the future? And is there anything that this experience we’re all living through right now has revealed to you that makes you hopeful?

MICHELLE OBAMA: With everything that’s gone on over these past few months, I know a lot of folks out there have been confused, or scared, or angry, or just plain overwhelmed. And I’ve got to be honest, I count myself among them. I think we’ve all been there. Our foundation has been shaken—not just by a pandemic that stole more than 100,000 of our loved ones and sent tens of millions into unemployment, but also by the rumbling of the age-old fault lines of race, class, and power that our country was built on. The heartache and frustration that boiled over after the losses of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others has caused a lot of us to grapple with the very essence of who we are—the kind of people we want to be. But even in that, I find hope. I think a lot about the younger generation growing up right now, about how they’re seeing just how fragile even the best-laid plans can be. In this tumultuous period, they’ve been learning something that often took previous generations years, or decades, to understand: that life can be unfair. It can be unjust. And more than anything is always uncertain. But if you live by foundational truths—like honesty, compassion, decency—and if you channel your frustration into our democracy with your vote and your voice, you can find your true north even in times of crisis. Because of all this upheaval, this generation is learning those lessons faster than folks our age did. They’re learning it together and making their voices heard. And I couldn’t be more inspired by so much of what I’ve seen. So even while there’s a lot of pain out there, and that pain is very real, that’s something that gives me hope—the hope that this generation will not only learn these lessons earlier than ours ever did, but apply them in ways that we never could. But also let me be clear: Making progress on these issues isn’t just on the shoulders of young people. It isn’t just on people of color. It’s up to all of us, no matter what we look like or where we come from. We’ve all got to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting out racism and fighting for real justice. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. I hope we all have the strength to take that first step.

SR: Yes, that is my hope as well. The first step and every step thereafter. We’ve had so many pivotal moments in history where a huge segment of this country has had to come together to promote and protect equal rights. August 18 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women in the United States the right to vote. When you look back at the events that led up to the ratification of that amendment and the struggle to secure equal rights for women, how important is that moment? What does it have you thinking about right now?

MO: I am thinking about how the story of progress in this country is written by the people who believe what should happen actually can happen. One hundred years ago, there were plenty of naysayers who thought granting women the right to vote would lead to societal decline. And there were plenty of others who were sympathetic to the cause but dismissed it with an “Oh, well, that will never happen.” But history is made by the people who show up for the fight, even when they know they might not be fully recognized for their contributions. That’s why I think it’s so important we spend this anniversary reflecting on all those women who fought for us today, but especially women of color like Sojourner Truth and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. The suffrage movement may not have been fully welcoming to women like them, but they kept on working anyway. They weren’t thinking about themselves; they were thinking about their daughters and their granddaughters.

Voting is so much bigger than one election, one party, or one candidate. It’s great to feel inspired by candidates and the visions they put forth, but it is by no means a prerequisite to casting a ballot.

Read more »

‘Why Not a Black Woman?’ Consensus Grows Around Biden’s VP (UPDATE)


U.S. presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, listens as Carlette Brooks, owner of Carlette’s Hideaway, a soul food restaurant, talks during a meeting with small business owners, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in Yeadon, Pennsylvania. (AP)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden is facing growing calls to select a Black woman as his running mate as an acknowledgement of their critical role in the Democratic Party and a response to the nationwide protests against racism and inequality.

The shifting dynamics were clear late Thursday when Amy Klobuchar took herself out of contention for the vice presidency. The Minnesota senator, who is white, told MSNBC that “this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket.”

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has already pledged to select a woman as his vice president to energize the party’s base with the prospect of making history. But following the outrage over the police killing of George Floyd last month, many Democratic strategists say there’s growing consensus that the pick should be a Black woman.

“Like it or not, I think the question is starting to become, ‘Well, why not a Black woman?’” said Karen Finney, a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Finney, who was one of 200 Black women who signed a letter to Biden encouraging him to select a Black woman for his ticket, warned that the former vice president could face a backlash if he chose a white woman.

“That puts a lot of pressure on Biden. It puts a lot of pressure on who he selects, no question,” she said. “The country is recognizing the gravity of this moment, the significance of this moment.”

Biden’s team has been vetting potential candidates for weeks and has begun whittling down their list of choices. Several of the potential contenders are Black, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, Florida Rep. Val Demings, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Susan Rice, who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina, is also in the mix.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is white, is also leading contender. Another possibility who is white, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, said last month that she had opening conversations with Biden’s team about potentially serving as vice president. In a Thursday interview, she said, “Beyond that, there’s just not much new to report.”

Antjuan Seawright, a veteran Democratic strategist, said the current moment calls for someone who understands the challenges faced by Black Americans.

“There’s a renewed sense of urgency around the need to have someone who can speak to the experiences of today and advocate for the promises of tomorrow when it comes to populations of constituencies in this country who’ve been left out for a very long time,” he said.

Klobuchar’s decision was in part a reflection of the fact that her own chances at getting the VP nod diminished after Floyd’s killing.

She was a prosecutor years ago in the county that includes Minneapolis, and during that period, more than two dozen people — mostly people of color — died during encounters with police. Floyd’s death last month set off days of protests across the country and criticism that as the county’s top prosecutor, Klobuchar didn’t charge any of the officers involved in citizen deaths.

Officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with Floyd’s murder, was involved in a fatal October 2006 shooting of a man accused of stabbing people and aiming a shotgun at police. Klobuchar’s successor as prosecutor, Mike Freeman, sent Chauvin’s case to a grand jury, which was customary practice for the office at the time, and the grand jury in 2008 declined to prosecute. Freeman has said Klobuchar, who won election to the Senate in November 2006 and took office in January 2007, had no involvement in the Chauvin case.

But her decision this week to endorse a woman of color is certain to complicate the pitches of other white contenders.

In conversations with a half-dozen Democrats, none would rule out Warren, who’s been actively engaging with Black activists and leaders since exiting the Democratic presidential race and won plaudits from some former skeptics for her outreach. But privately, many acknowledged that her chances have dimmed following Klobuchar’s remarks.

“I think Elizabeth, if she wants the job, has got to make the case for not only why she would be the best vice president of the people he’s considering, but why she would be the best person to put on the ticket electorally,” said Heidi Heitkamp, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota who served with Warren. “If she can make that persuasive argument, you can’t rule her out.

Heitkamp said she’s long believed Biden should choose a Black woman, in part because of the current political climate, but also because Black women are some of the Democratic Party’s most loyal voters. And she suggested Klobuchar’s comments Thursday night reflected the views of many of those within the party.

“I think it was incredibly generous of her to bow out and to say what I think a lot of us are thinking, which is that the time has come to recognize the contributions and the capabilities of a lot of women who may otherwise get passed over,” she said.

The debate among Democrats about Biden’s vice presidential pick has divided among competing and sometimes contradictory views within the party about the best path to victory in November.

Those who believe Biden must take into consideration geographic concerns advocate choosing a candidate from a swing state. Those who believe Biden should focus on winning over and turning out young and liberal voters suggest he should choose a progressive. And those who believe demographics are key argue in favor of a woman of color.

Warren was long the favorite of those who felt strongest that Biden needed to win over skeptical progressives. But Seawright argued that Klobuchar’s comments helped refocus the conversation.

“I think that when Klobuchar and others use intentional commentary like she did, I think it helps push back on some of these conversations being had about geographics, the flavor within the party, progressive versus moderate, etc.,” he said. “When intentional conversations like she had last night come about, it really turns down the noise and really focuses on the lyrics of what’s important.”

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


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

The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


Related:

Obama Steps Out as America Confronts Confluence of Crises

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: ‘Bekoji 100’ Documentary

The short film produced by the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) follows a 100-mile relay across Ethiopia and shows how running can change the lives of teenage girls for the better. Bekoji has a small population, but it has produced some of Ethiopia’s greatest runners. (Running Magazine)

Running Magazine

Looking Into the Lives of Ethiopian Girls in ‘Bekoji 100’ Documentary

Running presents many people with the opportunity to improve their lives, and in a new short film titled Bekoji 100, that is put on display with a team of Ethiopian girls. The small Ethiopian town of Bekoji is described as a “running mecca that has produced 18 Olympic medals,” and the documentary follows a local all-girls training group as they run a 100-mile relay. The relay is the reason for the documentary (hence the film’s title), but it is hardly the focus. Instead, viewers are shown how running can help these young girls grow, not only into successful runners, but into independent and strong women.

View this post on Instagram

THE BEKOJI 100 FILM PREMIERE // In January 2019, GGRF organized The Bekoji 100: Ethiopia's first ultra relay for and by girls. 48 runners, 100 miles, one day. A historic relay for women's empowerment and peace. . Today we’re proud to launch the Bekoji 100 film! The film is premiering at the No Man’s Land Flagship Film Festival over March 5-8 and will continue to screen at festivals and events around the country over the next several months. Thank you to everyone who made the Bekoji 100 relay and film possible! . The Bekoji 100 short film explores the stories of Desta and Zabu, two adolescent female runners from Bekoji, Ethiopia who are supported by GGRF. As they embark on completing the first-ever 100 mile, ultra relay race across Ethiopia alongside international runners and their GGRF teammates, they share their athletic ambitions and the trials they face as young women. . Join GGRF for The Bekoji 100 film premiere and celebrations at the @nomanslandfilmfestival in Denver, Colorado from ‪March 5-8th: . ‪+ Friday, March 6th, 7:30PM: Bekoji 100 Film Premiere‬ ‪+ Saturday, March 7th, 9:45AM-11:30AM: Run, panel discussion, and celebration of International Women's Day with GGRF and @allegrocoffee‬ ‪+ Saturday, March 7th, 3:10 – 3:40PM: Presentation and Q&A with @runningonom and @kdn_ ‬ . ‪ Get more information on the GGRF events happening over the International Women's Day weekend and learn about upcoming screenings in cities near you on the GGRF Bekoji 100 Film page. Link in bio.‬

A post shared by Girls Gotta Run Foundation (@girlsgottarun) on

A running mecca

Bekoji has a small population, but it has produced some of Ethiopia’s greatest runners, like two-time Olympic gold medallist Derartu Tulu and sisters Tirunesh and Genzebe Dibaba. Tirunesh has won six Olympic medals (three gold and three bronze) and six world championships medals (five gold and one silver), and she is the 5,000m world record-holder with a time of 14:11.15. Genzebe has two world championship medals from 2015 (gold in the 1,500m and bronze in the 5,000m) and an Olympic medal from 2016 when she won silver in the 1,500m. Kenenisa Bekele was also born near Bekoji, although he isn’t mentioned in the film.

Girls Gotta Run

The film was produced by the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF), an organization which “envisions a world in which every girl is able to design a future of her choosing” and invests “in girls who use running and education to empower themselves and their communities in Ethiopia.” The GGRF team is made up of girls who want to go far in running (they idolize the likes of Tulu and the Dibaba sisters), but they also want to build lives outside of the sport.

Read more »

Related:

Why Girls Gotta Run: TADIAS Interview with Dr. Patricia E. Ortman

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Photos: Ethiopians Show Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in D.C.

