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Full Text of PM Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Speech

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (Scanpix via AP)

PM Abiy Ahmed – Nobel Lecture

THE NOBEL FOUNDATION

Nobel Lecture given by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2019 Abiy Ahmed Ali, Oslo, 10 December 2019.

“Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa”

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,
Fellow Ethiopians, Fellow Africans, Citizens of the World
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to be here with you, and deeply grateful to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for recognizing and encouraging my contribution to a peaceful resolution of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace.

Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afeworki, whose goodwill, trust, and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries.

I also accept this award on behalf of Africans and citizens of the world for whom the dream of peace has often turned into a nightmare of war.

Today, I stand here in front of you talking about peace because of fate.

I crawled my way to peace through the dusty trenches of war years ago.

I was a young soldier when war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I witnessed firsthand the ugliness of war in frontline battles.

There are those who have never seen war but glorify and romanticize it.

They have not seen the fear,
They have not seen the fatigue,
They have not seen the destruction or heartbreak,
Nor have they felt the mournful emptiness of war after the carnage.

War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back.

I have seen brothers slaughtering brothers on the battlefield.

I have seen older men, women, and children trembling in terror under the deadly shower of bullets and artillery shells.

You see, I was not only a combatant in war.

I was also a witness to its cruelty and what it can do to people.

War makes for bitter men. Heartless and savage men.

Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badme.

The town was the flashpoint of the war between the two countries.

I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception.

It took only but a few minutes. Yet, upon my return, I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack.

I still remember my young comrades-in-arms who died on that ill-fated day.

I think of their families too.

During the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, an estimated one hundred thousand soldiers and civilians lost their lives.

The aftermath of the war also left untold numbers of families broken. It also permanently shattered communities on both sides.

Massive destruction of infrastructure further amplified the post-war economic burden.

Socially, the war resulted in mass displacements, loss of livelihoods, deportation and denationalization of citizens.

Following the end of active armed conflict in June 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea remained deadlocked in a stalemate of no-war, no-peace for two decades.

During this period, family units were split over borders, unable to see or talk to each other for years to come.

Tens of thousands of troops remained stationed along both sides of the border. They remained on edge, as did the rest of the country and region.

All were worried that any small border clash would flare into a full-blown war once again.

As it was, the war and the stalemate that followed were a threat for regional peace, with fears that a resumption of active combat between Ethiopia and Eritrea would destabilize the entire Horn region.

And so, when I became Prime Minister about 18 months ago, I felt in my heart that ending the uncertainty was necessary.

I believed peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was within reach.

I was convinced that the imaginary wall separating our two countries for much too long needed to be torn down.

And in its place, a bridge of friendship, collaboration and goodwill has to be built to last for ages.

That is how I approached the task of building a peace bridge with my partner President Isaias Afeworki.

We were both ready to allow peace to flourish and shine through.

We resolved to turn our “swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks” for the progress and prosperity of our people.

We understood our nations are not the enemies. Instead, we were victims of the common enemy called poverty.

We recognized that while our two nations were stuck on old grievances, the world was shifting rapidly and leaving us behind.

We agreed we must work cooperatively for the prosperity of our people and our region.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are reaping our peace dividends.

Families separated for over two decades are now united.

Diplomatic relations are fully restored.

Air and telecommunication services have been reestablished.

And our focus has now shifted to developing joint infrastructure projects that will be a critical lever in our economic ambitions.

Our commitment to peace between our two countries is iron-clad.

One may wonder, how it is that a conflict extending over twenty years, can come to an amicable resolution.

Allow me to share with you a little about the beliefs that guide my actions for peace.

I believe that peace is an affair of the heart. Peace is a labor of love.
Sustaining peace is hard work.

Yet, we must cherish and nurture it.

It takes a few to make war, but it takes a village and a nation to build peace.

For me, nurturing peace is like planting and growing trees.

Just like trees need water and good soil to grow, peace requires unwavering commitment, infinite patience, and goodwill to cultivate and harvest its dividends.

Peace requires good faith to blossom into prosperity, security, and opportunity.

In the same manner that trees absorb carbon dioxide to give us life and oxygen, peace has the capacity to absorb the suspicion and doubt that may cloud our relationships.
In return, it gives back hope for the future, confidence in ourselves, and faith in humanity.

This humanity I speak of, is within all of us.

We can cultivate and share it with others if we choose to remove our masks of pride and arrogance.

When our love for humanity outgrows our appreciation of human vanity then the world will know peace.

Ultimately, peace requires an enduring vision. And my vision of peace is rooted in the philosophy of Medemer.

Medemer, an Amharic word, signifies synergy, convergence, and teamwork for a common destiny.

Medemer is a homegrown idea that is reflected in our political, social, and economic life.

I like to think of “Medemer” as a social compact for Ethiopians to build a just, egalitarian, democratic, and humane society by pulling together our resources for our collective survival and prosperity.

In practice, Medemer is about using the best of our past to build a new society and a new civic culture that thrives on tolerance, understanding, and civility.

At its core, Medemer is a covenant of peace that seeks unity in our common humanity.

It pursues peace by practicing the values of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusion.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come from a small town called Beshasha, located in the Oromia region of Western Ethiopia.

It is in Beshasha that the seeds of Medemer began to sprout.

Growing up, my parents instilled in me and my siblings, an abiding faith in humanity.

Medemer resonates with the proverb, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

In my little town, we had no running water, electricity, or paved roads. But we had a lot of love to light up our lives.

We were each other’s keepers.

Faith, humility, integrity, patience, gratitude, tenacity, and cooperation coursed like a mighty stream.

And we traveled together on three country roads called love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

In the Medemer idea, there is no “Us and Them.”

There is only “US” for “We” are all bound by a shared destiny of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

For the people in the “Land of Origins” and “The 13 Months of Sunshine,” Medemer has always been second nature.

Ethiopians maintained peaceful coexistence between the followers of the two great religions because we always came together in faith and worship.

We, Ethiopians, remained independent for thousands of years because we came together to defend our homeland.

The beauty of our Ethiopia is its extraordinary diversity.

The inclusiveness of Medemer ensures no one is left behind in our big extended family.

It has also been said, “No man is an island.”

Just the same, no nation is an island. Ethiopia’s Medemer-inspired foreign policy pursues peace through multilateral cooperation and good neighborliness.

We have an old saying:
“በሰላም እንድታድር ጎረቤትህ ሰላም ይደር”
“yoo ollaan nagayaan bule, nagaan bulanni.”

It is a saying shared in many African languages, which means, “For you to have a peaceful night, your neighbor shall have a peaceful night as well.”

The essence of this proverb guides the strengthening of relations in the region. We now strive to live with our neighbors in peace and harmony.

The Horn of Africa today is a region of strategic significance.

The global military superpowers are expanding their military presence in the area. Terrorist and extremist groups also seek to establish a foothold.

We do not want the Horn to be a battleground for superpowers nor a hideout for the merchants of terror and brokers of despair and misery.

We want the Horn of Africa to become a treasury of peace and progress.

Indeed, we want the Horn of Africa to become the Horn of Plenty for the rest of the continent.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a global community, we must invest in peace.

