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Interview: Helen Amelga, California State Senate Field Rep & 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:

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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.

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Biden builds out his presidential transition operation (NBC News)

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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 »


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

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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.

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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.‬

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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 »

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Why Girls Gotta Run: TADIAS Interview with Dr. Patricia E. Ortman

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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:

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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

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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 »


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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

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Ethiopic Studies Endowment at University of Toronto Nears Goal of Raising $500k

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

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


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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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 economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s” and that “the global economy will shrink by 3 percent this year.” What does that mean for Africa?

Prof Lemma: As Domenico Fanizza, member of the IMF Executive Board, mentioned, the IMF expects the GDP for Sub-Saharan Africa to contract by 1.6 percent in 2020. This is only at a gross level without accounting for population size. The per capita income is expected to decline by 4%. This is very disappointing to say the least. This hugely negative news has come after about two decades of sustained economic growth in the region, with several countries having been among the fastest growing in the world (Ethiopia included). There have been substantial improvements in living conditions and reduction in poverty. All that is now threatened. We hope the recovery to be fast post COVID-19, but it would be very difficult to recapture what is lost even we experience a V-shaped growth. Some are actually bracing for the W shaped growth, which is really scary.

TADIAS: Given the forecast that over the next two years worldwide output will be $9 trillion less than expected before the crisis, does the financial impact of the pandemic differ from region to region within the continent? And, if so, how?

Prof Lemma: Yes. Europe has been hit the most, with an expected 7.5 per cent reduction of GDP in 2020, as also mentioned by our panelist from the IMF. COVID-19 broke out when the region’s growth had already slowed down; countries, such as Italy, France, Spain, and UK are very likely to be hugely affected. The US  economic contraction is expected to be close to 5 percent, but already the number of unemployment filings has reached about 26.5 million (on April 24, the date of the webinar), and it is still rising. This is devastating viewed from the baseline (pre-COVID-19) full employment only a month ago. Asia is the only continent that is expected to grow (1 percent in 2020), but more slowly than expected a few months ago. The relatively lower economic hit is attributable to an early and prompt actions against the spread of the virus.

There are also substantial variations within Africa. COVID-19 showed up in the wake of the other headwinds the region is already experiencing – globally: China-US trade tensions and Brexit; internally, the challenges include weak health infrastructure; non-existent safety nets in most of these countries; commodity/oil price slump; and heavy indebtedness in terms of very high levels of debt (scaled by GDP) and high debt servicing costs. This is really very bad news for the oil-rich countries, such as Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, South Sudan, etc.

TADIAS: What’s the expected effect of the pandemic on economic activity in Ethiopia?

Prof Lemma: Ethiopia is not immune, of course. The impact will be major. Based on the IMF estimates, growth is expected to slow down dramatically from 9 percent to 3 percent in 2020. Ethiopia was among those countries which were immediately and adversely impacted by COVID-19 even at the inception of the spread of the virus. This resulted from negative spillovers from the main trading partners in EU, Middle East, China, and even US. The hospitality industry, including hotels, tourism, travel, were immediately affected. So was trade volume – both exports and imports. So were remittances. Moreover, the fiscal deficit will be greatly exacerbated in view of government expenditures in coping with the health crisis as well as rescue attempts to protect economic livelihoods and micro enterprises, as well as small and medium enterprises. These have been engines of employment creation, and should be protected. The large informal economy poses both risk of health epidemics and loss of incomes (already at very low levels) threatening those at the low end to devolve into poverty. That is why any government interventions, including global support for Ethiopia, should be multilayer, including the protection of the most vulnerable, as well as microenterprises and SMEs. The other side of the coin is that there are microfinance institutions which fund small businesses, and they should also be brought into the picture for government responses. They will fail if there is widespread default at the level of small businesses, particularly microenterprises. The Friday webinar was, in part, intended for enhancement of global attention to the plight of African economies and to the global responses for the mutual benefit – global health and economic health.

TADIAS: Last month both The World Bank and IMF issued a joint statement to the G20 concerning debt relief for developing countries and calling “to suspend debt payments from IDA countries that request forbearance.” What are your thoughts on this proposal? Does it go far enough to address the looming debt crisis?

Prof Lemma: Many African countries were already on the verge of looming debt crisis due to build-up of high levels of borrowing domestically and internationally. I cannot see much worse time for these countries to get caught up with the COVID-19 crisis. The international initiatives coming from G20 and international financial institutions are definitely welcome, This should be viewed in the broader global interest and interconnectedness which are now reinforced by COVID-19. In this connection, what is not getting as much attention is debt owed to private international creditors. The good news is that many African countries began accessing international credit markets (e.g., Eurobonds issuance) at arms length. In the earlier HIPC era, these countries were rationed out of the markets. Now they are also able to access diverse sources of borrowing. However, this has become a double-edged sword, particularly in troubled times, such as the one we are facing. It would be very difficult to restructure agreements among diverse set of creditors. While non-private creditors are engaged in debt restructuring and reliefs (at least in the short term by rescheduling payments, etc), I have not witnessed yet that such initiatives are taking place with respect to private creditors. There should be a concerted global effort to bring them to the table to resolve the looming debt crisis in an efficient and mutually beneficial manner. Without that I am worried that African countries, except the very few, such as South Africa, may get rationed out again in the future from the private credit markets.

TADIAS: Looking at the future, what are some of the main institutional changes and solutions that need to be implemented on the global level in order to avoid similar disasters from occurring again?

Prof Lemma: I will be brief here. I am taking a pro-globalization view. I would not be surprised, though, if anti-globalization forces emerge from COVID-19. My view is that, given a very strong reinforcement and reawakening by COVID-19 about global interconnectedness, policies must be globally coordinated both at the health and economic levels. COVID-19 has not spared anyone. As they say, we are in it together!

TADIAS: Thank you again Prof Lemma and we wish you all the best. Stay safe and healthy.

Related:

Spotlight: Prof. Lemma Senbet Moderates Webinar on COVID-19 & African Economies

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Professors Seble Frehywot of George Washington University and Yianna Vovides of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. will be hosting a virtual conference on April 30, 2020 on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on mental health. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Updated: April 25th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Seble Frehywot, an Associate Professor of Global Health & Health Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and her colleague Dr. Yianna Vovides from Georgetown University will host an online forum next week on April 30th focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health.

“This webinar topic is envisioned from the fact that mental health issues are the invisible disabilities that attention is not given to during the COVID-19 crisis,” the announcement states. “Usually, addressing the issues of mental health takes a back burner in pandemic response priorities. People are supposed to just become resilient and handle their mental health issues alone or if lucky with a loved one or a caregiver.”

The organizers emphasize that they want “to bring mental health care in the era of COVID-19 to the front burner and discuss issues that affect humanity as a whole as well as vulnerable communities around the globe.”

Dr. Seble — who is also the Director of Global Health Equity On-Line Learning at George Washington University – told Tadias that the virtual conference titled “People’s Webinar: Addressing COVID-19 By Addressing Mental Health” is open to the public and available for viewing worldwide.

Below is the audio of my interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot:

If You Attend:

“People’s Webinar”- Addressing COVID-19 By Addressing Mental Health
April 30, 2020
8:00 – 9:00 am EST
12:00pm-1:00pm GMT
MODERATORS: Dr. Seble Frehywot & Dr. Yianna Vovides
EXPERT SPEAKER: Dr. Brandon Kohrt
Webinar registration site: www.ITfHESE.net

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COVID19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew

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: April 19th, 2020

Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, Doctor on the Frontline in NYC

New York (TADIAS) — In New York City, which has now become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, working as a medical professional means literally going to a “war zone,” says physician Tsion Firew, a Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University, who has just recovered from COVID-19 and returned to work a few days ago.

“You’ve slained our colleagues, disrupted communities, but I return to the battlefield fixed on the light that whispers a promise we will win this fight,” she shared on social media recently announcing her recovery. “So happy to be back, recuperated & armored with an antibody!”

Indeed the statistics coming out of New York are simply shocking with the state recording a sharp increase in death toll this months surpassing 10,000 and growing. According to The New York Times: “The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.”

At the heart of the solution both in the U.S. and around the world is more testing and adhering to social distancing rules until such time as a proper treatment and vaccine is discovered, says Dr. Tsion, who is also a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia.

Dr. Tsion adds that at this moment “we all as humanity have one enemy: the virus. And what’s going to win the fight is solidarity.”

Below is an audio of my interview with Dr. Tsion Firew.


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Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health. (@lia_tadesse/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Liben Eabisa

Updated: April 9th, 2020

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

In a recent interview Mike told Tadias that the COVID-19 Response Team comprises of “software engineers, machine learning experts, doctors and engineers who are coming together to create capacity for the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia.”

Mike describes their primary aim as assisting to gather, interpret and disseminate information in real time in a manner that’s helpful for public health officials as well as policy makers in order to make well-informed decisions that impacts the lives of millions of people.

“Basically there are methods to this madness,” Mike said. “You have to collect as much data as you can and you build some sort of model and you start testing it.”

To that end Mike noted that the Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team is developing multiple technology tools to be used by the Ministry of Health although the group is not necessarily part of the government agency. Before their project was launched, Mike said, there was already a similar initiative underway within the Prime Minister’s office. “And we were quickly integrated into that team,” Mike told Tadias. “It’s been very collaborative so far.” He added: We are excited what this could mean and how it could be impactful.”

Below is an audio of my interview with Mike Endale.


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Ethio American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 in Real Time

The Ethio-American owned PhantomALERT, which was launched in 2007, says it has redesigned its application to be a dedicated coronavirus mapping, reporting and tracking application. (Courtesy image)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 4th, 2020

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

New York (TADIAS) — PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company announced, that it’s offering a free application service to track, report and map COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in real time.

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

“The US Embassy facilitated communication with government agencies in Ethiopia and both the Health Minister as well as the Innovation and Technology Minister and others are reviewing our tech solution” Yoseph Seyoum, CEO of PhantomALERT, told Tadias. “I am pleasantly surprised to see that the Ethiopian Government is taking the COVID-19 threat very seriously and open to accepting and facilitating tech solutions.”

The mobile app uses GPS to “identify symptomatic patients, detect potential infection clusters and hotspots before they spread. It also includes the ability to contact, screen, assist and isolate symptomatic patients as well as report & share verified hotspots with media, authorities and communities to raise awareness, encourage social distancing and promote self-quarantining.”

Inevitably, the use of such technology to collect personal data raises the issues of privacy and security. “As a US-based company, we are very well aware of the sensitivity, controversy and possible misuse regarding collecting sensitive user-generated medical content,” Yoseph said. “However, in times of a global pandemic emergency, we believe patients, society, and governments should allow the collection of personal data as long as the user-generated content is opt-in.” He added: “Users are willingly reporting personal information. They are giving us permission to share data to save lives and contain COVID-19. PhantomALERT user-generated content regarding COVID-19 does not get published to the live map or made available to the general public until reviewed and approved by a moderator. Moderators have authorized government agencies and international agencies such as the Ministry of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and World Health Organization (WHO).“


Yoseph Seyoum, CEO of PhantomALERT. (Courtesy photo)

Yoseph also reiterated that the PhantomALERT platform, website, apps, and database are secured using industry-standard security protocols and software. “Data security and platform integrity is a priority at PhantomALERT,” Yoseph said.

Watch: New Coronavirus map, report & view hotspots in realtime by PhantomALERT

Watch: Demo PhantomALERT Coronavirus Reporting, Tracking, Mapping Android application CDC, WHO Presentation

Watch: PhantomALERT Public

You can learn more about PhantomALERT at phantomalert.com, iOS App and Android App.

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

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

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

Chicago Tribune

A new, different type of coronavirus test is coming that will help significantly in the fight to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists say.

The first so-called serology test, which detects antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself, was given emergency approval Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And several more are nearly ready, said Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Center for Genetic Medicine.

“You’ll see many of these roll out in the next couple of weeks, and it’s great, and it will really help a lot,” said McNally, noting doctors and scientists will be able to use it to determine just how widespread the disease is, who can safely return to work and possibly how to develop new treatments for those who are ill.

The serology test involves taking a blood sample and determining if it contains the antibodies that fight the virus. A positive result indicates the person had the virus in the past and is currently immune.

That kind of test will be far easier to roll out and use than the complex nasal swab tests now being used to detect the active virus that causes COVID-19, she added, saying it’s possible that the antibody tests could be conducted in the confines of one’s own home, much like a pregnancy test.

“They will come in a variety of shapes and sizes,” McNally said. “The simplest would be one that you do at home, that you would poke your finger and squeeze out a little blood and put it on a little strip, and it’ll be the plus-minus whether you’ve developed antibodies or not.”

There are several benefits to having the test, including:

Determining how much of the population is infected.

“One of the questions we are going to be asking … is, ‘How widespread was this virus?’ ” McNally said. “I think we have a lot of indication that it’s much more widespread than we know, because most of the younger people who get this get it relatively mildly, recover and do OK. And we’re not tracking any of those people right now.”

Interestingly, the more people who have had it, the safer everyone is, under the concept of “herd immunity.”

“The people who are already covered can actually provide protection to the people around them, just because it’s hard for the virus to spread,” McNally said. “The virus can’t spread anymore, so people are less likely to get it.”

Figuring out who can go back to work, particularly sidelined doctors and nurses, police officers and firefighters.

If a person is positive for antibodies, which likely show up two to six weeks after infection, they’re not going to get sick or spread the virus, because their bodies are killing it off. “Once the antibodies come up in your system, that means your body fought it off, and you don’t have active virus,” McNally said.

Read more »


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LATEST UPDATE: Coronavirus Pandemic

Habtamu Kehali gives doctors a refresher course in how to use the ventilators, which are used for patients whose lungs have been immpaired by coronavirus infection. (AFP Photo/Michael Tewelde)

THE LATEST UPDATE:

Updated: April 4th, 2020

  • New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers
  • Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight
  • Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise
  • Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed
  • U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II
  • US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC
  • Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community
  • 2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19
  • DC Metro Area Goes on Lockdown
  • U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients
  • U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000
  • The Curious Case of Ethiopian Traditional Medicine Covid-19 Treatment & Need for Caution
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy spoke with Dr. Tedros regarding the Coronavirus response in Africa
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

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

    By The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Associated Press

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

    Read more »

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

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

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

    Read more »

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

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

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

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


    Related:

    We Need Seismic Change, Right Now: by Marcus Samuelsson

    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

    Diaspora-based Tech Professionals Launch Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Task Force

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • LATEST UPDATE: Coronavirus Pandemic

    Ethiopian fire brigades on Sunday cleaned and disinfected public spaces in the country's capital, Addis Ababa to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo: AA)

    The Latest:

    Updated: March 29th, 2020

  • As U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 2,000, CDC issues travel advisory for New York tri-state region
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread
  • New York City reports 26,697 COVID-19 cases, 450 deaths
  • In California, L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    As U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 2,000, CDC issues travel advisory for hard-hit New York tri-state region

    By The Washington Post

    The United States reached a grim milestone Saturday, doubling the number of coronavirus-related deaths over two days to more than 2,000. New York remained the hardest hit, a devastating toll compounded Saturday by President Trump’s day-long dance over whether he would order a federal quarantine of the New York City metro region — a proposal he ultimately retracted… New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) called the idea “preposterous” and equated it to imprisonment and “a declaration of war.”…instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would issue a “strong travel advisory” for the New York tri-state area. The CDC advisory urged residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to “refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately,” though the three states issued stay-home orders to the same effect March 20.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


    Related:

    We Need Seismic Change, Right Now: by Marcus Samuelsson

    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

    Diaspora-based Tech Professionals Launch Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Task Force

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • We Need Seismic Change, Right Now: by Marcus Samuelsson

    Editor's Note: Marcus Samuelsson [owner of Red Rooster Harlem] is the author of multiple books, including "Yes, Chef" and "The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem." (CNN)

    CNN

    By Marcus Samuelsson

    (CNN) - This past week has been the toughest of my career, as I’m sure is true for many of you. My city, New York, is under siege by this cruel and relentless virus. Most of my restaurants are now closed, other than the few mostly serving limited takeout and delivery. Millions of people in my industry are suddenly out of work, and no one knows when — or whether — relief will come.

    I am a chef by training, and certainly not a policy expert, but I can share insights from three unique vantage points: 1) as someone who works and lives in the economically disadvantaged neighborhood of Harlem; 2) as a small-business owner who employs and works alongside the residents of my community; and 3) as an émigré who grew up in Sweden, which taught me valuable lessons in how a government can and should care for its own.

    Let’s start with the first point. During this crisis, we need to be especially concerned about our nation’s food-insecure population — and think about nutrition the same way we think about health care. Food is as vital a resource as medicine. It’s clear that this virus is going to have a devastating impact on urban communities like mine. We have to ensure we’re not compounding that with the unnecessary deaths of our food-insecure neighbors.

    For the past five years, through our Harlem EatUp! festival, we’ve partnered with Citymeals, which was already serving weekend, holiday and emergency meals to more than 18,000 homebound residents of Harlem and beyond, and now face a rapid increase in demand. Having joined on these meal deliveries with my friend and Citymeals board co-President Daniel Boulud, I can tell you that the recipients literally will not survive without those services.

    We know the ranks of the food-insecure will grow exponentially in the weeks and months ahead. That’s why we’ve partnered with organizations such as José Andres’ World Central Kitchen to turn our restaurants into community kitchens.

    But non-profits and restaurateurs can’t do this work alone. We need federal, state and local governments to support these efforts, in the same way they’re ramping up medical systems. My peers across the restaurant industry are clamoring for ways to help — and we need federal and local guidelines as well as funding to ensure our help is delivered safely, legally and effectively. All levels of government must step up, not just with money but with strategic assistance and direction.

    To the second point: As a business owner with restaurants in eight different countries, I’m in the heartbreaking position of seeing thousands of employees forced to go on unemployment across the globe. In the United States, however, the benefits are far too low and don’t last nearly long enough. The American unemployment system is built to “tide you over” while you quickly find another job — it’s not designed to support you if no jobs are available because your industry no longer exists.

    In this time of crisis, the federal government should immediately act to double the unemployment benefit for every affected American, extending the term from a length of varying weeks (most states offer 26 but some offer more or much less) to a standard of 200+ days (which, by the way, is what Sweden covers). Benefits should also be expanded to cover unemployed workers’ health coverage, be it COBRA payments or premiums. We must begin decoupling health care from our jobs — especially now that many of those jobs don’t exist.

    Finally, we now have critical industries asking low-paid workers to continue working under dangerous circumstances. Not just our heroic health workers and first responders, but also the tireless grocery workers, the restaurant workers still handling takeout and delivery, the truck drivers hauling produce and countless others in the food industry. Without these critical links, our supply chain would fall apart, and the nation’s food system would collapse.

    For this reason, the federal government must step in to protect our vulnerable food industry workers, by providing safety equipment, setting guidelines to ensure a safe and healthy work environment, and, most of all, by matching (i.e. doubling) wages to give our critical workers the financial support they desperately need and deserve. That family-run corner deli on my block? They don’t make a lot of money, but they’re a vital lifeline for our community — and in neighborhoods like ours, their value is a hundred times what they’re earning.

    As you may have noticed, most of my proposed solutions call for more government action. That’s partly because I grew up in Sweden, where I learned the value of a government that offers help directly to its citizens — through smart, sustainable, sensible state-run programs — not just indirectly through banks and corporations, or relying on charities and non-governmental organizations to step in and fill the void. I chose long ago to become a US citizen and love this country dearly. But I can’t wonder how things might work if the wealthiest, most technologically advanced country in the world were a little more like Sweden.

    The fact is, the same old fixes won’t work this time, if they ever really did. There’s no point in offering a restaurant a no-interest small-business loan when the restaurant industry may not survive in the first place. We need seismic change, and we need it right now. I know our politicians are working through the weekend to formulate another stimulus plan. Let’s make sure they don’t leave out the most important ingredient — helping the people who are truly in need.

    Join me in reaching out to your elected officials to demand action. You can find them here.


    Related:

    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

    Diaspora-based Tech Professionals Launch Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Task Force

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    All around the world, health professionals are at the front lines of this pandemic, giving all they have to selflessly care for their communities. One of our #ObamaLeaders wanted to make sure they were recognized for their bravery—and motivated to keep going. (@ObamaFoundation)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 21st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) – Here at Tadias as we continue covering news among the Ethiopian Diaspora community, amid the COVID-19 pandemic from our lockdown in New York City, we’re reassured of the indomitable human spirit through simple acts of kindness and people helping each other.

    It was heartening to read this last week as Seattle Times highlighted the efforts of Ethiopian American Yadesa Bojia — an artist who has been actively involved in community work for a long time, and whom we first featured on our magazine 13 years ago. To improve health literacy during the COVID-19 pandemic Bojia launched a social media-based public service announcement campaign in Amharic to provide accurate and “scientifically grounded” information to the Ethiopian Community. More recently, People to People, Inc. (P2P), a U.S.-based network of Ethiopian healthcare professionals, also launched an online fundraising campaign for first responders in Ethiopia – a critical step to curb the pandemic in a nation that only had 10 physicians per 100,000 individuals (as reported by the World Bank in 2017).

    It is likewise heartwarming to see the inspiring stories shared online by former President Barack Obama urging Americans to “stay hopeful” amid the viral outbreak. “Even in this uncertain time, we can still find reasons for hope,” Obama announced. “We’ve gathered stories of people from every corner of the globe carrying out selfless acts in this time of need.” He added: “Think of it as the virtual hug you (maybe) didn’t know you needed. Our team will continue to add to this steady stream of global hope, but we’d like your help. Tell us about the stories—big and small—that are lifting your spirits.

    Among the stories shared by Obama include this Washington Post article featuring “neighborhood groups across the Washington area [that] are forming militias of caring and help.” President Obama also gave a shoutout to the NBA players who are donating money to cover salaries of hourly workers amid suspended season. In addition the former president spotlighted a tweet from the American musician Yo-Yo Ma, who had posted a video with the following note: “In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort. The first of my #SongsOfComfort: Dvořák – ‘Going Home.’” The encouraging stories are not limited to the U.S. as he also features people like the Singapore-based, Vivian Lim, who “organized a response for migrants in her community and coordinated volunteers to distribute masks, hand sanitizers, bar soaps, and personal hygiene awareness messages.”

    As Obama noted: “We face a long road ahead – stay hopeful.”

    You can read more and contribute at www.obama.org »

    Related:

    LATEST UPDATE: Coronavirus Pandemic

    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

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In Loving Memory: Dr Catherine Hamlin 1924 – 2020

    Dr Catherine Hamlin passed away at her home in Addis Ababa on Wednesday March 18th, 2020. (Photo: The Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) – Dr. Catherine Hamlin — who along with her late husband Dr. Reginald Hamlin had founded Ethiopia’s first fistula hospital — passed away on Wednesday at the age of 96.

    When the Hamlins had moved to Addis Ababa in 1959 they had never seen a fistula patient before. In a 2003 interview Dr. Catherine had told Tadias that fistula “is the oldest medical cause in the world. There is currency dug out of pyramids containing images of fistula, yet in the 21st century it is the most neglected cause.”

    Since it was launched in 1974 the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital has treated over 60,000 women, the majority of whom have been cured and have returned to their homes to live healthy, normal lives. While the Australian-born Dr. Hamlin had received honorary Ethiopian citizenship in April 2012, she was presented by PM Abiy Ahmed with the prestigious Eminent Citizen Award in May 2019 along with the unveiling of a statue of her and Dr. Reginald Hamlin in recognition of their more than six decades of service in Ethiopia.

    Ethiopian Health Minister Lia Tadesse noted on Twitter: “Very sad to hear the loss of Dr. Catherine Hamlin, a symbol of empathy & compassion with extraordinary contributions that changed the lives of thousands of women with obstetric fistula. She will always remain in our hearts.”

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also took to social media to express his condolences. “Ethiopia lost a true gem who dedicated more than sixty years to restoring the dignity of thousands of women,” he tweeted. “I wish her loved ones, friends and colleagues comfort. May she Rest In Peace.”

    Below is the official obituary of Dr Catherine Hamlin courtesy of the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation:

    Dr Catherine Hamlin 1924 – 2020


    (Photo: The Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation)

    “When I die, this place will go on for many, many years until we have eradicated fistula altogether – until every woman in Ethiopia is assured of a safe delivery and a live baby.” – Dr Catherine Hamlin

    “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

    The world is mourning the death of Australia’s most renowned obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr Catherine Hamlin AC, who died, age 96 at her home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday March 18th, 2020.

    Catherine, together with her late husband Dr Reginald Hamlin OBE, co-founded Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, a healthcare network treating women who suffer from the debilitating effects of an obstetric fistula – a horrific childbirth injury.

    To say Catherine was a remarkable woman is an understatement. In our eyes, she is a saint. She was much-admired for her work in Australia and globally. She was twice nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and has been recognized by the United Nations as a pioneer in fistula surgery. In 1995 Catherine was awarded Australia’s highest honor – the Companion of the Order of Australia, and in 2018 she was named NSW Senior Australian of the Year. In 2012, the Ethiopian Government awarded Catherine Honorary Ethiopian Citizenship and in 2019 the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed presented her with Eminent Citizen Award in recognition of her lifetime of service to the women of Ethiopia.

    In 2020 Catherine celebrated her 61st year in Ethiopia. She lived most of her life there, in her original house on the grounds of her Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, adored by her patients, staff and the Ethiopian people. She was often referred to as “Emaye” meaning Mother. Catherine was not just committed to spending her life treating thousands of women, she spent her whole adult life changing lives – for the better.

    Women and girls who suffer from obstetric fistula have been described as our modern-day lepers. Obstetric fistula is a horrific childbirth injury, that leaves women incontinent. It is caused by long, unrelieved obstructed labour. Tragically, 93% of obstetric fistula survivors give birth to a stillborn baby. Women with obstetric fistulas live with a constant stream of leaking urine and, in some cases, feces. These women and girls are often ostracized from their communities and rejected by their husbands.

    Catherine Hamlin lived to give these women their life back.

    Elinor Catherine Nicholson was born on January 24th, 1924 in Sydney. One of six children to Elinor and Theodore Nicholson, the family lived in the Sydney suburb of Ryde, and Catherine completed her schooling at Frensham School, Mittagong, in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Following an innate desire to help women and children, she enrolled in medicine, graduating from the University of Sydney’s Medical School in 1946. After completing internships at two Sydney hospitals; St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn and St George Hospital, Kogarah, Catherine accepted a residency in obstetrics at Sydney’s highly regarded Crown Street Women’s Hospital. It was at Crown Street that she met and fell in love with Dr. Reginald (Reg) Hamlin. They married in 1950 and had a son, Richard, in 1952.

    In 1958, the Hamlins answered an advertisement in The Lancet Medical Journal for gynecologists to set up a school of midwifery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Together with their six-year-old son, Richard, they travelled to Ethiopia to take up the contract. What had been intended as a three-year stay in Addis Ababa turned into a lifetime of service to the Ethiopian people.

    Once Catherine and Reg started work at the Princess Tsehai Memorial Hospital, they found themselves treating women suffering obstetric complications on a scale unimaginable in a Western hospital. Before the Hamlins arrived in Ethiopia, patients with obstetric fistulas who sought medical help at the Princess Tsehai Memorial Hospital were turned away as they had no cure for their humiliating condition. The Hamlins had limited knowledge about obstetric fistulas as they had never had to deal with one before. Confronted by the tragic plight of women with obstetric fistula, and never having seen this condition in Australia, Catherine and Reg had to draw on medical literature from the 1850s to develop their own surgical technique. The technique they perfected is still used today.