Last week Ethiopian-Americans marched from the State Department to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to demand justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. (Photo by Teshalech Adot Ega)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) – In a matter of weeks the Black Lives Matter movement has gone mainstream with its own street name painted in huge yellow letters right across from the White House in Washington, D.C. As the Associated Press noted: “Now, Black Lives Matter Plaza turns up in driving directions from Google Maps.”

Last week Ethiopian-Americans marched from the State Department to the Lincoln Memorial to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to demand justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

Describing the formation of Black Lives Matter AP adds: “a coalition known as the Movement for Black Lives, formed in 2014, now includes more than 150 affiliate organizations that have organized around such causes as defunding police departments and reinvesting in struggling black communities. Its agenda focuses heavily on overhauling police training, the use of force and the punishment of rogue officers. The movement is also pressing to erase economic inequality and disparities in education and health care.”

Below are photos from Matt Andrea and related news stories:

—-
Pictures From Protests Across America (UPDATE)


Demonstrators chant Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo)


Protesters chant, “Say his name, George Floyd,” near a memorial for Floyd on June 2 in Minneapolis. (The Washington Post)


Protesters gather near a memorial for George Floyd at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue on June 2 in Minneapolis. (The Washington Post)


In this photo taken with a wide angle lens, demonstrators stand in front of Los Angeles City Hall during a protest over the death of George Floyd Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Los Angeles. Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)


A protester and a police officer shake hands in the middle of a standoff during a solidarity rally calling for justice over the death of George Floyd Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in New York. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo)


Abby Belai, 26, of Falls Church attended the protest at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020. Abby, whose parents moved to the United States from Ethiopia before she was born, said she felt compelled to be at the protest to show support for the generations of black Americans who had suffered and battled for their constitutional rights. “I worry for the children that see this stuff on TV and see their parents get racially profiled,” said Belai, 26, of Falls Church. “This shouldn’t continue for future generations, and we won’t stop until we are heard and seen and understood and accepted just like every person in this country and in the world.” (TWP)


Demonstrators hold up signs Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles during a protest over the death of George Floyd. Floyd died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)


Demonstrators pause to kneel as they march to protest the death of George Floyd, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)


Protesters from Brooklyn attempt to cross the Manhattan Bridge after the 8 p.m. curfew imposed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) but were blocked by police on June 2. (The Washington Post)


Ericka Ward-Audena, of Washington, puts her hand on her daughter Elle Ward-Audena, 7, as they take a knee in front of a police line during a protest of President Donald Trump’s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. “I wanted my daughter to see the protests, it’s really important. I’ve gotten a million questions from her because of it,” says Ward-Audena, “I think the most egregious statement was ‘when they start looting, we start shooting.’ That crossed a line for me.” Protests continue over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)


How the Black Lives Matter Movement Went Mainstream


A father shows his son the writing on the walls around the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House on Sunday. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

The three words were once a controversial rallying cry against racial profiling and police violence. Now, “Black lives matter” is painted in bright yellow letters on the road to the White House. Celebrities and chief executives are embracing it. Even Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican former presidential candidate, posted the phrase on Twitter.

As consensus grows about the existence of systemic racism in American policing and other facets of American life, longtime organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement are trying to extend its momentum beyond the popularization of a phrase. Activists sense a once-in-a-generation opportunity to demand policy changes that once seemed far-fetched, including sharp cuts to police budgets in favor of social programs, and greater accountability for officers who kill residents.

“It’s now something where the Mitt Romneys of the world can join in, and that was something unimaginable back in 2014. That is the result of six years of hard work by people who are in the movement and have put forward so many discussions that really changed people’s hearts and minds,” said Justin Hansford, who was an activist in Ferguson, Mo., during the unrest after the police killing of an unarmed black teen there. He is now the executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University.

But activists’ demands to “defund” police departments have already become a point of division politically, with some prominent people who have expressed support for the movement — such as Romney (Utah) — saying they do not support what they see as an extreme policy position. President Trump has already suggested that his presumed Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, would be forced to cut funding to police under pressure from the left, even though Biden has also said he does not support defunding the police.

Where the conversation lands will be a test of just how mainstream Black Lives Matter has become.

Read more »

Calls For Police Reforms Gain Momentum as Protests Continue Across U.S.


Two young brothers from Frederick, Maryland, stand on the Black Lives Matter banner that is draped on the fence surrounding Lafayette Park, for a photograph as they attend a protest Sunday, June 7, 2020, near the White House in Washington over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

June 8th, 2020

Police Back Off as Peaceful Protests Push Deep Reforms

Calls for deep police reforms gained momentum as leaders in the city where George Floyd died at the hands of an officer pushed to dismantle the entire department.

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests demanding a reckoning with institutional racism that have sometimes resulted in clashes with police, but many officers took a less aggressive stance over the weekend when demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful.

Two weeks after Floyd, an out-of-work black bouncer, died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle the 800-member agency.

“It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” City Council President Lisa Bender said Sunday. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”

It’s not the first time an American city has wrestled with how to deal with a police department accused of being overly aggressive or having bias in its ranks. In Ferguson, Missouri — where a white officer in 2014 fatally shot Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old — then-Attorney General Eric Holder said federal authorities considered dismantling the police department. The city eventually reached an agreement short of that but one that required massive reforms.

The state of Minnesota has launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, and the first concrete changes came when the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints.

On Sunday, nine of the Minneapolis City Council’s 12 members vowed to end policing as the city currently knows it. Mayor Jacob Frey said he doesn’t support the “full abolition” of the department.

Protesters nationwide are demanding police reforms and a reckoning with institutional racism in response to Floyd’s death, and calls to “defund the police” have become rallying cries for many. A heavy-handed response to demonstrations in many places has underscored what critics have maintained: Law enforcement is militarized and too often uses excessive force.

Cities imposed curfews as several protests last week were marred by spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. More than 10,000 people have been arrested around the country since protests began, according to reports tracked by The Associated Press. Videos have surfaced of officers in riot gear using tear gas or physical force against even peaceful demonstrators.

But U.S. protests in recent days have been overwhelmingly peaceful — and over the weekend, several police departments appeared to retreat from aggressive tactics.

Several cities have also lifted curfews, including Chicago and New York City, where the governor urged protesters to get tested for the virus and to proceed with caution until they had. Leaders around the country have expressed concern that demonstrations could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases.

For the first time since protests began in New York more than a week ago, most officers Sunday were not wearing riot helmets as they watched over rallies. Police moved the barricades at the Trump hotel at Columbus Circle for protesters so they could pass through.

Officers in some places in the city casually smoked cigars or ate ice cream and pizza. Some officers shook hands and posed for photos with motorcyclists at one rally.

In Compton, California, several thousand protesters, some on horseback, peacefully demonstrated through the city, just south of Los Angeles. The only law enforcement presence was about a dozen sheriff’s deputies, who watched without engaging.

In Washington, D.C., National Guard troops from South Carolina were seen checking out of their hotel Sunday shortly before President Donald Trump tweeted he was giving the order to withdraw them from the nation’s capital.

Things weren’t as peaceful in Seattle, where the mayor and police chief had said they were trying to deescalate tensions. Police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters after rocks, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers Saturday night. On Sunday night, a man drove a car at protesters, hit a barricade then exited the vehicle brandishing a pistol, authorities said. A 27-year-old male was shot and taken to a hospital in stable condition, the Seattle Fire Department said.

Dual crises — the coronavirus pandemic and the protests — have weighed particularly heavily on the black community, which has been disproportionately affected by the virus, and also exposed deep political fissures in the U.S. during this presidential election year.

Trump’s leadership during both has been called into question by Democrats and a few Republicans who viewed his response to COVID-19 as too little, too late, and his reaction to protests as heavy handed and insensitive.

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah marched in a protest in Washington against police mistreatment of minorities, making him the first known Republican senator to do so.

“We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality,” Romney, who represents Utah, told NBC News.

On Sunday, Floyd’s body arrived in Texas for a third and final memorial service, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. A viewing is planned for Monday in Houston, followed by a service and burial Tuesday in suburban Pearland.

___

Black Lives Matter Protests for U.S. Racial Justice Reach New Dimension

Protesters at the newly named Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. near the White House on June 6, 2020. (Reuters)

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. protests sparked by George Floyd’s fatal encounter last month with Minneapolis police crossed a new threshold as weekend rallies demanding racial justice stretched from Washington, D.C., to an east Texas town once a haven for the Ku Klux Klan.

They also inspired anti-racism protests around the globe, as demonstrators from Brisbane and Sydney in Australia to London, Paris and other European cities embraced the Black Lives Matter message.

In Washington, tens of thousands of people chanting “I can’t breathe” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” rallied at the Lincoln Memorial and marched to the White House on Saturday in the biggest protest yet during 12 days of demonstrations across the United States since Floyd died.

A common message of the day was a determination to transform outrage generated by Floyd’s death into a broader movement seeking far-reaching reforms in the U.S. criminal justice system and its treatment of minorities.

“It feels like I get to be a part of history and a part of people who are trying to change the world for everyone,” said Jamilah Muahyman, a Washington resident protesting near the White House.

The gatherings in Washington and dozens of other U.S. cities and towns – urban and rural alike – were also notable for a generally lower level of tension and discord than what was seen during much of the preceding week.

There were sporadic instances in some cities of protesters trying to block traffic. And police in riot gear used flash-bang grenades in a confrontation with demonstrators in Seattle.

But largely it was the most peaceful day of protests since video footage emerged on May 25 showing Floyd, an unarmed black man in handcuffs, lying face down on a Minneapolis street as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

The video sparked an outpouring of rage as protests in Minneapolis spread to other cities, punctuated by episodes of arson, looting and vandalism that authorities and activists blamed largely on outside agitators and criminals.

National Guard troops were activated in several states, and police resorted to heavy-handed tactics in some cities as they sought to enforce curfews imposed to quell civil disturbances, which in turn galvanized demonstrators even further.

The intensity of protests over the past week began to ebb on Wednesday after prosecutors in Minneapolis had arrested all four police officers implicated in Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin, the white officer seen pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly groaned “I can’t breathe” was charged with second-degree murder.

On Sunday morning, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was lifting a citywide curfew a day early.

Still, anger in Minneapolis remained intense. The city’s mayor ran a gauntlet of angry, jeering protesters on Saturday after telling them he was opposed to their demands for de-funding the city police department.

Perhaps nowhere was the evolving, multi-racial dimension of the protests more evident than in the small, east Texas town of Vidor, one of hundreds of American communities known decades ago as “sundown towns” because blacks were unwelcome there after dark.

Several dozen white and black protesters carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs demonstrated on Saturday in Vidor, once notorious as a Ku Klux Klan stronghold, highlighting the scope of renewed calls for racial equality echoing across the country five months before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

Elsewhere in the South, in Floyd’s birthplace of Raeford, North Carolina, hundreds lined up at a church to pay their respects during a public viewing of his body prior to a private memorial service for family members.

Floyd’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Houston, where he lived before relocating to the Minneapolis area.

In New York, a large crowd of protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan on Saturday afternoon, marching up a largely deserted Broadway. Thousands of others gathered in Harlem to march downtown, about 100 blocks, to the city’s Washington Square Park.

Police officers were present but in smaller numbers than earlier in the week. They generally assumed a less aggressive posture, wearing patrol uniforms rather than body armor and helmets.