Over the past few months, Ethiopia has made historic investments in peace, the returns of which we will see in years to come.

We have released all political prisoners. We have shut down detention facilities where torture and vile human rights abuses took place.

Today, Ethiopia is highly regarded for press freedom. It is no more a “jailor of journalists”.

Opposition leaders of all political stripes are free to engage in peaceful political activity.

We are creating an Ethiopia that is second to none in its guarantee of freedoms of expression.

We have laid the groundwork for genuine multiparty democracy, and we will soon hold a free and fair election.

I truly believe peace is a way of life. War, a form of death and destruction.

Peacemakers must teach peace breakers to choose the way of life.
To that end, we must help build a world culture of peace.

But before there is peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart and mind.

There must be peace in the family, in the neighborhood, in the village, and the towns and cities. There must be peace in and among nations.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen:
There is a big price for enduring peace.

A famous protest slogan that proclaims, “No justice, no peace,” calls to mind that peace thrives and bears fruit when planted in the soil of justice.

The disregard for human rights has been the source of much strife and conflict in the world. The same holds in our continent, Africa.

It is estimated that some 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30.

Our young men and women are crying out for social and economic justice. They demand equality of opportunity and an end to organized corruption.

The youth insist on good governance based on accountability and transparency. If we deny our youth justice, they will reject peace.

Standing on this world stage today, I would like to call upon all my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunities for all its citizens.

I would like to especially express that we should avoid the path of extremism and division, powered by politics of exclusion.

Our accord hangs in the balance of inclusive politics.

The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media.

They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves.

Together, we must neutralize the toxin of hatred by creating a civic culture of consensus-based democracy, inclusivity, civility, and tolerance based on Medemer principles.

The art of building peace is a synergistic process to change hearts, minds, beliefs and attitudes, that never ceases.

It is like the work of struggling farmers in my beloved Ethiopia. Each season they prepare the soil, sow seeds, pull weeds, and control pests.

They work the fields from dawn to dusk in good and bad weather.

The seasons change, but their work never ends. In the end, they harvest the abundance of their fields.

Before we can harvest peace dividends, we must plant seeds of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of our citizens.

We must pull out the weeds of discord, hate, and misunderstanding and toil every day during good and bad days too.

I am inspired by a Biblical Scripture which reads:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Equally I am also inspired by a Holy Quran verse which reads:
“Humanity is but a single Brotherhood. So, make peace with your Brethren.”

I am committed to toil for peace every single day and in all seasons.

I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper too.

I have promises to keep before I sleep. I have miles to go on the road of peace.

As I conclude, I call upon the international community to join me and my fellow Ethiopians in our Medemer inspired efforts of building enduring peace and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.

ሰላም ለሁላችንም፤ ለሰላም አርበኖች እንዲሁም ለሰላም ወዳጆች።

I thank you!


Related:

PM Abiy Ahmed Becomes First Ethiopian to Receive Nobel Prize (In Pictures)

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BREAKING: U.S. House Unveils 2 Articles of Impeachment (LIVE UPDATE)

In a historic move Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against Donald Trump for abuse of his presidential powers and obstruction of Congress. The announcement sets the stage for an upcoming landmark vote in the House Judiciary Committee (only for the fourth time in American history) formally charging the president of committing 'high crimes and misdemeanors' and corrupting his Office. (AP photo )

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

House Democrats unveil two articles of impeachment against Trump

The Washington Post

Updated December 10th, 2019

House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Tuesday, saying he had abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress in its investigation of his conduct regarding Ukraine.

“We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference where he was flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other House leaders.

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 Ukrainian 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 »


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 »


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Watch: U.S. Public impeachment hearings to begin this week

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As Abiy Prepares to Accept Peace Prize, A Look Back at Obama’s Nobel Lecture

Left: Abiy Ahmed, PM of Ethiopia, will accept the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 in Oslo, Norway. Right: Barack H. Obama delivered his Nobel Lecture on 10 December 2009 at the Oslo City Hall, Norway. (Photos: Tadias and Nobel Media)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 8th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Like PM Abiy Ahmed’s dilemma, as he gets ready to accept the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo this week, President Obama faced similar controversy ten years ago this month given that his award also came early in his presidency in recognition and encouragement of his vision for peace. The humility, elegance and confidence in which President Obama accepted the prize amid the swirling public debate including this media interview could be instructive to PM Abiy.

As we have noted before Abiy has more than earned the peace prize with what he accomplished when he brought to an end the border conflict with Eritrea. In announcing the award this past October the Nobel Institute praised the “important reforms” that Abiy has initiated and implemented in Ethiopia in the last year and half since he came to power. “The prize comes as Abiy faces pressure to uphold the sweeping freedoms he introduced, and critics warn that his ability to deal with rising domestic unrest may be slipping,” AP reported. “The Nobel committee said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement. The award reflects the committee’s taste for trying to encourage works in progress.”

As we speak Abiy is moving forward with the challenge of addressing the entrenched ethnic politics and federalism in Ethiopia as the country prepares for a major election in the new year.

Below is the video and text of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture by Barack Obama:

Text: Nobel Lecture by Barack H. Obama, Oslo, 10 December 2009.

A Just and Lasting Peace

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who’ve received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela – my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women – some known, some obscure to all but those they help – to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 42 other countries – including Norway – in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

Still, we are at war, and I’m responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill, and some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

Now these questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease – the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

And over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers and clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of “just war” was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations – total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it’s hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations – an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize – America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

And yet, a decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states – all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak – nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.” A gradual evolution of human institutions.

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait – a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America – in fact, no nation – can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our actions appear arbitrary and undercut the legitimacy of future interventions, no matter how justified.

And this becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self-defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

America’s commitment to global security will never waver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. America alone cannot secure the peace. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries, and other friends and allies, demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they’ve shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That’s why NATO continues to be indispensable. That’s why we must strengthen U.N. and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That’s why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali – we honor them not as makers of war, but of wagers – but as wagers of peace.

Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant – the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor – we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it’s easy, but when it is hard.

I have spoken at some length to the question that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me now turn to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior – for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: All will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work towards disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I’m working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.

But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

The same principle applies to those who violate international laws by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo, repression in Burma – there must be consequences. Yes, there will be engagement; yes, there will be diplomacy – but there must be consequences when those things fail. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

This brings me to a second point – the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.

And yet too often, these words are ignored. For some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are somehow Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation’s development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists – a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values around the world.

I reject these choices. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America’s interests – nor the world’s – are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear that these movements – these movements of hope and history – they have us on their side.

Let me also say this: The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach – condemnation without discussion – can carry forward only a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

In light of the Cultural Revolution’s horrors, Nixon’s meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable – and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul’s engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan’s efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There’s no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can’t aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

And that’s why helping farmers feed their own people – or nations educate their children and care for the sick – is not mere charity. It’s also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement – all of which will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and environmental activists who call for swift and forceful action – it’s military leaders in my own country and others who understand our common security hangs in the balance.

Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more – and that’s the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there’s something irreducible that we all share.

As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we’re all basically seeking the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.