    As news of the Hamlins’ work spread, more and more women came to them for help. At first, they built a 10-bed fistula clinic in the grounds of the Princess Tsehai Memorial Hospital. Then, amidst the communist revolution, they built their Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital which opened on May 24th, 1975. There are now six Hamlin Fistula Hospitals across Ethiopia. Over the past 61 years, more than 60,000 Ethiopian women suffering with an obstetric fistula have received life-changing reconstructive surgery and care, thanks to the Hamlins’ vision.

    Catherine’s strength and passion to offer free fistula surgery wavered only once in her lifetime, following the death of her beloved Reg in 1993. Days after his funeral, Catherine felt overwhelming fear at the prospect of running the hospital by herself. In this moment of grief, her long-time gardener Birru knelt by her chair, “He took my hand in his, kissed the back of it and said, ‘Don’t leave us; we’ll all help you.’” A deeply religious woman, Catherine felt these words were an enormous blessing and from that moment Catherine knew that she would be “quite alright.”

    Her initial goal of training midwives became a reality in 2007 when she founded the Hamlin College of Midwives. High school graduates are trained in a four-year degree, then deployed to rural midwifery clinics, where they are most needed, breaking the cycle of unrelieved obstructed labour and thereby preventing obstetric fistula from occurring in the first place.

    In 1983, Catherine was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and in 1995 appointed to the higher rank in the Order, a Companion (AC) for ‘service to gynecology in developing countries particularly in the field of fistula surgery and for humanitarian service to improving the health dignity and self-esteem of women in Ethiopia’. In 2001, the Australian Government recognized Catherine’s ‘long and outstanding service to international development in Africa’ by awarding her the Australian Centenary Medal. In recognition of her humanitarian work in Ethiopia she was included on the Australian Living Legends list in 2004. In 2009, Catherine was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes referred to as the Alternate Nobel Prize. In 2011 she was among 50 prominent Australians invited by Her Excellency the Governor-General Quentin Bryce to lunch with the Queen. In 2015, Catherine received the Australian Medical Association’s President’s Award. In 2017, a Sydney Ferries Emerald-class ferry was named the ‘Catherine Hamlin’ after thousands of Australian supporters voted for her.

    Despite all these tributes, Catherine was always humbled in the extreme by all the media attention and awards. Drawing on the courage of Ethiopian women is what inspired her to accept such accolades, and awards were always an opportunity to promote the heartbreaking plight of the fistula patients and the needs of the hospitals treating them.

    Catherine was most proud of her Hamlin Model of Care – holistic healing that is part of every patient’s treatment. “We don’t just treat the hole in the bladder, we treat the whole patient with love and tender care, literacy and numeracy classes, a brand-new dress and money to travel home.”

    Today, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is a healthcare network of over 550 Ethiopian staff – many trained by Catherine – servicing six hospitals, Desta Mender rehabilitation centre, the Hamlin College of Midwives and 80 Hamlin supported Midwifery Clinics. Hamlin is the reference organization and leader in the fight to eradicate obstetric fistula around the world, blazing a trail for holistic treatment and care that empowers women to reassert their humanity, secure their health and well-being, and regain their roles in their families and communities.

    Catherine published her autobiography, co-written with Australian journalist and author John Little, The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope in 2001. In the book, Catherine makes clear that she and Reg saw their work as one of Christian compassion for the suffering. Then in 2004, she was profiled internationally on the Oprah Winfrey Show giving the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital the kind of worldwide publicity that Reg could never have imagined.

    During the last years of her life, Catherine was confident that her legacy would live on, “When I die, this place will go on for many, many years until we have eradicated fistula altogether – until every woman in Ethiopia is assured of a safe delivery and a live baby.”

    Catherine will be buried alongside Reg in the British War Graves Cemetery in Addis Ababa, her home for 61 years. At the 60th anniversary celebrations in 2019, Catherine said “I love Ethiopia and I have loved every day here. Ethiopia is my home.”

    Catherine is survived by her only son Richard and his four adult children: Sarah, Paul, Catherine and Stephanie, her sister Ailsa Pottie and brothers Donald and Jock Nicholson.

    “Catherine lived an incredible life having made an enormous difference to the lives and health of thousands upon thousands of women in Ethiopia. Her passionate commitment to women and maternal health through her trust and belief in fulfilling God’s work with love and devotion to others is something that we are all in awe of,” said Julie White, Chair of Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation.

    “Most of her 96 years were generously given to help the poor women of our country with traumatic birth injuries. We are all thankful for Catherine’s lifelong dedication. We promise to continue her legacy and realize her dream to eradicate fistula from Ethiopia. Forever,” said Tesfaye Mamo, Chief Executive Officer of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.

    We are all committed to ensuring Catherine’s dream to eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia becomes a reality.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Photo courtesy of People to People, Inc. (P2P)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the global Coronavirus infection toll surpassed 218,000 — doubling in less than 15 days and placing unprecedented stress to medical systems worldwide — Ethiopia also reported its first cases this week along with aggressive, precautionary measures including the closure of schools and banning of large public events and gatherings.

    In order to support frontline medical workers combatting COVID-19 in Ethiopia, efforts are also being made by People to People, Inc. (P2P), a U.S.-based network of Ethiopian healthcare professionals who announced the launch of an online fundraising campaign for first responders.

    Adequate provision of healthcare resources are needed to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and P2P shared that it “is once again working closely with government officials and health care providers, as well as in the process of partnering with Arts TV (http://artstv.tv) to set up a local call center to inform and answer any questions the public may have.” As a Diaspora-based organization, P2P has an extensive and successful history of advocating and working with both government health agencies as well as physicians and health care workers in Ethiopia.

    “With your help, P2P wants to make sure that our first responders are protected from the possibility of catching the virus,” the organization stated as it launched its current efforts. “We are asking the Diaspora community to help us raise funds so that the first responders are well-equipped with the necessary tools to stay safe – including masks, sanitizers and soap. Together, we will be providing our first responders with the help they need as we navigate this uncertain and constantly evolving situation. A donation of any amount can provide a lot of support and is greatly appreciated.”

    Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Fitsum Arega, has also shared a videoconference via Facebook on the Coronavirus pandemic response in Ethiopia in collaboration with P2P and 16 infectious disease medical doctors and professors based in the United States.


    Photo via Fitsum Arega Facebook.


    Photo via Fitsum Arega Facebook.

    “Appreciating the efforts so far they underlined the importance of further containment strategies,” Fitsum said. “They also vowed to advise & provide support.”


    You can learn more and support P2P’s efforts at www.gofundme.com.

    Related:

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    Ethiopia Closes Schools, Bans Public Events

    WHO Says Some Nations Aren’t Running Enough Coronavirus Tests

    How it spreads, infects: Coronavirus impact comes into focus

    Coronavirus Sparks an Epidemic of People Helping People in Seattle

    WHO Declares Coronavirus a Pandemic

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    WHO: ‘Test every suspected case’

    World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says there has not been an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing, which should be the "backbone" of the global response. He said it is not possible to "fight a fire blindfolded." (Image via BBC)

    CNBC

    Updated: March 18, 2020

    The World Health Organization’s top official criticized some nations for not doing enough to detect and contain the deadly coronavirus that’s infected more than 174,000 people across the world.

    There’s been a rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases over the past week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference Monday. “But we have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the response,” he said.

    “We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test. Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in contact with two days before they developed symptoms and test those people, too,” Tedros said.

    Tedros didn’t single out any one country, but state and local leaders in the U.S. have heavily criticized the Trump administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for delaying and limiting who could get tested in the U.S.

    At the beginning of the outbreak, the CDC limited testing to people who had recently traveled to China and showed symptoms, or people who were symptomatic and exposed to someone with a confirmed case. The agency has since expanded its guidelines to include people showing symptoms who are already in the hospital or with underlying health conditions.

    “For any country, one of the most important things is the political commitment at the highest level,” Tedros said. “All countries should be able to test all suspected cases. They cannot fight this pandemic blindfolded; they should know where the cases are.”

    On Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state was ramping up its testing, having just received federal approval to allow 28 labs across the state to begin running coronavirus tests. He said the state should be able to process 6,000 a day starting next week. The state had been able to run a total of just 3,000 tests so far, he said.

    Federal regulators gave private labs, including LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, approval on Feb. 28 to start running coronavirus tests, and Vice President Mike Pence announced expanded testing capabilities across the U.S. over the weekend.

    “There’s no doubt that we are missing cases. I think we need to be realistic about this,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit.

    In treating patients, Tedros said, countries should first treat people who have underlying conditions. Some countries have converted stadiums and gyms to care for mild cases to free up hospitals for severe and critical cases, he said.

    In Korea, where the virus spread rapidly last month, health officials rolled out an aggressive testing regime that processed tests for more than 259,000 people and confirmed more than 8,000 infections, according to the Korean CDC. In the U.S. more than 22,000 people have been tested at CDC and public health labs, according to the U.S. CDC. That does not include tests run by commercial labs, some of which were authorized last week to begin automated testing.

    “Once again, our key message is: Test, test, test. This is a serious disease. Also the evidence we have suggests that those over 60 are at highest risk. Young people, including children, have died,” Tedros said.

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Closes Schools, Bans Public Events

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    UPDATEd: March 16th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia on Monday closed schools across the country and banned all public gatherings, including sports events, for 15 days.

    The decision was announced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after consultations with top officials on measures to avert a COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

    In a televised message, the premier said the steps were necessary after four new cases were confirmed in Ethiopia over the past 24 hours, raising the total to five.

    Among the new cases are two Japanese and an Ethiopian national who had been in contact with the country’s first patient, a 48-year-old Japanese citizen.

    The fourth case was an Ethiopian man who recently returned from Dubai.


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says steps necessary after new coronavirus cases rise. (AA)

    Ahmed said his government was making efforts to provide protective face masks, medical kits, and disinfectants, including sanitizers, for the public.

    He announced that government vehicles would be used for public transport to ease the burden on the existing system.

    With only primary and secondary schools being closed for now, Abiy said that university students would be provided all essential care at their respective campuses.

    After emerging in Wuhan, China, last December, the coronavirus has now spread to at least 146 countries and territories, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    The global death toll is nearly 6,500, with around 165,000 confirmed cases.

    While the WHO recently declared the global outbreak a pandemic, its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation was controllable.

    In his remarks at a March 3 briefing on COVID-19, Tedros also pointed out that the mortality rate from the virus was around 3.4%.


    Africa Turns The Tables: Restricts Travel from U.S. & Europe to Halt COVID-19


    Ethiopian health workers prepare to screen passengers for COVID-19 at the Addis Ababa airport. Most cases of COVID-19 in Africa have so far been imported by travelers. (Photo: Michael Tewelde /Getty Images)

    The Intercept

    March 15 2020

    AS THE NOVEL coronavirus rages through the world and spreads rapidly in the U.S., Africa is the least-affected continent at the moment, with less than 300 reported cases in roughly half of its 54 countries so far. A number of media outlets have reacted with a confounded tone, surprised that Africa does not have more cases and wondering if the low numbers are due to a lack of testing.

    Health officials say that the main reason the continent has thus far been spared major outbreaks is due to the infrastructure set up during the Ebola epidemic that is still in place, and lower overall international air travel rates. At the same time, they acknowledge that the picture is not all sunny — the virus in some countries is likely spreading unchecked. But in Nigeria, the continent’s largest country by population, investments in lab capacity and coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) for testing have paid dividends. “Over the last three years, we have strengthened capacity at our National Reference Laboratory to provide molecular diagnosis for all epidemic prone diseases and highly infectious pathogens,” Chikwe Ihekweazu, the director of Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control, told The Conversation.

    The pandemic is exposing major flaws in higher income countries’ health systems and turning the tables on decades of travel restrictions targeting Africans. When West Africa suffered from the Ebola crisis from 2014-2016, the region was often painted as a weak link in the global health system, and many airlines cut flights to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Four years later, Africa is at risk of contamination primarily from Europe, China, and the U.S. Besides Egypt, nearly all the continent’s confirmed cases have come from travelers from European or east Asian countries, though that looks likely to change soon as cases rise rapidly across the continent and community transmission becomes more likely.

    In a dramatic shift in fortunes, African countries — whose citizens often have to prove their health status to even get a visa to travel to Europe — have moved swiftly to control arrivals from European countries. Ghana and Kenya announced new measures prohibiting travelers from countries affected by Covid-19, the first two African nations to put in place blanket travel bans, while Senegal and Kenya also announced school closures. The Democratic Republic of Congo imposed quarantine measures on travelers from Italy, France, China and Germany. After restricting travelers from high-risk countries to quarantine, Mauritania deported 15 Italian tourists and Tunisia deported 30 other Italians for violating theirs. Rwanda, Uganda, Mali, and others have imposed similar quarantine measure for European travelers, while across the continent, passengers are screened for their temperature at international airports. A Cameroonian news outlet reported higher arrivals from Italy due to people trying escape their coronavirus-infected country.

    Dr. Craig Spencer, the American doctor who contracted the Ebola virus while providing emergency medical relief in Guinea in 2014, agrees the Ebola experience left many African countries better prepared. “There’s been a substantial increase in both the human resource capacity, the financial investment, and really, the logistical strengthening of public health and epidemic response capacity in sub-Saharan Africa,” Dr. Spencer, who is the Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told The Intercept.

    Read more »

    WATCH: Coronavirus education through song | South African choir sings about COVID-19


    List of African Countries with Coronavirus Grows as Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan Report Cases


    Dr Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health of Ethiopia, addresses a press conference after the first case of Covid-19 coronavirus was detected in Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa on March 13, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

    France24

    Africa had until now largely been spared the rapid spread of COVID-19, which has infected at least 135,000 people and killed around 5,000 worldwide.

    Most of Africa’s reported cases were foreigners or people who had travelled abroad. Rapid testing and quarantines have been put in place to limit transmission.

    But concerns are growing about the continent’s ability to handle the disease.

    Cases have been reported in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia.

    Mauritania’s health ministry said late on Friday that its first coronavirus patient is a European man – nationality not specified – who had returned to Nouakchott on March 9 and had since been in quarantine.

    The numbers of cases in most of the countries are still in single figures…

    Read more »

    WHO Declares Coronavirus a Pandemic


    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director-general, on Wednesday. He called for countries to help protect one another against a common threat. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: March 11, 2020

    Coronavirus Has Become a Pandemic, W.H.O. Says

    The spread of the coronavirus is now a pandemic, officials at the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

    “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director-general.

    Dr. Tedros called for countries to learn from one another’s successes, act in unison and help protect one another against a common threat.

    “Find, isolate, test and treat every case, and trace every contact,” Dr. Tedros said. “Ready your hospitals. Protect and train your health care workers.”

    “Let’s all look out for each other, because we’re in this together to do the right things with calm and to protect the citizens of the world.”

    Although this is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, “we also believe that this is the first pandemic that is able to be controlled,” Dr. Tedros added.

    He pointed several times to the success of China, which has cut new infections from over 3,500 a day in late January to a mere 24 in the most recent daily count. The world is watching to see whether China can keep its numbers down as it gradually releases millions of city dwellers from quarantine and lets them go back to work.

    South Korea and Singapore have also begun to see cases drop. But the rest of the world is seeing alarmingly rapid rises.

    The W.H.O. is emphatically not suggesting that the world should give up on containment, Dr. Tedros said.

    “We are suggesting a blended strategy,” he said, referring to a blend of containment and mitigation. “We should double down. We should be more aggressive.”

    Read more »


    Related:

    How it spreads, infects: Coronavirus impact comes into focus

    Coronavirus Sparks an Epidemic of People Helping People in Seattle

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: The Ethiopian at the Heart of the Coronavirus Fight

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID-19: Ethiopia Closes Schools, Bans Public Events

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says steps necessary after new coronavirus cases rise. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    UPDATEd: March 16th, 2020

    Ethiopia Closes Schools, Bans Public Events

    ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia on Monday closed schools across the country and banned all public gatherings, including sports events, for 15 days.

    The decision was announced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after consultations with top officials on measures to avert a COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

    In a televised message, the premier said the steps were necessary after four new cases were confirmed in Ethiopia over the past 24 hours, raising the total to five.

    Among the new cases are two Japanese and an Ethiopian national who had been in contact with the country’s first patient, a 48-year-old Japanese citizen.

    The fourth case was an Ethiopian man who recently returned from Dubai.

    Ahmed said his government was making efforts to provide protective face masks, medical kits, and disinfectants, including sanitizers, for the public.

    He announced that government vehicles would be used for public transport to ease the burden on the existing system.

    With only primary and secondary schools being closed for now, Abiy said that university students would be provided all essential care at their respective campuses.

    After emerging in Wuhan, China, last December, the coronavirus has now spread to at least 146 countries and territories, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    The global death toll is nearly 6,500, with around 165,000 confirmed cases.

    While the WHO recently declared the global outbreak a pandemic, its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation was controllable.

    In his remarks at a March 3 briefing on COVID-19, Tedros also pointed out that the mortality rate from the virus was around 3.4%.


    List of African Countries with Coronavirus Grows as Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan Report Cases


    Dr Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health of Ethiopia, addresses a press conference after the first case of Covid-19 coronavirus was detected in Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa on March 13, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

    France24

    Africa had until now largely been spared the rapid spread of COVID-19, which has infected at least 135,000 people and killed around 5,000 worldwide.

    Most of Africa’s reported cases were foreigners or people who had travelled abroad. Rapid testing and quarantines have been put in place to limit transmission.

    But concerns are growing about the continent’s ability to handle the disease.

    Cases have been reported in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia.

    Mauritania’s health ministry said late on Friday that its first coronavirus patient is a European man – nationality not specified – who had returned to Nouakchott on March 9 and had since been in quarantine.

    The numbers of cases in most of the countries are still in single figures…

    Read more »

    WHO Declares Coronavirus a Pandemic


    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director-general, on Wednesday. He called for countries to help protect one another against a common threat. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: March 11, 2020

    Coronavirus Has Become a Pandemic, W.H.O. Says

    The spread of the coronavirus is now a pandemic, officials at the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

    “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director-general.

    Dr. Tedros called for countries to learn from one another’s successes, act in unison and help protect one another against a common threat.

    “Find, isolate, test and treat every case, and trace every contact,” Dr. Tedros said. “Ready your hospitals. Protect and train your health care workers.”

    “Let’s all look out for each other, because we’re in this together to do the right things with calm and to protect the citizens of the world.”

    Although this is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, “we also believe that this is the first pandemic that is able to be controlled,” Dr. Tedros added.

    He pointed several times to the success of China, which has cut new infections from over 3,500 a day in late January to a mere 24 in the most recent daily count. The world is watching to see whether China can keep its numbers down as it gradually releases millions of city dwellers from quarantine and lets them go back to work.

    South Korea and Singapore have also begun to see cases drop. But the rest of the world is seeing alarmingly rapid rises.

    The W.H.O. is emphatically not suggesting that the world should give up on containment, Dr. Tedros said.

    “We are suggesting a blended strategy,” he said, referring to a blend of containment and mitigation. “We should double down. We should be more aggressive.”

    Read more »


    Related:

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: The Ethiopian at the Heart of the Coronavirus Fight

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Maaza Mengiste Wins 2020 Literature Prize from American Academy of Arts & Letters

    Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste is among 19 writers who will receive the 2020 awards in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Photo: CUNY)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: March 12th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Maaza Mengiste has won the 2020 Literature prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Academy announced that Mengiste is among 19 writers who will receive this year’s awards in literature, which will be presented in New York at the organization’s annual Ceremonial in May.

    “The literature prizes, totaling $350,000, honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry,” the press release said. “The Academy’s 250 members propose candidates, and a rotating committee of writers selects winners.”

    Maaza Mengiste — who is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Shadow King and Beneath the Lion’s Gaze — was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. Maaza is also the “writer for the Ethiopia segment of Girl Rising,” a feature film that tells the stories of 10 extraordinary girls from 10 developing countries around the world. Maaza’s work has likewise appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC Radio, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story, and Lettre International.

    “The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers,” the announcement states. The press release added: “The Academy’s 250 members are elected for life and pay no dues. In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country.”

    You can read the full list of winners at artsandletters.org »


    Related:

    Tadias 10 Arts & Culture Stories of 2019

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora Honors Ethiopian Visionaries

    This event has been postponed to May 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. More info at www.ethioseed.org. (Photo courtesy of Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora, SEED)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: March 9th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED) has announced that it will hold its 28th annual Recognition & Awards dinner on Sunday May 24th at College Park Marriott Hotel in Hyattsville, Maryland.

    Established in 1993, SEED is one of the oldest Ethiopian Diaspora organizations in the United States.

    The nonprofit said that this year it will recognize seven individuals for professional excellence in various fields including business, law, technology, art, and humanitarian work. The 2020 honorees include Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Mr. Tekalign Gedamu, Mrs. Freweini Mebrahtu, Ms. Bethlehem Dessie, Artist Tadesse Worku, Sister Zebedir Zewdie, and Mrs. Meaza Birru.

    The announcement added that “SEED will also honor exceptional high school seniors who excelled in their academic pursuits, stood out in humanitarian efforts, and exhibited exemplary community services.”


    Photo courtesy of The Society of Ethiopians Established in the Diaspora (SEED)

    Last year SEED honored women leaders and pioneers including Meaza Ashenafi, President of the Supreme Court of Ethiopia; physician Senait Fisseha, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility academic at the University of Michigan and Director of International Programs at the Susan Buffet Foundation; Captain Amsale Gualu, the first female captain at Ethiopian Airlines; Artist Julie Mehretu; Dr. Yalemtsehay Mekonnen, the first female Professor in Ethiopia, Talk Show Host Helen Mesfin; Ledet Muleta, Senior Psychiatric Research Nurse at the National Institute of Health and a dedicated advocate for mental health research; Yetnebersh Nigussie, Lawyer and Disability Rights Activist from Ethiopia; and legendary athlete Derartu Tulu, the first African woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

    Previous SEED honorees include Musicians Mahamoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro as well as Poet and Author Lemn Sissay, Playwright and Actor Alemtsehay Wodajo, and Economist Dr. Lemma W. Senbet who is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park and a member of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund’s Advisory Council.

    The guest speaker for the 2020 SEED awards dinner is Dr. Arvid Hogganvik, an Ethiopian-born Norwegian physician.


    If You Go:

    The event takes place on May 24, 2020 at College Park Marriott Hotel Conference Center 3501 University Boulevard E. Hyattsville, Maryland. More info at www.ethioseed.org.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Yelugnta & Gemena: NYC Workshop Aims to Break Taboo of Mental Illness in Ethiopian Community

    Yelugnta and Gemena workshop poster courtesy of ECMAA.

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 7th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — This weekend a timely public workshop is being held in New York City highlighting the taboo topics of mental health in the Ethiopian Community including intimate partner violence (IPV) as well as the growing prevalence of autism among young children.

    The event, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 7 at African Services Committee in Uptown Manhattan, is organized by ECMAA, African Services Committee, Ethiopian Edir Mutual Assistance Association, Habesha Health and the Medhanialem Tewahedo Church.

    “The Amharic word Yelugnta drives many decisions and feelings in our community. Yelugnta keeps everyone responsible for each other and helps guide people’s decisions,” the announcement states. “Literally, Yelugnta means “what will people say” and Gemena “my secret”.” It added: “Both Yelugnta and Gemena, more detrimentally keep people from asking for help, keep them alone and from talking about things that could be judged or talked about. It keeps everyone silent and suffering alone.”

    Organizers stress that the goal of the program is to break the silence and to “create a space to enable frank discussion in a way that is responsive to the community; provide a common language for open communication; and identify skills and resources needed to seek help and provide preliminary support.”

    The upcoming workshop will have two parts:

    “The first, an opening interactive session with Betty Bekele as a facilitator will cover the overarching goals for the day focusing on Yelugnta and Gemena. The first session will end with the sharing of lessons learned from the Thrive NYC First Aid Mental Health workshop. The second half of the day will consist of two consecutive sessions for more in-depth and practical discussion about topic specific challenges and resources including intimate partner violence – with Sanctuary for Families and African Services Committee; and Autism – with Azeb Araya from the Ethiopian and Eritrean Special Needs Community, Fana Said and Mulugeta Semework. At the end of the day, participants will leave with concrete resources and information about members of the community who will make themselves available as a contact for future questions/issues.

    Actions and Guidelines to Ensure Success:
    To create the safe place for open discussion, the following guidelines are critical:
    1. Focus is building space for open communication, not fixing specific problems.
    2. During the day and beyond, emphasize confidentiality and good intent as well as no judgement,
    3. Provide practical information and tools to manage communication and build confidence.

    Join ECMAA in planning this event and guiding its content to make it as specific to the community as possible. Contact them at ecmaany@gmail.com to learn about how you can participate.


    If You Go:
    Yelugnta, Gemena and Communication in Our Community Workshop
    March 7,2020
    from 10AM to 4PM
    African Services Committee
    429 West 127th Street
    New York, NY
    More info at www.www.ECMAANY.org.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Adiskidan Ambaye’s Sculptures ‘Liberty’ at Addis Fine Art

    Liberty, a solo exhibition by sculptor Adiskidan Ambaye opens on March 3rd, 2020 at Addis Fine Art gallery in Addis Ababa. (Photo: AFA)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: March 1st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Addis Fine Art gallery in Addis Ababa announced that its latest exhibition features Sculptor, Painter and Designer Adiskidan Ambaye. Her show titled Liberty opens at the gallery on March 3rd and will be on display until April 25th, 2020.

    Adiskidan’s “wooden sculptures appear moulded from a single block of wood but are actually composed of as many as sixty handcrafted smaller slices of plywood,” Addis Fine Art noted in its announcement. “The ringed markings orbiting the surface of each segment represent an individual piece fused to form the whole.” The gallery added: “Ambaye has described this process as sculpting “from the inside out.” These cyclical markings also conjure images of the naturally occurring concentric circles found in trees, signifying age, and life and death, as they are only visible once the tree has been cut down.”

    Adiskidan is a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. On Instagram she introduces herself as “an Ethiopian American artist based in Addis Ababa that does product design, furniture design, paintings [and] sculptures.” Adiskidan was born in Ethiopia in 1977. She relocated to Europe in her teen years, and after emigrating to the United States she has now returned to Ethiopia. According to jomofurniture.com, Adiskidan’s creativity is “influenced by the different cultural and contemporary artists of Ethiopia. Adiskidan (who goes by Adis) thoroughly incorporates her heritage in her work. Combining her cultural background with modern contemporary style is Adis’ ultimate goal.”


    Adiskidan Ambaye, Liberty, at Addis Fine Art 3 March – 25 April 2020. (Photo: AFA)


    (Photo: Addis Fine Art)

    Addis Fine Art shares that Adiskidan “has exhibited across the USA as a part of select group and solo shows, including African Women (2001), World Space Centre, Washington DC, Colour of Africa (2001), Portland, Maine, Chicago Museum of Industrial design (2007), Chicago, Africa by Design (2017), Ghana.”