In another sign of easing tension, Major General William Walker, commander of the D.C. National Guard, told CNN that the nearly 4,000 additional Guard troops deployed to the city from 11 states at the Pentagon’s request were likely to be withdrawn after the weekend.

George Floyd live updates: Protests grow, even spreading to notorious Texas town with racist history

As George Floyd was mourned near his birthplace in North Carolina on Saturday, crowds filled the streets in American cities large and small with protests against police brutality and systemic racism that continued to grow.

In California, demonstrators brought traffic to a halt on the Golden Gate Bridge. In Philadelphia, thousands massed in the streets as the mayor and the police commissioner knelt in a show of solidarity. A rally in Chicago drew an estimated 30,000 people. In Washington, D.C., some protesters furiously spray-painted “Defund The Police” in giant yellow letters a block from the city’s “Black Lives Matter” display..

The demonstrations, which researchers call the broadest in U.S. history, even spread to Vidor, Tex., a notorious “sundown town” with a racist history, including Ku Klux Klan activity.

Read more »


Protesters Flood U.S. Streets in Huge, Peaceful Push for Change (UPDATE)


Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Tens of thousands of protesters streamed into the nation’s capital and other major cities Saturday in another huge mobilization against police brutality and racial injustice, while George Floyd was remembered in his North Carolina hometown by mourners who waited hours for a glimpse of his golden coffin.

Wearing masks and calling for police reform, protesters peacefully marched across the U.S. and on four other continents, collectively producing perhaps the largest one-day mobilization since Floyd’s death 12 days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

The dozens of demonstrations capped a week of nearly constant protests that swelled beyond anything the nation has seen in at least a generation. After frequent episodes of violence following the black man’s death, the crowds in the U.S. shifted to a calmer tenor in recent days and authorities in many cities began lifting curfews because they experienced little unrest and no arrests.

On Saturday, authorities in some places seemed to take a lower profile and protests had a festive feel.

On a hot, humid day in Washington, throngs of protesters gathered at the Capitol, on the National Mall and in neighborhoods. Some turned intersections into dance floors. Tents offered snacks and water, tables with merchandise and even a snow cone station.

Read more »


The Associated Press

Protesters Support Floyd, Black Lives Matter on 3 Continents

BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of people rallied in Australia and Europe to honor George Floyd and to voice support Saturday for what is becoming an international Black Lives Matter movement, as a worldwide wave of solidarity with protests over the death of a black man in Minneapolis highlights racial discrimination outside the United States.

Demonstrators in Paris tried to gather in front of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, defying restrictions imposed by authorities because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were met by riot police who turned people on their way to the embassy, which French security forces sealed off behind an imposing ring of metal barriers and road blocks.

“You can fine me 10,000 or 20,000 times, the revolt will happen anyway,” Egountchi Behanzin, a founder of the Black African Defense League, told officers who stopped him to check his ID documents before he got close to the diplomatic building. “It is because of you that we are here.”

Pamela Carper, who joined an afternoon protest at London’s Parliament Square that headed towards the U.K. Home Office, which oversees the country’s police, said she was demonstrating to show “solidarity for the people of America who have suffered for too long.”

The British government urged people not to gather in large numbers and police have warned that mass demonstrations could be unlawful. In England, for example, gatherings of more than six people are not permitted.

Carper said the coronavirus had “no relevance” to her attendance and noted that she had a mask on.


A woman kneels during a Black Lives Matter rally in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. Floyd, a black man, died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police while in custody on May 25 in Minnesota. (AP)

“I am showing the government that I am heeding to their rules and everybody is staying away,” Carper said. “But I need to be here because the government is the problem. The government needs to change.”

In Sydney, protesters won a last-minute appeal against a Friday ruling declaring their rally unauthorized. The New South Wales Court of Appeal gave the green light just 12 minutes before the rally was scheduled to start, meaning those taking part could not be arrested.

Up to 1,000 protesters had already gathered in the Town Hall area of downtown Sydney ahead of the decision.

Floyd, a black man, died in handcuffs on May 25 while a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck even after he pleaded for air and stopped moving.

His death has struck a chord with minorities protesting discrimination elsewhere, including deaths of indigenous Australians in custody.

In Sydney, there was one early scuffle when police removed a man who appeared to be a counter protester carrying a sign reading, “White Lives, Black Lives, All Lives Matter.”

The rally appeared orderly as police handed out masks to protesters and other officials provided hand sanitizer.

“If we don’t die from the (coronavirus) pandemic, then we will die from police brutality,” Sadique, who has a West African background and said he goes by only one name, said in Sydney.

Bob Jones, 75, said it was worth the risk to rally for change despite the state’s chief health officer saying the event could help spread the coronavirus.

“If a society is not worth preserving, then what are you doing? You’re perpetuating a nonsense,” Jones said.

In Brisbane, the Queensland state capital, organizers said about 30,000 people gathered, forcing police to shut down some major downtown streets. The protesters demanded to have Australia’s Indigenous flag raised at the police station.

State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch encouraged Queenslanders to speak out.

“Whether you’re talking about the U.S. or right here in Australia, black lives matter,” she said. “Black lives matter today. Black lives matter every day.”

Indigenous Australians make up 2% of the the country’s adult population, but 27% of the prison population. They are also the most disadvantaged ethnic minority in Australia and have higher-than-average rates of infant mortality and poor health, as well as shorter life expectancies and lower levels of education and employment than other Australians.

In South Korea’s capital, Seoul, protesters gathered for a second straight day to denounce Floyd’s death.

Wearing masks and black shirts, dozens of demonstrators marched through a commercial district amid a police escort, carrying signs such as “George Floyd Rest in Peace” and “Koreans for Black Lives Matter.”

“I urge the U.S. government to stop the violent suppression of (U.S.) protesters and listen to their voices,” said Jihoon Shim, one of the rally’s organizers. “I also want to urge the South Korean government to show its support for their fight (against racism).”

In Tokyo, dozens of people gathered in a peaceful protest.

“Even if we are far apart, we learn of everything instantly on social media,”

“Can we really dismiss it all as irrelevant?” Taichi Hirano, one of the organizers, shouted to the crowd gathered outside Tokyo’s Shibuya train station. He stressed that Japanese are joining others raising their voices against what he called “systematic discrimination.”

In Berlin, thousands of mostly young people, many dressed in black and wearing face masks, joined a Black Lives Matter protest in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, or Alexander Square, on Saturday.

Some held up placards with slogans such as “Be the change,” I can’t breath” and “Germany is not innocent.”

Turning grief into change, movement targets racial injustice

The Associated Press

Momentum for what many hope is a sustained movement aimed at tackling racial injustice and police reforms promised to grow Saturday as more protesters filled streets around the world and mourners prepared to gather in the U.S. for a second memorial service for George Floyd, who died a dozen days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Formal and impromptu memorials to Floyd over the last several days have stretched from Minneapolis to Paris, Rome and Johannesburg, South Africa. In North Carolina, where he was born, a public viewing and private service for family was planned Saturday. Services were scheduled to culminate in a private burial in the coming days in Texas, where he lived most of his life.

Floyd’s final journey was designed with intention, the Rev. Al Sharpton said. Having left Houston for Minneapolis in 2014 in search of a job and a new life, Floyd is retracing that path in death.

Sharpton has plans for a commemorative march on Washington in August on the anniversary of the day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. He said the event would be a way to engage voters ahead of November’s general election and maintain momentum for a movement that has the power to “change the whole system of justice.”

Read more »

D.C. Mayor Renames Street Outside White House ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ (UPDATE)


Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks after announcing that she is renaming a section of 16th street ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ in Washington DC on Friday. (Photograph: EPA)

The Washington Post

‘Black Lives Matter’: In giant yellow letters, D.C. mayor sends message to Trump

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed a street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” on Friday and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

The actions are meant to honor demonstrators who are urging changes in police practices after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, city officials said.

They come after several days of the mayor’s strong objections to the escalation of federal law enforcement and the military response to days of protests and unrest in the nation’s capital.

Local artist Rose Jaffe said she and others joined city work crews to paint the giant slogan, starting around 4 a.m.

The art will take up two blocks on 16th Street NW, between K and H streets, an iconic promenade directly north of the White House.

Shortly after 11 a.m., a city worker hung up a “Black Lives Matter Plz NW” sign at the corner of 16th and H streets NW. Bowser (D) watched silently as onlookers cheered and the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day played from speakers.

“In America, you can peacefully assemble,” Bowser said in brief remarks to the crowd.

Read more »

Protests shift to memorializing Floyd amid push for change


Celebrities, musicians, political leaders and family members gathered in front of the golden casket of George Floyd at a fiery memorial Thursday for the man whose death at the hands of police sparked global protests. (AP video)

The Associated Press

The tenor of the protests set off by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police has taken a turn from the explosive anger that has fueled the setting of fires, breaking of windows and other violence to a quiet, yet more forceful, grassroots call for more to be done to address racial injustice.

Many of the protests were more subdued for a second night as marches Thursday turned into memorials for Floyd, who was the focus of a heartfelt tribute Thursday in Minneapolis that drew family members, celebrities, politicians and civil rights advocates. At his service, strong calls were made for meaningful changes in policing and the criminal justice system.

At demonstration sites around the country, protesters said the quieter mood is the result of several factors: the new and upgraded criminal charges against the police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest; a more conciliatory approach by police who have marched with them or taken a knee to recognize their message; and the realization that the burst of rage after Floyd’s death is not sustainable.

“Personally, I think you can’t riot everyday for almost a week,” said Costa Smith, 26, who was protesting in downtown Atlanta.


The body of George Floyd departs from Frank J. Lindquist Sanctuary at North Central University after a memorial service Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (AP photo)

Despite the shift in tone, protesters have shown no sign that they are going away and, if anything, are emboldened to stay on the streets to push for police reforms.

In New York City, Miguel Fernandes said there were “a lot more nights to go” of marching because protesters hadn’t got what they wanted. And Floyd’s brother, Terrence, appeared in Brooklyn to carry on the fight for change, declaring “power to the people, all of us.”

At the first in a series of memorials for Floyd, The Rev. Al Sharpton urged those gathered Thursday “to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’” Those at the Minneapolis tribute stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the amount of time Floyd was alleged to be on the ground under the control of police.

Floyd’s golden casket was covered in red roses, and an image was projected above the pulpit of a mural of Floyd painted at the street corner where he was arrested by police on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. The message on the mural: “I can breathe now.”

Sharpton vowed that this will become a movement to “change the whole system of justice.”

As the protests have taken root over the past week, they have become communities unto themselves.

In New York, where residents have been stuck at home for nearly three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, residents who can’t go to a restaurant are happy to be able to go a protest. People bring their dogs and share snacks and water bottles. They have been heartened by police who have joined them.

“It’s great to be alive, it’s history right now,” said protester Kenyata Taylor.

Read more »


George W. Bush calls out racial injustices and celebrates protesters who ‘march for a better future’


Describing himself as “anguished” by the death of George Floyd, who died more than a week ago after being suffocated under the knee of a white police officer, Bush urged white Americans to seek ways to support, listen and understand black Americans who still face “disturbing bigotry and exploitation.” (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Former president George W. Bush addressed the nationwide protests in a solemn, yet hopeful statement Tuesday, commending the Americans demonstrating against racial injustice and criticizing those who try to silence them.