And yet somehow, given the dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity, it perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities – their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we’re moving backwards. We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

And most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint – no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or the Red Cross worker, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it’s incompatible with the very purpose of faith – for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. For we are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best of intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached – their fundamental faith in human progress – that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith – if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace – then we lose what’s best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”

Let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.

Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he’s outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school – because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child’s dreams.

Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that’s the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you very much.


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Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed won’t be answering any questions when he receives his Nobel Prize (WaPo)

Nobel peace prize winner Abiy Ahmed embroiled in media row (The Guardian)

PM Abiy Should Talk to Media When Collecting Peace Prize: Nobel Committee (Reuters)

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9th Annual U.S.-Ethiopia Defense Meeting

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Pete Marocco and Ethiopian Defense Minister Lemma Megersa co-chaired the 9th annual U.S.-Ethiopia Bilateral Defense Committee meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 2019. (DoD photo)

Press Release

U.S. Dept of Defense

U.S., Ethiopian Defense Officials Meet at Pentagon

During the visit, the defense leaders shared views on regional security, peacekeeping, intelligence and military relations, with the goal of strengthening their security partnership, a defense official said in a readout following the meeting.

Both nations reaffirmed their commitment to the bilateral relationship and highlighted the significant increase in security cooperation between the two countries over the last 18 months, the official said.

The Ethiopian delegation also met at the Pentagon with James Anderson, who is performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph Kernan. Anderson thanked Ethiopia for their leadership and military contributions throughout the region and commended Lemma for the ongoing security sector reforms his nation is undertaking.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor said he was very grateful to Ethiopia’s civilian and military leaders for traveling to the U.S. for the event, and ”for the close partnership that exists between us; and for Ethiopia’s commitment to building our collaboration even further in the days ahead.”

The Bilateral Defense Committee enables the U.S. and Ethiopia to identify new opportunities for collaboration in areas such as counterterrorism and intelligence, which enhances an already robust partnership between the two countries, the defense official said, and helps bring peace and security to East Africa.

Ethiopia plays a critical and significant leadership role in East Africa, the official said. ”Its willingness and capability to develop security throughout the region furthers our mutual goals and shared security interests,” the defense official added.

Ethiopia has the third-largest military in Africa and is the world’s largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions, the official said.

The nation plays a vital role in the African Union Mission in Somalia, the defense official said, and in peacekeeping efforts in Sudan and South Sudan. ”The Department of Defense applauds these efforts and looks to help strengthen Ethiopia’s ability to further promote peace and stability in the region,” the official said.

Ethiopia was a top recipient of International Military Education and Training funds over the last year. More than 300 ENDF officers and noncommissioned officers took part in U.S. funded training last year.

In July, Ethiopia hosted U.S. Africa Command’s Justified Accord exercise — a regional multi-actor military exercise that allowed regional leaders to discuss common practices and challenges related to AMISOM. This exercise hosted the largest training contingent of U.S. military personnel in Ethiopia in the past 30 years, the defense official noted.


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PM Abiy Should Talk to Media When Collecting Peace Prize: Nobel Committee

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during a media conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 29, 2018. (Pool photo via REUTERS)

Reuters

OSLO/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will not talk to the news media when he is in Oslo next week to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, drawing rare criticism from the award committee, which says a free and independent press is vital.

The Ethiopian leader won the prize in October for his peacemaking efforts which ended two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.

Nobel Peace Prize laureates traditionally hold a news conference a day before the official ceremony on Dec. 10. But Abiy has told the Norwegian Nobel Committee he will not do so.

Neither will Abiy take questions from reporters after his meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, nor will he participate at an event with children celebrating peace held every year at the Nobel Peace Center, a museum.

That drew rare criticism from the secretive award committee, composed of Norwegian politicians and academics, which tends to refrain from commenting on past laureates.

Asked whether it was problematic that Abiy was not holding a news conference, Olav Njoelstad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said: “Yes, we would very much have wanted him to engage with the press during his stay in Oslo.”

“We strongly believe that freedom of expression and a free and independent press are vital components of peace,” he told Reuters.

“Moreover, some former Nobel Peace Prize laureates have received the prize in recognition of their efforts in favor of these very rights and freedoms,” said Njoelstad.

He added that the committee’s position had been made “very clear to the Prime Minister and his staff”.

Nobel Peace Prize laureates who have attended the ceremony but not given a news conference include U.S. President Barack Obama, when he received the award in 2009.

Abiy will still meet Prime Minister Erna Solberg, as well as King Harald V, and visit the Norwegian Parliament.

He will also deliver the Nobel lecture at Oslo City Hall on Dec. 10, the day of the ceremony and the anniversary of the death of the Nobel Prizes founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel.

Abiy’s spokeswoman said the PM had to make priorities given the “extensive program” and his responsibilities back home.

“It is quite challenging for a sitting Head of State to dedicate that many days, particularly where domestic issues are pressing and warrant attention,” Billene Seyoum told Reuters.

“Therefore, the Prime Minister will be attending essential and prioritized programs, agreed upon in consultation with the Nobel Institute, to honor and respect the Nobel tradition.”

“At a personal level, the humble disposition of the Prime Minister rooted in our cultural context is not in alignment with the very public nature of the Nobel award,” she added.


Related

Nobel peace prize winner Abiy Ahmed embroiled in media row (The Guardian)

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

Market sellers in Harar. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

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

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

Read more »

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

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

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

POLITICO

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at politico.com »


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Ethiopia to Launch Satellite for Agro, Mining & Environmental Protection

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

The Associated Press

Ethiopia says its 1st satellite will launch next month

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Ethiopian Human Rights Boss Battles Scant Resources (Reuters)

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

REUTERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »


Related:

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

DC Mayor Bowser Takes Delegation Of 70 To Ethiopia

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Clashes on Ethiopian Campuses Kill 3 (AP)

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

The Associated Press

Clashes on Ethiopian Campuses Kill 3 University Students

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Press Release

Office of the DC Mayor

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

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

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

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

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

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

The agreement confirms the two cities will, in short:

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

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

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


DC Mayor Bowser Takes Delegation Of 70 To Ethiopia

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FP on Tragic & Volatile Nature of Ethnic Politics in Ethiopia

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

Foreign Policy

BY ADDISU LASHITEW | NOVEMBER 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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Reflection on Legacy of Ethiopian Activist Dr. Bogaletch Gebre

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

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

November 7th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Per the Tadias profile:

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


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

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


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

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PM Abiy Says Death Toll Rises to 86

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Al Jazeera

The challenges of navigating Ethiopia’s new media landscape

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Deadly Ethiopia Unrest Poses Fresh Challenge to Nobel Winner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related:

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

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

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

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

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

The Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


Related:

Elijah Cummings Was Our North Star: By Nancy Pelosi

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

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

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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Dr. Abiy Releases New Book ‘Medemer’

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

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related:

Watch: Dr Abiy Ahmed Book launching speech (Amharic)

Why I Nominated Abiy Ahmed for the Nobel Peace Prize

PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

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

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2 Years Before Deadly Ethiopia Crash, Boeing Staff Knew of 737 Max Problems

Messages show Boeing employees knew in 2016 of problems that turned deadly on the 737 Max. The messages, between two top pilots, were about an automated feature known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that investigators say repeatedly — and in error — forced down the noses of planes that crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people. (Photo: Reuters)

The Washington Post

Instant messages between two high-level Boeing employees in 2016 indicate the company was aware of major problems with an automated feature on the 737 Max jet that has been implicated in two deadly crashes.