    If You Go:
    ADISKIDAN AMBAYE | LIBERTY
    3 MARCH – 25 APRIL 2020
    Addis Fine Art
    ADDIS ABABA
    More info at addisfineart.com.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: BBC Hosts ‘Icons of New York’ Interview with Marcus Samuelsson

    Marcus Samuelsson is one of the 'Icons of New York' featured in the upcoming BBC World Service program set for public taping in New York City on March 2nd, 2020. (Photo: @MarcusCooks/Twitter)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 1st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The BBC World Service Radio is hosting a special recording of a program called Icons of New York featuring the internationally renowned Chef, Author and Entrepreneur Marcus Samuelsson as well as the legendary NYC-born Musician Darryl McDaniels best known by his stage name DMC and who is credited as one of the original artists behind global hip hop culture.

    The BBC session, which is open to the public, is set to take place on March 2nd at The Greene Space in downtown Manhattan. The broadcaster notes: “Icons of New York share their life stories and secrets of the city..Marcus is a leading light of New York cuisine running an international restaurant chain but with his heart firmly grounded in the stories of the place he now calls home – Harlem.”

    One of the major breakthroughs of Marcus Samuelsson’s professional success came in 2009 when he was invited by President Barack Obama to prepare their first White House State Dinner.

    “It was the highest honor. That was Barack Obama’s first State Dinner so it was extremely important for him,” Marcus told Tadias at the time. “And it was an honor for me not only to be asked but also to do it.” The White House State Dinner was in honor of the visiting Prime Minister of India. Marcus added: “Michelle wanted a vegetarian dinner as much as possible as Mr. Singh is vegetarian so we came with fresh but very humble ingredients. For me, when I did the State Dinner I wanted to show the best of America and the best of India. I also wanted to show the White House as someone’s home.”


    Marcus Samuelsson with President Barack Obama. (@MarcusCooks/Twitter)

    Marcus, who more than two decades ago became the youngest chef ever to receive two three-star ratings from the New York Times, is also the author of several books including the New American Table, The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa, Marcus Off Duty, The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem, and his acclaimed memoir Yes, Chef. More recently Marcus has been hosting a popular television show on PBS titled No Passport Required, which celebrates the food and arts of America’s vibrant immigrant neighborhoods. The show is now in its second season that kicked off last month in Los Angeles with the premiere episode exploring the city’s Armenian community and cuisine.

    At the BBC event on March 2nd, Marcus joins the legendary rap star DMC who “grew up in Hollis Queens and has more than a story or two to tell about a lifetime in New York,” the press release stated. “He was at the forefront of revolutionary change in the New York music scene with the arrival of hip hop. And whilst Run-DMC had huge success that came with some dramatic lows. The ‘Devastating Mic Controller’ talks us through the early years of hip hop, his struggles with alcohol and anxiety and his lifelong love affair with comic books.”


    If You Go:

    New York Stories with Joe Pascal on BBC World Service – come and be part of our studio audience

    Date And Time
    Mon, March 2, 2020
    12:00 PM – 3:30 PM EST
    The Greene Space
    44 Charlton Street
    New York, NY 10014
    Click here for more info.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Little Ethiopia in Las Vegas: Interview with Assemblyman Alexander Assefa

    Assemblyman Alexander Assefa of the Nevada State Assembly. (@AlexAssefa4NV)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: February 21st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The vibrant small businesses in central Las Vegas that are owned by Ethiopian entrepreneurs will likely get a boost when their neighborhood officially becomes designated as ‘Little Ethiopia’ in the next few months.

    “Little Ethiopia is literally located within less than two miles away from the tourist district,” Assemblyman Alexander Assefa said in a recent interview with Tadias.

    Assemblyman Alex (as he is popularly known within the Ethiopian community) added: “The byproduct of being known and exposed for the rest of the world is that you get to start solving problems within your own community. Especially intra-community issues and things that are challenging, particularly to the immigrant community and to the Ethiopian American community here in Las Vegas. This is part of a multi-faceted approach to getting long-term solutions for our people.”

    Little Ethiopia in Las Vegas will also become the first officially designated cultural neighborhood in Nevada, and only the second Little Ethiopia neighborhood in the United States.

    “Little Ethiopia is a very diverse place, a beautiful area,” Assemblyman Assefa enthused. “Everybody should visit Las Vegas and when you do make sure you stop by and experience the hospitality and the amazing people that we have here.” He added: “It’s truly an emblematic of who we are as Ethiopians: hospitable, kind, and fun to hang out with. It’s a very bright place to be.”

    Assefa shared that when he first came up with the idea, his state had never done such a thing before. “The whole concept was strange to them and they didn’t know what the hell to do with me,” he laughed. They said, “We don’t have legislation that allows us to do what you’re asking to do.” Alex told them: “Well, that is why as lawmakers we write the law and we make it happen.”

    Recalling the process Alex added: “We literally worked on what we call, the ‘Cultural District Designation Policy’ over the summer. And generally this is a policy that is an umbrella for everybody else, not just little Ethiopia.”

    The Cultural District Designation Policy “is a guidance for any other community that comes forward with a similar issue. They would have to fulfill the requirements of this policy and be compliant with the guidelines that are set forth in the policy.” The policy was officially adopted in September 2019 and Alex was able to introduce a resolution for Little Ethiopia.

    Assemblyman Assefa represents Nevada’s 42nd Assembly District, which includes the proposed Little Ethiopia enclave, and he is the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature. To our knowledge he is also the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body.

    But before the Board of County Commissioners in Clark County, Nevada approves the Little Ethiopia resolution, however, the proposal must be presented before two town boards whose geographical locations encompass the neighborhood that boasts at least 60 Ethiopian small businesses including coffee shops, markets and 17 restaurants.

    “I have to show up before them and defend my proposal and answer their questions,” Assemblyman Assefa told Tadias. “Little Ethiopia, as proposed right now, crisscrosses two town boards jurisdictions, the Paradise Town Board and Spring Valley Town Board.”

    Assemblyman Assefa admits that the process has not been easy but he is optimistic of the final result. “There are people that support the resolution and there are people that oppose it; the conversation is ongoing,” he continued. “So the politics of it was pretty frustrating to say the least, but we’re in the final stages and have a solid idea of the size of the district and and where it will be.”


    Assemblyman Alexander Assefa and County Commissioner Michael Naft at a Coffee and Conversation event with residents of their district in Las Vegas, Aug 16, 2019. (@AlexAssefa4NV)


    Residents attend a Coffee and Conversation event in Las Vegas hosted by Assemblyman Alexander Assefa and Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, Aug 16, 2019. (@AlexAssefa4NV)


    Assemblyman Alexander Assefa speaking at the 18th Anniversary of Little Ethiopia Los Angeles, Sep 10, 2019. (@AlexAssefa4NV)


    (@AlexAssefa4NV)


    Assemblyman Alexander Assefa attends Meskel 2019 celebration with Las Vegas Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Churches. (@AlexAssefa4NV)

    According to local media there are an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 Ethiopians in the Las Vegas area, but they also point out that this estimate is at odds with the official count that indicates a much lower number. “You hear all sorts of numbers as to how many of us exists here,” Assemblyman Assefa said. “I’ve lived here since 2006. I came to the United States in 2000, and my experience has been that I have seen an exponential increase of Ethiopians who have immigrated here or arrived from other states to Nevada, especially during the economic downturn and the recession that we had between 2008 and 2012.”

    In part, Assefa said, that’s because Nevada is a very affordable state to live in. “The cost of living is very low, we don’t have income tax here,” he said. “we have a service industry that is very fairly easy to get into and make decent money without having to spend a lot on your cost of living.” He noted that: “In return what that means is that you can aspire to be a small business owner. So we had a very large influx. But at the end of the day, we still don’t know how many people we have here who are descendants of Ethiopians.”

    Assemblyman Assefa also announced his re-election campaign this week, stating that Ethiopian Americans play a very important role in the makeup of Las Vegas, yet generally are not known to the larger community. “We are not seen because, in part, we don’t participate in the affairs of our communities, in the electoral process or in other activities. We generally keep to ourselves. The concept behind introducing Little Ethiopia is to change that and to allow the larger community to interact with the Ethiopian community.”

    Regarding his record so far as an Assemblyman in the Nevada Legislature, Assefa shared that in his first 120 days in office he was involved in about 64 different bills and legislations that he either introduced and worked on in the Legislature that impacts the healthcare sector, education, criminal justice, and affordable housing. “All of these are hot button issues that are important for our people. I was involved in and making sure that our voice was reflected in the policymaking process,” he said. “The vast majority of those bills are currently signed by our state governor and are state law.”

    “Now I’m asking the support of everybody to help me get re-elected and get back to the legislature to continue working on the progress that I started in 2019,” says Alex, “and to build on top of that to leave a better legacy and a better Nevada. So if you are not in Las Vegas specifically, you’re not in my district then obviously, you cannot vote for me. If you are here, I ask that you vote for me. But anybody who is a resident of the United States can also contribute to my campaign.”

    As the Little Ethiopia resolution goes towards the final stage in the approval process it includes taking recommendations of the town boards back to the seven-member county commission for a final vote.

    “The goal is to get seven out of seven votes in favor of the resolution,” Assemblyman Assefa shared. “You do have to have the majority of the county Board of Commissioners, that’s four votes out of seven. But we’re shooting for 7 out of 7.”


    Related:

    ‘Little Ethiopia’ district is now a step closer to becoming a reality

    ‘Little Ethiopia’ may find home in central Las Vegas

    You can learn more about Assemblyman Alexander Assefa at www.assefa4thepeople.com.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Two Ethiopian Movies at 2020 New African Film Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland

    Opening with acclaimed historical drama 'Enchained' from Ethiopia, this year's New African Film Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland features 39 films from 25 countries. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 20th, 2020

    Two Ethiopian Movies – ‘Enchained’ & ‘Anbessa’ – at 2020 New African Film Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland

    New York (TADIAS) — The new historical drama Enchained (ቁራኛዬ), that won awards in Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress categories at Ethiopia’s 2019 Leza Awards, will be screened during opening night of the 2020 New African Film Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland next month. The festival is scheduled to take place at the historic AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center from March 5th to 19th.

    In addition to Enchained the festival will also feature the documentary movie titled Anbessa, which highlights the underreported environmental and humanitarian issues related to Ethiopia’s booming housing and construction industry.

    “The New African Film Festival is presented by The American Film Institute (AFI), Africa World Now Project and afrikafé, and showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent and across the diaspora,” organizers said in a press statement. “Now in its 16th year, the festival brings the best in contemporary African cinema to the Washington, DC, area.”

    Below are descriptions and trailers of the two Ethiopian films courtesy of AFI:

    ENCHAINED [QURAGNAYE] [ቁራኛዬ]
    Thurs, March 5, 7:15 p.m.; also screens Wed, March 11, 9:30 p.m.
    Q&A with director Moges Tafesse on March 5

    In this lush historical drama set in 1916 Ethiopia, Gobeze (Zerihun Mulatu) is a timid, peace-loving literature student who has dedicated his life to studying Sem Ina Werq — riddles with dual meaning. After spending years searching for his first love, Aleme (Yimisirach Girma), who was abducted seven years earlier, he finally finds her married to Gonite (Tesfaye Yiman), a wealthy judge and landlord. When Gonite catches the two reunited lovers, a fight ensues. Following tradition, the feuding men are bound together, and, side by side, must make the long journey to stand trial in the royal court. “Combining breathtaking landscapes with superb performances, filmmaker Moges Tafesse takes the audience on a tense and moving journey suffused with passion, jealousy and bitter anger toward the traditional Ethiopian establishment.” – Filmuforia. Winner, Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress, 2019 Leza Awards. Official Selection, 2019 African Diaspora International Film Festival. DIR/SCR/PROD Moges Tafesse. Ethiopia, 2019, color, 97 min. In Amharic and Ge’ez with English subtitles. NOT RATED

    Watch: Enchained ቁራኛዬ | Official Trailer

    ANBESSA
    Co-presented by the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital
    Mon, March 16, 7:15 p.m.

    Ancient Ethiopian farmlands are increasingly being cleared for dense condo development. Ten-year-old Asalif and his mother have already been displaced from their homestead to the outskirts of sprawling capital Addis Ababa, and it seems looming cranes are closing in on them again. With little to do, Asalif scavenges wires and bulbs from sprawling construction sites to literally keep the lights on in their makeshift house. Pushed around by new kids in the neighborhood, the sensitive child retreats into his imagination — the only place where he can rage like a lion against the forces he can’t control. Old enough to sense impending realities but still innocent enough to play, Asalif provides an irresistibly tender foil for the city’s coming-of-age story. A rare and thoroughly beautiful docufiction hybrid, ANBESSA observes the ever-forward march of progress with true originality. (Note adapted from Hot Docs Film Festival.) Official Selection, 2019 Berlin, IDFA, Hot Docs and Durban film festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Mo Scarpelli; PROD Caitlin Mae Burke. Ethiopia/Italy/U.S., 2019, color, 85 min. In Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

    Watch: Anbessa | Trailer


    If you go:
    2020 NEW AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL
    MARCH 5–19, 2020
    AFI SILVER THEATRE AND CULTURAL CENTER
    8633 Colesville Road
    Silver Spring, MD 20910
    301.495.6700
    More info at www.afisilver.afi.com

    Related:

    Ethiopia Film ‘Enchained’ (Quragaye) Makes International Premiere in London

    Spotlight: Generation ‘Anbessa’ New Ethiopia Movie at Berlin Film Festival

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Several Ethiopian Artists Featured at UK Festival Directed by Lemn Sissay

    Lemn Sissay. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 17th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Related:

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

    Acclaimed writer kicks off Brighton Festival

    Brighton Festival 2020 programme unveiled

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    The Globe

    Worthington native honors culture with music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Abrahim is working to complete a poetry manuscript for publication.

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 8th, 2020

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

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

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

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


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Eden Alene Represents Israel at Eurovision

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

    The Jerusalem Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

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

    The Intercept

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

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

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


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

    Read more »


    Related:

    First set of Iowa Democratic caucus results shows Bernie Sander leading

    Iowa Democrats release some caucus results after long delay

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    10 Restaurants in LA’s Little Ethiopia

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

    Eater.com

    10 Essential Restaurants in Los Angeles’s Little Ethiopia

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

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

    1. Awash

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

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

    2. Meals By Genet

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

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

    3. Messob Ethiopian Restaurant

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

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

    4. Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine

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

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

    Read the full list at la.eater.com »


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    The Making of Global Adwa: By Professor Ayele Bekerie

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

    February 1st, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    About the author:
    Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of PhD Program in Heritage Studies and Coordinator of International Affairs at Mekelle University’s Institute of Paleo-Environment and Heritage Conservation. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in the United States. Ayele Bekerie is a contributing author in the acclaimed book, “One House: The Battle of Adwa 1896 -100 Years.” He is also the author of the award-winning book “Ethiopic, An African Writing System: Its History and Principles” — among many other published works.

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

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

    Painting by Sofia Kifle. (Courtesy of the artist)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tseday Alehegn

    Updated: January 30th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Paintings by Sofia Kifle. (Courtesy of the artist)

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

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

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

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

    ‘The Music’ is her last painting series for 2019

    Watch: The Jazz Experience show by Gediyon and Sofia Kifle


    Tseday Alehegn is co-founder and editor of Tadias.

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    Spotlight: Ezra Wube’s New Exhibition

    Artist Ezra Wube. (Photo: Times Square Arts)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 27th, 2020

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

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

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

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

    The Africa Center adds:

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

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

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

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

    About the Artist courtesy of The Africa Center:

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

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


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

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

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

    International Rescue Committee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


    Related:

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

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

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

    The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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    Spotlight: Ruth Negga as ‘Hamlet’ American Premiere

    Ruth Negga. (Photo: CNN)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 17th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Related:

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

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

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

    The San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the full article at sfchronicle.com »


    Related:

    Sheba Tej: America’s Favorite Ethiopian Honey Wine

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    Spotlight: Meklit at Globalfest, NYC Showcase of World Music

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 15th, 2020

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

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

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

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

    Meklit

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

    Read the full list at NYTimes.com »


    Related:

    Watch: Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz

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    Black Enterprise Magazine Honors Ethiopian-American Fashion Icon Amsale Aberra

    Amsale Aberra. (Photo: Fashion Week Daily)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: January 13th, 2020

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

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

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

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


    Related:

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

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


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

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

    LA Weekly

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more at laweekly.com »


    Related:

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

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

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

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

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    Preserving Cultural Heritage: The Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: January 7th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the full article at americamagazine.org »


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

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

    CNN

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    See the full list at CNN.com »


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    Tadias 10 Arts & Culture Stories of 2019

    Ethiopia Habtemariam is one of the producers behind the new documentary Hitsville: The Making of Motown. (@tadiasmag on Instagram)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Liben Eabisa

    Updated: January 2nd, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As we close the year we wish our readers around the world a happy and prosperous new year!

    Below is our annual list of the top 10 Arts & Culture stories featured on our website in 2019.

    Maaza Mengiste’s New Novel ‘The Shadow King’


    Maaza Mengiste’s latest novel, ‘The Shadow King.’ (Photo by Nina Subin)

    Maaza Mengiste’s new novel The Shadow King was released this year to enthusiastic and well-deserved reviews by several national media organizations including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and NPR. As our readers know, Maaza is one of our favorite Ethiopian-American writers and her latest work brings to light the seldom-told role of heroic Ethiopian women during World War II and Ethiopia’s legendary victory against fascist occupation forces. We can’t agree more with NPR that “the star of the novel, however, is Maaza’s writing, which makes The Shadow King nearly impossible to put down.” As Time Magazine noted, naming The Shadow King on their list of 100 must read books of 2019: “Maaza Mengiste tells an unforgettable story steeped in the history of her home country. Hirut, an orphan, works as a maid subjected to the oppressive impulses of men — until she steps up to become a war hero, helping to defend Ethiopia against Mussolini’s invasion in 1935, a precursor to World War II. The Shadow King is a propulsive read that captures a historical moment from a fresh perspective, speaking to timeless themes about women’s power and oppression and the cost of war.”

    Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art


    Julie Mehretu – Stadia II, 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 in. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund 2004.50. © Julie Mehretu, photograph courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

    It’s exciting to share the opening of Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey showcasing her work dating back to 1996. The traveling exhibition was launched at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California this past October. “The first-ever comprehensive retrospective of Mehretu’s career, it covers over two decades of her examination of history, colonialism, capitalism, geopolitics, war, global uprising, diaspora, and displacement through the artistic strategies of abstraction, architecture, landscape, movement, and, most recently, figuration,” the Museum said in a statement. “Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, [is] explored in depth.” The show features about “40 works on paper with 35 paintings along with a print by Rembrandt and a film on Mehretu by the artist Tacita Dean.” The traveling exhibition – co-organized by LACMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art – is set for its next major opening in New York City, Julie’s hometown, in September 2020. Then the show is scheduled to travel to Atlanta to be displayed at the High Museum of Art from October 24th 2020 to January 31, 2021, before moving on to Minnesota for an exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from March 13–July 11, 2021. This exhibition is a must-see.

    Nesanet Teshager Abegaze’s Film “Bereka” Goes to Sundance 2020 Festival


    Nesanet Teshager Abegaze at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia, August 2019. (Courtesy of the artist)

    This past summer Nesanet Teshager Abegaze’s debut film Bereka won the Best Experimental Film award at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia. In January 2020 the short film is set to be screened at Sundance , the biggest independent film festival in the United States, which takes place every year in Salt Lake City, Utah. The film’s title is a reference to the third round of the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, but the heart of the story is personal as Nesanet chronicles a family’s unexpected flight out of Gondar and decades later the jubilant homecoming of the grandchildren back to Ethiopia. Nesanet recently told Tadias that “the whole film came together in a very organic way,” noting that she had been recording audio as part of a family archive project for several years. We congratulate Nesanet and wish her all the best at Sundance and beyond.

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


    Marcus Samuelsson’s popular PBS TV show ‘No Passport Required’ is set to return for a new season in January 2020. (Photo courtesy: Eater.com)

    Marcus Samuelsson’s popular TV show, No Passport Required, is scheduled to return for a second season in January 2020 highlighting diverse immigrant food traditions in American cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle, Boston, Las Vegas and Philadelphia. “An immigrant himself — born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, now a celebrated chef, restaurateur, author and resident of Harlem — Marcus Samuelsson is passionate about sharing and celebrating the food of America’s vibrant communities,” PBS stated. “Each episode shows how important food can be in bringing Americans — old and new — together around the table…In each city, he’ll visit local restaurants, markets and family homes, learning about each community’s cuisine and heritage.” The first season included highlight of Ethiopian food and culture in Washington D.C. via PBS, one of the largest television program distributors in the United States. No Passport Required is produced in collaboration with Vox Media. “We are thrilled to be working with PBS and Marcus to continue capturing these authentic stories focusing on the communities that make this nation so rich and dynamic,” said Marty Moe, President of Vox Media. Likewise, we are proud of Marcus and look forward to the next season in 2020!

    Ethiopian Cultural Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York


    Ethiopian Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019. (Photo: CMA)

    On June 2nd, 2019 an interactive arts workshop inspired by artists from Ethiopia including Ezra Wube, Addis Gezehagn, Elias Sime, Afewerk Tekle as well as singer and songwriter Gigi was held at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York City. The well-attended family-friendly event was organized by the CMA in collaboration with the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) and the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee (ESAC) and included Ethiopian music, Eskista dance, and a coffee ceremony in addition to children’s game and art stations.

    Tightrope, The First Major Traveling Museum Exhibition of Elias Sime


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

    Ethiopia-based Artist Elias Sime’s first major traveling U.S. museum survey exhibition entitled “Tightrope”, and comprising of work from the last decade, was presented by the Wellin Museum of Art from September 7 to December 8, 2019. As Hasabie Kidanu reported for Tadias: “The prolific and multi-disciplinary artist works primarily within the language of architecture, sculpture, and collage. Sime’s works are created from repurposing objects often carefully sourced from Merkato — Addis’ sprawling open air market. Sime often collects discarded electrical components that have traveled from around the globe to his hometown. Through a meticulous hand, the salvaged materials are cut, layered, collaged, and woven. The end result renews refuse into a new form – large colorful and lyrical compositions, pointing to the universal human struggle as a ‘balancing act’ of our relationship to technological progress, waste, resourcefulness, and environmental sustainability.” Speaking about his work Elias shares: “My art is a reflection of who I am as a human being without borders, labels, and imposed identity. There is a sense of unity and cooperation that I reflect through my art. At the root of all of it is love and passion. With this exhibition, including many years of my work, I hope the students and other visitors will share my feelings expressed on the arts.” The traveling exhibition is also scheduled to go to the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio (February 29 through May 24, 2020), the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri (June 11 through September 13, 2020), and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (December 12, 2020 through April 18, 2021).

    Addis Ababa Among Six Dynamic Emerging Art Capitals in Africa


    Tadesse Mesfin, Pillars of Life: Market Day (2018). Courtesy Addis Fine Art.

    In 2019 Addis Ababa was named among six dynamic emerging art capitals on the African continent by Artnet News website. Among the institutions featured in the article include “Alle School of Fine Art & Design (Ethiopia’s most important art school founded in 1958, during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie); Addis Fine Art (The most notable commercial gallery in the capital will also be opening a new location in London’s Cromwell Place gallery hub in 2020); Guramane Art Center (A gallery dedicated to emerging Ethiopian artists); and Zoma (a museum founded by artist Elias Sime and curator Meskerem Assegued, which opened in April 2019 and shows contemporary art from East Africa and abroad).”

    Ethiopia Habtemariam and Hitsville: The Making of Motown Documentary Celebrating its 60th Anniversary


    Ethiopia Habtemariam is one of the producers behind the new documentary Hitsville: The Making of Motown.

    Ethiopia Habtemariam is a first-generation Ethiopian-American who is currently the President of Motown Records and President of Urban Music at Universal Publishing Music Group. Earlier this year speaking about Motown’s 60th anniversary and a documentary film she was working on to celebrate the special occasion Ethiopia promised in an interview with InStyle magazine that she was “bringing back f—ing Motown.” And based on media reviews and audience reactions to Hitsville: The Making of Motown, it is clear that Ethiopia has delivered on her words. “Some of the archive clips trigger goosebumps, while Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson radiate charm in this affectionate anniversary tribute to Detroit’s influential record label,” enthused The Guardian. “Young, gifted and black – and so many of them. Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson: all under one roof in a suburban house in Detroit, a sign hanging above the porch: “Hitsville, USA”.

    Watch: Hitsville: The Making of Motown (2019) Official Trailer | SHOWTIME Documentary Film

    Hitsville: The Making of Motown was produced for SHOWTIME by executive producers Berry Gordy, Steve Barnett, Marty Bandier, David Blackman, Ethiopia Habtemariam and Michelle Jubelirer.

    Tommy T’s newest Single ‘Anchin’ Featuring Mahmoud Ahmed


    Cover of Tommy T’s recent single ‘Anchin’ featuring Mahmoud Ahmed. (Courtesy photo)

    Tommy T (Thomas Gobena) released a new song in 2019 featuring his musical hero the legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed and it continues to receive rave reviews. Four years go Tommy T — the Ethiopian-born bass player for the American punk band, Gogol Bordello — met up with Mahmoud at a Stephen Marley concert in Washington D.C. where Mahmoud was performing a song for the opening. That same evening Tommy pitched a song idea to Mahmoud, which turned into the new single Anchin released online on July 2nd, 2019. “I had a chance to share with him a concept of a song that I had worked on a while back, and he eventually agreed to collaborate,” Tommy told Tadias. “Out of the collaboration on this song I also got a chance to direct my first music video for this single.”

    Watch: Tommy T featuring Mahmoud Ahmed – ANCHIN አንቺን

    Anchin (Amharic for ‘you’ in feminine pronoun), is a follow up to Tommy T’s first solo album entitled The Prestor John Sessions issued in 2009. As Tommy shared in a press release the self-released single launched on Tommy’s new platform, Afroxoid, “is a continuation of his work in exploring the vast world of afro-rhythms combined with an Ethiopian melody, and will guide the listener on a cross-cultural musical journey.”

    Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week


    The 2019 Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa from October 9-12th. (Image: Fetel Design. Photo by Lenny White)

    The annual Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week celebrated its ninth anniversary in 2019. This year’s runway show held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa from October 9-12th featured both local and international designers from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa. Past participants of Hub of Africa Fashion Week have gone on to participate in New York African Fashion Week as well as Berlin Fashion Week and received international media coverage including on CNN, Vogue Italia, Fashion TV, and BBC. According to Mahlet Teklemariam, Founder of the Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week, the British Council served as the facilitator of a “Made in Ethiopia” event this year, which featured producers of textile, leather, manufacturing and other sectors of the industry.” Organizers point out that “fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry of which Africa only has a minute share… and the annual fashion week in Ethiopia’s capital “seeks to remedy this and has worked diligently towards this growth.”


    Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

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    From kiosks to Concrete Jungle: Why Urban Growth Isn’t Always Good – Addis Ababa in Cartoon

    Addis Ababa-based artist Yemsrach Yetneberk on how the radical spread of the Ethiopian capital is changing neighbourhoods. (The Guardian)

    The Guardian

    Originally trained as an architect, Yemsrach Yetneberk now runs an illustration based company, Laughing Gas Design, with her brother in Addis Ababa.