Bush closed his statement, which came a day after peaceful protesters were cleared by force to make way for President Trump to come outside, by pointing to a “better way.”

“There is a better way — the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice,” Bush said in the statement. “I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.”

Describing himself as “anguished” by the death of George Floyd, who died more than a week ago after being suffocated under the knee of a white police officer, Bush urged white Americans to seek ways to support, listen and understand black Americans who still face “disturbing bigotry and exploitation.”

The nation’s 43rd president’s statement does not mention Trump, but his call for compassion and unity presents a stark contrast to the current president’s more inflammatory rhetoric.

“The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving,” Bush said. “Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place.”

“We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised,” he added.

Bush also seemed to offer a veiled criticism of the agressive stance taken by some police against protesters, saying it’s a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future.”

Read more »

Biden will attend George Floyd’s funeral, family attorney says


U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden bows his head in prayer during a visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del., on June 1st. Biden is delivering a speech in Philadelphia, addressing “the civil unrest facing communities across America.” (AP photo)

An attorney for Floyd’s family told “PBS News Hour” on Tuesday that former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is expected to attend Floyd’s funeral in Houston next week.

The family will also hold memorial services this week in Minnesota and North Carolina. A public viewing and formal funeral will follow in Houston.

“And we understand vice president Biden will be in attendance,” Ben Crump, the family’s attorney, said.

Read more »

Watch: Biden blasts Trump’s ‘narcissism’ Addressing the ‘Unrest Across America


Related:

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change: By Barack Obama

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger Over Police Killings Shatters US

Obama On George Floyd’s Death And The ‘Maddening’ Normalcy Of Racism

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ruth Negga: Six Things to Know About the Actress

Ruth Negga may have only recently started to become more well-known in North America, but she’s been putting her stamp on the show business world for over a decade. The Ethiopian-Irish actress has worked on the London stage, been in some of the most well-known UK series and played a legendary British singer. She’s far from an overnight sensation. (Cinema Blend)

Cinema Blend

The name Ruth Negga might be unknown to many, but you probably recognize her face from a wide range of film and television projects. On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she played one of the series’ most intriguing and memorable secondary characters, the Inhuman known as Raina. Negga also had a lead role for four seasons on the AMC series Preacher. She played the no nonsense Tulip opposite Joseph Gilgun and Dominic Cooper. The actress earned her first Oscar nomination for her role as Mildred Loving in Loving. In 2019, Negga reunited with Brad Pitt in the critically acclaimed Ad Astra.

Ruth Negga may have only recently started to become more well-known in North America, but she’s been putting her stamp on the show business world for over a decade. The Ethiopian-Irish actress has worked on the London stage, been in some of the most well-known UK series and played a legendary British singer. She’s far from an overnight sensation.

If you’re like me, you have probably seen Ruth Negga in one project or another, and have been enthralled with her talent and the characters that she brings to life. You’ve also probably been intrigued to learn more about this fascinating actress, so let’s dive in.


Ruth Negga in Ad Astra (Latin for “To the Stars”) is a 2019 American science fiction drama film.


Ruth Negga in Preacher

Ruth Negga Played Two Different Lead Roles In Hamlet

Ruth Negga made history by becoming the first black Ophelia at the National Theatre in London. She played her from 2010 to 2011. Negga then took on an equally complex role as the title character in Hamlet. She first played him on the Dublin stage at the Gate Theatre in 2018. In 2020, she reprised this role along with the original Dublin cast in New York. Negga was supposed to play Hamlet starting February 1, 2020 for five weeks at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse. In her New York Times interview, she had this to say about playing Hamlet:

If you ask anyone who’s played Hamlet, it’s completely destroying. It cracks you open, and you feel like you’re this mass of nerves and open skin.

Ruth Negga isn’t the first woman to play Hamlet. As the New York Times states, female Hamlets have dated back to as far as 1741. Negga has been highly praised for her embodiment of this complex, haunted and ultimately doomed prince.

Read more »

Related:

Spotlight: Ruth Negga as ‘Hamlet’ American Premiere

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Ethiopian Entrepreneur Who Wants to Disrupt The Paper Industry

Bethelhem Dejene Abebe. (Maritz Africa)

How We Made It In Africa

During the first year of her studies at Addis Ababa University, Bethelhem Dejene Abebe visited the Atkilt Tera market, the biggest fruit and vegetable market in Ethiopia, with her mother. The conditions at the market shocked her enough to decide that waste management was what she wanted to commit her life to.

“It was surprisingly dirty, it smelled really bad. It really was not healthy,” she says. “It was at that moment that I decided that I should do something to try and make a difference.”

Bethelhem is co-founder and CEO of Zafree Papers, a company that is introducing a 100% tree-free paper pulp made from agricultural waste. Instead of using wood to create paper pulp, Zafree Papers’ process utilises wheat and barley straw, preventing smallholder farmers from burning this waste material that leads to air pollution. The company’s processing facility is currently being constructed in Debre Berhan (Read more: City on the move: Debre Berhan, Ethiopia), about 120km north-east of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

In her own words, the road to where Zafree is today has not been easy. It has been tough. “I think I have lost count of how many times I have failed,” she says.

From concept to business plan

Since the visit to the market there have been a few attempts that did not reach the goals Bethelhem had in mind. “However, I believe that when one door closes, another opens. One failure leads to another success,” she says.

First, she only recycled the paper waste from her own household. Then she embarked on research on how to scale that recycling business to something more commercial. She eventually decided to move away from recycling, to producing wood-free paper pulp that could be provided to paper manufacturers, utilising agricultural waste without sacrificing the quality of the eventual end product.

Then came the knocking on doors. “I have knocked on all the doors,” she laughs. “We have more than 20 private banks in Ethiopia and I have been to all of them, knowing nothing, simply asking loans without having any collateral.”

She eventually got project finance from the Development Bank of Ethiopia and procured land in Debre Berhan’s industrial park. All that was required from her, was 25% equity. “I didn’t even know what an investor was at that stage,” she says.

Friends then recommended that Bethelhem enrol for an entrepreneurship training workshop offered by the Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Ethiopia. “This was a turning point for me. I learnt about entrepreneurship, I learnt the dos and don’ts and I met a lot of people that showed me the way to start my business and raise funds,” she says.

Soon thereafter, in 2018, Zafree Papers was selected as part of BlueMoon, an incubation programme for startups in Ethiopia. BlueMoon provided seed money and Zafree Papers was on its way.

And in 2019, Bethelhem was chosen for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, landing $5,000 along with nine months of training and mentorship. She also received the Seedstars DOEN Land Restoration Prize of $10,000 in that same year.

Finding innovative funding solutions

The seed money from BlueMoon, the grants, personal finances as well as support from family and friends provided enough capital to get construction started on the processing plant.

“This money is covering our pre-operational activity and construction costs,” Bethelhem says. “It is a bit challenging when you are a startup as investors, especially local investors, want a majority share, which we did not want at this stage.”

Zafree Papers does have an international investor lined up for the machinery it requires, but as the final terms of the agreement are still being put in place, Bethelhem did not want to divulge too much…

“We have customer commitments in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania,” says Bethelhem.

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Photos: Ethiopians Show Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in D.C.

Last week Ethiopian-Americans marched from the State Department to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to demand justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. (Photo by Teshalech Adot Ega)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) – In a matter of weeks the Black Lives Matter movement has gone mainstream with its own street name painted in huge yellow letters right across from the White House in Washington, D.C. As the Associated Press noted: “Now, Black Lives Matter Plaza turns up in driving directions from Google Maps.”

Last week Ethiopian-Americans marched from the State Department to the Lincoln Memorial to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to demand justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

Describing the formation of Black Lives Matter AP adds: “a coalition known as the Movement for Black Lives, formed in 2014, now includes more than 150 affiliate organizations that have organized around such causes as defunding police departments and reinvesting in struggling black communities. Its agenda focuses heavily on overhauling police training, the use of force and the punishment of rogue officers. The movement is also pressing to erase economic inequality and disparities in education and health care.”

Below are photos from Matt Andrea and related news stories:

—-
Pictures From Protests Across America (UPDATE)


Demonstrators chant Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo)


Protesters chant, “Say his name, George Floyd,” near a memorial for Floyd on June 2 in Minneapolis. (The Washington Post)


Protesters gather near a memorial for George Floyd at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue on June 2 in Minneapolis. (The Washington Post)


In this photo taken with a wide angle lens, demonstrators stand in front of Los Angeles City Hall during a protest over the death of George Floyd Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Los Angeles. Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)


A protester and a police officer shake hands in the middle of a standoff during a solidarity rally calling for justice over the death of George Floyd Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in New York. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo)


Abby Belai, 26, of Falls Church attended the protest at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020. Abby, whose parents moved to the United States from Ethiopia before she was born, said she felt compelled to be at the protest to show support for the generations of black Americans who had suffered and battled for their constitutional rights. “I worry for the children that see this stuff on TV and see their parents get racially profiled,” said Belai, 26, of Falls Church. “This shouldn’t continue for future generations, and we won’t stop until we are heard and seen and understood and accepted just like every person in this country and in the world.” (TWP)


Demonstrators hold up signs Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles during a protest over the death of George Floyd. Floyd died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)


Demonstrators pause to kneel as they march to protest the death of George Floyd, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)


Protesters from Brooklyn attempt to cross the Manhattan Bridge after the 8 p.m. curfew imposed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) but were blocked by police on June 2. (The Washington Post)


Ericka Ward-Audena, of Washington, puts her hand on her daughter Elle Ward-Audena, 7, as they take a knee in front of a police line during a protest of President Donald Trump’s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. “I wanted my daughter to see the protests, it’s really important. I’ve gotten a million questions from her because of it,” says Ward-Audena, “I think the most egregious statement was ‘when they start looting, we start shooting.’ That crossed a line for me.” Protests continue over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)


How the Black Lives Matter Movement Went Mainstream


A father shows his son the writing on the walls around the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House on Sunday. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

The three words were once a controversial rallying cry against racial profiling and police violence. Now, “Black lives matter” is painted in bright yellow letters on the road to the White House. Celebrities and chief executives are embracing it. Even Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican former presidential candidate, posted the phrase on Twitter.

As consensus grows about the existence of systemic racism in American policing and other facets of American life, longtime organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement are trying to extend its momentum beyond the popularization of a phrase. Activists sense a once-in-a-generation opportunity to demand policy changes that once seemed far-fetched, including sharp cuts to police budgets in favor of social programs, and greater accountability for officers who kill residents.

“It’s now something where the Mitt Romneys of the world can join in, and that was something unimaginable back in 2014. That is the result of six years of hard work by people who are in the movement and have put forward so many discussions that really changed people’s hearts and minds,” said Justin Hansford, who was an activist in Ferguson, Mo., during the unrest after the police killing of an unarmed black teen there. He is now the executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University.

But activists’ demands to “defund” police departments have already become a point of division politically, with some prominent people who have expressed support for the movement — such as Romney (Utah) — saying they do not support what they see as an extreme policy position. President Trump has already suggested that his presumed Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, would be forced to cut funding to police under pressure from the left, even though Biden has also said he does not support defunding the police.