The messages, between two top pilots, were about an automated feature known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that investigators say repeatedly — and in error — forced down the noses of planes that crashed in Indonesia and Ethi­o­pia, killing 346 people.

In the messages, Mark A. Forkner, then chief technical pilot for Boeing’s 737, wrote to technical pilot Patrik Gustavsson that the MCAS was engaging “itself like craxy,” calling the problem “egregious.”

Forkner, who had a major role in the Max, also indicated that the Boeing employees misled the Federal Aviation Administration. “So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” he wrote.

“It wasn’t a lie, no one told us that was the case,” Gustavsson replied.

Boeing and FAA faulted in oversight breakdowns that contributed to 737 Max failure

The messages show the company experts had identified critical safety concerns with the Max years ago, even as Boeing executives have publicly argued since the crashes on Oct. 29 and March 10 that the company had followed the same internal practices and FAA certification procedures that have long produced safe airplanes.

Boeing did not turn the messages over to the Transportation Department until Thursday, federal officials said. The document “containing statements by a former Boeing employee” was given to Congress on Friday, Boeing said in a statement.

In a letter to Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg on Friday, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson said: “I expect your explanation immediately.”

Read more »


Related:
Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes
Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Elijah Cummings Was Our North Star: By Nancy Pelosi

Elijah E. Cummings, a powerful congressman from Baltimore, Maryland "who gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police riots in Baltimore, and his forceful opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump, died Oct. 17 at a hospice center in Baltimore. He was 68." - WaPo. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

By Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House of Representatives.

This week, the people of Baltimore, the Congress and the United States lost a voice of unsurpassed moral clarity and truth: our beloved Chairman Elijah E. Cummings.

In the House, Elijah was our North Star. He was a leader of towering character and integrity, who pushed the Congress and country always to rise to a higher purpose, reminding us why we are here. As he said whenever he saw that we were not living up to our Founders’ vision for America and meeting the needs of our children for the future: “We are better than this.”

Elijah’s story was the story of the United States: A son of sharecroppers who became Baptist preachers, he dedicated his life to advancing justice, liberty, fairness and human dignity. He believed in the promise of America because he had lived it. As chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, he used his gavel to restore integrity, accountability and honesty to Washington so that government would be a force for good for working people, ensuring that all could experience the American Dream as he did.

Firm in his principles, Elijah was also a peacemaker and a bridge-builder: passionate about what he believed in, dispassionate in his judgments about how to proceed. His clarion voice would cut through conflict, calming the waters and reaching out across the aisle, no matter how rough and tumble the debate.

He was a generous leader. He always shared credit and took the time to mentor younger members, both on his committee and throughout our caucus. This year, during the first weeks of the new Congress, when members were being added to his highly coveted committee, he said to me, “Send me as many freshmen as you can.” He wanted to help them succeed — and he wanted to learn from them, too.

Read more »

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Son & Father Reunited Under Nobel Winner Abiy’s Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Deal

Samson Berhane, 27, reads a previous month's Ethiopian Business Review, featuring Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, at his office in Addis Ababa, October 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

A Son and Father Reunited, Like Many Under Nobel Winner Abiy’s Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Deal

The 27-year old journalist credits Abiy’s peace deal with Eritrea last year for reuniting him with his father. Like thousands of other families they had been separated by two decades of hostility with Ethiopia’s longtime enemy.

Abiy, Africa’s youngest leader, was awarded the prestigious prize on Friday for his efforts that ended the border conflict.

“When I first heard that Abiy won the prize, I was doubting the trustworthiness of the news. I felt so happy confirming it,” Samson told Reuters in an interview.

While Samson is Ethiopian, his father was originally from Eritrea.

Samson’s office in Addis Ababa is filled with books on Eritrea’s history that he began reading to discover his roots after he first met his father.

After the peace deal, thousands of families were reunited for the first time since 1998, the year the war broke out.

“He (Abiy) made history by making peace, which is more valuable than anything. He reunited the two brotherly people,” Samson said.

YEARS OF SILENCE

Samson’s father, Berhane Ashmelash, left for Eritrea in 1997 to attend mandatory military service. Samson was five years old.

The father had planned to return to Ethiopia after having served but never made it back as the war broke out a year later.

His family did not hear from him for years as communications between the two countries were cut off. They thought he had died.

After the peace deal, direct international telephone connection and flights between the two countries were restored, enabling people to communicate and travel.

Samson decided in 2018 to fly to the Eritrean capital Asmara and look for his father. He went to the Ministry of Defence, which keeps a database on all those who served in the military, to seek information.

Together with the workplace and phone number of his father, Samson found out that he had seven half siblings as his father had remarried in Eritrea.

“It was a mind blowing moment,” he said.

Read more »


Related:

Why I Nominated Abiy Ahmed for the Nobel Peace Prize

PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

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

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WATCH: Things You Didn’t Know About Ambassador Susan Rice

Ambassador Susan E. Rice talks to theGrio about her new memoir, “Tough Love: My story of the Things Worth Fighting For.” (Photography by Christopher Patey)

Ambassador Susan Rice Reflects on Impeaching Trump, Raising a Republican Son, and Her New Memoir, ‘Tough Love’

One of the most refreshing aspects of President Barack Obama‘s legacy is the fact that he surrounded himself with intelligent, thoughtful women who possess some of the most strategic minds in our government’s history. No one fits that paradigm more than Obama’s former National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

Throughout her years at the White House, Rice set the tone for national security as a serious defender of American democracy and an ardent champion of Democratic politics. In her 500-page memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For” (Simon & Schuster) the 54-year diplomat, wife, daughter, sister, and mother of two, carefully details what it was like being a Black woman working in foreign policy as well as providing insight into some of the most pivotal moments of her personal life that led up to enormous professional accomplishments. She also talks about the bewildered haze that the Obama administration embodied as they turned over the White House to the Trump administration.

Click here to watch: Ambassador Susan Rice reflects on impeaching Trump, raising a Republican son, and her new memoir, ‘Tough Love’ (theGrio)


Related:

Susan Rice Has Spent Her Career Fighting off Detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’ (WaPo on Her Memoir)


Former national security adviser Susan Rice at her Washington home last month. Her memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” is being published this week. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

October 8th, 2019

Susan Rice has spent her career fighting off detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’

She should have listened to her mother.

“Why do you have to go on the shows?” Lois Dickson Rice asked her daughter, Susan, in September 2012 “Where is Hillary?”

Susan Rice was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, equipped with a gold-standard Washington résumé — Stanford, Rhodes scholar, Oxford doctorate, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She explained that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “wiped after a brutal week.” The Obama White House asked Rice to appear “in her stead” on all five Sunday news programs.

It was days after attacks in Libya killed four U.S. officials.

“I smell a rat,” said her mother, a lauded education policy expert. “This is not a good idea. Can’t you get out of it?”

“Mom, don’t be ridiculous,” Rice said. “I’ve done the shows. It will be fine.”

Well, no, it was not.