    See the full story at theguardian.com »


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    Nesanet Teshager Abegaze’s Film “Bereka” Goes to Sundance 2020 Festival

    Nesanet Teshager Abegaze’s Film “Bereka” is set to be screened at the 2020 Sundance Festival in January. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: December 23rd, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) — Entrepreneur, Educator and Storyteller, Nesanet Teshager Abegaze, will be screening her short film entitled “Bereka” at the Sundance 2020 Festival in January. Held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sundance is considered America’s largest independent film festival and takes place this coming year from January 23rd to February 2nd, 2020.

    This past August “Bereka” was screened at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia where it won the Best Experimental Film award.

    Named after the third round of the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, “Bereka” is a heart-stopping experimental film sharing a family’s sudden departure from Gondar, Ethiopia and the triumphant return of grandchildren to their ancestral home. Narrated in English and Amharic by matriarch Azla Mekonnen as well as her granddaughter Samira Hooks — and shot on Super 8 film in Los Angeles, CA and Gondar, Ethiopia — “Bereka” evokes searing memories related to forced migration, resettlement, growth, a deep yearning to discover heritage, and a return of the heart to what will always be “home.” Asked about how she developed the concept and narration of her short film, Nesanet shared that she had been recording audio as part of a family archive project through the years and had also begun to add footage when the idea for this short came to the forefront of her mind. “The whole film came together in a very organic way,” she said.


    Nesanet Teshager Abegaze at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia, August 2019. (Courtesy of the artist)

    We first wrote about Nesanet six years ago when she launched Azla, a plant-based Ethiopian restaurant in South Central Los Angeles. Named after her mother and business partner, Azla, the restaurant has been featured on Food Network in 2016 as well as in numerous publications including Serious Eats, KCRW, and Complex.

    Nesanet holds a Bachelors degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and a Master’s in Education from UCLA, and previously worked in the education, non-profit, and entertainment sectors before launching her own business and later joining Echo Park Film Center as a Fellow. As shared on her website, Nesanet “recognized the power of the moving image during her freshman year in high school when she saw “Imperfect Journey,” a documentary by the legendary filmmaker Haile Gerima, that changed her life trajectory.”

    According Sundance’s press release the 2020 list of films to be screened at the festival were “selected from a record high of 15,100 submissions including 3,853 feature-length films.” Robert Redford, the President & Founder of Sundance Institute, noted that “this year’s festival is full of films that showcase myriad ways for stories to drive change, across hearts, minds and societies.” Executive Director of Sundance, Keri Putnam added that the institute believes that “diverse stories from independent artists around the world open us up to new perspectives and possibilities – at a time when fresh thinking and dialogue is urgently needed.”

    Congratulations to Nesanet Teshager Abegaze for her film’s win this year at BlackStar Film Festival, and now heading to Sundance 2020 to be screened under “Shorts Program 4!”


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

    Ethiopian American Girmay Zahilay came to the U.S. at the age of three. He is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He interned at the White House during the Obama administration. He is now a newly elected Councilman in King County, Washington. Below is a recent profile of Girmay by the University of Washington Student Publications, The Daily.

    Incoming council member Girmay Zahilay wants to hear and hire UW students

    Girmay Zahilay has had quite the year.

    The 32-year-old lawyer announced his candidacy for King County Council District 2 in February, challenging 27-year incumbent and civil rights activist Larry Gossett. In the August primary election, Zahilay bested Gossett by 19.4%. In November, Zahilay did it again, defeating Gossett in the general election 60.36% to 39.27% to become the newest face on the King County Council.

    But come January 2020, the real work begins. And as the county council member whose job includes representing the UW, Zahilay is ready to be the voice for UW students.

    Unlike his predecessor, however, Zahilay has limited existing ties to the UW.

    The son of Ethiopian refugees, Zahilay moved from Sudan to South Seattle at the age of three. His family spent some time in a Union Gospel Mission homeless shelter before bouncing between a number of Seattle’s public housing projects.

    He graduated from Stanford University and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Later on, he interned at the White House during the Obama administration, worked for the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington D.C. and at a corporate law firm in New York, and founded Rising Leaders, a nonprofit that partners with middle schools across the nation to give underserved students access to mentorship opportunities and leadership training.

    Despite going to school out of state, Zahilay considers his first real college experience to have taken place at the UW. During the summer of his junior year at Franklin High School — his and Gossett’s alma mater — he completed a research internship with the UW department of biology.

    “It was the university I looked up to growing up,” Zahilay said. “It really made me feel like college was something that I could aspire toward. It was this big, prestigious institution that was right in my backyard.”

    To make sure his constituents can reach him at almost any time, Zahilay plans to set up three district offices in Skyway, Central District, and at UW. At least twice a month, Zahilay will host drop-in hours and appointment-only sessions for students and nearby residents to speak with him about the issues most pertinent to them.

    Inspired in part by his two campaign interns, UW students Nura Abdi and Julian Cooper, Zahilay plans to establish community councils composed of high school and college students to discuss policies relevant to King County.

    “Julian and Nura showed me the value of having diverse input at the student level,” Zahilay said. “One of the big things I want to do with this seat is make a more inclusive government and that means employing as many students as possible and giving them opportunities to be heard.”

    Although the details for the councils and the exact location of his upcoming offices have yet to be determined, Zahilay says these details are his primary focus.

    With his election, Zahilay hopes to bring a renewed energy to the King County Council. He recognizes most Seattle-dwelling residents consider Seattle City Council to be the more important governmental body in the area and hopes to alter public perception of the county council.

    “The idea that the King County Council is a background government is the exact reason why we need somebody to get in there and make it a leading voice in the community,” he said. “In this new era of mass displacement, people need much stronger regional solutions to the problems they are facing. A Seattle-only focus is no longer going to cut it.”

    The King County Council represents over 2.2 million residents and oversees the Metro Transit system, the King County Sheriff’s Office, public health and human services, wastewater treatment facilities, regional parks, and the county’s criminal justice system.

    King County Council District 2 alone covers some 240,000 residents across the U-District, Ravenna, Laurelhurst, Capitol Hill, Fremont, Beacon Hill, the Central Area, Seward Park, Skyway, and the Rainier Valley.

    To Zahilay, a majority of the city’s most pressing concerns can be best tackled through a regional approach. The housing crisis, climate action, transportation limits, and regressive taxation can all be addressed or influenced by the King County Council, he said.

    As January 2020 approaches, Zahilay is feeling a flutter of emotions. He is thankful, excited, and feels an overpowering responsibility to make sure he delivers on the promises he made to his supporters during his campaign.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Launches First Satellite into Space

    Ethiopians celebrate as they watch a live transmission of the Ethiopian ETRSS-1 Satellite launch into space at the Entoto Observatory and Research Center on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, December 20, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    Reuters

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia launched its first satellite into space on Friday, as more sub-Saharan African nations strive to develop space programs to advance their development goals and encourage scientific innovation.

    Before dawn on Friday, senior officials and citizens gathered at the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre just north of the capital Addis Ababa to watch a live broadcast of the satellite’s launch from a space station in China.

    “This will be a foundation for our historic journey to prosperity,” deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen said in a speech at the launch event broadcast on state television.

    The satellite was designed by Chinese and Ethiopian engineers and the Chinese government paid about $6 million of the more than $7 million manufacturing costs, Solomon Belay, director general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, told Reuters.

    “Space is food, space is job creation, a tool for technology…sovereignty, to reduce poverty, everything for Ethiopian to achieve universal and sustainable development,” he said.

    The satellite will be used for weather forecast and crop monitoring, officials said.

    The African Union adopted a policy on African space development in 2017 and declared that space science and technology could advance economic progress and natural resource management on the continent.

    Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw and Tiksa Negeri; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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    TRUMP IMPEACHED: History in America

    On Dec. 18, Donald Trump became one of only three presidents in American history to be impeached for criminal misconduct while in office. The full chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives voted resoundingly on Wednesday charging him with 'high crimes and misdemeanors' in two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On many levels, the historical vote was a vindication of the endurance of American democracy and the best constitution ever written in human history. The impeachment process now proceeds to a trial in the U.S. Senate, which has the ultimate authority on whether to keep him in office or not. This story is developing and will be updated. (Getty Images)

    U.S. House votes to impeach Trump in historic vote

    Trump is impeached by the House, creating an indelible mark on his presidency

    The Washington Post

    December 18th, 2019

    The House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to impeach President Trump on charges that he abused his office and obstructed Congress, with Democrats declaring him a threat to the nation and branding an indelible mark on the most turbulent presidency of modern times.

    After 11 hours of fierce argument on the House floor between Democrats and Republicans over Trump’s conduct with Ukraine, lawmakers voted almost entirely along party lines to impeach him. Trump becomes the third president in U.S. history to face trial in the Senate — a proceeding that will determine whether he is removed from office less than one year before he stands for reelection.

    On Trump’s 1,062nd day in office, Congress brought a momentous reckoning to an un­or­tho­dox president who has tested America’s institutions with an array of unrestrained actions, including some that a collection of his own appointees and other government witnesses testified were reckless and endangered national security.

    Read more »


    Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) speaks ahead of a vote on the articles of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday. (House Tv/Via Reuters)


    Trump impeached by US House on charge of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

    The Associated Press

    December 18th, 2019

    President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night, becoming only the third American chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors.

    The articles of impeachment, the political equivalent of an indictment, now go to the Senate for trial. If Trump is acquitted by the Republican-led chamber, as expected, he still would have to run for reelection carrying the enduring stain of impeachment on his purposely disruptive presidency.

    Democrats drew from history, the founders and their own experiences, as minorities, women and some immigrants to the U.S., seeking to honor their oath of office to uphold the constitution. Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., spoke in Spanish asking God to unite the nation. “In America,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., “no one is above the law.”

    Republicans aired Trump-style grievances about what Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko called a “rigged” process.

    The political fallout from the vote will reverberate across an already polarized country…

    Related:

    U.S House Judiciary Committee releases full impeachment report


    In the latest development, the U.S. House Judiciary panel accused Donald Trump of criminal bribery, wire fraud and other federal crimes in a report released on Monday in advance of a historic final impeachment vote by the full house this week. The report comes on the heels of last Friday’s landmark vote officially charging the president with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. If the articles are approved by the full House Trump will become one of only three presidents in American history to be impeached. The process will then proceed to a trial in the U.S. Senate, which has the ultimate authority on whether to keep him in office or not. (Getty Images)

    House Judiciary approves Trump impeachment charges

    House vote, and on to the Senate: What’s next in impeachments

    The Associated Press

    Updated: December 16th, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump this week after spending the past three months investigating the president’s dealings in Ukraine and deciding whether his behavior was grave enough to qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.

    The House Judiciary Committee on Friday approved two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote came after a bitter two-day debate in which Democrats said it was their duty to impeach and furious Republicans defended the president and battled over process.

    The articles charge that Trump abused his power and betrayed the nation as he urged Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and withheld military aid to that allied country, as well as a White House meeting for its president.

    What’s next in impeachment:

    HOUSE VOTE

    House leaders are preparing for the final impeachment vote just as lawmakers are about to leave for the holiday break. Approval would set up a 2020 trial in the Senate.

    Votes on the two articles could come as soon as Wednesday, with a meeting to set debate rules already scheduled for Tuesday. Floor consideration is expected to be much like that of a regular bill.

    The House Judiciary Committee vote was strictly along party lines, and the floor vote is expected to be similar, with a few exceptions. No Republicans have so far signaled that they will support the articles of impeachment, but a small handful of Democrats who represent GOP-leaning districts have said they may join Republicans in voting against them.

    IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to name, as soon as this week, a handful of members to argue the Democrats’ case in the Senate trial. It’s still unclear who these impeachment managers will be, but they are likely to be members of the Judiciary and intelligence committees that took the lead on the case.

    Pelosi has kept quiet on potential names. But the managers are expected to be from safe Democratic districts, diverse in race and gender and from all parts of the country. It is also likely that the number of impeachment managers will be fewer than 13, the number of GOP managers in President Bill Clinton’s 1998 trial.

    Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler are front-runners for two of the positions.

    THE SENATE TRIAL

    If the House approves the charges, as expected, impeachment would then move to a weekslong Senate trial, where senators are jurors and the impeachment managers act as prosecutors. The chief justice of the United States presides over the trial.

    If the Senate approves an article of impeachment with a two-thirds vote of “guilty,” the president is convicted and removed from office. If all the articles are rejected – as expected – the president is acquitted.

    It is unclear how long the trial will last or exactly how it will be structured. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed that four witnesses be called, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton. Schumer proposed that the trial begin the week of Jan. 6 and allow for as many as 126 hours of statements, testimony, questions and deliberations, suggesting a trial that could run three weeks or more.

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t comment Sunday night on the particulars of Schumer’s proposal, which came in a letter to McConnell. Recently he has indicated a preference for a speedy trial without references but has also suggested he would follow the will of the White House.

    This is the fourth time in history Congress has moved to impeach a president. If he were convicted by the Senate, Trump would be the first to be removed.


    Related:

    Panel vote sends Trump impeachment charges to full House (AP)

    The Associated Press

    December 13, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats propelled President Donald Trump’s impeachment toward a historic vote by the full U.S. House as the Judiciary Committee on Friday approved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It’s the latest major step in the constitutional and political storm that has divided Congress and the nation.

    The House is expected to approve the two articles of impeachment next week, before lawmakers depart for the holidays.

    Read more »


    House Judiciary Committee approves two articles of impeachment (Nightly News December 13th)

    House Democrats charge Trump with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in two articles of impeachment


    Lawyer for Democrats calls Trump ‘a clear and present danger’ as he argues case for removal

    The Washington Post

    December 9th, 2019

    A lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee called President Trump “a clear and present danger” as he summarized the party’s case for impeaching him for having abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation into his conduct in Ukraine.

    The testimony from Daniel S. Goldman came amid a contentious hearing at which lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans are making cases for and against impeachment. Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer for Republicans, called impeachment “baloney” and said Democrats had failed to make a compelling case.

    At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

    Read more »


    Related:

    House impeachment report looks at abuse, bribery, corruption (AP)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: December 7th, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Previewing potential articles of impeachment, the House Democrats on Saturday issued a lengthy report drawing on history and the Founding Fathers to lay out the legal argument over the case against President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

    The findings from the House Judiciary Committee do not spell out the formal charges against the president, which are being drafted ahead of votes, possibly as soon as next week. Instead, the report refutes Trump’s criticism of the impeachment proceedings, arguing that the Constitution created impeachment as a “safety valve” so Americans would not have to wait for the next election to remove a president. It refers to the writings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others to link Trump’s actions in his July phone call with Ukraine’s president seeking political investigations of his rivals to the kind of behavior that would “horrify” the framers.

    “Where the President uses his foreign affairs power in ways that betray the national interest for his own benefit, or harm national security for equally corrupt reasons, he is subject to impeachment by the House,” the Democrats wrote. “Indeed, foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our Nation and the Framers of our Constitution.”

    Democrats are working through the weekend as articles are being drafted and committee members are preparing for a hearing Monday. Democrats say Trump abused his power in the July 25 phone call when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favor and engaged in bribery by withholding nearly $400 million in military aide that Ukraine depends on to counter Russian aggression.

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it’s part of a troubling pattern of behavior from Trump that benefits Russia and not the U.S.

    Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong. “Witch Hunt!”the president tweeted Saturday morning.

    The articles of impeachment are likely to encompass two major themes — abuse of office and obstruction — as Democrats strive to reach the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.″

    In releasing his report Saturday, Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the president’s actions are the framers’ “worst nightmare.”

    “President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment,” Nadler said in a statement. “The safety and security of our nation, our democracy, and future generations hang in the balance if we do not address this misconduct. In America, no one is above the law, not even the President.”

    The report released Saturday is an update of similar reports issued during the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachments and lays out the justification for articles under consideration, including abuse of power, bribery and obstruction.

    It does not lay out the facts of the Ukraine case, but it hints at potential articles of impeachment and explains the thinking behind Democrats’ decision to draft them. Without frequently mentioning Trump, it alludes to his requests that Ukraine investigate Democrats, a move he believed would benefit him politically, by saying a president who “perverts his role as chief diplomat to serve private rather than public ends” has unquestionably engaged in the high crimes and misdemeanors laid out in the Constitution. That is true “especially” if he invited rather than opposed foreign interference, the report says.

    The report examines treason, bribery, serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements and corruption of office and elections. Democrats have been focused on an overall abuse of power article, with the possibility of breaking out a separate, related article on bribery. They are also expected to draft at least one article on obstruction of Congress, or obstruction of justice.

    In laying out the grounds for impeachable offenses, the report directly refutes several of the president’s claims in a section called “fallacies about impeachment,” including that the inquiry is based on secondhand evidence, that a president can do what he wants to do, and that Democrats’ motives are corrupt.

    “The President’s honesty in an impeachment inquiry, or his lack thereof, can thus shed light on the underlying issue,” the report says.

    In pushing ahead with the impeachment inquiry, Democrats are bringing the focus back to Russia.

    Pelosi is connecting the dots — “all roads lead to Putin,” she says — and making the argument that Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine was not an isolated incident but part of a troubling bond with the Russian president reaching back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on the 2016 election interference.

    “This isn’t about Ukraine,” she explained a day earlier. ”’It’s about Russia. Who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance? Russia.”

    It’s an attempt to explain why Americans should care that Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate rival Joe Biden while withholding the military aid that Congress had approved.

    At the same time, by tracing the arc of Trump’s behavior from the 2016 campaign to the present, it stitches it all together. And that helps the speaker balance her left-flank liberals, who want more charges brought against Trump, including from Mueller’s report, and centrist Democrats who prefer to keep the argument more narrowly focused on Ukraine.

    Pelosi and her team are trying to convey a message that impeachment is indeed about Ukraine, but also about a pattern of behavior that could stoke renewed concern about his attitude toward Russia ahead of the 2020 election.

    Trump pushed back on the Democrats’ message. “The people see that it’s just a continuation of this three-year witch hunt,” he told reporters as he left the White House on a trip to Florida.

    Late Friday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone informed the Judiciary Committee that the administration would not be participating in upcoming hearings, decrying the proceedings as “completely baseless.”

    And Trump’s campaign announced new rallies taking the case directly to voters — as well as a new email fundraising pitch that claims the Democrats have “gone absolutely insane.”

    “The Democrats have NO impeachment case and are demeaning our great Country at YOUR expense,” Trump wrote in the email to supporters. “It’s US against THEM.”

    Impeachment articles could include obstruction of Congress, as the White House ordered officials not to comply with House subpoenas for testimony or documents in the inquiry. They could also include obstruction of justice, based on Mueller’s report on the original Trump-Russia investigation.

    There is still robust internal debate among House Democrats over how many articles to write and how much to include — and particularly whether there should be specific mention of Mueller’s findings from his two-year investigation into Trump’s possible role in Russia’s 2016 election interference.

    The special counsel could not determine that Trump’s campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia. However, Mueller said he could not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice in the probe and left it for Congress to determine.


    A historic day for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
    Updated: December 6th, 2019

    The House is proceeding with articles of impeachment. Here’s what happens next.

    CNN

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she’s asked the House to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump.

    Here’s what we know will happen next:

    Monday: The House Judiciary Committee will hold its next impeachment hearing, where it will hear evidence from the staff counsels of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

    After that timing, it gets a little unclear, but here’s a general sense of how the impeachment process will work:

    Now: The House Judiciary Committee — which has authority to write articles of impeachment — will begin drafting them.

    Committee vote: After articles are complete, the committee will vote on whether to refer them to the full House. We’re not sure when this will happen, but it could happen sometime next week.

    House vote: If they’re approved, the articles will go to the House floor, where a simple majority is needed to formally impeach Trump. This vote could happen the week of Dec. 16.

    More than 500 law professors say Trump committed ‘impeachable conduct’ (The Washington Post)

    More than 500 legal scholars have signed an open letter asserting that Trump committed “impeachable conduct” and that lawmakers would be acting well within their rights if they ultimately voted to remove him from office.

    The signers are law professors and other academics from universities across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan and many others. The open letter was published online Friday by the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Democracy.

    “There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress,” the group of professors wrote. “His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.”


    Pelosi announces House moving forward with articles of impeachment

    The Associated Press

    December 5th, 2019

    House will draft Trump impeachment articles, Pelosi says

    WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

    ’’Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said. “The president leaves us no choice but to act.”

    Pelosi delivered the historic announcement as Democrats push toward a vote, possibly before Christmas.

    With somber tones, drawing on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, Pelosi stood at the speaker’s office at the Capitol and said she was authorizing the drafting of formal charges “sadly but with confidence and humility.”

    “The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.

    “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” she said.

    At the heart of the impeachment probe is a July call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump pressed the leader to investigate Democrats and political rival Joe Biden as Trump was withholding military aid to the country.

    Trump tweeted that if Democrats “are going to impeach me, do it now, fast.” He said he wants to get on to a “fair trial” in the Senate. The president also said that Democrats have “gone crazy.”

    At the White House, press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that Pelosi and the Democrats “should be ashamed, then she, too, looked past the likely impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House to trial in the Republican-majority Senate.

    The chairmen of the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry will begin drafting the articles, and some lawmakers are expecting to remain in Washington over the weekend.

    On Wednesday, Pelosi met behind closed doors with her Democratic caucus, asking, ”Äre you ready?”

    The answer was a resounding yes, according to those in the room.

    Democrats are charging toward a vote on removing the 45th president, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but which now seems inevitable.

    Three leading legal scholars testified Wednesday to the House Judiciary Committee that Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment, bolstering the Democrats’ case.

    A fourth expert called by Republicans warned against rushing the process, arguing this would be the shortest of impeachment proceedings, with the “thinnest” record of evidence in modern times, setting a worrisome standard.

    Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by putting personal political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by withholding $400 million in military aid Congress had approved for Ukraine, and then obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.

    Democrats in the House say the inquiry is a duty. Republican representatives say it’s a sham. And quietly senators of both parties conferred on Wednesday, preparing for an eventual Trump trial.

    Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the Judiciary panel, which would draw up the articles of impeachment, said Trump’s phone call seeking a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wasn’t the first time he had sought foreign help to influence an American election, noting Russian interference in 2016. He warned against inaction with a new campaign underway.

    “We cannot wait for the election,” he said. “ If we do not act to hold him in check, now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain.”

    Read more »


    Related:

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

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


    UPDATE: U.S. Impeachment Panel Finds Trump Abused His Office for Personal Gain

    THE TRUMP-UKRAINE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY REPORT

    Report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Consultation with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

    December 3, 2019

    In his farewell address, President George Washington warned of a moment when “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

    The Framers of the Constitution well understood that an individual could one day occupy the Office of the President who would place his personal or political interests above those of the nation. Having just won hard-fought independence from a King with unbridled authority, they were attuned to the dangers of an executive who lacked fealty to the law and the Constitution.

    In response, the Framers adopted a tool used by the British Parliament for several hundred years to constrain the Crown—the power of impeachment. Unlike in Britain, where impeachment was typically reserved for inferior officers but not the King himself, impeachment in our untested democracy was specifically intended to serve as the ultimate form of accountability for a duly-elected President. Rather than a mechanism to overturn an election, impeachment was explicitly contemplated as a remedy of last resort for a president who fails to faithfully execute his oath of office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    Accordingly, the Constitution confers the power to impeach the president on Congress, stating that the president shall be removed from office upon conviction for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While the Constitutional standard for removal from office is justly a high one, it is nonetheless an essential check and balance on the authority of the occupant of the Office of the President, particularly when that occupant represents a continuing threat to our fundamental democratic norms, values, and laws.

    Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment was not designed to cover only criminal violations, but also crimes against the American people. “The subjects of its jurisdiction,” Hamilton wrote, “are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

    Similarly, future Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention, distinguished impeachable offenses from those that reside “within the sphere of ordinary jurisprudence.” As he noted, “impeachments are confined to political characters, to political crimes and misdemeanors, and to political punishments.”

    * * *
    As this report details, the impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection. In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump conditioned official acts on a public announcement by the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, of politically-motivated investigations, including one into President Trump’s domestic political opponent. In pressuring President Zelensky to carry out his demand, President Trump withheld a White House meeting desperately sought by the Ukrainian President, and critical U.S. military assistance to fight Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

    The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage. In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.

    At the center of this investigation is the memorandum prepared following President Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukraine’s President, which the White House declassified and released under significant public pressure. The call record alone is stark evidence of misconduct; a demonstration of the President’s prioritization of his personal political benefit over the national interest. In response to President Zelensky’s appreciation for vital U.S. military assistance, which President Trump froze without explanation, President Trump asked for “a favor though”: two specific investigations designed to assist his reelection efforts.

    Our investigation determined that this telephone call was neither the start nor the end of President Trump’s efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain. Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a months-long campaign driven by President Trump in which senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Acting Chief of Staff, the Secretary of Energy, and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President.

    The investigation revealed the nature and extent of the President’s misconduct, notwithstanding an unprecedented campaign of obstruction by the President and his Administration to prevent the Committees from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony. A dozen witnesses followed President Trump’s orders, defying voluntary requests and lawful subpoenas, and refusing to testify. The White House, Department of State, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Energy refused to produce a single document in response to our subpoenas.

    Ultimately, this sweeping effort to stonewall the House of Representatives’ “sole Power of Impeachment” under the Constitution failed because witnesses courageously came forward and testified in response to lawful process. The report that follows was only possible because of their sense of duty and devotion to their country and its Constitution.

    Nevertheless, there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue, even as we transmit our report to the Judiciary Committee. Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts. The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began.

    The damage the President has done to our relationship with a key strategic partner will be remedied over time, and Ukraine continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress. But the damage to our system of checks and balances, and to the balance of power within our three branches of government, will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked. Any future President will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.

    * * *

    The decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry is not one we took lightly. Under the best of circumstances, impeachment is a wrenching process for the nation…The alarming events and actions detailed in this report, however, left us with no choice but to proceed.

    In making the decision to move forward, we were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president. Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by a President who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which the President welcomed and utilized…

    By doubling down on his misconduct and declaring that his July 25 call with President Zelensky was “perfect,” President Trump has shown a continued willingness to use the power of his office to seek foreign intervention in our next election. His Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, in the course of admitting that the President had linked security assistance to Ukraine to the announcement of one of his desired investigations, told the American people to “get over it.” In these statements and actions, the President became the author of his own impeachment inquiry. The question presented by the set of facts enumerated in this report may be as simple as that posed by the President and his chief of staff’s brazenness: is the remedy of impeachment warranted for a president who would use the power of his office to coerce foreign interference in a U.S. election, or is that now a mere perk of the office that Americans must simply “get over”?

    * * *

    Those watching the impeachment hearings might have been struck by how little discrepancy there was between the witnesses called by the Majority and Minority. Indeed, most of the facts presented in the pages that follow are uncontested. The broad outlines as well as many of the details of the President’s scheme have been presented by the witnesses with remarkable consistency. There will always be some variation in the testimony of multiple people witnessing the same events, but few of the differences here go to the heart of the matter. And so, it may have been all the more surprising to the public to see very disparate reactions to the testimony by the Members of Congress from each party.