Where the conversation lands will be a test of just how mainstream Black Lives Matter has become.

Read more »

Calls For Police Reforms Gain Momentum as Protests Continue Across U.S.


Two young brothers from Frederick, Maryland, stand on the Black Lives Matter banner that is draped on the fence surrounding Lafayette Park, for a photograph as they attend a protest Sunday, June 7, 2020, near the White House in Washington over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

June 8th, 2020

Police Back Off as Peaceful Protests Push Deep Reforms

Calls for deep police reforms gained momentum as leaders in the city where George Floyd died at the hands of an officer pushed to dismantle the entire department.

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests demanding a reckoning with institutional racism that have sometimes resulted in clashes with police, but many officers took a less aggressive stance over the weekend when demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful.

Two weeks after Floyd, an out-of-work black bouncer, died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle the 800-member agency.

“It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” City Council President Lisa Bender said Sunday. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”

It’s not the first time an American city has wrestled with how to deal with a police department accused of being overly aggressive or having bias in its ranks. In Ferguson, Missouri — where a white officer in 2014 fatally shot Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old — then-Attorney General Eric Holder said federal authorities considered dismantling the police department. The city eventually reached an agreement short of that but one that required massive reforms.

The state of Minnesota has launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, and the first concrete changes came when the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints.

On Sunday, nine of the Minneapolis City Council’s 12 members vowed to end policing as the city currently knows it. Mayor Jacob Frey said he doesn’t support the “full abolition” of the department.

Protesters nationwide are demanding police reforms and a reckoning with institutional racism in response to Floyd’s death, and calls to “defund the police” have become rallying cries for many. A heavy-handed response to demonstrations in many places has underscored what critics have maintained: Law enforcement is militarized and too often uses excessive force.

Cities imposed curfews as several protests last week were marred by spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. More than 10,000 people have been arrested around the country since protests began, according to reports tracked by The Associated Press. Videos have surfaced of officers in riot gear using tear gas or physical force against even peaceful demonstrators.

But U.S. protests in recent days have been overwhelmingly peaceful — and over the weekend, several police departments appeared to retreat from aggressive tactics.

Several cities have also lifted curfews, including Chicago and New York City, where the governor urged protesters to get tested for the virus and to proceed with caution until they had. Leaders around the country have expressed concern that demonstrations could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases.

For the first time since protests began in New York more than a week ago, most officers Sunday were not wearing riot helmets as they watched over rallies. Police moved the barricades at the Trump hotel at Columbus Circle for protesters so they could pass through.

Officers in some places in the city casually smoked cigars or ate ice cream and pizza. Some officers shook hands and posed for photos with motorcyclists at one rally.

In Compton, California, several thousand protesters, some on horseback, peacefully demonstrated through the city, just south of Los Angeles. The only law enforcement presence was about a dozen sheriff’s deputies, who watched without engaging.

In Washington, D.C., National Guard troops from South Carolina were seen checking out of their hotel Sunday shortly before President Donald Trump tweeted he was giving the order to withdraw them from the nation’s capital.

Things weren’t as peaceful in Seattle, where the mayor and police chief had said they were trying to deescalate tensions. Police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters after rocks, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers Saturday night. On Sunday night, a man drove a car at protesters, hit a barricade then exited the vehicle brandishing a pistol, authorities said. A 27-year-old male was shot and taken to a hospital in stable condition, the Seattle Fire Department said.

Dual crises — the coronavirus pandemic and the protests — have weighed particularly heavily on the black community, which has been disproportionately affected by the virus, and also exposed deep political fissures in the U.S. during this presidential election year.

Trump’s leadership during both has been called into question by Democrats and a few Republicans who viewed his response to COVID-19 as too little, too late, and his reaction to protests as heavy handed and insensitive.

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah marched in a protest in Washington against police mistreatment of minorities, making him the first known Republican senator to do so.

“We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality,” Romney, who represents Utah, told NBC News.

On Sunday, Floyd’s body arrived in Texas for a third and final memorial service, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. A viewing is planned for Monday in Houston, followed by a service and burial Tuesday in suburban Pearland.

___

Black Lives Matter Protests for U.S. Racial Justice Reach New Dimension

Protesters at the newly named Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. near the White House on June 6, 2020. (Reuters)

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. protests sparked by George Floyd’s fatal encounter last month with Minneapolis police crossed a new threshold as weekend rallies demanding racial justice stretched from Washington, D.C., to an east Texas town once a haven for the Ku Klux Klan.

They also inspired anti-racism protests around the globe, as demonstrators from Brisbane and Sydney in Australia to London, Paris and other European cities embraced the Black Lives Matter message.

In Washington, tens of thousands of people chanting “I can’t breathe” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” rallied at the Lincoln Memorial and marched to the White House on Saturday in the biggest protest yet during 12 days of demonstrations across the United States since Floyd died.

A common message of the day was a determination to transform outrage generated by Floyd’s death into a broader movement seeking far-reaching reforms in the U.S. criminal justice system and its treatment of minorities.

“It feels like I get to be a part of history and a part of people who are trying to change the world for everyone,” said Jamilah Muahyman, a Washington resident protesting near the White House.

The gatherings in Washington and dozens of other U.S. cities and towns – urban and rural alike – were also notable for a generally lower level of tension and discord than what was seen during much of the preceding week.

There were sporadic instances in some cities of protesters trying to block traffic. And police in riot gear used flash-bang grenades in a confrontation with demonstrators in Seattle.

But largely it was the most peaceful day of protests since video footage emerged on May 25 showing Floyd, an unarmed black man in handcuffs, lying face down on a Minneapolis street as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

The video sparked an outpouring of rage as protests in Minneapolis spread to other cities, punctuated by episodes of arson, looting and vandalism that authorities and activists blamed largely on outside agitators and criminals.

National Guard troops were activated in several states, and police resorted to heavy-handed tactics in some cities as they sought to enforce curfews imposed to quell civil disturbances, which in turn galvanized demonstrators even further.

The intensity of protests over the past week began to ebb on Wednesday after prosecutors in Minneapolis had arrested all four police officers implicated in Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin, the white officer seen pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly groaned “I can’t breathe” was charged with second-degree murder.

On Sunday morning, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was lifting a citywide curfew a day early.

Still, anger in Minneapolis remained intense. The city’s mayor ran a gauntlet of angry, jeering protesters on Saturday after telling them he was opposed to their demands for de-funding the city police department.

Perhaps nowhere was the evolving, multi-racial dimension of the protests more evident than in the small, east Texas town of Vidor, one of hundreds of American communities known decades ago as “sundown towns” because blacks were unwelcome there after dark.

Several dozen white and black protesters carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs demonstrated on Saturday in Vidor, once notorious as a Ku Klux Klan stronghold, highlighting the scope of renewed calls for racial equality echoing across the country five months before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

Elsewhere in the South, in Floyd’s birthplace of Raeford, North Carolina, hundreds lined up at a church to pay their respects during a public viewing of his body prior to a private memorial service for family members.

Floyd’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Houston, where he lived before relocating to the Minneapolis area.

In New York, a large crowd of protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan on Saturday afternoon, marching up a largely deserted Broadway. Thousands of others gathered in Harlem to march downtown, about 100 blocks, to the city’s Washington Square Park.

Police officers were present but in smaller numbers than earlier in the week. They generally assumed a less aggressive posture, wearing patrol uniforms rather than body armor and helmets.

In another sign of easing tension, Major General William Walker, commander of the D.C. National Guard, told CNN that the nearly 4,000 additional Guard troops deployed to the city from 11 states at the Pentagon’s request were likely to be withdrawn after the weekend.

George Floyd live updates: Protests grow, even spreading to notorious Texas town with racist history

As George Floyd was mourned near his birthplace in North Carolina on Saturday, crowds filled the streets in American cities large and small with protests against police brutality and systemic racism that continued to grow.

In California, demonstrators brought traffic to a halt on the Golden Gate Bridge. In Philadelphia, thousands massed in the streets as the mayor and the police commissioner knelt in a show of solidarity. A rally in Chicago drew an estimated 30,000 people. In Washington, D.C., some protesters furiously spray-painted “Defund The Police” in giant yellow letters a block from the city’s “Black Lives Matter” display..

The demonstrations, which researchers call the broadest in U.S. history, even spread to Vidor, Tex., a notorious “sundown town” with a racist history, including Ku Klux Klan activity.

Read more »


Protesters Flood U.S. Streets in Huge, Peaceful Push for Change (UPDATE)


Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Tens of thousands of protesters streamed into the nation’s capital and other major cities Saturday in another huge mobilization against police brutality and racial injustice, while George Floyd was remembered in his North Carolina hometown by mourners who waited hours for a glimpse of his golden coffin.

Wearing masks and calling for police reform, protesters peacefully marched across the U.S. and on four other continents, collectively producing perhaps the largest one-day mobilization since Floyd’s death 12 days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

The dozens of demonstrations capped a week of nearly constant protests that swelled beyond anything the nation has seen in at least a generation. After frequent episodes of violence following the black man’s death, the crowds in the U.S. shifted to a calmer tenor in recent days and authorities in many cities began lifting curfews because they experienced little unrest and no arrests.

On Saturday, authorities in some places seemed to take a lower profile and protests had a festive feel.

On a hot, humid day in Washington, throngs of protesters gathered at the Capitol, on the National Mall and in neighborhoods. Some turned intersections into dance floors. Tents offered snacks and water, tables with merchandise and even a snow cone station.

Read more »


The Associated Press

Protesters Support Floyd, Black Lives Matter on 3 Continents

BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of people rallied in Australia and Europe to honor George Floyd and to voice support Saturday for what is becoming an international Black Lives Matter movement, as a worldwide wave of solidarity with protests over the death of a black man in Minneapolis highlights racial discrimination outside the United States.

Demonstrators in Paris tried to gather in front of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, defying restrictions imposed by authorities because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were met by riot police who turned people on their way to the embassy, which French security forces sealed off behind an imposing ring of metal barriers and road blocks.

“You can fine me 10,000 or 20,000 times, the revolt will happen anyway,” Egountchi Behanzin, a founder of the Black African Defense League, told officers who stopped him to check his ID documents before he got close to the diplomatic building. “It is because of you that we are here.”

Pamela Carper, who joined an afternoon protest at London’s Parliament Square that headed towards the U.K. Home Office, which oversees the country’s police, said she was demonstrating to show “solidarity for the people of America who have suffered for too long.”

The British government urged people not to gather in large numbers and police have warned that mass demonstrations could be unlawful. In England, for example, gatherings of more than six people are not permitted.

Carper said the coronavirus had “no relevance” to her attendance and noted that she had a mask on.


A woman kneels during a Black Lives Matter rally in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. Floyd, a black man, died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police while in custody on May 25 in Minnesota. (AP)

“I am showing the government that I am heeding to their rules and everybody is staying away,” Carper said. “But I need to be here because the government is the problem. The government needs to change.”

In Sydney, protesters won a last-minute appeal against a Friday ruling declaring their rally unauthorized. The New South Wales Court of Appeal gave the green light just 12 minutes before the rally was scheduled to start, meaning those taking part could not be arrested.