Benghazi became the millstone in Rice’s stellar career. It stopped her from succeeding Clinton.

Criticism of Rice was relentless… The scrutiny lasted through multiple congressional investigations.

The aftermath took a punishing toll on Rice’s family and professional reputation, she reveals in her frank new memoir, “Tough Love.” The book also explores how, despite Rice’s many accomplishments during two administrations, she attracted criticism for her brusque manner. And Rice faces an extra challenge — she’s been forced to grapple with whether any of this adversity was somehow a result of her race and gender.

“The combination — being a confident black woman who is not seeking permission or affirmation from others — I now suspect accounts for why I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men,” she writes, “and perhaps also why I have long inspired motivated detractors who simply can’t deal with me.”

Read the full article at www.washingtonpost.com »


Related:

What My Father Thought Me About Race: By Susan Rice


Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the forthcoming memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” from which this essay is adapted. (Photo: Susan Rice with her father Emmett J. Rice, right, and the Federal Reserve chairman, William Miller, in 1979. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By Susan E. Rice

My father, Emmett Rice, was drafted into military service at the height of World War II and spent four and a half years in uniform, first as an enlisted man and ultimately as an officer with the rank of captain. Called up by the Army Air Force, he was sent to a two-part officer training program, which began in Miami and was completed at Harvard Business School — where he learned “statistical control” and “quantitative management,” a specialized form of accounting in an unusual program designed to build on his business background.

Emmett eventually was deployed to Tuskegee, Ala., where he joined the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first black fighter pilot unit, which distinguished itself in combat in Europe. Though he learned to fly, my father was not a fighter pilot, but a staff officer who ran the newly created Statistics Office, which performed management analyses for commanding officers. He earlier served a stint at Godman Field adjacent to Fort Knox, Ky. There, he was denied access to the white officers’ club. To add insult to injury, he saw German prisoners of war being served at restaurants restricted to blacks. Both in the military and the confines of off-base life, his time in Kentucky was a searing reintroduction to the Southern segregation he had experienced as a child in South Carolina.


Susan and Emmett Rice in 1996. (Credit Ian Cameron)

Still, socially and intellectually, dad’s Tuskegee years were formative. He met an elite cadre of African-American men who would later be disproportionately represented in America’s postwar black professional class, among them my mother’s brothers, Leon and David Dickson. Dad’s Tuskegee friends and acquaintances formed a network he maintained throughout his life. What was it, I have often wondered, about those Tuskegee Airmen and support personnel that seemingly enabled them to become a vanguard of black achievement? Perhaps the military preselected unusually well-educated and capable men for Tuskegee, or some aspect of their service experience propelled them as a group to succeed. To my lasting regret, I failed to take the opportunity to study this topic in depth before almost all those heroes passed away.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


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Writers Lemn Sissay & Zone 9′s Befeqadu Hailu Share 2019 PEN Pinter Prize

Poet Lemn Sissay (right) has named writer and activist Befeqadu Hailu (left), who is a co-founder of the blogging platform Zone 9, as this year’s ‘international writer of courage’ (Composite: PR/Hollie Fernando)

The Guardian

The poet Lemn Sissay has won the PEN Pinter award alongside the Ethiopian writer Befeqadu Hailu, who dedicated his award “to all those who use their voices for the voiceless”.

Hailu, a writer, activist and co-founder of the blogging platform Zone 9, has been jailed four times for his work, although never convicted of the charges brought against him. Under the motto “we blog because we care”, Zone 9 sets out to create a space for freedom of expression, where individuals can speak out against human rights violations in Ethiopia.

Sissay chose Hailu as the PEN Pinter international writer of courage, calling him “a man who stands by his word and whose words stood in the face of prison and arose far, far above to declaim in the name of humanity”.

“When I was considering him, I spoke to many Ethiopians in Ethiopia about him,” Sissay said. “He is loved by his people and the younger generation: He is a 21st-century hero. It was obvious that the writer of courage had to be him. He is my hero.”

Speaking in Amharic at the British Library event, Hailu thanked Sissay for choosing him to share the award. Hailu said he had wasted “596 days of his life in prison as a result of his writing”, as well as being “a victim of surveillance, intimidation, beatings and insults”.

“But I can say confidently that I have gained rather than lost by writing,” he said. “My wish is to use my voice for the service of the suppressed, those who are victimised because of sexual orientation, creed, religion or political opinion. My dream will come true. My wish is to give my voice to the service of the voiceless, who spoke for me when I could not. I pay it back only when I write to become a voice for the voiceless, the unheard.”

The PEN Pinter award goes to a writer who is deemed to, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, cast an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world, and show a “fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”. Sissay, who was announced as recipient in June, was described by judges as “an Orpheus who never stops singing”, who in every work “returns to the underworld he inhabited as an unclaimed child”, and “from his sorrows … forges beautiful words and a thousand reasons to live and love”. Sissay grew up in foster care in Wigan and his childhood was scarred by racist bullying.

The prize is shared with an international writer of courage who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.

Read more »


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Ethiopia Mourns Elias Melka

Musician and composer Elias Melka died on 4 October. (Music in Africa)

Music in Africa

The news of his death was made public by Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC)… FBC said Milka was receiving treatment for diabetes and kidney complications at a hospital in the country’s capital.

Several prominent Ethiopians have shared their fondest memories of the musician, while others have spoken about what his music means to them.

“Saddened to learn the passing of renowned lyricist and composer, Elias Melka. We lost a talented and influential figure in the music industry. My condolences to his family and fans,” Addis Ababa mayor Takele Uma Banti said.

Radio and TV journalist Berhane Negussie said: “What heartbreaking news. Elias Melka was a musical genius of our generation This is a loss to the Ethiopian music industry. Not only as a musician, but he was also an amazing and extremely kind as a person. Rest in heaven, my brother.

Ethiopian political analyst Esayas Girmay wrote: “Farewell to a legend! Elias transformed modern Ethiopian music like no other. His influence on traditional Amharic music was also something to remember him by. Tigrigna, Oromifa, Kunama and Guragigna have also benefited from his amazing talent and creativity.”

Melka began his career in the 1990s after graduating from Yared Music School where he majored in cello, piano and the krar.

Melka’s discography includes more than 40 albums, which mainly contain socially conscious songs. His songs touched on topics such as HIV/AIDS, road accidents, African unity and minorities. In 2003, he composed ‘Negarit’ (War Drum), which highlighted the plight of about 13 million people facing starvation in the country.

The award-winning musician composed music for prominent Ethiopian artists, most notably activist Teddy Afro, Gossaye Tesfaye, Zeritu Kebede, Haile Roots, Mikia Behailu, Eyob Mekonnen, Michael Belayneh, Aster Girma, Abush Zeleke, Berry, Gedion Daniel and Dan Admassu.

He will be remembered for being one of the first musicians to introduce the one-man band studio production concept in Ethiopia and for being part of the team that launched the Awtar Music App this year.

Before his death, he was one of the judges on the Fana Lamrot talent show, which airs on FBC.