    If there was one ill the Founding Founders feared as much as that of an unfit president, it may have been that of excessive factionalism. Although the Framers viewed parties as necessary, they also endeavored to structure the new government in such a way as to minimize the “violence of faction.” As George Washington warned in his farewell address, “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

    Today, we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party. But perhaps even more corrosive to our democratic system of governance, the President and his allies are making a comprehensive attack on the very idea of fact and truth. How can a democracy survive without acceptance of a common set of experiences?

    America remains the beacon of democracy and opportunity for freedom-loving people around the world. From their homes and their jail cells, from their public squares and their refugee camps, from their waking hours until their last breath, individuals fighting human rights abuses, journalists uncovering and exposing corruption, persecuted minorities struggling to survive and preserve their faith, and countless others around the globe just hoping for a better life look to America. What we do will determine what they see, and whether America remains a nation committed to the rule of law.

    As Benjamin Franklin departed the Constitutional Convention, he was asked, “what have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?” He responded simply: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

    Click here to read the full report »

    For only the fourth time in American history, the U.S. House began historic public impeachment hearings last month setting the stage for Donald Trump’s possible removal from office for bribery, extortion and abuse of power

    ‘Tis a new season in the impeachment inquiry: Actual impeachment

    The Washington Post

    Dec. 2, 2019

    House Democrats want to vote on whether to impeach President Trump by Christmas, which means they have about three weeks to write up articles of impeachment, debate them and vote on them.

    This next phase comes after two months of an inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached, which culminated in a blitz of public hearings before Thanksgiving…

    There’s no standard timeline for impeachment; this is only the fourth time Congress has formally considered impeaching a president…

    Once the House votes on whether to impeach Trump, we’re through only the first half of the process.

    Here’s an outline of what we can expect next.

    First week of December: The handover from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee

    House impeachment investigators are expected to release a report Monday to members of the House Intelligence Committee about what wrongdoing was uncovered during their two-month impeachment inquiry. The Intelligence Committee will vote on whether to approve it by Tuesday evening, after which the report could get released publicly.

    The Judiciary Committee…will have its first public hearing Wednesday. Constitutional experts will explain what impeachment is and what the Constitution says about impeachment.

    Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


    Related:

    Updated: November 23, 2019

    Highlights from Dramatic Final Day of This Week’s Landmark U.S. Impeachment Hearings (NBC News)

    Impeachment hearings shine spotlight on stories of immigrants

    The Washington Post

    One surprising aspect of the impeachment hearings is that they have shone a spotlight on the stories of officials who were born elsewhere and immigrated to the United States in search of a better life.

    Three of the officials who have testified so far — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council expert on Ukraine; former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; and Hill — are naturalized U.S. citizens.

    Vindman was born in Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the U.S. as a child. Yovanovitch is the Canadian-born daughter of Russians who fled the Soviet Union.

    And Hill came to the U.S. from northeast England, where her poor background and working-class accent were obstacles to her advancement. In her testimony Thursday morning, she described herself as “an American by choice.”

    “I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent,” she said. “In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America.”

    Read more »


    The Latest: Former Trump adviser undercuts GOP impeachment defenses (Day 5)

    The Associated Press

    November 21st, 2019

    A former White House official said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s top European envoy was sent on a “domestic political errand” seeking investigations of Democrats, stunning testimony that dismantled a main line of the president’s defense in the impeachment inquiry.

    In a riveting appearance on Capitol Hill, Fiona Hill also implored Republican lawmakers — and implicitly Trump himself — to stop peddling a “fictional narrative” at the center of the impeachment probe. She said baseless suggestions that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election bolster Russia as it seeks to sow political divisions in the United States.

    Testimony from Hill and David Holmes, a State Department adviser in Kyiv, capped an intense week in the historic inquiry and reinforced the central complaint: that Trump used his leverage over Ukraine, a young Eastern European democracy facing Russian aggression, to pursue political investigations. His alleged actions set off alarms across the U.S. national security and foreign policy apparatus.

    Hill had a front row seat to some of Trump’s pursuits with Ukraine during her tenure at the White House. She testified in detail about her interactions with Gordon Sondland, saying she initially suspected the U.S. ambassador to the European Union was overstating his authority to push Ukraine to launch investigations into Democrats. But she says she now understands he was acting on instructions Trump sent through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

    “He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy,” she testified in a daylong encounter with lawmakers. “And those two things had just diverged.”

    It was just one instance in which Hill, as well as Holmes, undercut the arguments being made by Republicans and the White House. Both told House investigators it was abundantly clear Giuliani was seeking political investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden in Ukraine, knocking down assertions from earlier witnesses who said they didn’t realize the purpose of the lawyer’s pursuits. Trump has also said he was simply focused on rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

    Giuliani “was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us and in fact,” Hill testified. “I think that’s where we are today.”

    Hill also defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Army officer who testified earlier and whom Trump’s allies tried to discredit. A previous witness said Hill raised concerns about Vindman, but she said those worries centered only on whether he had the “political antenna” for the situation at the White House.

    The landmark House impeachment inquiry was sparked by a July 25 phone call, in which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for investigations into Biden and the Democratic National Committee. A still-anonymous whistleblower’s official government complaint about that call led the House to launch the current probe.

    After two weeks of public testimony, many Democrats believe they have enough evidence to begin writing articles of impeachment. Working under the assumption that Trump will be impeached by the House, White House officials and a small group of GOP senators met Thursday to discuss the possibility of a two week Senate trial.

    There still remain questions about whether there will be additional House testimony, either in public session or behind closed doors, including from high-profile officials such as former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

    In what was seen as a nudge to Bolton, her former boss, Hill said those with information have a “moral obligation to provide it.”

    She recounted one vivid incident at the White House where Bolton told her he didn’t want to be involved in any “drug deal” that Sondland and Trump’s acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were cooking up over the Ukrainian investigations Trump wanted. Hill said she conveyed similar concerns directly to Sondland.

    “And I did say to him, ‘Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up,’” she said. “And here we are.”

    Read more »

    Impeachment Bombshell: US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’ (Day 4)

    November 20th, 2019

    US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Was there a “quid pro quo?”

    The ambassador entangled in an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is telling House lawmakers: “Yes.”

    Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly.

    Sondland says “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if President Volodymyr Zelenskiy agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

    He says he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, where he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy departments and White House staff.

    Sondland said: “It was no secret.”

    ___

    9:20 a.m.

    A key witness in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump says that Vice President Mike Pence was informed about concerns that military aid to Ukraine had been held up because of the investigations.

    Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly. He already appeared behind closed doors.

    The wealthy hotelier and Trump donor has emerged as a central figure in an intense week with nine witnesses testifying over three days. He has told lawmakers the White House has records of the July 26 call, despite the fact that Trump has said he doesn’t recall the conversation.

    The ambassador’s account of the recently revealed call supports the testimony of multiple witnesses who have spoken to impeachment investigators over the past week.

    Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he was withholding military aid to the East European nation is at the center of the impeachment probe that imperils his presidency.

    —-
    U.S. Impeachment Highlights From Day 3 (Video)

    Top aides call Trump’s Ukraine call ‘unusual’ and ‘inappropriate’ in impeachment hearing

    The Associated Press

    Impeachment hearings takeaways: Firsthand witnesses appear

    There were attacks on the credibility of a witness in uniform, and hand-wringing by another witness on all that he knows now that he says he didn’t know then. Vice President Mike Pence was name-dropped, and lawmakers heard expressions of concern about the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s leader.

    The third day of impeachment hearings was the longest yet, bringing to the forefront four witnesses in two separate hearings. All were steeped in national security and foreign affairs.

    Some takeaways from Tuesday’s testimony:

    ‘CONCERNED BY THE CALL’

    Republicans consistently criticize the House impeachment inquiry by saying witnesses didn’t have firsthand knowledge of Trump’s role in trying to persuade Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival.

    On Day 3 of the proceedings, that posture became more difficult to maintain.

    The two witnesses in Tuesday morning’s hearing each listened to the July 25 phone call in which Trump prodded his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democrat Joe Biden.

    Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Pence, said she considered the call “unusual” since it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

    Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who arrived for the hearing in military uniform adorned with medals, went even further. He considered it “improper,” and, acting out of “duty,” reported his alarm to a lawyer for the National Security Council.

    “My intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country,” Vindman said. “I never thought that I’d be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public about my actions.”

    For his part, Tim Morrison, who recently left his National Security Council post, said he did not believe that anything illegal occurred on the call but was worried about the political ramifications if the contents leaked.

    Read more »


    Related:

    Democrats invite Trump to testify in impeachment inquiry

    Updates from last week: Trump accused of witness intimidation

    The Associated Press

    Ousted ambassador says she felt intimidated by Trump attacks

    Updated: November 15th, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In chilling detail, ousted U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch described to Trump impeachment investigators Friday how she felt threatened upon learning that President Donald Trump had promised Ukraine’s leader she was “going to go through some things.”

    Trump was unwilling to stay silent during Yovanovitch’s testimony, focusing even greater national attention on the House hearing by becoming a participant. He tweeted fresh criticism of her, saying that things “turned bad” everywhere she served before he fired her — a comment that quickly was displayed on a video screen in the hearing room.

    Rather than distract from the career diplomat’s testimony, Trump’s interference could provide more evidence against him in the probe. Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s attacks were intimidation, “part of a pattern to obstruct justice.” Others said they could be part of an article of impeachment.

    The former ambassador was testifying on the second day of public impeachment hearings, just the fourth time in American history that the House of Representatives has launched such proceedings. The investigation centers on whether Trump’s push for Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals amounted to an abuse of power, a charge he and Republicans vigorously deny.

    Yovanovitch, asked about the potential effect of a presidential threat on other officials or witnesses, replied, “Well, it’s very intimidating.”

    When she saw in print what the president had said about her, she said, a friend told her all the color drained from her face. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated” at what was happening after a distinguished 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

    Unabashed, Trump said when asked about it later, “I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech.”

    But not all Republicans thought it was wise. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Trump’s live tweeting at the ambassador was wrong. She said, “I don’t think the president should have done that.”

    More hearings are coming, with back-to-back sessions next week and lawmakers interviewing new witnesses behind closed doors.

    Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served for decades under both Republican and Democratic presidents and was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, was pushed from her post in Kyiv earlier this year amid intense criticism from Trump allies.

    During a long day of testimony, she relayed her striking story of being “kneecapped,” recalled from Kyiv by Trump in a swiftly developing series of events that sounded alarms about a White House shadow foreign policy.

    She described a “smear campaign” against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., before her firing.

    The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, her career included three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out last May.

    In particular, Yovanovitch described Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, as leading what William Taylor, now the top diplomat in Ukraine who testified earlier in the inquiry, called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations.

    “These events should concern everyone in this room,” Yovanovitch testified in opening remarks.

    She said her sudden removal had played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States. They have learned, she said, “how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

    After Trump’s tweets pulled attention away from her statement, Schiff read the president’s comments aloud, said that “as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” and asked if that was a tactic to intimidate.

    “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidated,” she said.

    Said Schiff, “Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

    Later Friday, the panel in closed-door session heard from David Holmes, a political adviser in Kyiv, who overheard Trump asking about the investigations the day after the president’s July 25 phone conversation with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Holmes was at dinner with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, when Sondland called up Trump. The conversation was apparently loud enough to be overheard.

    In Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy, he asked for a “favor,” according to an account provided by the White House. He wanted an investigation of Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden. Later it was revealed that the administration was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the time.

    Democrats are relying on the testimony of officials close to the Ukraine matter to make their case as they consider whether the president’s behavior was impeachable.

    Yovanovitch provides a key element, Schiff said, as someone whom Trump and Giuliani wanted out of the way for others more favorable to their interests in Ukraine, an energy-rich country that has long struggled with corruption.

    It became clear, he said, “President Trump wanted her gone.”

    The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, bemoaned the hearings as a “daylong TV spectacle.”

    Republicans complained that the ambassador, like other witnesses, can offer only hearsay testimony and only knows of Trump’s actions secondhand. They note that Yovanovitch had left her position before the July phone call.

    Nunes also pressed to hear from the still anonymous government whistleblower who first alerted officials about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine that is in question. “These hearings should not be occurring at all,” he said.

    Just as the hearing was opening, the White House released its rough transcript of a still-earlier Trump call with Zelenskiy that was largely congratulatory.

    Nunes read that transcript aloud. In it, Trump mentioned his experience with the Miss Universe pageant in Ukraine and invited Zelenskiy to the White House. He closed with, “See you very soon.”

    Under questioning from Republicans, Yovanovitch acknowledged that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, serving on the board of a gas company in Ukraine could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest. But she testified the former vice president acted in accordance with official U.S. policy.

    She denied allegations against her, including that she favored Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election, and she rejected the notion that Ukraine tried to interfere in the election, as Trump claims, counter to mainstream U.S. intelligence findings that it was Russia.

    The White House has instructed officials not to comply with the probe, and most have been issued subpoenas to appear.

    An administration budget official will meet privately with the panel privately Saturday. Part of the impeachment inquiry concerns the contention that military aid for Ukraine, which borders a hostile Russia, was being withheld through the White House budget office, pending Ukrainian agreement to investigate Biden and the 2016 U.S. election.

    LIVE | Day 2 of public Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch testifies

    Friday, Nov. 15, 2019

    Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the Democratic members of the House intelligence committee, said that witness intimidation “will be considered” for one of the articles of impeachment against Trump after the president sent a disparaging tweet about Maria Yovanovitch as the longtime diplomat testified.

    One of Swalwell’s fellow Democrats on the panel, Andre Carson, similarly said the committee would “look into” whether Trump engaged in witness intimidation.

    After Trump smears Yovanovitch, Schiff says witness intimidation is taken ‘very, very seriously’ – live

    After reading Trump’s tweet attacking the reputation of Maria Yovanovitch, Adam Schiff asked the longtime diplomat whether she thought the tweet was meant to intimidate her as she testified at the impeachment hearing.

    “It’s very intimidating.”

    Schiff rejoined: “The president is attacking you in real time… Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

    Presidential candidate Kamala Harris weighed in on Trump’s tweet smearing Maria Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified, accusing the president of witness intimidation.

    Fox News anchors described the testimony of Maria Yovanovitch as a “turning point” in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

    Anchor Bret Baier predicted that Trump’s tweet smearing Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified would lead to a new article of impeachment against the president.

    John Roberts

    @johnrobertsFox
    Wow….this is really unprecedented. @realDonaldTrump and Amb Yovanovitch are talking to each other in real time through @Twitter and Television… Something I never thought I would ever see.

    Chris Wallace on Fox News: “If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, you don’t have a pulse.”

    Read more at theguardian.com »


    Ousted ambassador testifies ouster helped ‘shady interests’


    Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. At left is attorney Lawrence Robbins. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: November 15th, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch opened the second day of Trump impeachment hearings Friday declaring that her abrupt removal by President Donald Trump’s administration played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States.

    Yovanovitch told the House Intelligence Committee of a concerted “smear” campaign against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Her removal is one of several events at the center of the impeachment effort.

    “These events should concern everyone in this room,” the career diplomat testified in opening remarks. “Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

    The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi German, she described a 33-year career, including three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out in April 2019.

    Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the panel, opened day’s hearing praising Yovanovitch, saying she was “too tough on corruption for some, and her principled stance made her enemies.”

    Pelosi calls Trump’s actions ‘bribery’ as Democrats sharpen case for impeachment

    The Washington Post

    Escalating her case for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Trump of committing bribery by seeking to use U.S. military aid as leverage to persuade the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could politically benefit Trump.

    The shift toward bribery as an impeachable offense, one of only two crimes specifically cited in the Constitution, comes after nearly two months of debate over whether Trump’s conduct amounted to a “quid pro quo” — a lawyerly Latin term describing an exchange of things of value.

    Wednesday’s public testimony from two senior diplomats, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.”

    Bribery, she suggested, amounted to a translation of quid pro quo that would stand to be more accessible to Americans: “Talking Latin around here: E pluribus unum — from many, one. Quid pro quo — bribery. And that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceedings.”

    Article II of the Constitution holds that the president and other civil federal officials “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    Pelosi’s remarks came a day after William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in the Ukrainian capital, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing Ukraine policy, told lawmakers in the House’s first public impeachment hearing since 1998 that they were deeply troubled by an apparent perversion of U.S. policy, done at what seemed to be the behest of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and Trump himself.

    Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »


    The Associated Press

    Diplomats accuse Trump as impeachment hits Americans’ TVs

    WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time, the Democrats’ case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment streamed from Americans’ TVs Wednesday, including a new contention that he was overheard asking about political “investigations” that he demanded from Ukraine in trade for military aid.

    On Day One of extraordinary public U.S. House hearings — only the fourth formal impeachment effort in U.S. history — career diplomats testified in the open after weeks of closed-door interviews aimed at removing the nation’s 45th president.

    The account they delivered was a striking though complicated one that Democrats say reveals a president abusing his office, and the power of American foreign policy, for personal political gain.

    “The matter is as simple and as terrible as that,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as he opened the daylong hearing. “Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency but the future of the presidency itself.”

    Career diplomat William Taylor, the charge d’affaires in Kyiv, offered new testimony that Trump was overheard asking on the phone about “the investigations” of Democrats that he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

    Trump said he was too busy to watch on Wednesday and denied having the phone call. “First I’ve heard of it,” he said when asked.

    All day, the diplomats testified about how an ambassador was fired, the new Ukraine government was confused and they discovered an “irregular channel” — a shadow U.S. foreign policy orchestrated by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that raised alarms in diplomatic and national security circles.

    The hearing, playing out on live television and in the partisan silos of social media, provided the nation and the world a close-up look at the investigation.

    At its core, the inquiry stems from Trump’s July 25 phone call when he asked Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for “a favor.”

    Trump wanted the Ukraine government to investigate Democrats’ activities in the 2016 election and his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden — all while the administration was withholding military aid for the Eastern European ally that is confronting an aggressive neighbor, Russia.

    Both sides tried to distill it into soundbites.

    Democrats said Trump was engaged in “bribery” and “extortion.” Republicans said nothing really happened — the military aid was ultimately released after Congress complained.

    Read more »


    Related Videos:

    New testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure

    LIVE UPDATES

    A top diplomat on Wednesday tied President Trump more directly to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponents, describing a phone call in which Trump sought information about the status of the investigations he had asked Ukraine to launch one day earlier.

    William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers that the phone conversation between the president and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in Kyiv was overheard by one of his aides. Afterward, Sondland told the aide that Trump cared more about investigations of former vice president Joe Biden than other issues in Ukraine, Taylor said.

    The startling testimony revealed a new example of Trump’s personal involvement in the Ukraine pressure campaign that touched off the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

    Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »

    The Associated Press

    Impeachment hearings go live on TV: Witness says Trump asked about Ukraine probes

    For the first time a top diplomat testified Wednesday that President Donald Trump was overheard asking about “the investigations” he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

    William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, revealed the new information as the House Intelligence Committee opened extraordinary hearings on whether the 45th president of the United States should be removed from office.

    Taylor said his staff recently told him they overheard Trump when they were meeting with another diplomat, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, at a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new leader of Ukraine that sparked the impeachment investigation.

    The staff explained that Sondland had called the president and they could hear Trump on the phone asking about “the investigations.” The ambassador told the president the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, Taylor testified.

    Not inappropriate, let alone impeachable, countered the intelligence panel’s top Republican, Devin Nunes of California.

    Trump “would have a perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened” if there were indications that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election, he said.

    National security officials have told Congress they don’t believe Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

    The hearing Wednesday was the first public session of the impeachment inquiry, a remarkable moment, even for a White House full of them.

    It’s the first chance for America, and the rest of the world, to see and hear for themselves about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and consider whether they are, in fact, impeachable offenses.

    An anonymous whistleblower’s complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general — including that Trump had pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic foe Joe Biden and Bidens’ son and was holding up U.S. military aid — ignited the rare inquiry now unfolding in Congress.

    The country has been here only three times before, and never against the 21st century backdrop of real-time commentary, including from the Republican president himself. The proceedings were being broadcast live, and on social media, from a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill.

    Read more »


    Related:

    Watch: U.S. Public impeachment hearings to begin this week

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Little Ethiopia Coming to Las Vegas Area

    Ethiopians first started immigrating to the Las Vegas Valley in numbers in the late 1970s. Today, 40,000 call Las Vegas home, with more than 40 small businesses in the area. (Photo: Co-owner Fitsumberhan Mehari poses in front of Lucy’s Ethiopian Restaurant, 4850 W. Flamingo Rd/Las Vegas Sun)

    Las Vegas Sun

    Little Ethiopia Seeks Recognition as Cultural District

    An Ethiopian and Eritrean cluster of businesses in Spring Valley referred to as Little Ethiopia is on its way to becoming the first designated cultural district in Clark County.

    Over the summer, members of the community and state Assemblyman Alexander Assefa reached out to the Clark County Commission to work toward creating the district. Commissioners have since approved a policy to streamline the process of designating cultural neighborhoods.

    The designation is an acknowledgement only, but Assefa said it would give communities like Little Ethiopia the recognition of being part of the fabric of Las Vegas.

    Similar cultural designations exist in cities like Los Angeles and New York City to help strengthen local economies and enhance a sense of place.

    The Clark County policy could also help Asian businesses and neighborhoods like the one along Spring Mountain Road informally known as Chinatown obtain an official designation.

    “The county is a very diverse place composed of a mosaic of cultures, making it beautiful, diverse community,” Assefa said. “These hardworking members of the community contribute to the economy, bring rich and diverse cultures that makes us an overall strong community.”

    The proposed boundaries for Little Ethiopia are Twain Avenue on the north, Tropicana Avenue on the south, Glendale Avenue on the east and Arville Street on the west.

    Aseffa said Ethiopians first started immigrating to the Las Vegas Valley in numbers in the late 1970s. Today, 40,000 call Las Vegas home, with more than 40 small businesses in the area.

    The proposed designation will be heard by the Spring Valley and Paradise town advisory boards before going back to the commission for consideration next year.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Lidya Gossa: Honors Neuroscience Student Thrives at Georgia State

    Georgia State Neuroscience student triumphs through transition. When Lidya Gossa came to America at the age of 7, she didn’t speak English. This week, the honors student graduates from Georgia State with a new goal — to become a surgeon. (Georgia State University)

    Georgia State University

    Lidya Gossa: Ethiopian American Honors Neuroscience Student Thrives at Georgia State

    When Lidya Gossa came to America at the age of 7 with her mother, the transition was difficult. Gossa had to learn English, make new friends and adjust to a culture that’s very different from that of her home country of Ethiopia.

    As the first person in her family to go to college, Gossa said she struggled to fully understand the high-school-to-college process.


    From left to right: Aynalem Abagojjam, Lidya Gossa, and Gossa Tefera.


    From left to right: Lidya Gossa, Aynalem Abagojjam, Samueal Gossa, and Gossa Tefera.

    “I had to figure things out on my own. Even in high school. I didn’t understand dual enrollment or [Advanced Placement] classes,” Gossa said. “I felt like if I had someone to guide me who came before me or understood the process, it would have made my journey a lot easier. I figured out everything late, and it was frustrating.”

    Although frustrated and confused at times, Gossa persevered, and she is graduating from Georgia State University on Dec. 19 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.

    Now, the Honors College student said she can be the one to help other Ethiopian American youth understand the college process.

    “When I got older, I realized how hard life actually is. Growing up, I started to realize that I had to do my best in school in order to have a great future because my parents came from a different country, so they didn’t have anything,” Gossa said. “I wanted to work hard so I could have a future for myself and for my family.”

    In 1997, Gossa’s father decided to leave everything behind and immigrate to the United States to provide a better future for his family. Gossa’s father, a teacher in Ethiopia, left for America the year she was born and worked odd jobs to help bring the family to join him in the United States. It took seven years for Gossa’s father to save up enough money to reunite them in the U.S.

    “Leaving everything we had and moving to another country wasn’t the easiest thing,” Gossa said. “We didn’t have any money, but we managed to get by with what we had.”

    Gossa said she didn’t want her education to financially burden her family, and she managed to land several scholarships and work her way through school, she said. She worked part-time jobs outside of school, also working as a chemistry tutor for Georgia State students, a coordinator for the annual Science Olympiad held at the university and an ambassador for the Atlantis fellowship program that gives students the opportunity to shadow doctors abroad. She even traveled with the fellowship program to Athens, Greece one year.

    Gossa plans to attend medical school and hopes to become a surgeon.

    “I want to become a surgeon because I want to help fix the problem. People trust surgeons to fix what’s wrong with them,” Gossa said.

    Gossa said she’s thankful for her parents’ support and hopes to be an inspiration to her younger brother by showing him anything is possible with hard work.

    “I’m so thankful because there are a lot of people who I grew up with in Ethiopia who haven’t been able to go to college or finish school,” Gossa said. “This degree is a blessing and a gift to my parents for their sacrifice. I’m excited to give it to them.”


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

    Blacks in AI, co-founded by Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe, advocates for diversity and inclusion in the technology sector -- particularly in the field of Artificial Intelligence. (Photo: @timnitGebru and @red_abebe/Twitter)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: December 16th, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) — This past week Blacks in AI — a professional community that promotes diversity and inclusion in the Artificial Intelligence field — held its third Black in AI workshop in Vancouver Canada featuring “a panel discussion and invited talks from prominent researchers and practitioners.”

    Blacks in AI is co-founded by Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe, who were both born and raised in Ethiopia.

    Timnit, who earned her doctorate from Stanford University two years ago, is currently the Technical Co-Lead of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team at Google. In 2017 Forbes Magazine had featured her on its list of Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research.

    And Rediet who this month became the first Black female Ph.D. alumni of Cornell University’s Computer Science department, is now a Fellow at Harvard. Her ongoing research focuses on algorithms and artificial intelligence. The title of her doctoral thesis presentation last month summed up her intellectual passion: “Designing Algorithms for Social Good.” As The Cornell Daily Sun pointed out Rediet’s “interest in social problems roots back to her upbringing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There, she recognized the income inequality and social issues that face her home country, noting that the “big mansions and plastic homes” are on the same block. “Addis Ababa is a very beautiful city,” she said. “It’s something that’s really shaped my identity as a person, as a researcher.”

    Meanwhile, the positive feedback and discussions following the 2019 Black in AI workshop is continuing on social media:


    You can learn more about Blacks in AI and get involved here.You can also like their Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter for additional info on their members and various activities.

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    In DC, Ethiopian Jazz Supergroup Feedel Band Is Keeping Traditional Sounds Alive

    Feedel Band has been playing in the District since 2010. (Abebe Tegegne)

    DCist

    Selam Berhea

    Ethiopian Jazz Supergroup Feedel Band Is Keeping Traditional Sounds Alive In The District

    Cutting through the chatter of passersby on 18th Street deciding where to eat or waiting in line at Songbyrd, the sound of a saxophone floats from Bossa Bistro + Lounge. It is the first Thursday of the month, and that means Feedel Band is playing.

    Inside, about 20 people are gathered to see them, some of whom have been coming to Feedel’s shows since the band’s residency first started six years ago.

    “It took two years to convince [the band members to do the residency], they were not used to playing Ethiopian jazz,” says Araya Woldemichael, Feedel’s founder. “We were just backing up popular singers for so many years.” Things changed after Feedel played its first show at the African Jazz Festival in 2011. “We got a very amazing response from the audience.”