Up to 1,000 protesters had already gathered in the Town Hall area of downtown Sydney ahead of the decision.

Floyd, a black man, died in handcuffs on May 25 while a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck even after he pleaded for air and stopped moving.

His death has struck a chord with minorities protesting discrimination elsewhere, including deaths of indigenous Australians in custody.

In Sydney, there was one early scuffle when police removed a man who appeared to be a counter protester carrying a sign reading, “White Lives, Black Lives, All Lives Matter.”

The rally appeared orderly as police handed out masks to protesters and other officials provided hand sanitizer.

“If we don’t die from the (coronavirus) pandemic, then we will die from police brutality,” Sadique, who has a West African background and said he goes by only one name, said in Sydney.

Bob Jones, 75, said it was worth the risk to rally for change despite the state’s chief health officer saying the event could help spread the coronavirus.

“If a society is not worth preserving, then what are you doing? You’re perpetuating a nonsense,” Jones said.

In Brisbane, the Queensland state capital, organizers said about 30,000 people gathered, forcing police to shut down some major downtown streets. The protesters demanded to have Australia’s Indigenous flag raised at the police station.

State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch encouraged Queenslanders to speak out.

“Whether you’re talking about the U.S. or right here in Australia, black lives matter,” she said. “Black lives matter today. Black lives matter every day.”

Indigenous Australians make up 2% of the the country’s adult population, but 27% of the prison population. They are also the most disadvantaged ethnic minority in Australia and have higher-than-average rates of infant mortality and poor health, as well as shorter life expectancies and lower levels of education and employment than other Australians.

In South Korea’s capital, Seoul, protesters gathered for a second straight day to denounce Floyd’s death.

Wearing masks and black shirts, dozens of demonstrators marched through a commercial district amid a police escort, carrying signs such as “George Floyd Rest in Peace” and “Koreans for Black Lives Matter.”

“I urge the U.S. government to stop the violent suppression of (U.S.) protesters and listen to their voices,” said Jihoon Shim, one of the rally’s organizers. “I also want to urge the South Korean government to show its support for their fight (against racism).”

In Tokyo, dozens of people gathered in a peaceful protest.

“Even if we are far apart, we learn of everything instantly on social media,”

“Can we really dismiss it all as irrelevant?” Taichi Hirano, one of the organizers, shouted to the crowd gathered outside Tokyo’s Shibuya train station. He stressed that Japanese are joining others raising their voices against what he called “systematic discrimination.”

In Berlin, thousands of mostly young people, many dressed in black and wearing face masks, joined a Black Lives Matter protest in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, or Alexander Square, on Saturday.

Some held up placards with slogans such as “Be the change,” I can’t breath” and “Germany is not innocent.”

Turning grief into change, movement targets racial injustice

The Associated Press

Momentum for what many hope is a sustained movement aimed at tackling racial injustice and police reforms promised to grow Saturday as more protesters filled streets around the world and mourners prepared to gather in the U.S. for a second memorial service for George Floyd, who died a dozen days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Formal and impromptu memorials to Floyd over the last several days have stretched from Minneapolis to Paris, Rome and Johannesburg, South Africa. In North Carolina, where he was born, a public viewing and private service for family was planned Saturday. Services were scheduled to culminate in a private burial in the coming days in Texas, where he lived most of his life.

Floyd’s final journey was designed with intention, the Rev. Al Sharpton said. Having left Houston for Minneapolis in 2014 in search of a job and a new life, Floyd is retracing that path in death.

Sharpton has plans for a commemorative march on Washington in August on the anniversary of the day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. He said the event would be a way to engage voters ahead of November’s general election and maintain momentum for a movement that has the power to “change the whole system of justice.”

Read more »

D.C. Mayor Renames Street Outside White House ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ (UPDATE)


Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks after announcing that she is renaming a section of 16th street ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ in Washington DC on Friday. (Photograph: EPA)

The Washington Post

‘Black Lives Matter’: In giant yellow letters, D.C. mayor sends message to Trump

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed a street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” on Friday and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

The actions are meant to honor demonstrators who are urging changes in police practices after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, city officials said.

They come after several days of the mayor’s strong objections to the escalation of federal law enforcement and the military response to days of protests and unrest in the nation’s capital.

Local artist Rose Jaffe said she and others joined city work crews to paint the giant slogan, starting around 4 a.m.

The art will take up two blocks on 16th Street NW, between K and H streets, an iconic promenade directly north of the White House.

Shortly after 11 a.m., a city worker hung up a “Black Lives Matter Plz NW” sign at the corner of 16th and H streets NW. Bowser (D) watched silently as onlookers cheered and the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day played from speakers.

“In America, you can peacefully assemble,” Bowser said in brief remarks to the crowd.

Read more »

Protests shift to memorializing Floyd amid push for change


Celebrities, musicians, political leaders and family members gathered in front of the golden casket of George Floyd at a fiery memorial Thursday for the man whose death at the hands of police sparked global protests. (AP video)

The Associated Press

The tenor of the protests set off by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police has taken a turn from the explosive anger that has fueled the setting of fires, breaking of windows and other violence to a quiet, yet more forceful, grassroots call for more to be done to address racial injustice.

Many of the protests were more subdued for a second night as marches Thursday turned into memorials for Floyd, who was the focus of a heartfelt tribute Thursday in Minneapolis that drew family members, celebrities, politicians and civil rights advocates. At his service, strong calls were made for meaningful changes in policing and the criminal justice system.

At demonstration sites around the country, protesters said the quieter mood is the result of several factors: the new and upgraded criminal charges against the police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest; a more conciliatory approach by police who have marched with them or taken a knee to recognize their message; and the realization that the burst of rage after Floyd’s death is not sustainable.

“Personally, I think you can’t riot everyday for almost a week,” said Costa Smith, 26, who was protesting in downtown Atlanta.


The body of George Floyd departs from Frank J. Lindquist Sanctuary at North Central University after a memorial service Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (AP photo)

Despite the shift in tone, protesters have shown no sign that they are going away and, if anything, are emboldened to stay on the streets to push for police reforms.

In New York City, Miguel Fernandes said there were “a lot more nights to go” of marching because protesters hadn’t got what they wanted. And Floyd’s brother, Terrence, appeared in Brooklyn to carry on the fight for change, declaring “power to the people, all of us.”

At the first in a series of memorials for Floyd, The Rev. Al Sharpton urged those gathered Thursday “to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’” Those at the Minneapolis tribute stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the amount of time Floyd was alleged to be on the ground under the control of police.

Floyd’s golden casket was covered in red roses, and an image was projected above the pulpit of a mural of Floyd painted at the street corner where he was arrested by police on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. The message on the mural: “I can breathe now.”

Sharpton vowed that this will become a movement to “change the whole system of justice.”

As the protests have taken root over the past week, they have become communities unto themselves.

In New York, where residents have been stuck at home for nearly three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, residents who can’t go to a restaurant are happy to be able to go a protest. People bring their dogs and share snacks and water bottles. They have been heartened by police who have joined them.

“It’s great to be alive, it’s history right now,” said protester Kenyata Taylor.

Read more »


George W. Bush calls out racial injustices and celebrates protesters who ‘march for a better future’


Describing himself as “anguished” by the death of George Floyd, who died more than a week ago after being suffocated under the knee of a white police officer, Bush urged white Americans to seek ways to support, listen and understand black Americans who still face “disturbing bigotry and exploitation.” (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Former president George W. Bush addressed the nationwide protests in a solemn, yet hopeful statement Tuesday, commending the Americans demonstrating against racial injustice and criticizing those who try to silence them.

Bush closed his statement, which came a day after peaceful protesters were cleared by force to make way for President Trump to come outside, by pointing to a “better way.”

“There is a better way — the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice,” Bush said in the statement. “I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.”

Describing himself as “anguished” by the death of George Floyd, who died more than a week ago after being suffocated under the knee of a white police officer, Bush urged white Americans to seek ways to support, listen and understand black Americans who still face “disturbing bigotry and exploitation.”

The nation’s 43rd president’s statement does not mention Trump, but his call for compassion and unity presents a stark contrast to the current president’s more inflammatory rhetoric.

“The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving,” Bush said. “Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place.”

“We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised,” he added.

Bush also seemed to offer a veiled criticism of the agressive stance taken by some police against protesters, saying it’s a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future.”

Read more »

Biden will attend George Floyd’s funeral, family attorney says


U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden bows his head in prayer during a visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del., on June 1st. Biden is delivering a speech in Philadelphia, addressing “the civil unrest facing communities across America.” (AP photo)

An attorney for Floyd’s family told “PBS News Hour” on Tuesday that former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is expected to attend Floyd’s funeral in Houston next week.

The family will also hold memorial services this week in Minnesota and North Carolina. A public viewing and formal funeral will follow in Houston.

“And we understand vice president Biden will be in attendance,” Ben Crump, the family’s attorney, said.

Read more »

Watch: Biden blasts Trump’s ‘narcissism’ Addressing the ‘Unrest Across America


Related:

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change: By Barack Obama

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger Over Police Killings Shatters US

Obama On George Floyd’s Death And The ‘Maddening’ Normalcy Of Racism

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopic Studies Endowment at University of Toronto Update

Organizers behind the Ethiopic Studies Endowment announced that they have raised $440,000 and are within reach of a milestone achievement by the Ethiopian Diaspora community. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 10th, 2020

Ethiopic Studies Endowment at University of Toronto Nears Goal of Raising $500k

New York (TADIAS) – They needed to raise $500,000 in order to make the Ge’ez course at the University of Toronto permanent. This month organizers behind the Ethiopic Studies Endowment announced that they have raised $440,000 and are within reach of a milestone achievement by the Ethiopian Diaspora community.

The Board of Directors of Bikila Award — the organization which has been spearheading the fundraising campaign since 2015 — released a report detailing its efforts.

“In 2019 a new fundraising drive was initiated to reach the required endowment fund of $500,000 to make the Ge’ez course permanent, followed by the U of T’s renewed generous matching fund of $75,000,” noted the Bikila Award organization in its report titled ‘Ethiopic Studies & Culture at the University of Toronto.’

Below is the full report courtesy of the non-profit organization Bikila Award:

GE’EZ – An iconic ancient Ethiopian language for humanity

Toronto, Canada

Dear Community Members and Supporters:

First of all, our well wishes to you and family members in these uncertain global times caused by Covid-19 which has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives as well as immense economic ramifications. In history there had been dark days; wars and pandemics, yet the human spirit has always prevailed. By the Grace of God we shall overcome this time as well! Let us all keep the faith and move forward together!


University of Toronto. (Courtesy photo)

In 2019 a new fundraising drive was initiated to reach the required endowment fund of $500,000 to make the Ge’ez course permanent, followed by the U of T’s renewed generous matching fund of $75,000. Members of our community and Society of Friends of Ethiopian Studies made urgently needed generous donations for which we are very grateful.


Professor Michael Gervers. (Courtesy photo)

We are particularly very grateful to Professor Michael Gervers and Dr. Fikre Germa who blessed us with a renewed donation of $45,000 and $10,000 respectively and for their unfailing support without which this good news as well as the certainty of the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at the U of T would not have been possible.