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Man Seeking U.S. Asylum Claims Ethiopian Airlines Changed Records After Crash

Yonas Yeshanew, a former employee of Ethiopian Airlines who is currently applying for asylum in the U.S., has claimed — in a whistleblower complaint filed with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration — that Ethiopian Airlines changed records on a Boeing 737 Max jet following the tragic crash earlier this year. Investigators had preliminarily ruled that a defective software flight data sensor known as MCAS was to blame for the accident. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Engineer: Ethiopian Airlines went into records after crash

SEATTLE (AP) — Ethiopian Airlines’ former chief engineer says in a whistleblower complaint filed with regulators that the carrier went into the maintenance records on a Boeing 737 Max jet a day after it crashed this year, a breach he contends was part of a pattern of corruption that included fabricating documents, signing off on shoddy repairs and even beating those who got out of line.

Yonas Yeshanew, who resigned this summer and is seeking asylum in the U.S., said that while it is unclear what, if anything, in the records was altered, the decision to go into them at all when they should have been sealed reflects a government-owned airline with few boundaries and plenty to hide.

“The brutal fact shall be exposed … Ethiopian Airlines is pursuing the vision of expansion, growth and profitability by compromising safety,” Yeshanew said in his report, which he gave to The Associated Press after sending it last month to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other international air safety agencies…

Ethiopian Airlines portrayed Yeshanew as a disgruntled former employee and categorically denied his allegations…

Read the full article at apnews.com »


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Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Majority of Americans Support Impeachment Inquiry into Trump (UPDATE)

The survey shows how public sentiment has moved amid the unfolding scandal over Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. (ILLUSTRATION: HUFFPOST; PHOTOS: GETTY)

CNBC

Updated: TUE, OCT 8 2019

Most Americans — including 1 in 5 Republicans — now back an impeachment inquiry or already believe Congress should remove President Donald Trump from office, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.

The survey shows how public sentiment has moved amid the unfolding scandal over Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. The share of Americans who say Congress should let Trump complete his term has dipped to 39%, from 50% in July.

At the same time, the proportion who say Congress should move to impeachment and removal has ticked up to 24% from 21%, while those who support an impeachment inquiry have swelled to 31% from 27%. Taken together, that 55% majority backing an impeachment inquiry at minimum is the highest the NBC/WSJ poll has shown this year.

That represents a gradual, not dramatic, shift in opinion. But it shows that, after the political hazards of the Trump-Russia investigation appeared to dissipate during the summer, the president faces new and potentially more-threatening trouble over Ukraine.

“What we’re seeing in this poll is an openness and willingness to listen to new information,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff. His Democratic counterpart Peter Hart added, “There’s not a scintilla of good news for Donald Trump in this survey.”


2nd Whistleblower Adds to Impeachment Peril at White House (AP)


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has initiated an impeachment proceedings against President Trump, accusing him of violating the Constitution in seeking help from a foreign leader to damage a political opponent. AP reports that this week a second whistleblower has come forward “adding to the impeachment peril engulfing the White House.” (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: October 7th, 2019

A second whistleblower has come forward with information about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, adding to the impeachment peril engulfing the White House and potentially providing new leads to Democrats in their unfurling investigation of Trump’s conduct.

Attorney Mark Zaid, who represents both whistleblowers, said in a text message to The Associated Press that the second person has spoken to the intelligence community’s internal watchdog and can corroborate information in the original whistleblower complaint. That document alleged that Trump pushed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s family, prompting a White House cover-up. Crucially, the new whistleblower works in the intelligence field and has “firsthand knowledge” of key events, Zaid said.

The emergence of the second whistleblower threatened to undermine arguments from Trump and his allies to discredit the original complaint. They have called it politically motivated, claimed it was filed improperly and dismissed it as unreliable because it was based on secondhand or thirdhand information.

A rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, released by the White House, has already corroborated the complaint’s central claim that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. The push came even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Text messages from State Department officials revealed other details, including that Ukraine was promised a visit with Trump if the government would agree to investigate the 2016 election and Ukrainian gas company Burisma — the outline of a potential quid pro quo.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said word of a second whistleblower indicates a larger shift inside the government.

“The president’s real problem is that his behavior has finally gotten to a place where people are saying, ‘Enough,’” Himes said.

Democrats have zeroed in on the State Department in the opening phase of their impeachment investigation. The Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have already interviewed Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine who provided the text messages. At least two other witnesses are set for depositions this week: Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly ousted as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May.

Trump and his supporters deny that he did anything improper, but the White House has struggled to come up with a unified response. No administration officials appeared on the Sunday news shows to defend the president, while other Republicans focused mainly on attacking Democrats. A few Republicans suggested that Trump was only joking this past week when he publicly called on China to investigate the Bidens.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s most vocal backers, provided perhaps the strongest defense of the president. He said there was nothing wrong with Trump’s July conversation with Zelenskiy and that the accusation look like a “political setup.”

As for Trump, rather than visiting his nearby golf course in Sterling, Virginia, for a second day, he stayed at White House, where he tweeted and retweeted, with the Bidens a main target.

“The great Scam is being revealed!” Trump wrote at one point, continuing to paint himself as the victim of a “deep state” and hostile Democrats.

As the president often does when he feels under attack, he trumpeted his strong support among Republican voters. He kept lashing out at Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the few Republicans who has publicly questioned Trump’s conduct.

“The Democrats are lucky that they don’t have any Mitt Romney types,” Trump wrote, painting the 2012 GOP presidential nominee as a traitor to his party. Romney tweeted recently that Trump’s “brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine” for an investigation of Biden is “wrong and appalling.”

The July call raised questions about whether Trump held back near $400 million in critical American military aid to Ukraine as leverage for a Burisma investigation. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

A leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Biden wrote in The Washington Post that he had a message for Trump and “those who facilitate his abuses of power. … Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family.”

Additional details about the origins of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy emerged over the weekend.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry had encouraged Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader, but on energy and economic issues, according to Perry spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes. She said Perry’s interest in Ukraine is part of U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe.

Trump, who has repeatedly described his conversation with Zelenskiy as “perfect,” told House Republicans on Friday night that it was Perry who teed up the July call, according to a person familiar with Trump’s comments who was granted anonymity to discuss them. The person said Trump did not suggest that Perry had anything to do with the pressure to investigate the Bidens.

As the furor over Trump’s phone call and the House’s subsequent impeachment inquiry escalated, two Republicans challenging Trump for the GOP presidential nomination engaged in a heated on-air debate over what should happen to the president. The exchange between former Reps. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Joe Walsh of Illinois was notable, given the refusal of all but three Republican senators to criticize Trump’s conduct.

Walsh said the president deserves to be impeached. Sanford tried to make the case that moving forward with impeachment in the Democratic-run House if the Republican-controlled Senate doesn’t have the votes to convict would be counter-productive.

“This president needs to be impeached, just based on what he himself has said,” Walsh said. “And Republicans better get behind that.”

Himes appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” while Walsh was on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Graham spoke on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

___

Related:

U.S. House Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. The dramatic development follows the recent revelation that Trump may have abused his presidential powers by seeking help from a foreign government to undermine his potential 2020 election opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, and help his own reelection campaign. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Pelosi announces impeachment inquiry, says Trump’s courting of foreign political help is a ‘betrayal of national security’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the extraordinary step Tuesday of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, accusing him of violating the Constitution in seeking help from a foreign leader to damage a political opponent.