    Feedel Band is something of an Ethiopian jazz supergroup, made up of seven musicians with unique track records. Some have played for diplomats, for heads of state, and in music venues around the world. And for the past six or seven years at Bossa, their residency has been a chance to see top musicians of Ethiopian jazz and funk right in D.C.

    Saxophonist Moges Habte, for example, was a former member of the popular Walias Band, whose 1977 album with vibraphonist Hailu Mergia, Tche Belew, remains one of the most well-known Ethiopian jazz records. Walias Band was also the first Ethiopian band to tour the United States in 1981. After the band split in 1983, Habte was one of the four members who chose to stay in the U.S. He spends his time with his six grandchildren, drives for Uber, and plays shows with Feedel.

    Woldemichael, Feedel Band’s pianist and organist, has performed with the Black Eyed Peas, and was part of the band that backed up Beyonce when she performed in Ethiopia for the country’s millennium celebrations. He got his start playing music in church, and in the ’80s he studied music theory and composition in Moscow. He came to the U.S. in 1989, and has played music in D.C. ever since.

    Feedel formed in 2010, and is named after the Ethiopian alphabet. The seven musicians had known each other for years from playing backup for the same singers in D.C. and around the world, including Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, and Tilahun Gessesse, as well as pop artists. After years of backing up singers, Woldemichael decided to form an instrumental act.

    “We just thought, ‘Why are we waiting until they call us? Why don’t we do something ourselves?’” Habte says.

    Read more »


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    Meet Yetnebersh Nigussie: A Blind Lawyer Fighting for Global Disability Rights

    Yetnebersh Nigussie, a lawyer and disability rights activist from Ethiopia, is the recipient of the 2017 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” (Photo: Democracy Now)

    Democracy Now

    December 3 [was] International Day of Persons With Disabilities. “Unfortunately, disability-based discrimination is still a global phenomenon,” says Yetnebersh Nigussie, a lawyer and disability rights activist from Ethiopia who in 2017 received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” Nigussie is the director for advocacy and rights at Light for the World and the former chair of the Ethiopian National Association of the Blind women’s wing. She has been blind since the age of five. Yetnebersh Nigussie speaks with us in Stockholm. She is one of many former Right Livelihood Award recipients from across the globe who have gathered to celebrate this year’s recipients: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Sahrawi human rights activist Aminatou Haidar, Chinese women’s rights lawyer Guo Jianmei and indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa and the Yanomami Hutukara Association, who protect the Amazon’s biodiversity and indigenous people.


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    Meet 2019 CNN Hero of the Year: Freweini Mebrahtu

    Freweini Mebrahtu -- who is from Ethiopia and studied chemical engineering in the US -- designed and patented a reusable menstrual pad in 2005. She and her team produce 750,000 reusable pads a year at her factory in Ethiopia. (CNN)

    CNN

    This is the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year

    Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa present the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year award to Freweini Mebrahtu, who designed and patented a reusable menstrual pad for girls in her native Ethiopia.

    (CNN) It’s something that girls and young women in western countries can’t imagine: missing school, even dropping out, because of their periods. Yet as many as half the girls in rural parts of Ethiopia miss school for reasons related to their periods — and that can have a devastating effect on their education and the rest of their lives.

    Freweini Mebrahtu has dedicated her life to keeping girls in school by designing a reusable menstrual pad and trying to end the cultural stigma around the issue — and because of her work, she has been named the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year.

    “I don’t even know what to say,” Mebrahtu said when receiving the award. “I am so humbled and grateful for CNN … this is for all the girls and women everywhere. Dignity for all.”
    Online voters selected Mebrahtu as the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year award from among the Top 10 CNN Heroes finalists.

    Mebrahtu — who is from Ethiopia and studied chemical engineering in the US — designed and patented a reusable menstrual pad in 2005. She and her team produce 750,000 reusable pads a year at her factory in Ethiopia. Nearly 800,000 girls and women have benefited from her work.

    More than 80% of the pads she manufactures are sold to non-governmental organizations that distribute them for free.

    She knows personally what it’s like to deal with the issue.

    “I remembered (hearing) that it’s actually a curse to have a period … or that it meant I am ready to be married, or (that) I’m being bad,” Mebrahtu told CNN.

    Mebrahtu has teamed up with the nonprofit, Dignity Period, to end the stigma around the issue by speaking at schools and teaching girls and boys that menstruation is natural, not shameful.

    “The whole goal was not only making the pads, but also attacking the cultural baggage to it,” she said.

    Dignity Period has distributed more than 150,000 free menstrual hygiene kits purchased from Mebrahtu’s factory. Data gathered by the group shows that schools visited by Dignity Period had a 24% increase in attendance among girls.

    As the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year, Mebrahtu will receive $100,000 to expand her work. All of the top 10 CNN Heroes for 2019 were honored at Sunday’s gala and will receive a $10,000 cash award.

    Mebrahtu was presented with the Hero of the Year award Sunday night by hosts Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.


    Related:

    A CNN Hero, A Midwife, MeTooEthiopia: 3 Great News Stories You May Have Missed

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    Church Unearthed in Ethiopia Rewrites the History of Christianity in Africa

    At an archaeological site in Ethiopia, researchers are uncovering the oldest Christian basilica in sub-Saharan Africa. (Ioana Dumitru)

    SMITHSONIAN.COM

    Archaeologists now can more closely date when the religion spread to the Aksumite Empire

    In the dusty highlands of northern Ethiopia, a team of archaeologists recently uncovered the oldest known Christian church in sub-Saharan Africa, a find that sheds new light on one of the Old World’s most enigmatic kingdoms—and its surprisingly early conversion to Christianity.

    An international assemblage of scientists discovered the church 30 miles northeast of Aksum, the capital of the Aksumite kingdom, a trading empire that emerged in the first century A.D. and would go on to dominate much of eastern Africa and western Arabia. Through radiocarbon dating artifacts uncovered at the church, the researchers concluded that the structure was built in the fourth century A.D., about the same time when Roman Emperor Constantine I legalized Christianty in 313 CE and then converted on his deathbed in 337 CE. The team detailed their findings in a paper published today in Antiquity.

    The discovery of the church and its contents confirm Ethiopian tradition that Christianity arrived at an early date in an area nearly 3,000 miles from Rome. The find suggests that the new religion spread quickly through long-distance trading networks that linked the Mediterranean via the Red Sea with Africa and South Asia, shedding fresh light on a significant era about which historians know little.

    “The empire of Aksum was one of the world’s most influential ancient civilizations, but it remains one of the least widely known,” says Michael Harrower of Johns Hopkins University, the archaeologist leading the team. Helina Woldekiros, an archaeologist at St. Louis’ Washington University who was part of the team, adds that Aksum served as a “nexus point” linking the Roman Empire and, later, the Byzantine Empire with distant lands to the south. That trade, by camel, donkey and boat, channeled silver, olive oil and wine from the Mediterranean to cities along the Indian Ocean, which in turn brought back exported iron, glass beads and fruits.


    A stone pendant with a cross and the term “venerable” in Ethiopia’s ancient Ge’ez script found outside the eastern basilica wall. (Ioana Dumitru)

    Read more »


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    PM Abiy Ahmed Becomes First Ethiopian to Receive Nobel Prize (In Pictures)

    2019 Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia since April 2018, is the first Ethiopian to be awarded a Nobel Prize. This year's prize is also the 100th Nobel Peace Prize. (Image: Nobel Media)

    The Associated Press

    Nobel winner Abiy says ‘hell’ of war fueled desire for peace

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says his horrifying experiences as a young Ethiopian soldier informed his determination to seek the end of a long conflict with a neighboring country.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed spoke at Oslo City Hall during the ceremony in Norway’s capital where he received his Nobel on Tuesday, saying: “War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I was there and back.”

    Abiy won the prize, in part, for making peace with Eritrea after one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. Abiy served in the army during the war.

    “Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badame,” he recalled. “I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception….It only took but a few minutes. Yet upon my return I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack.”


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


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed makes a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (Scanpix via AP)


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed poses for the media after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize during the award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (NTB Scanpix via AP)


    Norway’s King Harald, Queen Sonja, left, Crown Prince Haakon, second right, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit poses for the media with 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed in the Royal Palace in Oslo, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019, ahead of the award ceremony. NTB Scanpix via AP)


    Text: Abiy Ahmed Ali – Nobel Lecture

    © THE NOBEL FOUNDATION

    Nobel Lecture given by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2019 Abiy Ahmed Ali, Oslo, 10 December 2019.

    “Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa”

    Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses,
    Distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,
    Fellow Ethiopians, Fellow Africans, Citizens of the World
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I am honored to be here with you, and deeply grateful to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for recognizing and encouraging my contribution to a peaceful resolution of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

    I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace.

    Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afeworki, whose goodwill, trust, and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries.

    I also accept this award on behalf of Africans and citizens of the world for whom the dream of peace has often turned into a nightmare of war.

    Today, I stand here in front of you talking about peace because of fate.

    I crawled my way to peace through the dusty trenches of war years ago.

    I was a young soldier when war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

    I witnessed firsthand the ugliness of war in frontline battles.

    There are those who have never seen war but glorify and romanticize it.

    They have not seen the fear,
    They have not seen the fatigue,
    They have not seen the destruction or heartbreak,
    Nor have they felt the mournful emptiness of war after the carnage.

    War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back.

    I have seen brothers slaughtering brothers on the battlefield.

    I have seen older men, women, and children trembling in terror under the deadly shower of bullets and artillery shells.

    You see, I was not only a combatant in war.

    I was also a witness to its cruelty and what it can do to people.

    War makes for bitter men. Heartless and savage men.

    Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badme.

    The town was the flashpoint of the war between the two countries.

    I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception.

    It took only but a few minutes. Yet, upon my return, I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack.

    I still remember my young comrades-in-arms who died on that ill-fated day.

    I think of their families too.

    During the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, an estimated one hundred thousand soldiers and civilians lost their lives.

    The aftermath of the war also left untold numbers of families broken. It also permanently shattered communities on both sides.

    Massive destruction of infrastructure further amplified the post-war economic burden.

    Socially, the war resulted in mass displacements, loss of livelihoods, deportation and denationalization of citizens.

    Following the end of active armed conflict in June 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea remained deadlocked in a stalemate of no-war, no-peace for two decades.

    During this period, family units were split over borders, unable to see or talk to each other for years to come.

    Tens of thousands of troops remained stationed along both sides of the border. They remained on edge, as did the rest of the country and region.

    All were worried that any small border clash would flare into a full-blown war once again.

    As it was, the war and the stalemate that followed were a threat for regional peace, with fears that a resumption of active combat between Ethiopia and Eritrea would destabilize the entire Horn region.

    And so, when I became Prime Minister about 18 months ago, I felt in my heart that ending the uncertainty was necessary.

    I believed peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was within reach.

    I was convinced that the imaginary wall separating our two countries for much too long needed to be torn down.

    And in its place, a bridge of friendship, collaboration and goodwill has to be built to last for ages.

    That is how I approached the task of building a peace bridge with my partner President Isaias Afeworki.

    We were both ready to allow peace to flourish and shine through.

    We resolved to turn our “swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks” for the progress and prosperity of our people.

    We understood our nations are not the enemies. Instead, we were victims of the common enemy called poverty.

    We recognized that while our two nations were stuck on old grievances, the world was shifting rapidly and leaving us behind.

    We agreed we must work cooperatively for the prosperity of our people and our region.

    Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Today, we are reaping our peace dividends.

    Families separated for over two decades are now united.

    Diplomatic relations are fully restored.

    Air and telecommunication services have been reestablished.

    And our focus has now shifted to developing joint infrastructure projects that will be a critical lever in our economic ambitions.

    Our commitment to peace between our two countries is iron-clad.

    One may wonder, how it is that a conflict extending over twenty years, can come to an amicable resolution.

    Allow me to share with you a little about the beliefs that guide my actions for peace.

    I believe that peace is an affair of the heart. Peace is a labor of love.
    Sustaining peace is hard work.

    Yet, we must cherish and nurture it.

    It takes a few to make war, but it takes a village and a nation to build peace.

    For me, nurturing peace is like planting and growing trees.

    Just like trees need water and good soil to grow, peace requires unwavering commitment, infinite patience, and goodwill to cultivate and harvest its dividends.

    Peace requires good faith to blossom into prosperity, security, and opportunity.

    In the same manner that trees absorb carbon dioxide to give us life and oxygen, peace has the capacity to absorb the suspicion and doubt that may cloud our relationships.
    In return, it gives back hope for the future, confidence in ourselves, and faith in humanity.

    This humanity I speak of, is within all of us.

    We can cultivate and share it with others if we choose to remove our masks of pride and arrogance.

    When our love for humanity outgrows our appreciation of human vanity then the world will know peace.

    Ultimately, peace requires an enduring vision. And my vision of peace is rooted in the philosophy of Medemer.

    Medemer, an Amharic word, signifies synergy, convergence, and teamwork for a common destiny.

    Medemer is a homegrown idea that is reflected in our political, social, and economic life.

    I like to think of “Medemer” as a social compact for Ethiopians to build a just, egalitarian, democratic, and humane society by pulling together our resources for our collective survival and prosperity.

    In practice, Medemer is about using the best of our past to build a new society and a new civic culture that thrives on tolerance, understanding, and civility.

    At its core, Medemer is a covenant of peace that seeks unity in our common humanity.

    It pursues peace by practicing the values of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusion.

    Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I come from a small town called Beshasha, located in the Oromia region of Western Ethiopia.

    It is in Beshasha that the seeds of Medemer began to sprout.

    Growing up, my parents instilled in me and my siblings, an abiding faith in humanity.

    Medemer resonates with the proverb, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

    In my little town, we had no running water, electricity, or paved roads. But we had a lot of love to light up our lives.

    We were each other’s keepers.

    Faith, humility, integrity, patience, gratitude, tenacity, and cooperation coursed like a mighty stream.

    And we traveled together on three country roads called love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

    In the Medemer idea, there is no “Us and Them.”

    There is only “US” for “We” are all bound by a shared destiny of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

    For the people in the “Land of Origins” and “The 13 Months of Sunshine,” Medemer has always been second nature.

    Ethiopians maintained peaceful coexistence between the followers of the two great religions because we always came together in faith and worship.

    We, Ethiopians, remained independent for thousands of years because we came together to defend our homeland.

    The beauty of our Ethiopia is its extraordinary diversity.

    The inclusiveness of Medemer ensures no one is left behind in our big extended family.

    It has also been said, “No man is an island.”

    Just the same, no nation is an island. Ethiopia’s Medemer-inspired foreign policy pursues peace through multilateral cooperation and good neighborliness.

    We have an old saying:
    “በሰላም እንድታድር ጎረቤትህ ሰላም ይደር”
    “yoo ollaan nagayaan bule, nagaan bulanni.”

    It is a saying shared in many African languages, which means, “For you to have a peaceful night, your neighbor shall have a peaceful night as well.”

    The essence of this proverb guides the strengthening of relations in the region. We now strive to live with our neighbors in peace and harmony.

    The Horn of Africa today is a region of strategic significance.

    The global military superpowers are expanding their military presence in the area. Terrorist and extremist groups also seek to establish a foothold.

    We do not want the Horn to be a battleground for superpowers nor a hideout for the merchants of terror and brokers of despair and misery.

    We want the Horn of Africa to become a treasury of peace and progress.

    Indeed, we want the Horn of Africa to become the Horn of Plenty for the rest of the continent.

    Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    As a global community, we must invest in peace.

    Over the past few months, Ethiopia has made historic investments in peace, the returns of which we will see in years to come.

    We have released all political prisoners. We have shut down detention facilities where torture and vile human rights abuses took place.

    Today, Ethiopia is highly regarded for press freedom. It is no more a “jailor of journalists”.

    Opposition leaders of all political stripes are free to engage in peaceful political activity.

    We are creating an Ethiopia that is second to none in its guarantee of freedoms of expression.

    We have laid the groundwork for genuine multiparty democracy, and we will soon hold a free and fair election.

    I truly believe peace is a way of life. War, a form of death and destruction.

    Peacemakers must teach peace breakers to choose the way of life.
    To that end, we must help build a world culture of peace.

    But before there is peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart and mind.

    There must be peace in the family, in the neighborhood, in the village, and the towns and cities. There must be peace in and among nations.

    Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen:
    There is a big price for enduring peace.

    A famous protest slogan that proclaims, “No justice, no peace,” calls to mind that peace thrives and bears fruit when planted in the soil of justice.

    The disregard for human rights has been the source of much strife and conflict in the world. The same holds in our continent, Africa.

    It is estimated that some 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30.

    Our young men and women are crying out for social and economic justice. They demand equality of opportunity and an end to organized corruption.

    The youth insist on good governance based on accountability and transparency. If we deny our youth justice, they will reject peace.

    Standing on this world stage today, I would like to call upon all my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunities for all its citizens.

    I would like to especially express that we should avoid the path of extremism and division, powered by politics of exclusion.

    Our accord hangs in the balance of inclusive politics.

    The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media.

    They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves.

    Together, we must neutralize the toxin of hatred by creating a civic culture of consensus-based democracy, inclusivity, civility, and tolerance based on Medemer principles.

    The art of building peace is a synergistic process to change hearts, minds, beliefs and attitudes, that never ceases.

    It is like the work of struggling farmers in my beloved Ethiopia. Each season they prepare the soil, sow seeds, pull weeds, and control pests.

    They work the fields from dawn to dusk in good and bad weather.

    The seasons change, but their work never ends. In the end, they harvest the abundance of their fields.

    Before we can harvest peace dividends, we must plant seeds of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of our citizens.

    We must pull out the weeds of discord, hate, and misunderstanding and toil every day during good and bad days too.

    I am inspired by a Biblical Scripture which reads:
    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

    Equally I am also inspired by a Holy Quran verse which reads:
    “Humanity is but a single Brotherhood. So, make peace with your Brethren.”

    I am committed to toil for peace every single day and in all seasons.

    I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper too.

    I have promises to keep before I sleep. I have miles to go on the road of peace.

    As I conclude, I call upon the international community to join me and my fellow Ethiopians in our Medemer inspired efforts of building enduring peace and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.

    ሰላም ለሁላችንም፤ ለሰላም አርበኖች እንዲሁም ለሰላም ወዳጆች።

    I thank you!


    The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony is underway in Oslo, Norway. The main highlight of the event is the lecture by this year’s Nobel Laureate PM Abiy Ahmed, who is the first Ethiopian to receive the prestigious international award.

    WATCH LIVE: 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

    The Nobel Peace Prize for 2019

    Announcement

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea. The prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.

    When Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018, he made it clear that he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea. In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between the two countries. These principles are set out in the declarations that Prime Minister Abiy and President Afwerki signed in Asmara and Jeddah last July and September. An important premise for the breakthrough was Abiy Ahmed’s unconditional willingness to accept the arbitration ruling of an international boundary commission in 2002.

    Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone. When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

    In Ethiopia, even if much work remains, Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future. He spent his first 100 days as Prime Minister lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalising outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders who were suspected of corruption, and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life. He has also pledged to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections.

    In the wake of the peace process with Eritrea, Prime Minister Abiy has engaged in other peace and reconciliation processes in East and Northeast Africa. In September 2018 he and his government contributed actively to the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Djibouti after many years of political hostility. Additionally, Abiy Ahmed has sought to mediate between Kenya and Somalia in their protracted conflict over rights to a disputed marine area. There is now hope for a resolution to this conflict. In Sudan, the military regime and the opposition have returned to the negotiating table. On the 17th of August, they released a joint draft of a new constitution intended to secure a peaceful transition to civil rule in the country. Prime Minister Abiy played a key role in the process that led to the agreement.

    Ethiopia is a country of many different languages and peoples. Lately, old ethnic rivalries have flared up. According to international observers, up to three million Ethiopians may be internally displaced. That is in addition to the million or so refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries. As Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice. However, many challenges remain unresolved. Ethnic strife continues to escalate, and we have seen troubling examples of this in recent weeks and months. No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early. The Norwegian Nobel Committee believes it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that the Nobel Peace Prize will strengthen Prime Minister Abiy in his important work for peace and reconciliation. Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country and has East Africa’s largest economy. A peaceful, stable and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side-effects, and will help to strengthen fraternity among nations and peoples in the region. With the provisions of Alfred Nobel’s will firmly in mind, the Norwegian Nobel Committee sees Abiy Ahmed as the person who in the preceding year has done the most to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    EDTF: Q&A with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu

    Dr. Bisrat Aklilu is a member of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund's Advisory Council. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: December 6th, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) – It was a year ago this month that we had participated in a press conference held by the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. where the fund’s advisory council members briefed the media on their organization’s objectives, fundraising status as well as future plans to engage the larger Ethiopian Diaspora community.

    We also published interviews with EDTF advisory council members including Dr. Bisrat Aklilu and Professor Lemma Senbet, and reported on major updates such as the naming of the EDTF Board of Directors who oversee the organization’s projects in Ethiopia.

    More recently, we followed up with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu regarding the current status of EDTF’s fundraising efforts, challenges and their plans moving forward.

    Below is our Q & A with Dr. Bisrat:

    TADIAS: Can you tell us some of the main developments and milestones achieved by EDTF since our last last interview a year ago?

    Dr. Bisrat: A lot has happened since our last Tadias interview in November 2018, which was one month after the start of the EDTF online donation. Since then, EDTF mobilized about 26,000 Ethiopian diaspora members in 93 countries and received about US$5.2 million.

    In March 2019, a highly qualified small Secretariat team was engaged in Addis Ababa thanks to a generous two-year funding EDTF received from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). UNDP’s funding is a vote of confidence on the integrity of the EDTF mechanism.

    In May 2019, EDTF appointed an eleven member Board of Directors, with five members representing the Ethiopian Diaspora (in North America, Europe, Africa and Middle East); three members representing the Ethiopian Civil Society (women, youth and the public at large); and three members from the Government.

    By July 2019 we launched a rigorous ‘Call for Project Proposals” which resulted in the receipt of over 400 project proposals by the due date of 16 September covering the various EDTF eligible project areas.

    In September 2019, EDTF received from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a 501c3 tax exempt status, as a public charity organization, making donations to EDTF tax exempt as of 27 September 2018.

    TADIAS: What are some of your current challenges?

    Dr. Bisrat: The first challenge we faced was, and still is to some extent, making our donors understand that EDTF is a completely independent non-governmental, non-profit organization governed by its own “Terms of Reference” totally outside of Ethiopian Government control. EDTF strives to promote dignity, freedom, equality and economic opportunity and national unity based on peaceful cooperation among Ethiopia’s diverse communities without regard to ethnicity, religion or other sectarian considerations.

    The second challenge is to explain to our diaspora donors and the public why reasonable time is needed to mobilize funds and receive, vet and fund projects. Learning from the past, we are determined to maintain thoroughness in the project funding process to ensure proper use and accountability of the donated funds.

    The third challenge is to satisfy the needs of the disadvantaged people and communities in Ethiopia that EDTF is established to address. The projects so far received will require at least 10 times more funds, i.e. $50 to $70 million, compared to the present $5 million available. We need significantly more donations than what we have received to-date. As part of such an effort, the Advisory Council will hold an EDTF Fundraising dinner on 12 December 2019 in Springfield, Virginia, in the suburb of Washington D.C.. We are encouraging all our 46 EDTF Chapters in the US and around the world to hold similar fundraising but combined with community engagement events in the coming months.

    TADIAS: We understand that EDTF is now accepting project proposals for funding in Ethiopia. Please give us an update. How does the process work?

    Dr. Bisrat: At the end of the ‘Call for Project Proposal’ period on 16 September 2019, EDTF received about 400 projects. Subsequently, about 300 were found eligible for further review having met the submission requirements. In line with the EDTF policy of transparency and accountability, these projects are currently being reviewed by 75 volunteer Ethiopian and Diaspora volunteer professionals organized in teams of three, with each project reviewed independently by three professionals. By 23 December, the shortlisted projects will be announced to the public. This will be followed by presentation to the Board in late January 2020 of projects that have been vetted for their proper institutional capacity. A summarized indicative timetable of the project review and approval process is posted on the EDTF website www.ethiopiatrustfund.org.

    TADIAS: Can you tell us a bit more about your network of volunteers and their contributions?

    Dr. Bisrat: Unlike other similar non-governmental organizations(NGOs), EDTF is a totally volunteer driven organization that utilizes 100% of its donations for projects it will finance. No other NGO does that. In fact during the EDTF legal incorporation and subsequent submission to IRS for our 501c3 tax exempt status, we were asked repeatedly how EDTF can operate without using part of its donations to cover operational and administrative costs. In the EDTF, starting from the Advisory Council to the Board and the countless diaspora volunteers organized in various functional teams such as Donors Support, Chapters Support, Website Management, Communications, Volunteers Engagement, Graphics Design and Finance and Audit and recently Project Review, all work on a pro bono basis sacrificing their time. EDTF volunteers are located in different cities and countries and yet work seamlessly as a team on different tasks.

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

    Dr. Bisrat: I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 26,000 Ethiopian diaspora for responding to the call for assistance of our disadvantaged Ethiopian sisters and brothers. My deepest thanks goes to the EDTF unsung heroes, the EDTF Secretariat and the many EDTF volunteers, that work day and night to ensure the transparent and accountable operation of the EDTF. EDTF is a labor of love for many of us. There is nothing as gratifying as working together with so many committed volunteers on such a noble cause, with no sectarian consideration, for the sole purpose of ‘giving back a little’.


    Related:
    EDTF Ethiopia Board Announced
    Ways to Boost Donor Participation for the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund
    Few Takeaways From EDTF Press Conference at Ethiopian Embassy in DC
    Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on the Diaspora Trust Fund & Chapter Formation
    Interview with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu About the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund
    A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia (Tadias Editorial/July 10th, 2018)

    You can learn more about the fund at ethiopiatrustfund.org.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    NYT: Addis Fine Art Gallery Enriches a Global Art Conversation

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

    The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

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

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

    The Guardian

    Updated: December 4th, 2019

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

    Trump provides extreme example of impeachable conduct – witnesses

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

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

    Democrats lay out impeachment road map

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

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

    The road ahead

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

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

    Read more »


    UPDATE: U.S. Impeachment Panel Finds Trump Abused His Office for Personal Gain

    THE TRUMP-UKRAINE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY REPORT

    Report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Consultation with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

    December 3, 2019

    In his farewell address, President George Washington warned of a moment when “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

    The Framers of the Constitution well understood that an individual could one day occupy the Office of the President who would place his personal or political interests above those of the nation. Having just won hard-fought independence from a King with unbridled authority, they were attuned to the dangers of an executive who lacked fealty to the law and the Constitution.

    In response, the Framers adopted a tool used by the British Parliament for several hundred years to constrain the Crown—the power of impeachment. Unlike in Britain, where impeachment was typically reserved for inferior officers but not the King himself, impeachment in our untested democracy was specifically intended to serve as the ultimate form of accountability for a duly-elected President. Rather than a mechanism to overturn an election, impeachment was explicitly contemplated as a remedy of last resort for a president who fails to faithfully execute his oath of office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    Accordingly, the Constitution confers the power to impeach the president on Congress, stating that the president shall be removed from office upon conviction for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While the Constitutional standard for removal from office is justly a high one, it is nonetheless an essential check and balance on the authority of the occupant of the Office of the President, particularly when that occupant represents a continuing threat to our fundamental democratic norms, values, and laws.

    Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment was not designed to cover only criminal violations, but also crimes against the American people. “The subjects of its jurisdiction,” Hamilton wrote, “are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

    Similarly, future Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention, distinguished impeachable offenses from those that reside “within the sphere of ordinary jurisprudence.” As he noted, “impeachments are confined to political characters, to political crimes and misdemeanors, and to political punishments.”

    * * *
    As this report details, the impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection. In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump conditioned official acts on a public announcement by the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, of politically-motivated investigations, including one into President Trump’s domestic political opponent. In pressuring President Zelensky to carry out his demand, President Trump withheld a White House meeting desperately sought by the Ukrainian President, and critical U.S. military assistance to fight Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

    The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage. In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.

    At the center of this investigation is the memorandum prepared following President Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukraine’s President, which the White House declassified and released under significant public pressure. The call record alone is stark evidence of misconduct; a demonstration of the President’s prioritization of his personal political benefit over the national interest. In response to President Zelensky’s appreciation for vital U.S. military assistance, which President Trump froze without explanation, President Trump asked for “a favor though”: two specific investigations designed to assist his reelection efforts.

    Our investigation determined that this telephone call was neither the start nor the end of President Trump’s efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain. Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a months-long campaign driven by President Trump in which senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Acting Chief of Staff, the Secretary of Energy, and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President.

    The investigation revealed the nature and extent of the President’s misconduct, notwithstanding an unprecedented campaign of obstruction by the President and his Administration to prevent the Committees from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony. A dozen witnesses followed President Trump’s orders, defying voluntary requests and lawful subpoenas, and refusing to testify. The White House, Department of State, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Energy refused to produce a single document in response to our subpoenas.

    Ultimately, this sweeping effort to stonewall the House of Representatives’ “sole Power of Impeachment” under the Constitution failed because witnesses courageously came forward and testified in response to lawful process. The report that follows was only possible because of their sense of duty and devotion to their country and its Constitution.

    Nevertheless, there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue, even as we transmit our report to the Judiciary Committee. Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts. The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began.

    The damage the President has done to our relationship with a key strategic partner will be remedied over time, and Ukraine continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress. But the damage to our system of checks and balances, and to the balance of power within our three branches of government, will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked. Any future President will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.

    * * *

    The decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry is not one we took lightly. Under the best of circumstances, impeachment is a wrenching process for the nation…The alarming events and actions detailed in this report, however, left us with no choice but to proceed.

    In making the decision to move forward, we were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president. Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by a President who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which the President welcomed and utilized…

    By doubling down on his misconduct and declaring that his July 25 call with President Zelensky was “perfect,” President Trump has shown a continued willingness to use the power of his office to seek foreign intervention in our next election. His Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, in the course of admitting that the President had linked security assistance to Ukraine to the announcement of one of his desired investigations, told the American people to “get over it.” In these statements and actions, the President became the author of his own impeachment inquiry. The question presented by the set of facts enumerated in this report may be as simple as that posed by the President and his chief of staff’s brazenness: is the remedy of impeachment warranted for a president who would use the power of his office to coerce foreign interference in a U.S. election, or is that now a mere perk of the office that Americans must simply “get over”?

    * * *

    Those watching the impeachment hearings might have been struck by how little discrepancy there was between the witnesses called by the Majority and Minority. Indeed, most of the facts presented in the pages that follow are uncontested. The broad outlines as well as many of the details of the President’s scheme have been presented by the witnesses with remarkable consistency. There will always be some variation in the testimony of multiple people witnessing the same events, but few of the differences here go to the heart of the matter. And so, it may have been all the more surprising to the public to see very disparate reactions to the testimony by the Members of Congress from each party.

    If there was one ill the Founding Founders feared as much as that of an unfit president, it may have been that of excessive factionalism. Although the Framers viewed parties as necessary, they also endeavored to structure the new government in such a way as to minimize the “violence of faction.” As George Washington warned in his farewell address, “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

    Today, we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party. But perhaps even more corrosive to our democratic system of governance, the President and his allies are making a comprehensive attack on the very idea of fact and truth. How can a democracy survive without acceptance of a common set of experiences?

    America remains the beacon of democracy and opportunity for freedom-loving people around the world. From their homes and their jail cells, from their public squares and their refugee camps, from their waking hours until their last breath, individuals fighting human rights abuses, journalists uncovering and exposing corruption, persecuted minorities struggling to survive and preserve their faith, and countless others around the globe just hoping for a better life look to America. What we do will determine what they see, and whether America remains a nation committed to the rule of law.

    As Benjamin Franklin departed the Constitutional Convention, he was asked, “what have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?” He responded simply: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

    Click here to read the full report »

    For only the fourth time in American history, the U.S. House began historic public impeachment hearings last month setting the stage for Donald Trump’s possible removal from office for bribery, extortion and abuse of power

    ‘Tis a new season in the impeachment inquiry: Actual impeachment

    The Washington Post

    Dec. 2, 2019

    House Democrats want to vote on whether to impeach President Trump by Christmas, which means they have about three weeks to write up articles of impeachment, debate them and vote on them.

    This next phase comes after two months of an inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached, which culminated in a blitz of public hearings before Thanksgiving…

    There’s no standard timeline for impeachment; this is only the fourth time Congress has formally considered impeaching a president…

    Once the House votes on whether to impeach Trump, we’re through only the first half of the process.

    Here’s an outline of what we can expect next.

    First week of December: The handover from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee

    House impeachment investigators are expected to release a report Monday to members of the House Intelligence Committee about what wrongdoing was uncovered during their two-month impeachment inquiry. The Intelligence Committee will vote on whether to approve it by Tuesday evening, after which the report could get released publicly.

    The Judiciary Committee…will have its first public hearing Wednesday. Constitutional experts will explain what impeachment is and what the Constitution says about impeachment.

    Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


    Related:

    Updated: November 23, 2019

    Highlights from Dramatic Final Day of This Week’s Landmark U.S. Impeachment Hearings (NBC News)

    Impeachment hearings shine spotlight on stories of immigrants

    The Washington Post

    One surprising aspect of the impeachment hearings is that they have shone a spotlight on the stories of officials who were born elsewhere and immigrated to the United States in search of a better life.

    Three of the officials who have testified so far — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council expert on Ukraine; former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; and Hill — are naturalized U.S. citizens.

    Vindman was born in Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the U.S. as a child. Yovanovitch is the Canadian-born daughter of Russians who fled the Soviet Union.

    And Hill came to the U.S. from northeast England, where her poor background and working-class accent were obstacles to her advancement. In her testimony Thursday morning, she described herself as “an American by choice.”

    “I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent,” she said. “In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America.”

    Read more »


    The Latest: Former Trump adviser undercuts GOP impeachment defenses (Day 5)

    The Associated Press

    November 21st, 2019

    A former White House official said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s top European envoy was sent on a “domestic political errand” seeking investigations of Democrats, stunning testimony that dismantled a main line of the president’s defense in the impeachment inquiry.

    In a riveting appearance on Capitol Hill, Fiona Hill also implored Republican lawmakers — and implicitly Trump himself — to stop peddling a “fictional narrative” at the center of the impeachment probe. She said baseless suggestions that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election bolster Russia as it seeks to sow political divisions in the United States.

    Testimony from Hill and David Holmes, a State Department adviser in Kyiv, capped an intense week in the historic inquiry and reinforced the central complaint: that Trump used his leverage over Ukraine, a young Eastern European democracy facing Russian aggression, to pursue political investigations. His alleged actions set off alarms across the U.S. national security and foreign policy apparatus.

    Hill had a front row seat to some of Trump’s pursuits with Ukraine during her tenure at the White House. She testified in detail about her interactions with Gordon Sondland, saying she initially suspected the U.S. ambassador to the European Union was overstating his authority to push Ukraine to launch investigations into Democrats. But she says she now understands he was acting on instructions Trump sent through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

    “He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy,” she testified in a daylong encounter with lawmakers. “And those two things had just diverged.”

    It was just one instance in which Hill, as well as Holmes, undercut the arguments being made by Republicans and the White House. Both told House investigators it was abundantly clear Giuliani was seeking political investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden in Ukraine, knocking down assertions from earlier witnesses who said they didn’t realize the purpose of the lawyer’s pursuits. Trump has also said he was simply focused on rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

    Giuliani “was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us and in fact,” Hill testified. “I think that’s where we are today.”

    Hill also defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Army officer who testified earlier and whom Trump’s allies tried to discredit. A previous witness said Hill raised concerns about Vindman, but she said those worries centered only on whether he had the “political antenna” for the situation at the White House.

    The landmark House impeachment inquiry was sparked by a July 25 phone call, in which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for investigations into Biden and the Democratic National Committee. A still-anonymous whistleblower’s official government complaint about that call led the House to launch the current probe.

    After two weeks of public testimony, many Democrats believe they have enough evidence to begin writing articles of impeachment. Working under the assumption that Trump will be impeached by the House, White House officials and a small group of GOP senators met Thursday to discuss the possibility of a two week Senate trial.

    There still remain questions about whether there will be additional House testimony, either in public session or behind closed doors, including from high-profile officials such as former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

    In what was seen as a nudge to Bolton, her former boss, Hill said those with information have a “moral obligation to provide it.”

    She recounted one vivid incident at the White House where Bolton told her he didn’t want to be involved in any “drug deal” that Sondland and Trump’s acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were cooking up over the Ukrainian investigations Trump wanted. Hill said she conveyed similar concerns directly to Sondland.

    “And I did say to him, ‘Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up,’” she said. “And here we are.”

    Read more »

    Impeachment Bombshell: US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’ (Day 4)

    November 20th, 2019

    US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Was there a “quid pro quo?”

    The ambassador entangled in an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is telling House lawmakers: “Yes.”

    Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly.

    Sondland says “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if President Volodymyr Zelenskiy agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

    He says he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, where he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy departments and White House staff.

    Sondland said: “It was no secret.”

    ___

    9:20 a.m.

    A key witness in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump says that Vice President Mike Pence was informed about concerns that military aid to Ukraine had been held up because of the investigations.

    Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly. He already appeared behind closed doors.

    The wealthy hotelier and Trump donor has emerged as a central figure in an intense week with nine witnesses testifying over three days. He has told lawmakers the White House has records of the July 26 call, despite the fact that Trump has said he doesn’t recall the conversation.

    The ambassador’s account of the recently revealed call supports the testimony of multiple witnesses who have spoken to impeachment investigators over the past week.

    Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he was withholding military aid to the East European nation is at the center of the impeachment probe that imperils his presidency.

    —-
    U.S. Impeachment Highlights From Day 3 (Video)

    Top aides call Trump’s Ukraine call ‘unusual’ and ‘inappropriate’ in impeachment hearing

    The Associated Press

    Impeachment hearings takeaways: Firsthand witnesses appear

    There were attacks on the credibility of a witness in uniform, and hand-wringing by another witness on all that he knows now that he says he didn’t know then. Vice President Mike Pence was name-dropped, and lawmakers heard expressions of concern about the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s leader.

    The third day of impeachment hearings was the longest yet, bringing to the forefront four witnesses in two separate hearings. All were steeped in national security and foreign affairs.

    Some takeaways from Tuesday’s testimony:

    ‘CONCERNED BY THE CALL’

    Republicans consistently criticize the House impeachment inquiry by saying witnesses didn’t have firsthand knowledge of Trump’s role in trying to persuade Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival.

    On Day 3 of the proceedings, that posture became more difficult to maintain.

    The two witnesses in Tuesday morning’s hearing each listened to the July 25 phone call in which Trump prodded his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democrat Joe Biden.

    Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Pence, said she considered the call “unusual” since it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

    Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who arrived for the hearing in military uniform adorned with medals, went even further. He considered it “improper,” and, acting out of “duty,” reported his alarm to a lawyer for the National Security Council.

    “My intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country,” Vindman said. “I never thought that I’d be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public about my actions.”

    For his part, Tim Morrison, who recently left his National Security Council post, said he did not believe that anything illegal occurred on the call but was worried about the political ramifications if the contents leaked.

    Read more »


    Related:

    Democrats invite Trump to testify in impeachment inquiry

    Updates from last week: Trump accused of witness intimidation

    The Associated Press

    Ousted ambassador says she felt intimidated by Trump attacks

    Updated: November 15th, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In chilling detail, ousted U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch described to Trump impeachment investigators Friday how she felt threatened upon learning that President Donald Trump had promised Ukraine’s leader she was “going to go through some things.”

    Trump was unwilling to stay silent during Yovanovitch’s testimony, focusing even greater national attention on the House hearing by becoming a participant. He tweeted fresh criticism of her, saying that things “turned bad” everywhere she served before he fired her — a comment that quickly was displayed on a video screen in the hearing room.

    Rather than distract from the career diplomat’s testimony, Trump’s interference could provide more evidence against him in the probe. Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s attacks were intimidation, “part of a pattern to obstruct justice.” Others said they could be part of an article of impeachment.

    The former ambassador was testifying on the second day of public impeachment hearings, just the fourth time in American history that the House of Representatives has launched such proceedings. The investigation centers on whether Trump’s push for Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals amounted to an abuse of power, a charge he and Republicans vigorously deny.

    Yovanovitch, asked about the potential effect of a presidential threat on other officials or witnesses, replied, “Well, it’s very intimidating.”

    When she saw in print what the president had said about her, she said, a friend told her all the color drained from her face. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated” at what was happening after a distinguished 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

    Unabashed, Trump said when asked about it later, “I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech.”

    But not all Republicans thought it was wise. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Trump’s live tweeting at the ambassador was wrong. She said, “I don’t think the president should have done that.”

    More hearings are coming, with back-to-back sessions next week and lawmakers interviewing new witnesses behind closed doors.

    Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served for decades under both Republican and Democratic presidents and was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, was pushed from her post in Kyiv earlier this year amid intense criticism from Trump allies.

    During a long day of testimony, she relayed her striking story of being “kneecapped,” recalled from Kyiv by Trump in a swiftly developing series of events that sounded alarms about a White House shadow foreign policy.

    She described a “smear campaign” against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., before her firing.

    The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, her career included three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out last May.

    In particular, Yovanovitch described Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, as leading what William Taylor, now the top diplomat in Ukraine who testified earlier in the inquiry, called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations.

    “These events should concern everyone in this room,” Yovanovitch testified in opening remarks.

    She said her sudden removal had played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States. They have learned, she said, “how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

    After Trump’s tweets pulled attention away from her statement, Schiff read the president’s comments aloud, said that “as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” and asked if that was a tactic to intimidate.

    “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidated,” she said.

    Said Schiff, “Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

    Later Friday, the panel in closed-door session heard from David Holmes, a political adviser in Kyiv, who overheard Trump asking about the investigations the day after the president’s July 25 phone conversation with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Holmes was at dinner with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, when Sondland called up Trump. The conversation was apparently loud enough to be overheard.

    In Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy, he asked for a “favor,” according to an account provided by the White House. He wanted an investigation of Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden. Later it was revealed that the administration was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the time.

    Democrats are relying on the testimony of officials close to the Ukraine matter to make their case as they consider whether the president’s behavior was impeachable.

    Yovanovitch provides a key element, Schiff said, as someone whom Trump and Giuliani wanted out of the way for others more favorable to their interests in Ukraine, an energy-rich country that has long struggled with corruption.

    It became clear, he said, “President Trump wanted her gone.”

    The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, bemoaned the hearings as a “daylong TV spectacle.”

    Republicans complained that the ambassador, like other witnesses, can offer only hearsay testimony and only knows of Trump’s actions secondhand. They note that Yovanovitch had left her position before the July phone call.

    Nunes also pressed to hear from the still anonymous government whistleblower who first alerted officials about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine that is in question. “These hearings should not be occurring at all,” he said.

    Just as the hearing was opening, the White House released its rough transcript of a still-earlier Trump call with Zelenskiy that was largely congratulatory.

    Nunes read that transcript aloud. In it, Trump mentioned his experience with the Miss Universe pageant in Ukraine and invited Zelenskiy to the White House. He closed with, “See you very soon.”

    Under questioning from Republicans, Yovanovitch acknowledged that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, serving on the board of a gas company in Ukraine could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest. But she testified the former vice president acted in accordance with official U.S. policy.

    She denied allegations against her, including that she favored Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election, and she rejected the notion that Ukraine tried to interfere in the election, as Trump claims, counter to mainstream U.S. intelligence findings that it was Russia.

    The White House has instructed officials not to comply with the probe, and most have been issued subpoenas to appear.

    An administration budget official will meet privately with the panel privately Saturday. Part of the impeachment inquiry concerns the contention that military aid for Ukraine, which borders a hostile Russia, was being withheld through the White House budget office, pending Ukrainian agreement to investigate Biden and the 2016 U.S. election.

    LIVE | Day 2 of public Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch testifies

    Friday, Nov. 15, 2019

    Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the Democratic members of the House intelligence committee, said that witness intimidation “will be considered” for one of the articles of impeachment against Trump after the president sent a disparaging tweet about Maria Yovanovitch as the longtime diplomat testified.

    One of Swalwell’s fellow Democrats on the panel, Andre Carson, similarly said the committee would “look into” whether Trump engaged in witness intimidation.

    After Trump smears Yovanovitch, Schiff says witness intimidation is taken ‘very, very seriously’ – live

    After reading Trump’s tweet attacking the reputation of Maria Yovanovitch, Adam Schiff asked the longtime diplomat whether she thought the tweet was meant to intimidate her as she testified at the impeachment hearing.

    “It’s very intimidating.”

    Schiff rejoined: “The president is attacking you in real time… Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

    Presidential candidate Kamala Harris weighed in on Trump’s tweet smearing Maria Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified, accusing the president of witness intimidation.

    Fox News anchors described the testimony of Maria Yovanovitch as a “turning point” in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

    Anchor Bret Baier predicted that Trump’s tweet smearing Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified would lead to a new article of impeachment against the president.

    John Roberts

    @johnrobertsFox
    Wow….this is really unprecedented. @realDonaldTrump and Amb Yovanovitch are talking to each other in real time through @Twitter and Television… Something I never thought I would ever see.

    Chris Wallace on Fox News: “If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, you don’t have a pulse.”

    Read more at theguardian.com »


    Ousted ambassador testifies ouster helped ‘shady interests’


    Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. At left is attorney Lawrence Robbins. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: November 15th, 2019

    WASHINGTON (AP) — WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch opened the second day of Trump impeachment hearings Friday declaring that her abrupt removal by President Donald Trump’s administration played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States.

    Yovanovitch told the House Intelligence Committee of a concerted “smear” campaign against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Her removal is one of several events at the center of the impeachment effort.

    “These events should concern everyone in this room,” the career diplomat testified in opening remarks. “Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

    The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi German, she described a 33-year career, including three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out in April 2019.

    Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the panel, opened day’s hearing praising Yovanovitch, saying she was “too tough on corruption for some, and her principled stance made her enemies.”

    Pelosi calls Trump’s actions ‘bribery’ as Democrats sharpen case for impeachment

    The Washington Post

    Escalating her case for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Trump of committing bribery by seeking to use U.S. military aid as leverage to persuade the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could politically benefit Trump.

    The shift toward bribery as an impeachable offense, one of only two crimes specifically cited in the Constitution, comes after nearly two months of debate over whether Trump’s conduct amounted to a “quid pro quo” — a lawyerly Latin term describing an exchange of things of value.

    Wednesday’s public testimony from two senior diplomats, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.”

    Bribery, she suggested, amounted to a translation of quid pro quo that would stand to be more accessible to Americans: “Talking Latin around here: E pluribus unum — from many, one. Quid pro quo — bribery. And that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceedings.”

    Article II of the Constitution holds that the president and other civil federal officials “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    Pelosi’s remarks came a day after William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in the Ukrainian capital, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing Ukraine policy, told lawmakers in the House’s first public impeachment hearing since 1998 that they were deeply troubled by an apparent perversion of U.S. policy, done at what seemed to be the behest of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and Trump himself.

    Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »


    The Associated Press

    Diplomats accuse Trump as impeachment hits Americans’ TVs

    WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time, the Democrats’ case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment streamed from Americans’ TVs Wednesday, including a new contention that he was overheard asking about political “investigations” that he demanded from Ukraine in trade for military aid.

    On Day One of extraordinary public U.S. House hearings — only the fourth formal impeachment effort in U.S. history — career diplomats testified in the open after weeks of closed-door interviews aimed at removing the nation’s 45th president.

    The account they delivered was a striking though complicated one that Democrats say reveals a president abusing his office, and the power of American foreign policy, for personal political gain.

    “The matter is as simple and as terrible as that,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as he opened the daylong hearing. “Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency but the future of the presidency itself.”

    Career diplomat William Taylor, the charge d’affaires in Kyiv, offered new testimony that Trump was overheard asking on the phone about “the investigations” of Democrats that he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

    Trump said he was too busy to watch on Wednesday and denied having the phone call. “First I’ve heard of it,” he said when asked.

    All day, the diplomats testified about how an ambassador was fired, the new Ukraine government was confused and they discovered an “irregular channel” — a shadow U.S. foreign policy orchestrated by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that raised alarms in diplomatic and national security circles.

    The hearing, playing out on live television and in the partisan silos of social media, provided the nation and the world a close-up look at the investigation.

    At its core, the inquiry stems from Trump’s July 25 phone call when he asked Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for “a favor.”

    Trump wanted the Ukraine government to investigate Democrats’ activities in the 2016 election and his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden — all while the administration was withholding military aid for the Eastern European ally that is confronting an aggressive neighbor, Russia.

    Both sides tried to distill it into soundbites.

    Democrats said Trump was engaged in “bribery” and “extortion.” Republicans said nothing really happened — the military aid was ultimately released after Congress complained.

    Read more »


    Related Videos:

    New testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure

    LIVE UPDATES

    A top diplomat on Wednesday tied President Trump more directly to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponents, describing a phone call in which Trump sought information about the status of the investigations he had asked Ukraine to launch one day earlier.

    William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers that the phone conversation between the president and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in Kyiv was overheard by one of his aides. Afterward, Sondland told the aide that Trump cared more about investigations of former vice president Joe Biden than other issues in Ukraine, Taylor said.

    The startling testimony revealed a new example of Trump’s personal involvement in the Ukraine pressure campaign that touched off the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

    Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »

    The Associated Press

    Impeachment hearings go live on TV: Witness says Trump asked about Ukraine probes

    For the first time a top diplomat testified Wednesday that President Donald Trump was overheard asking about “the investigations” he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

    William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, revealed the new information as the House Intelligence Committee opened extraordinary hearings on whether the 45th president of the United States should be removed from office.

    Taylor said his staff recently told him they overheard Trump when they were meeting with another diplomat, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, at a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new leader of Ukraine that sparked the impeachment investigation.

    The staff explained that Sondland had called the president and they could hear Trump on the phone asking about “the investigations.” The ambassador told the president the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, Taylor testified.

    Not inappropriate, let alone impeachable, countered the intelligence panel’s top Republican, Devin Nunes of California.

    Trump “would have a perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened” if there were indications that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election, he said.

    National security officials have told Congress they don’t believe Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

    The hearing Wednesday was the first public session of the impeachment inquiry, a remarkable moment, even for a White House full of them.

    It’s the first chance for America, and the rest of the world, to see and hear for themselves about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and consider whether they are, in fact, impeachable offenses.

    An anonymous whistleblower’s complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general — including that Trump had pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic foe Joe Biden and Bidens’ son and was holding up U.S. military aid — ignited the rare inquiry now unfolding in Congress.

    The country has been here only three times before, and never against the 21st century backdrop of real-time commentary, including from the Republican president himself. The proceedings were being broadcast live, and on social media, from a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill.

    Read more »


    Related:

    Watch: U.S. Public impeachment hearings to begin this week

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: December 2nd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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


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


    (Courtesy photo)


    (Courtesy photo)

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

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

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    60 Minutes Features Historic Lalibela

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

    CBS

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

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

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

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


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Sidama People Vote to Create State

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

    AP

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: November 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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


    Related:

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: November 17th, 2019

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

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

    Time notes: “Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste tells an unforgettable story steeped in the history of her home country. Hirut, an orphan, works as a maid subjected to the oppressive impulses of men — until she steps up to become a war hero, helping to defend Ethiopia against Mussolini’s invasion in 1935, a precursor to World War II. The Shadow King is a propulsive read that captures a historical moment from a fresh perspective, speaking to timeless themes about women’s power and oppression and the cost of war.”

    Buy now: The Shadow King


    Related:
    Atlas Acquires Maaza Mengiste’s Novel ‘The Shadow King’
    Spotlight: Three Great Reviews of Maaza Mengiste’s New Book by NYT, WSJ & NPR
    Maaza Mengiste’s Outstanding New Essay on Refugees
    Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

    Marcus Samuelsson's popular PBS TV show 'No Passport Required' is set to return for a new season in January 2020. (Photo courtesy: Eater.com)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: November 15th, 2019

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

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

    PBS added: “An immigrant himself — born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, now a celebrated chef, restaurateur, author and resident of Harlem — Marcus Samuelsson is passionate about sharing and celebrating the food of America’s vibrant communities. Each episode shows how important food can be in bringing Americans — old and new — together around the table.”

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

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

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

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

    “We are thrilled to be working with PBS and Marcus to continue capturing these authentic stories focusing on the communities that make this nation so rich and dynamic,” said Marty Moe, President, Vox Media. “Serving both the PBS and Eater audiences with premium nonfiction television inspired by great journalism, next generation talent and a collective deep curiosity about the world is a priority for Vox Entertainment.”


    Related:

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

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

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    U.S. Invests in Ethiopia Health System

    (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Ethiopia)

    Press Release

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

    November 14, 2019

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

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

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

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


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    The Young Ethiopians Working for Peace

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

    The New Humanitarian

    BULE HORA, ETHIOPIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘Everyone is regretting what they did’

    But there are welcome signs of progress, too.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Limits to reconciliation

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

    But, on the ground, the reality seems different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A fragile peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    The Media Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Woldemichael, the chef, agrees.

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


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    DC Mayor Bowser Takes Delegation Of 70 To Ethiopia

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

    DCist

    By Selam Berhea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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    Reflection on Legacy of Ethiopian Activist Dr. Bogaletch Gebre

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    November 7th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Per the Tadias profile:

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


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

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


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

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    Tightrope, The First Major Traveling Museum Exhibition of Elias Sime

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Hasabie Kidanu

    Monday, November 4th, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) – “My art is a reflection of who I am as a human being without borders, labels, and imposed identity. There is a sense of unity and cooperation that I reflect through my art. At the root of all of it is love and passion. With this exhibition, including many years of my work, I hope the students and other visitors will share my feelings expressed on the arts.” Elias Sime.

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

    The prolific and multi-disciplinary artist works primarily within the language of architecture, sculpture, and collage. Sime’s works are created from repurposing objects often carefully sourced from Merkato — Addis’ sprawling open air market. Sime often collects discarded electrical components that have travelled from around the globe to his hometown. Through a meticulous hand, the salvaged materials are cut, layered, collaged, woven. The end result renews refuse into a new form – large colorful and lyrical compositions, pointing to the universal human struggle as a ‘balancing act’ of our relationship to technological progress, waste, resourcefulness, and environmental sustainability.