We are very pleased to report that Bikila Award also filled the remaining small gap to reach the required funding in matching the $75.000 goal. So far, we raised a total of $440,000+ to the Ethiopic Studies Endowment.

About Ethiopic Studies and Culture at U of T

The discovery of the earliest history of humanity through the remains of the 3 million-year-old Australopithecus Afarensis, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and known as Dinknesh (ድንቅነሽ) Lucy, show that the first human beings emerged in Africa. In the same vicinity, the invention of writing and the founding of great unified states 5,000 years ago mark the beginning of early civilizations of mankind.

With this and more historical background in mind, Ethiopic Studies initiative at the University of Toronto was undertaken with the objective of building bridges between humanity’s past, present and the future contributing to the increasingly interconnected world.

As we all know concrete step to establish Ethiopian Studies at the University of Toronto (U of T) was taken on the occasion of the annual Bikila Award Ceremony in 2015 during which Prof. Michael Gervers of the U of T challenged members of the Ethiopian community to match his own $50,000 donation towards the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at the U of T. Watch the video.


Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd). Courtesy photo.

This unforgettable initiative and generosity led to a matching of $50,000 by internationally recognized artist Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd). Further generous support by the U of T and ongoing donations by members of the Ethiopian community has to date resulted in over $440,000 as endowment fund for the establishment of Ethiopian Studies. This initiative came to fruition when the ancient language of Geez course was given at the U of T beginning in 2017 as a working knowledge of Geez language is necessary without which ancient Ethiopian manuscripts could not be read and/or understood.

The Board of Directors of Bikila Award and members of the Ethiopian community in Canada express their gratitude and utmost appreciation to the University of Toronto Administration for their generosity, unfailing support and encouragement towards the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at this highly esteemed institution of learning.

Thank you all for your encouragement and support.

The Board of Directors, Bikila Award.

For more information please visit ​us at bikilaaward.org


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Obama Steps Out as America Confronts Confluence of Crises

Nearly eight years after he was last on the ballot, Obama is emerging as a central figure in the 2020 presidential election. Democrats are eagerly embracing Obama as a political wingman for Joe Biden, who spent two terms by his side as vice president. Obama remains the party’s most popular figure, particularly with black voters and younger Democrats. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Barack Obama is taking on an increasingly public role as the nation confronts a confluence of historic crises that has exposed deep racial and socioeconomic inequalities in America and reshaped the November election.

In doing so, Obama is signaling a willingness to sharply critique his successor, President Donald Trump, and fill what many Democrats see as a national leadership void. On Wednesday, he held a virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Obama rejected a debate he said he’d seen come up in “a little bit of chatter on the internet” about “voting versus protests, politics and participation versus civil disobedience and direct action.”

“This is not an either-or. This is a both and to bring about real change,” he said. “We both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that could be implemented and monitored and make sure we’re following up on.”

Obama called for turning the protests over Floyd’s death into policy change to ensure safer policing and increased trust between communities and law enforcement. He urged “every mayor in the country to review your use of force policies” with their communities and “commit to report on planned reforms” before prioritizing their implementation.

“We’re in a political season, but our country is also at an inflection point,” said Valerie Jarrett, a longtime friend and adviser to Obama. “President Obama is not going to shy away from that dialogue simply because he’s not in office anymore.”

During the round table, Obama drew parallels between the unrest sweeping American currently and protest movements of the 1960s. But he said polls show a majority of Americans supporting today’s protesters and forming a “broad coalition” in a way much of the country didn’t back then — despite some of the recent protests “having been marred by the actions of a tiny minority that engaged in violence.”

Still, he warned, “at some point, attention moves away” and “protests dwindle in size” so “it’s important to take that moment that’s been created as a society, as a country, and say let’s use this to finally have an impact.”

Obama was already beginning to emerge from political hibernation to endorse Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential bid when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the U.S., killing more than 100,000 people, and the economy began to crater. The crises scrambled the Biden campaign’s plans for how to begin deploying Obama as their chief surrogate ahead of the November election, but also gave the former president a clear opening to start publicly arguing what he has signaled to friends and associates privately for the past three years: that he does not believe Trump is up for the job.

Addressing graduates of historically black colleges and universities last month, Obama said the pandemic had “fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing.” And in a nationally televised broadcast celebrating graduating high school seniors, Obama said many “so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs,” do only what’s convenient and feels good.

Floyd’s death, however, has drawn a more visceral and personal reaction from the nation’s first black president. Floyd, a black man, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

In a lengthy written statement last week, Obama said that while he understood that millions of Americans were eager to “just get back to normal” when the pandemic abates, it shouldn’t be forgotten that normal life for people of color in the U.S. involves being treated differently on account of their race.

“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal,’” Obama wrote.

Tensions across the country have escalated further in the days since the former president’s statement. His town hall on Wednesday will mark his first in-person comments since law enforcement officers aggressively cleared peaceful protesters from a park outside the White House so Trump could walk across for a photo opportunity at a nearby church.

Trump has cheered harsh crackdowns on the protests, some of which have turned violent, and threatened to deploy active-duty military to the states if local officials could not get the demonstrations under control. He appeared to be backing down from that position this week, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that he did not believe such action was warranted.

Biden’s campaign welcomed Obama stepping forward during this moment.

“President Obama’s voice is a reminder that we used to have a president who sought to bridge our divides, and we can have one again if we elect Joe Biden,” said TJ Ducklo, a campaign spokesman.

Obama grappled with police brutality against minorities as president, including in Ferguson, Missouri, where clashes broke out after the death of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old. After Brown’s death, Obama’s Justice Department moved to enact broad policing reforms, though most were halted under the Trump administration.

Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, called this week for restoring some of the previous administration’s actions in the wake of Floyd’s death and the killing of other black Americans. Biden also called for Congress to take immediate steps, including outlawing chokeholds.


Related:

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change: By Barack Obama

Obama On George Floyd’s Death And The ‘Maddening’ Normalcy Of Racism

Watch: Obama’s message to the class of 2020 in 2 minutes, 20 seconds

‘Absolute Chaotic Disaster’: Obama Hits Trump’s Coronavirus Response in U.S.

Barack & Michelle Obama to Deliver Nationwide Graduation Speeches for Class of 2020

In DC, Michelle Obama’s Public Health Message Triggers Wave of Appreciation, Nostalgia

WATCH: Obama Endorses Biden (Update)

Michelle Obama Backs Expanding Voting Options for 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Marcus Samuelsson is Re-Building Communities in Harlem and Beyond

Marcus Samuelsson visits SiriusXM Studios on February 26, 2020 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 30th, 2020

Marcus Samuelsson is Re-Building Communities With Epic Harlem EatUp! and World Central Kitchen Collaboration

New York (TADIAS) – From day one of this global health crisis — that has so far claimed more than 100,000 American lives — Ethiopian American chef, entrepreneur, author, and community leader Marcus Samuelsson has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in his home neighborhood of Harlem and beyond.

Shortly after NYC’s lockdown in March Marcus wrote an OP-ED on CNN.com titled “We Need Seismic Change, Right Now” urging for an immediate economic relief for food industry workers and business owners. Months later his words continue to reverberate across sectors at a magnitude that few truly imagined.

This week Marcus announced that the annual Harlem EatUp! festival, which would have attracted thousands of people at this time of the year, was being used “to support World Central Kitchen’s Restaurants for the People effort to keep local, independent restaurants open and working so they can provide nourishing meals for people in need in their communities.”

The annual Harlem EatUp! Festival was launched six years ago to “celebrate the food, culture and spirit of Harlem” by Marcus Samuelsson and Herb Karlitz. Each year it “brings together not only restaurants but also a wide array of small businesses, musicians, and artists within the community.”

In a statement Marcus Samuelsson shared that: “Almost two months ago, we started distributing meals with WCK at Red Rooster Harlem. Since then we’ve expanded to Red Rooster Overtown in Miami and helped pilot Newark Working Kitchens with Marcus B&P, serving over 60,000 meals to people in need at these locations. This is the next phase of showing how activating restaurants in economically disadvantaged areas can do three essential things: provide meals for the food insecure; provide income for local employees who are bravely helping feed the needy and finally to multiply the economic effects in these neighborhoods through the spending of re-hired workers.”

According to the press release:

“Restaurants directly employ over 15.6 million people across the country and contribute $1 trillion to the economy, and are a major employer in Harlem. Losing restaurants impacts jobs not only in these establishments, but also the farmers, packers, fisherman, delivery people and more — all who depend on the continued revenue of restaurants to stay in business and maintain fragile supply lines.”

The press release adds: “To date, HEU has already helped solicit over $1.5 million in donations to WCK for this effort,” states the press release. “Additionally, our founding festival sponsor Citi is also supporting World Central Kitchen in Harlem as part of a national partnership with WCK of up to $2.5 million.”

Read more about current Harlem EatUp! efforts at www.harlemeatup.com.

Related:

Marcus Samuelsson Pivots Harlem Eat Up! Festival Into Community Kitchen (Forbes)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

(Photo courtesy of Tebita Ambulance)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Published: May 22nd, 2020

New York (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.”

“We’ve saved over 70,000 lives,” Kibret told Tadias in a recent interview. “We opened the first paramedic college in Ethiopia, and the first batch have graduated and are employed by Tebita,” he says. “We are pushing the agenda of social enterprise, solving social problems with a business model rather than aid.”

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.

“Tebita provides home-based medical checkups to those living in Addis Abeba,” says Laura Davis, Partner at RENEW, the U.S. firm behind East Africa Emergency Services. “Tebita understands that the current landscape with COVID-19 has made many people reluctant and fearful to seek medical attention for new and chronic conditions. To meet this need, Tebita offers home-based medical checkups.” Laura explains: “This service includes a home visit from a trained medical professional along with medical services, recommendations, and follow up treatments as necessary. In addition, our COVID-19-related services include “contactless check-ins and care package delivery within Addis Ababa. ”

The following is an audio of my interview with Kibret Abebe and Laura Davis:

For more information:
Website: http://www.tebitambulance.com/
Tebita’s Short Code in Addis: 8035
Email: info@eastafricaes.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tebita.ambulance/
https://www.eastafricaems.com/peace-of-mind-services.html

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

1st Ethiopian-American Judge Nina Ashenafi Re-elected for 3rd Term

Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Leon County, Florida is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: May 11th, 2020

First Ethiopian-American Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson Re-elected for Third Term

New York (TADIAS) – Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States, has been re-elected to a third term.

Judge Ashenafi Richardson was automatically reelected to the Leon County bench in Florida “after her lone opponent dropped out, saying the coronavirus crisis made it too difficult to proceed,” reported The Tallahassee Democrat. “Stephen M. James, a Tallahassee attorney who filed to run in February, notified the Supervisor of Elections Office on Friday [April 24th] — about an hour before qualifying ended — that he was exiting the race.”

According to the newspaper: “James would have had to collect 2,132 voter signatures or pay a $6,072 fee to qualify for the race and appear on the ballot. Ashenafi Richardson paid the fee.”

Born in Ethiopia, Nina came to the U.S. as a young girl. She was raised by her late father Professor Ashenafi Kebede, the renowned Ethiopian composer and musicologist, who was the Founder and first Director of the National Saint Yared School of Music in Ethiopia. Professor Kebede taught Ethnomusicology in the U.S. and served as the Director of the Center for African-American Culture at Florida State University, where his daughter later earned her law degree. He was also the Director of the Ethiopian Research Council, comprised of Ethiopian and American academics and professionals, which was founded by African American scholar Leo Hansberry.


Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson (Photo: Tallahassee Democrat)

Per her bio: “Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson has served as a Leon County Judge in Tallahassee, Florida since 2008. Prior to her election, she spent the majority of her career representing teachers and university faculty as in-house counsel with the Florida Education Association and as adjunct faculty at Barry University’s Tallahassee campus. She has distinguished herself as a first in many categories, including as the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States and the first African-American elected president of the Tallahassee Women Lawyers and the Tallahassee Bar Association. She is also a former president of the William H. Stafford American Inn of Court. The Conference of County Court Judges of Florida awarded her the Distinguished Leadership Award in 2016, and she was also the recipient of the Florida Bar’s 2019 Distinguished Judicial Service Award.”

Related:

Nina Ashenafi Richardson Becomes First Elected Ethiopian-American Judge

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Q&A: Ethiopia Health Minister Lia Tadesse

Health Minister Liya Tadesse monitors the unloading 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)

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Lia Tadesse, Ethiopia’s new health minister, talks to the Thomson Reuters Foundation about the measures being rolled out to keep the country safe

Lia Tadesse became Ethiopia’s health minister in mid-March, a day before the East African nation registered its first case of the new coronavirus.

As the pandemic takes hold in Africa – Ethiopia has [398] cases and neighbouring Kenya more than 450 – Tadesse talked to the Thomson Reuters Foundation about the race to protect refugees, women and other vulnerable people from the virus.

Are you concerned that Ethiopia’s fragile health system could soon be overwhelmed?

If we get a lot of cases – and more severe cases – then that will definitely overwhelm the system. We are seeing this happen, not only in Ethiopia, but across the world.

We are preparing as best we can: increasing our intensive care unit capacity and dedicating more ventilators to treatment facilities in Addis Ababa and other regions.

The ventilators we have are still low in number – around 221 for COVID-19 – but we hope to get more soon.

We are working with countries to secure more aid.

Is there a risk that banning large gatherings and imposing social distancing will exacerbate social inequality?

While we’re trying to prevent COVID, we don’t want people to die of other problems. The government is preparing social protections.

Most businesses and major projects are continuing to sustain the economy and daily workers.

The government is supporting vulnerable people affected by the measures through distributing food across the country.

Is the deployment of thousands of female community health workers across the country to educate and screen individuals working?

It’s in progress. We only started this recently so we’re hoping it will really support our COVID response.

Early detection is a key point for the mitigation of the epidemic.

These health workers are wearing masks and gloves and doing house-to-house surveillance to identify possible symptoms like fevers and coughs and to establish people’s recent travel.

The health workers are also identifying people who have other illnesses but have not sought medical attention due to fears of the COVID epidemic.

Can girls and women still access sexual and reproductive health services?

Initially our communication was more focused on COVID-19 awareness but now we are also communicating key services like reproductive health.

Community health workers are ensuring that women are aware these services are available and that some like family planning can be accessed in their households.

Across the country we are educating about harmful practices like female genital mutilation and gender-based violence. It is a priority.

Are you concerned about Ethiopia’s ability to contain the disease in refugee camps?

Refugees and internally displaced people are one of the vulnerable populations we are looking at working with.

We are working with different partners like the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs and the U.N.’s migration agency to ensure that these communities have the necessary health screening and that we are keeping them safe through measures like hand-washing.

This interview was shortened and edited for clarity.


Related:

Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Surpass 270 (LATEST UPDATE)

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

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

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

Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

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

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

Inspiring Amharic Poetry: A Reflection by Shimelis Amare (YouTube)

Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Resources With Ethiopian Community

Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

Art in the Time of Coronavirus: Guide to Virtual Exhibitions from Ethiopia to U.S.

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

Coronavirus Sparks an Epidemic of People Helping People in Seattle

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Addis Fine Art Gallery Showcases Tariku Shiferaw’s Art at Frieze NY Virtual Exhibit

New York based Artist Tariku Shiferaw, represented by Addis Fine Art gallery, is set to showcase his recent works in the online exhibition of Frieze New York 2020 that's scheduled to open this month. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 6th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Under normal circumstances, New Yorkers and art lovers from around the world would have gathered at this time at Randall’s Island for NYC’s annual Frieze Art Fair, which is one of the biggest art market events in the city. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping city life on pause, the 2020 exhibition has been transformed into a virtual Frieze Viewing Room, which organizers have described as “an ambitious new digital initiative” to be held from May 8-15th and consisting of “more than 200 galleries from across the globe presenting major works by established and emerging artists in a virtual gallery space.”

Addis Fine Art from Ethiopia is among the participating galleries at this year’s Frieze exhibition to showcase new works by Ethiopian American artist Tariku Shiferaw.

Co-Founder of Addis Fine Art, Rakeb Sile, tells the Financial Times that “there is no substitute to seeing art on the walls,” noting that for Tariku as an emerging artist “this was meant to be his big break in his home town.” She emphasizes that “the shift to online has forced a healthy rethink of how best to give a context to Shiferaw’s work — videos on Instagram are among the planned accompanying features.”

According to Addis Fine Art gallery Tariku Shiferaw’s (b.1983) “ongoing series One of These Black Boys, explores painting and societal structures through mark-making. Taking the names of songs from Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, Blues, and Reggae music, Shiferaw makes paintings that embody the experiences and struggles expressed through music by Black artists and composers. He often explores a spectrum of topics ranging from the notion of Black bodies in a white social construct to the popular idioms of romance, sex, and daily life – existence.”

Below is Tariku Shiferaw’ biography courtesy of Addis Fine Art:

Shiferaw studied for his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) at the University of Southern California (USC) in 2007 and later attained his MFA at Parsons The New School for Design in 2015. Shiferaw’s current exhibitions include “Men of Change” – a three-year nationally traveling exhibition with the Smithsonian Institution, as well as “Unbound”, a group exhibition at the Zuckerman Museum of Art. Shiferaw has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and The Drawing Center. In 2017, he had his first international solo show titled, “Erase Me”, at Addis Fine Art, London. In 2018, he presented his largest installation work to date in a solo exhibition titled, “This Ain’t Safe” at Cathouse Proper, in Brooklyn. Shiferaw participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art (studio), in Open Sessions at the Drawing Center, and he was artist-in-residence at the LES Studio Program in New York City. In 2020, he will partake in an artist residency at the World Trade Center through Silver Art Projects.

If You Attend:
FRIEZE VIEWING ROOM
VIP Days (by invitation)
Wednesday, 6 May 2020
Thursday, 7 May 2020
Public Days
8 – 15 May 2020
https://frieze.com/fairs/frieze-viewing-room

Related:

UPDATE: Frieze New York’s Online Edition Launches With Seven-Figure Sales to VIPs as Art Dealers Hustle to Get a Handle on Virtual Fairs

The Quarantine Tapes featuring Artist Julie Mehretu

Two Must See NYC Virtual Exhibitions Featuring Ethiopian Artists

Art in the Time of Coronavirus: Guide to Virtual Exhibitions from Ethiopia to U.S.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Quarantine Tapes Featuring Artist Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu stands in her studio, in New York City. (Photo: Galerie Magazine)

The Quarantine Tapes

EPISODE SUMMARY

We hear from renowned New York City and Berlin based painter Julie Mehretu on today’s episode of The Quarantine Tapes.

EPISODE NOTES

Julie Mehretu’s work focuses on large scale layers of abstracted landscapes, as well as drawings and prints that depict the cumulative effects of urban socio-political changes. Today she speaks with Paul about her attraction to abstractions, ….“it’s a place of possibility where language can be invented, where a different form of imagination can appear and a different form of freedom.”

Urgency, anxiety and stillness – these are the words that Julie Mehretu has used to describe how she is seeing and feeling this pandemic. Listen to this episode to hear Julie and Paul unpack these words, and to hear about her obsession with Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick – her go-to read for anxious quarantine nights.

Julie has shown her work extensively internationally, in both public and private collections, and is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, NY.

Read more »


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

COVID-19 & Its Impact on Africa: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet

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

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Updated: May 1st, 2020

New York (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.

TADIAS: Prof Lemma, thank you for your time.  You just finished moderating a webinar on COVID-19 & African Economies. Can you give us a  quick recap of the online conference?

Professor Lemma W. Senbet: The webinar featured two high level policy experts and officials from two of our flagship international institutions: Dr Domenico Fanizza who is a member of the IMF Executive Board, and Dr Rabah Arezki, World Bank MENA Chief Economist.

Let me first give you a context for the webinar. We often hear about the dark side of Africa in international news media. Yes, Africa has its dark side. African countries face enormous economic and social challenges, but on the bright side, Africa has maintained sustained growth over the last 25 years, with some seven countries having been among the fastest growing in the world. This is not accidental. It is an outcome of years of massive reforms of both real and financial economies in Africa.

Now enter Africa and COVID-19, the greatest global crisis of the century. This is foremost health crisis of epic proportions. It has like-wise resulted in economic crisis of epic proportions, far exceeding the global financial crisis (a decade ago) and touching every country and, in fact, every human being. The webinar focused on the economic dimensions facing low income countries, with a focus on Africa.

After a slow start in Africa, COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly throughout the continent. The adverse economic consequences are already being felt. This is in part due to negative economic spillovers resulting from the economic hits to Africa’s main trading partners: EU, China, U.S.

The resource rich countries, particularly Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, South Sudan, etc., have been badly hit.. Moreover, similar to the other countries, such as U.S., African countries have begun implementing mitigation and containment mechanisms to cope with COVID-19.

Therefore, large portions of African economies are shut down to prevent mobility and spread of the virus. Major cities in this regard include Lagos, Johannesburg, Harare, Accra, and Addis, Nairobi.

TADIAS: What specific issues were discussed at the webinar?

Prof Lemma: The webinar was intended to unpack the key economic issues, and for the earlier part, it dealt with global interconnectedness which, and in this context as to why Africa and low income countries matter to the rest of the globe. Hearing this from speakers who are highly placed at the global institutions and reassurance for global partnership was welcome. The webinar provided a broad assessment of economic devastation on low income countries, particularly African countries, for lockdowns, shutdowns, etc. – responses which are now widely adopted globally, including Africa.

While the advanced countries have the capacity to mitigate the adverse economic impact on livelihoods, small businesses, services, through massive government rescue programs, low income countries have no commensurate resources. The webinar discussed national and global responses to the plight of African economies; particularly the respective responses to-date of key global and regionals institutions: IMF, World Bank, UNDP, AfDB, etc.

The other issue the webinar addressed was exit strategy. The more advanced countries are easing restrictions to reopen their economies. However, low income and fragile states cannot afford to do that in view of low capacity for large-scale testing, weak health infrastructure, and relative absence of social safety nets. Even more disturbingly, economies would be further devastated with continuing lockdowns and shut downs. The speakers grappled with the health and economic consequences of relaxing restrictions, and if there is a way out or exit strategies for African countries.

The second part of the webinar was interactive based on the questions and commentaries from the participants. It was a global audience.

TADIAS: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that “the coronavirus pandemic is causing the worst