Pelosi’s move came after Trump acknowledged that he urged the Ukrainian president to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination who holds a wide lead over Trump, polls show, in a potential general election matchup. The revelation prompted a rush of moderate House Democrats to call for an impeachment inquiry into Trump, a step they had resisted for months. On Tuesday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) relented as well.

“The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a brief statement before a backdrop of American flags, repeatedly invoking the nation’s founders. “Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”

Read more »


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PM Abiy Commissions Artist Elias Sime for New Public Garden at National Palace

Elias Sime’s garden under construction. (COURTESY JAMES COHAN GALLERY)

ARTNEWS

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Commissions Artist Elias Sime for New Public Garden at Historically Off-Limits National Palace

Elias Sime, an Ethiopian artist well known at home and ascendant internationally for works involving intricately woven tangles of reclaimed electrical wires and other materials that come to look like paintings from afar, is building a large public garden for the Grand National Palace in Addis Ababa that once served as the home of emperor Haile Selassie. The project came to fruition after Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed visited Zoma, an ambitious complex of buildings and gardens in the city devoted to exhibitions of contemporary art and indigenous-architectural education as imagined by Sime and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued.

As James Cohan, whose New York–based gallery represents Sime, recalled of the prime minister, “Once he saw it, literally the next day he called Elias up and said, ‘You need to come to the grounds of the royal palace, which I’m going to open to the public for the first time since 1976. It will become our national pride, and you need to build a garden for us.’”

That visit some three months ago led to work that has continued around the clock on a 30,000-square-foot garden expected to be completed in six months. “They’re carving pieces of stone with wavelike rhythmic forms,” Cohan said, “and he’s carving stone for the walls.” More than 300 workers are involved, and “the prime minister visits on a daily basis and has brought numerous visiting international diplomats and dignitaries to see progress,” Cohan added.

In a written statement, Sime—who is working on the project with his partner in Zoma—told ARTnews, “Anyone can be commissioned to build, but being trusted by the Prime Minster, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, with love to build our dream in one of the most prestigious places is special. What Meskerem Assegued and I are building is meant to give love to anyone as much as we loved building it.”

Read more »


Related:

Elias Sime Set for Major U.S. Museum Shows in NY, Ohio and Kansas (TADIAS)

Noiseless: Elias Sime’s New Exhibition Opens in NYC

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In Oklahoma, Ethiopian Woman Receives OU’s International Water Prize

OU Interim Vice President Jane Irungu, left, presents the hand-blown glass trophy in the shape of a water droplet with a world map overlaid to Martha Gebeyehu, the 2019 International Water Prize winner. The World Health Organization estimates 800 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. (The Transcript)

The Transcript

An Ethiopian woman who helps coordinate government workers and private, self-help groups to promote clean water and sanitation formally received the 2019 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize at a banquet Tuesday evening.

Martha Gebeyehu received the $25,000 cash prize and hand-blown glass trophy shaped like a water droplet at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the end of the OU WaTER Center’s two-day conference.

Gebeyehu, who was chosen the winner by five jurors in 2018, said much of her country does not have access to adequate drinking water. Ninety four percent of the population drinks untreated water and nearly that many do not have access to basic sanitation.

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Behailu Wase: Ethiopia’s Cafe Society

Exploring the making of a political satire show offers insight into the growing pains of Ethiopia's new democracy. (Aljazeera)

Aljazeera

Filmmaker: Brian Tilley

In a compound on the edge of Addis Ababa – next to a cluster of houses and a busy primary school – is a large corrugated iron shack.

Inside is a cafe. Not an ordinary cafe, but the set of Ethiopia’s first political satire show to be broadcast on state television – Min Litazez, which translates to “How may I serve you?”.

“This is our mini Ethiopia,” says creator and director Behailu Wase, who grew up in the same compound from where he now airs his popular show. “A lot of ideas are discussed here.”

In the three seasons it has been on air, Min Litazez has built an enthusiastic and loyal audience among a population starved for political commentary and a new kind of comedy after almost 27 years of dictatorship during which such things would have been unthinkable.

We’re not just trying to make people laugh, but raise awareness because we want to create a better country.

But after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, he instituted a number of political and economic reforms, including loosening restrictions on the media and freedom of speech.

The sitcom-satire is set in a cafe, meant to be a metaphor of the country as a whole. In each episode, the cafe owner’s life tries to mirror and reflect the challenges faced by the country’s new leadership.

Past episodes have dealt with issues like government inefficiency, ethnic nationalism and authoritarianism – despite attempts to censor some of the content and, at times, even temporary suspension of the show itself.

“We’re not just trying to make people laugh, but raise awareness because we want to create a better country,” Behailu says.

Read more »


Related:

Watch: Meaza Ashenafi on Restoring Public Trust in Ethiopia’s Justice System

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Watch: Meaza Ashenafi on Restoring Public Trust in Ethiopia’s Justice System

In the following video Aljazeera follows Ethiopia's chief justice Meaza Ashenafi "as she meets judges and government officials to discuss current cases and reform efforts, visits some of Ethiopia's infamous prisons, and shares her dreams and aspirations for the future of her homeland." (Aljazeera)

Aljazeera

Meaza Ashenafi: Judging Ethiopia’s Future

Meaza Ashenafi, Ethiopia’s first female president of the Federal Supreme Court, is determined to restore public trust in her country’s justice system.

Appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in November 2018, the chief justice is tasked to reform her country’s entire judicial system.

“I always believed that promoting justice is my duty … I decided to take up this position to restore public trust in the judiciary,” Meaza says. “I knew it’s going to be a difficult assignment. There is a lot of expectation from the judiciary. The history of the judiciary [in Ethiopia] … has not been beautiful and people expect this to be corrected and they want that change not tomorrow, they want it today.”

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UPDATE: Dozens killed in Sidama Clashes

Reports from activists and opposition groups cite a higher death toll with fatalities as high as 60, but the local acting security head, Andinet Ashenafi, warns against what he called exaggerated numbers, reports the BBC's Kalkidan Yibeltal from Addis Ababa. (BBC)

BBC

Updated: July 22nd, 2019

At least 25 people have died in clashes between Ethiopian security forces and activists in southern Ethiopia, hospital officials have told the BBC.

The officials said security forces fired bullets during the protests across the Sidama region.

Activists from the Sidama ethnic group were set to declare their own federal state on Thursday.

They accused the government of failing to hold a promised referendum on the issue.

The Sidama are Ethiopia’s fifth biggest ethnic group, making up 4% of the population and are mainly based in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state.

The four bigger communities all have their own regions within Ethiopia’s ethnically based federal system.

Reports from activists and opposition groups cite a higher death toll with fatalities as high as 60, but the local acting security head, Andinet Ashenafi, warns against what he called exaggerated numbers, reports the BBC’s Kalkidan Yibeltal from Addis Ababa.

Mr Andinet confirmed to the BBC that four people had been killed in the city of Awassa and 26 others sustained wounds.

Members of other ethnic groups were also killed after being attacked by angry mobs.

Local media reported that protesters had attacked a tourist lodge, leading to 12 tourists being escorted out by troops.