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

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

    On view from September 7 through December 8, 2019 at the Wellin Museum of Art, the exhibition will travel to the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio (February 29 through May 24, 2020), the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri (June 11 through September 13, 2020), and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (December 12, 2020 through April 18, 2021).

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

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

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    Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art

    Julie Mehretu – Stadia II, 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 in. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund 2004.50. © Julie Mehretu, photograph courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    October 31st, 2019

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

    “The first-ever comprehensive retrospective of Mehretu’s career, it covers over two decades of her examination of history, colonialism, capitalism, geopolitics, war, global uprising, diaspora, and displacement through the artistic strategies of abstraction, architecture, landscape, movement, and, most recently, figuration. Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, will be explored in depth,” LACMA stated in its announcement, noting that the show brings together about “40 works on paper with 35 paintings along with a print by Rembrandt and a film on Mehretu by the artist Tacita Dean.”

    The traveling exhibition, which is co-organized by the LACMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art, will subsequently come to New York for a display at the Whitney from June 26th to September 20, 2020, before moving to Atlanta at the High Museum of Art from October 24th 2020 to January 31, 2021, and finally the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from March 13–July 11, 2021.

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


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


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


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


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

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

    More info at lacma.org.

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

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

    The Washington Post

    Oct. 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »


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

    REUTERS

    Oct. 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “We will cooperate fully,” he added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Related:
    2 Years Before Deadly Ethiopia Crash, Boeing Staff Knew of 737 Max Problems
    Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes
    Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
    Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
    Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

    Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

    Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Antu Yacob Promotes New Short Film ‘Love in Submission’

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    October 28th, 2019

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 25th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Watch: Fig Tree – Official Trailer

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

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

    Pioneers Post

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

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

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


    Pioneers Post


    Pioneers Post

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

    Read the full article at pioneerspost.com »


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

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

    Deadline Hollywood

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

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

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

    Read the full article at deadline.com »


    Related:
    Spotlight: Three Great Reviews of Maaza Mengiste’s New Book by NYT, WSJ & NPR
    Maaza Mengiste’s Outstanding New Essay on Refugees
    Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste


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    Stanford Students Take STEM to Ethiopia

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

    Stanford News

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

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

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

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

    Science as accessible

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

    Read more »


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    Spotlight: Africology’s ‘Royalty Pack’ Playing Cards Celebrate Ethiopia

    Designed by Ethiopian American artist Maro Haile, the 'Royalty Pack' collection was released this month by Africology, a music and entertainment company co-founded by entrepreneurs Sirak Getachew and Kalab Berhane, and Jamhuri Wear. (Photo Credit: @melketsadek)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    October 17th, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) — Now here is a great gift for your friends, family and loved ones during the upcoming holiday season both here in the U.S. and Ethiopia: a beautiful new deck of playing cards dubbed ‘Royalty Pack’ featuring Ethiopian letters, symbols and characters.

    Designed by Ethiopian American artist Maro Haile, the ‘Royalty Pack’ playing card collection was released this month by Africology, a music and entertainment company co-founded by entrepreneurs Sirak Getachew and Kalab Berhane, and Jamhuri Wear.

    “Royalty Pack is a collection of playing cards and T-shirts that reflect an authentic representation of the rich and diverse heritage of Africa’s many cultures,” the announcement notes. “Inspired by the beautiful vintage playing cards produced by major airlines in the 60s – particularly by those made by Ethiopian Airlines – this renewed initiative was conceived by Africology, a media company that represents the music, lifestyle and culture of Africa and the Diaspora, and Jamhuri Wear, a clothing line that embodies Pan African art and design.”


    (Photo: @melketsadek)

    “For this launch, we partnered with Maro Haile, an independent designer and the creative behind Deseta Design, and whose work is directly influenced by her Ethiopian roots,” state the Africology Co-Founders. “Collaborating with independent designers in Africa and the Diaspora creates unity amongst creative and empowers us to tell our own story and control our own narrative.”

    The press release added: “Each deck of cards celebrates the unique artistic style of a specific country from the Continent. This is our very first deck and we are proud to launch it with the spotlight on Ethiopia, the country that inspired this project with its original vintage playing cards, and whose history is defined by its long line of Kings and Queens who defeated attempts at colonization by the invaders and maintained their own written language.”


    You can learn more and purchase the cards and t-shirts at africologymedia.com, jamhuriwear.com, and deseta.net.

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    Why I Nominated Abiy Ahmed for the Nobel Peace Prize

    A picture of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is displayed at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, October 11, 2019. The prize not only acknowledges the Ethiopian prime minister's commitment to peace, but encourages him to do more. (Photo: Reuters)

    Aljazeera

    by Awol K Allo

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 100th Nobel Peace Prize to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali, for “his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation” and for his “decisive initiative” to end the long-running military stalemate with neighbouring Eritrea.

    I was one of the people who nominated Abiy Ahmed – not just for his remarkable achievements, but also for his profound commitment to the cause of peace and friendly relations among nations in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

    In the nomination letter, I wrote: “By saving a nation of 108 million people from the precipice of an economic and political explosion, he captured the imagination of his own people and people across the African continent as an embodiment of hope … and his messages of peace, tolerance, and love and understanding are being felt far beyond Ethiopia.”

    When I submitted the nomination in January 2019, Abiy had only been in office for nine months, and Ethiopia was still in the grip of Abiymania. The new prime minister had surprised Ethiopians by taking actions no one had thought possible: he opened up the political space, released thousands of political prisoners, invited members of political groups previously designated as “terrorist organisations” back home, lifted the state of emergency, removed from office intelligence and army officers seen as complicit in the oppressive practices of the previous regime, sealed a peace deal with Eritrea, appointed a gender-balanced cabinet, and took many other progressive steps.

    In addition, Abiy made sustainable peace at home and in the region one of his central domestic and foreign policy objectives. He argued that a stable, peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia is inconceivable without the peace, stability and development of the wider Horn of Africa region. He often preached about peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, synergy and understanding. He even established a cabinet-level ministry with a mandate to build peace and national consensus and to oversee federal law enforcement organs, including the country’s security and intelligence agencies.

    At the regional level, he initiated an economic integration plan, a programme that aims to link the Horn of Africa region through joint investment in infrastructure and economically vital strategic assets with the aim of making nations and communities in the region frontline stakeholders in peace and stability.

    In the process, he captured the imagination of Ethiopians and other people in the region.

    While his domestic achievements were an important part of the picture, Abiy won the prize, in the words of the Nobel Committee, “for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”.

    Read more »


    Related:

    PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 in recognition of his efforts to end his country’s two-decade border conflict with Eritrea. Nobel Institute director Olav Njoelstad, said he had been in touch by phone with Abiy, who “showed great humility and was overwhelmed.” (AP photo)

    The Associated Press

    OSLO, Norway (AP) — Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 in recognition of his efforts to end his country’s two-decade border conflict with Eritrea.

    The Norwegian Nobel Institute on Friday also praised the “important reforms” that Abiy, Ethiopia’s leader since April 2018, has launched at home. The prize comes as Abiy faces pressure to uphold the sweeping freedoms he introduced, and critics warn that his ability to deal with rising domestic unrest may be slipping.

    The Nobel committee said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement.”

    The award reflects the committee’s taste for trying to encourage works in progress.

    “We are proud as a nation!!!” Abiy’s office said in a tweet.

    Nobel Institute director Olav Njoelstad, said he had been in touch by phone with Abiy, who “showed great humility and was overwhelmed.”

    Abiy, 43, took office after widespread protests pressured the longtime ruling coalition and hurt one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Africa’s youngest leader quickly announced dramatic reforms and “Abiymania” began.

    On taking office, Abiy surprised people by fully accepting a peace deal ending a 20-year border war between the two East African nations that saw tens of thousands of people killed. Ethiopia and Eritrea had not had diplomatic ties since the war began in 1998, with Abiy himself once fighting in a town that remained contested at the time of his announcement last year.

    Within weeks, the visibly moved Eritrean president, Isaias Afwerki, visited Addis Ababa and communications and transport links were restored. For the first time in two decades, long-divided families made tearful reunions.

    The improving relations led to the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Eritrea, one of the world’s most reclusive nations. But Ethiopia’s reforms do not appear to have inspired any in Eritrea, which has since closed border posts with its neighbor.

    The Nobel committee also pointed to Abiy’s other efforts toward reconciliation in the region — between Eritrea and Djibouti, between Kenya and Somalia, and in Sudan.

    The Nobel committee acknowledged that “peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone.”

    It said that when Abiy “reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalize the peace process between the two countries.”

    It added that it “hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

    There was no immediate comment on the award from Eritrea, which under its longtime ruler remains one of the world’s most closed-off nations.

    At home, Abiy offered one political surprise after another. He released tens of thousands of prisoners, welcomed home once-banned opposition groups and acknowledged past abuses. People expressed themselves freely on social media, and he announced that Ethiopia would hold free and fair elections in 2020. The country has one of the world’s few “gender-balanced” Cabinets and a female president, a rarity in Africa.

    And for the first time Ethiopia had no journalists in prison, media groups noted last year.

    The new prime minister also announced the opening-up of Ethiopia’s tightly controlled economy, saying private investment would be welcome in major state-owned sectors — a process that continues slowly.

    But while Abiy became a global darling, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, troubles arose at home.

    A grenade was thrown at him during an appearance in the capital. A large group of soldiers confronted him in his office in what he called an attempt to derail his reforms. In a display of the brio that has won Abiy widespread admiration, the former military officer defused the situation by dropping to the floor and joining the troops in pushups.

    More troubling these days are Ethiopia’s rising ethnic tensions, as people once stifled by repression now act on long-held grievances. Some 1,200 people have been killed and some 1.2 million displaced in the greatest challenge yet to Abiy’s rule. Some observers warn that the unrest will grow ahead of next year’s election.

    The Nobel committee acknowledged that “many challenges remain unresolved.”

    Abiy had been among the favorites for this year’s prize in the run-up to Friday’s announcement, though winners are notoriously hard to predict. The Nobel committee doesn’t reveal the names of candidates or nominations for 50 years.

    The committee has in the past used its prestigious award to nudge a peace process forward and Friday’s recognition of Abiy falls into that line of thinking.

    “The committee want to be actors. They want to make decisive interventions because the world listens to their opinion, Nobel historian Oeivind Stenersen said. “There have been laureates such as (Jose Ramos) Horta in East Timor who have said that the prize was crucial in the process. The committee will hope to emulate that.”

    Since 1901, 99 Nobel Peace Prizes have been handed out, to individuals and 24 organizations. While the other prizes are announced in Stockholm, the peace prize is awarded in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

    So far this week, 11 Nobel laureates have been named. The others received their awards for their achievements in medicine , physics , chemistry and literature .

    With the glory comes a 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award, a gold medal and a diploma. Even though the peace prize is awarded in Norway, the amount is denominated in Swedish kronor.

    ___

    Related:

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

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    Addis Ababa Among Six Dynamic Emerging Art Capitals in Africa

    Tadesse Mesfin, Pillars of Life: Market Day (2018). Courtesy Addis Fine Art.

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 9th, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) — In a feature published this week, highlighting the growing African art scene in the global market, Artnet News website lists Addis Ababa among six dynamic emerging art capitals on the African continent.

    Art institutions in Addis Ababa mentioned in the publication as leading this renaissance include “Alle School of Fine Art & Design (Ethiopia’s most important art school..founded in 1958, during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, and has educated the country’s preeminent painters, sculptors, printmakers, and designers); Addis Fine Art (The most notable commercial gallery in the capital and its first white-cube art space, Addis regularly showcases graduates from the Alle School, and will open a new location in London’s Cromwell Place gallery hub in 2020); Guramane Art Center (A gallery dedicated to emerging Ethiopian artists, it represents the vanguard of the country’s art scene); and Zoma (this sprawling museum, founded by artist Elias Sime and curator Meskerem Assegued, opened in April 2019 and shows contemporary art from East Africa and abroad).”

    The other art capitals featured in the Artnet News article include Accra, Cape Town, Dakar, Lagos, and Marrakech.

    “Today, Africa’s art market has plenty of room to grow. Fewer than 1,000 works were sold at auction on the continent in the first six months of 2019, according to the artnet Price Database,” Artnet News notes, and adds: “Unlike Asia, where Hong Kong has emerged as a hub for the trade, Africa lacks a preeminent art-market capital. And while the continent’s local collector base is growing steadily—Sotheby’s fourth dedicated auction of Modern and contemporary African art in April was dominated by African buyers and generated a total of $3 million, above its presale high estimate of $2.7 million— it is still nascent compared with the U.S., China, and Europe.”

    Artnet quotes Hannah O’Leary, Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s who shares that “we are seeing lots of raw talent, but we need more of a market structure in order to support their careers.’”

    Regarding Addis Ababa as an art capital, Artnet states:

    Coptic art, shaped by the 1,500-year history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, is one of the country’s major artistic influences and continues to be practiced by numerous artisans. But the 20th century also witnessed three distinct artistic movements that remained popular until the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974: a realistic, or “naïve,” style used to depict glamorous Ethiopian society; abstraction, which incorporated influences from Western Expressionism and Surrealism; and social realism, which was political in subject matter and focused largely on urban scenes and the struggling masses.

    Home to more than 112 million people, Ethiopia is the second-most populous country on the continent. According to the International Monetary Fund, Ethiopia’s economy is expected to grow 8.5 percent this fiscal year, making it the fastest-growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Despite the difficulty in obtaining art materials, which must be either imported from abroad or made at home, today’s artists work largely in paint, together with photography and sculpture using found objects. “A lot of people use art for commercial or propaganda purposes, and I hope that our government understands the power of supporting our artists and preserving our culture,” says Melaku Belay, founder of the Fendika Cultural Center. “We need to think of the past if we want to go to the future.”

    See the full list at news.artnet.com »


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    Ethiopia Film ‘Enchained’ (Quragaye) Makes International Premiere in London

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

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 8th, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) — The award-winning new Ethiopian film entitled ‘Enchained’ (Quragaye) will make its international premiere in London this month.

    According to the film’s synopsis: “In Ethiopia, kolo temari (wandering student) Gobeze is caught red-handed and in bed with Aleme, the wife of the temperamental landlord Gonite. Neighbors halt the ensuing fight and an elder binds together the two men’s clothes, symbolically chaining them together in the traditional judicial process of Atse Sirat, and tells them to stand trial in the queen’s court. Meanwhile, with the sudden death of the Emperor Minilik his daughter Zewditu Minilik, is crowned queen.”

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

    The synopsis adds: “Enchained during their long journey, the two men traverse a number of challenges including keeping each other safe so that the experienced litigator Gonite and the inexperienced student Gobeze can stand trial before the new ruler, Queen Zewditu, and be vindicated.”

    The film focuses on age-old human behavior when it comes to love, sex, violence and the desire for vigilante justice while also reflecting on Ethiopia’s past traditional justice system that is informed by local customs, and values adjudicating conflict situations in addition to administering punishment fit for a crime.

    The filmmakers note that the movie “attempts to illustrate the rift between the old oral all-encompassing system (which includes not just legal process but also social life, culture and politics) and modus operandi of law and the current confusion of law and justice within the current generation.” In other words, understanding the past is the key to shaping the future.

    The premiere in London, which is set to open on Saturday, October 19th at Rich Mix Cinema, promises to be a star-studded, red carpet event hosted by Habeshaview TV and includes a Q&A with film Director Moges Tafesse and leading actor Zerihun Mulatu.


    If You Go:
    International Premiere of ‘Enchained’ (Quragaye) a Moges Tafesse Film.
    Saturday 19th October 2019
    Red Carpet Arrivals: 6:30pm – Drinks Reception, Meet & Greet Stars
    Screening: 8:00pm – Followed by Q&A with film Director Moges Tafesse and leading actor Zerihun Mulatu, Drinks & Canape – £20 (18+)

    Followed by subsequent screenings

    Sunday, 20th October 2019
    14:00 – £12.95 Adults | Children £6 + BF (12+)

    Wednesday, 23rd October 2019
    20:00 – £12.95 Adults | Children £6 + BF (12 +)

    WHERE:
    Rich Mix Cinema London 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6LA
    Click here to purchase Tickets
    More info at: events@habeshaview.com

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    Lelisa Desisa Wins World Championship Marathon

    Lelisa Desisa became just the second Ethiopian man to win a global marathon crown and became the first man in history to win the Boston, New York City and world championships marathons during a career. (Photo: AFP/MUSTAFA ABUMUNES)

    LetsRun

    Lelisa Desisa Wins World Championship Marathon to Go With His Boston and NY Crowns

    Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa ran a flawless marathon tonight on the Corniche in Doha to capture his first global title on the penultimate day of the IAAF World Athletics Championships. The 29 year-old Ethiopian, twice the Boston Marathon winner and the reigning TCS New York City Marathon champion, became just the second Ethiopian man to win a global marathon crown and became the first man in history to win the Boston, New York City and world championships marathons during a career.

    “This is a great medal for me and for Ethiopia,” Desisa told IAAF interviewers after crossing the finish line in 2:10:40. “It is the first for us for a long time. I am very happy to bring Ethiopia this title after so long.”

    The race played out perfectly for the race-savvy Desisa who performs best in championships-style races where official pacemakers are not permitted. Throughout the race, which began at 11:59 p.m., he carefully assessed his position and his energy stores and didn’t waste a single step while some of his rivals put in needless surges.

    For the first half of the race, Desisa ran well behind the unlikely leader, Derlys Ayala of Paraguay, who had run a marathon just 12 days before in Buenos Aires. Running alone in a red and white striped uniform, Ayala built up a 62-second lead through 15 kilometers, but the top players for the medals, including Desisa, hardly cared. A pack of six serious contenders –Desisa, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, Geoffrey Kirui and Amos Kipruto of Kenya, Stephen Mokoka of South Africa, and Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia– ran earnestly behind the South American and bided their time.

    By the 20-kilometer point, Ayala’s lead had dwindled to just six seconds, and just before the half-marathon point (1:05:56) Ayala was caught. He would drop out about two minutes later, just one of 18 athletes from the 73-man field who would fail to finish.

    Tadese, five times the world road running/half-marathon champion, did most of the leading from there. There were a few surges by Tadese and Mokoka, but through 30 kilometers (1:33:13) the pack of six was still intact. Desisa would sometimes drift back during the surges, but he always regained contact.

    “I controlled everybody and I saved my power,” Desisa explained.

    Read more »


    Related:

    In Berlin, Kenenisa Bekele Makes A Comeback With 2nd Fastest Marathon Ever

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    How This Ethiopian Entrepreneur Came Up with Idea of Growing Teff in California

    Zion Taddese owns the Queen Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento. (Sacramento Business Journal)

    Sacramento Business Journal

    Restaurateur wants to grow more of this Ethiopian superfood

    Lunchtime at the Queen Sheba Ethiopian restaurant on Broadway in Sacramento is filled with flavorful aromas, colors and steaming stews of beans and vegetables…

    “We eat injera in Ethiopia every day,” she said. “For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner.”

    Lately, however, Taddese has begun making the injera a little differently. She adds barley to the mixture of teff flour, which serves as the basis for the injera dough. Teff, a grain native to Ethiopia, has gotten more and more expensive. Since Taddese opened the restaurant 15 years ago, the price she pays for teff has risen from around $15 per 20 pounds to $60. For comparison, the barley she mixes with the teff to make injera is $10 per 20 pounds.

    “There’s not enough supply,” she said. “That’s why it’s so expensive.”

    And that’s when she can get it at all. Taddese gets the teff from one of the only U.S. sources — a grower in Idaho.

    “You have to order six months in advance because they run out of it so fast,” Taddese said.

    So Taddese came up with the idea of growing teff in California. She also wants to expand her restaurant and build a new company, Sheba Farms, which will process, mill and package teff flour.

    These are ambitious plans, but Taddese has taken on big challenges before.

    She grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. She left for England when she was 16, and while she was in college in London, worked in her aunt’s Ethiopian restaurant.

    Read the full article at bizjournals.com »


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    Liya Kebede Among 22 Most Stylish Supermodels of All Time (Harper’s Bazaar)

    Liya Kebede. (Harper's Bazaar)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    October 3rd, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) — The fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar has named Liya Kebede among 22 most stylish supermodels of all time.

    “By and far, models are known for other people’s fashion, not their own,” the monthly publication states. “But, of course, there are those special few who have not only conquered modeling itself but also gained acclaim for their own personal style.” The magazine noted that Liya Kebede is “able to swing from cool-girl athleisure to red-carpet glam,” and added: “Kebede always makes an impact.”

    Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Liya launched her modeling career in Paris in the late 1990′s soon after graduating from Lycée Guebre Mariam high school, and gained international prominence in 2003 when she was selected by Estée Lauder to become the first black model to represent the global cosmetics brand.

    As The Business of Fashion website — that covers the global fashion industry — shared: “Although Kebede still models for the likes of Tom Ford, Donna Karan and Roberto Cavalli , she is now focused on philanthropic ventures. These include Lemlem, a clothing line founded to protect traditional Ethiopian weaving techniques and support women, which is sold at Barney’s, J Crew, Net-a-Porter and numerous boutique shops. Kebede has also been a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organization’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health division since 2005. In 2013, Kebede was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year for her philanthropic work through her Liya Kebede Foundation. She has two children and resides in New York.”


    Related:

    THE 22 MOST STYLISH SUPERMODELS OF ALL TIME (Harper’s Bazaar)

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    Looted Ethiopian Crown Resurfaces in the Netherlands — NYT

    Sirak Asfaw, left, and Arthur Brand say they are waiting for the Ethiopian government to get in touch. (BBC)

    The New York Times

    Oct. 3, 2019

    AMSTERDAM — In 1998, Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch civil servant who was born in Ethiopia, noticed something shiny in the suitcase of a guest who was staying at his house. Curious, he opened the case to find a glittering gilded crown inside.

    “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Mr. Sirak, who moved to the Netherlands a political refugee in the 1970s, said in a recent interview in Amsterdam. “I felt betrayed. Using my house to smuggle cultural heritage from Ethiopia? I knew it had something to do with Ethiopian history, the Ethiopian kingdom. I knew this is not good.”

    Mr. Sirak said that he felt he couldn’t return the crown to the Ethiopian authorities, because he suspected that the government might have been complicit in the theft, and he feared that it would be stolen again.

    He also didn’t want to hand it over to the Dutch authorities, because he worried that a museum would keep the crown forever rather than returning it when a new Ethiopian government was in place.

    So Mr. Sirak locked the visitor out of his house, he said, and removed the crown from the suitcase. He did not identify the smuggler to The New York Times for fear of his safety, and said he didn’t know how his guest had acquired it.

    For 21 years, he hid it in his home. “When I saw it, I always felt very emotional,” he said. “I knew it shouldn’t be here, not in my house, not in the Netherlands.”

    Read more »


    Related:

    Ethiopian 18th Century Crown to Return Home From Netherlands (BBC)

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    Painter Julie Mehretu’s Intellectual Ambitions — Wall Street Journal

    A new retrospective in November at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art traces Julie Mehretu’s career creating epic, lyrical works that are literally ripped from the headlines. (Photo: Julie Mehretu in her Chelsea, New York, studio in front of Of Other Planes of There (S.R.), 2018–2019. PHOTO: CLEMENT PASCAL FOR WSJ)

    The Wall Street Journal

    There are few artists who follow the news as closely as the painter Julie Mehretu does, and fewer still who directly mine it for their work. But not all viewers of her immense abstract pieces realize it.

    “Usually it’ll be something like an earworm—it doesn’t leave you alone,” says Mehretu, 48, of the events that infuse her canvases. The California fires of 2017, for instance, formed the foundation of the bright-orange work Hineni (E. 3:4) (2018), a canvas that, like many of her works, is densely packed with shapes, forms and marks.

    Mehretu works with her assistants to digitally manipulate news photos of these scenes. Then an assistant airbrushes the heavily distorted image onto a canvas as a beginning gesture—Mehretu calls it “melting” the image onto the canvas.

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    In Berlin, Kenenisa Bekele Makes A Comeback With 2nd Fastest Marathon Ever

    Former Olympic and world champion Kenenisa Bekele staged a thrilling comeback to win the Berlin marathon on Sunday, recording the second fastest time ever - Reuters. (Photo: Kenenisa Bekele high fives a spectator as he approaches the finish line in the men’s elite race in Berlin on Sunday, September 29, 2019/Reuters)

    IAAF

    Kenenisa Bekele scorched to a stunning 2:01:41 victory at the BMW Berlin Marathon today (29), the second fastest performance of the all-time.

    The victory capped a sensational comeback for the 37-year-old star, who had been struggling with knee and hamstring injuries in recent years. Bekele missed the world record by six seconds when winning at the IAAF Gold Label road race in 2016, and this time came up just two seconds short of the 2:01:39 record set by Eliud Kipchoge last year. But the Ethiopian, who has held the world records over 5000 and 10,000m since 2004 and 2005, respectively, hadn’t finished a marathon since April of last year, suggesting his best days over the distance were already behind him.

    Bekele lost ground on compatriots Birhanu Legese and Sisay Lemma after the half, at one stage falling 13 seconds behind. But propelled by a long sustained surge, he began to work on the deficit by the 35th kilometre. He passed Legese in the 38th kilometre as he fought his way back on world record pace, reaching kilometre 40 in 1:55:30, two seconds better than Kipchoge last year. Their furious sprints towards the German capital’s iconic Brandenburg Gate proved to be the difference.

    Coming so close, Bekele said, is more encouraging that frustrating. “I know I can still run a very good marathon and I won’t give up.” That was amply illustrated by a 1:00:36 second half.

    Legesse was second in 2:02:48 to become the third fastest of all-time. Lemma finished third in 2:03:36 to end the day at No. 10 on the all-time list.

    The women’s contest was much closer, which came down to a sprint over the final few hundred metres. That was when Ashete Bekere unleashed her sprint to pull away from fellow Ethiopian Mare Dibaba to win 2:20:14 to 2:20:21.

    Kenya’s Sally Chepyego was third, clocking 2:21:06.

    Further back, German fans were pleased with Melat Kejeta, who finished sixth in her debut over the distance in 2:23:57.

    Three-time winner Gladys Cherono was never a factor, and dropped out at around the 30th kilometre.


    Reuters: Bekele wins Berlin marathon, misses record by two seconds


    Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele wins the men’s elite race REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

    BERLIN (Reuters) – Former Olympic and world champion Kenenisa Bekele staged a thrilling comeback to win the Berlin marathon on Sunday, dramatically missing out on the world record by two seconds after recording the second fastest time ever.

    Ethiopian Bekele, winner in Berlin in 2016 and world record holder over 5,000 and 10,000 metres, finished in two hours, one minute and 41 seconds, agonisingly close to Eliud Kipchoge’s world record time despite a full sprint in the final 400 metres.

    Kipchoge, who set the world’s best mark in Berlin last year, was absent to prepare for his renewed sub-two hour marathon attempt in Vienna on Oct. 12.

    “I felt a little pain in the beginning so I dropped behind,” Bekele told reporters. “After a few kilometres I started relaxing so I tied to push a little bit.

    “I am very sorry. I am not lucky. I am very happy running my personal best. But I still can do this (world record). I don’t give up. It is encouraging for the future.”

    Bekele was part of a group, including fellow countrymen Birhanu Legese and Sisay Lemma, that quickly broke from the pack with a quick pace.

    Read more »


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