The internet has been blocked in parts of the south of the country since Thursday, including the main city of Awassa.

Read more »


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FAA Has No Timeline for 737 Max Return

The attempt to adapt the software on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been identified as a factor in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, has been slower than was initially predicted. (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg

FAA Has No Timeline for Lifting Grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max

U.S. aviation regulators have no timeline for returning Boeing Co.’s grounded 737 Max to service and won’t act until they are sure it is safe, the nation’s top transportation official said Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration has to be assured that a fix being developed by Boeing in the wake of two fatal crashes will prevent any future accidents, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a speech in Washington.

“The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when it is deemed safe to do so,” Chao said. “That is the bottom line: There is no timeline.”

Chao was speaking before the Air Line Pilots Association’s Air Safety Forum. ALPA is the largest pilot’s union in North America.

Boeing is altering software on the plane that had malfunctioned in both accidents, pushing each plane’s nose down without pilot input. The crews weren’t able to counter the plane and they lost control…

The attempt to adapt the software on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been identified as a factor in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, has been slower than was initially predicted.

Read more »


Related:
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Ethiopian Voted Best Airline in Africa
Boeing’s Mea Culpa Wins Over Ethiopian Airlines
Boeing CEO Calls Handling of 737 Max Crashes a ‘Mistake,’ Vows Improvements (USA Today)
In U.S. Fellowship Being Created in Name of Victim of Ethiopia Crash (AP)
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: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Meet the ‘Squad’: The 4 Female U.S. Lawmakers Shaking Up Old Politics in DC

They were elected to Congress last November with a promise to shake up old politics in Washington, DC. This week they garnered international press attention for doing just that when they rattled the White House with their own unabashed social stand and world view. Below is a Boston Globe profile of the freshman American lawmakers who are pushing back against Trump's ethnocentric politics. (Photo Clockwise from top left: Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar. Photos from the Associated Press/Getty Images)

Boston Globe

Meet the ‘Squad’: Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib

So who exactly are the four trailblazers that comprise the “Squad”?

Pressley posted a photo in November, shortly after her election to the House, of herself, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar at the orientation for new members of Congress.

The four represent among the most progressive districts in the House, according to the Cook Political Report and that profile appeared to be part of the basis for Trump’s weekend attacks, where he referred to them as “ ‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen.”

Pressley replied Monday by saying “our squad is big.”

Here’s a brief refresher on the four Democratic woman challenging the president and facing his ire.

Read more »


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The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia Report on U.S.-Ethio Business

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia launched its inaugural report on U.S. investment in Ethiopia during an event held at the Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa on Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Photo: @AmchamET/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia has released a report featuring how U.S. investments in Ethiopia are having an impact on the ground. The report showcases “the contribution our members are making towards advancing inclusive economic growth in Ethiopia,” the non-profit organization announced in a Twitter post on Friday. “Case studies in the report cover education, skills development, health, and environment.”

It was announced previously that the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia was founded in 2016 “to strengthen the century‐old partnership economic ties that have existed between the United States and Ethiopia,” and counts former Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Fitsum Arega, among its Board members. Mr. Arega is now Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.S.

“The AmCham can play an important role in building a conducive environment for private sector growth, share experiences, and facilitate business capacity building in Ethiopia,” the press release adds.

The Twitter announcement notes that the current report was released during a forum held at the Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa on Thursday, July 11th where “a delegation from US Chamber met with Ethiopian President SahleWork Zewde to discuss linking the private sectors of the two countries & also underscored its long-term commitment to Ethiopia, focusing on deep & sustainable engagement.”

In addition to the forum the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia also hosted a panel discussion focusing on youth employment and featuring the head of Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission Ephrem T. Lemango as well as a representative from Coca Cola Africa, which recently had announced its intention to create 2700 new jobs through a construction of a new factory in Sebeta as their biggest plant in Ethiopia.


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TSEHAI Picks: Ethio-American Musicians

(Image courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

By Elias Wondimu

TSEHAI Picks: Ethio-American Musicians to Watch

For decades, TSEHAI has published books and journals to educate, inspire, and empower its readers with comprehensive and diverse narratives. In keeping with this tradition, TSEHAI is delighted to announce the launch of the quarterly TSEHAI Picks Series.

From cultural tastemakers to historical figures, TSEHAI Picks celebrates individuals from all walks of life and fields of expertise. In this first edition, the TSEHAI team is giving your summer playlist a makeover with a list ten songs from phenomenal musicians of Ethiopian origin whose art represents the rich and diverse Ethiopian heritage and narratives on the world stage.

“Rewind”-Kelela
https://youtu.be/py6PgXq0yDM


Kelela. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

The combination of Kelela’s sultry vocals with the hypnotic synthesizer and beat in “Rewind” immediately pull you in. On the podcast, Song Exploder, Kelela talks about her process of working with five different producers on this song. I was blown away by how she melded together elements from each producer to create one dynamic layered sound. “Rewind” is a great testament to Kelela as an artist: complex, unique, and forged from a melting pot of experiences.

“Danjahrous”–Haile Supreme
https://youtu.be/XJJjXFjkZKQ


Haile Supreme. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Drawing from many genres including jazz, blues, reggae and funk music, Haile Supreme creates a unique blend of Ethiopian culture with contemporary hip-hop/R&B in both his music and his persona. “Danjahrous” is a chill jam that goes down as smooth as honey wine.

“Black Truck”–Mereba
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGojZ12cZRQ


Mereba. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Mereba is a multi-talented musician, songwriter, producer, and rapper. Her brilliant album, The
Jungle is the Only Way Out, is a must listen for soulful vocals, intricate production, and poetically incisive lyrics. Her song “Black Truck” is an ode to her father who immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia and the perseverance of her ancestors.

“Walk Up”–Meklit
https://youtu.be/hGK6VUlaJmw


Meklit.(Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

In “Walk Up,” Meklit’ssoft vocals are accompanied by an eclectic assemblage of instrumental sounds. The lyrics of this song reminds me of Meklit’s brilliant TED talk, “The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds” on how music can be found all around — from the emphatic lilt of Amharic language to the sound of birds.

“W.I.A”–SIIMBA SELASSIIE
https://youtu.be/oN36HaYaZdc


SIIMBA SELASSIIE. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

SIIMBA SELASSIIE serves up clever and honest lyricism in an irreverent package that expands the definition of a hip-hop artist. Donning traditional dress and referencing his Ethiopian roots in his lyrics, SIIMBA is not one to shy away from his heritage.

“Abune”–Kibrom Birhane
https://youtu.be/2qwebzVcKAc

>
Kibrom Birhane. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Kibrom is a humble music visionary who embraces traditions in EthioJazz and EthioFolk music. His talent in piano and vocals shine in “Abune.” The powerful artistry of his music is truly arresting.

“Free Again”–Arima Ederra
https://youtu.be/OaYAE2lneD0


Arima Ederra. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Arima Ederra has the kind of angelic voice that will capture your attention within the first few notes. “Free Again” evokes the feeling of the first day of summer, ripe with infinite possibilities and childlike energy. I also love how the album art for this record draws from traditional Ethiopian illustration styles.

“Slow Fade”–Ruth B.
https://youtu.be/4HEUfU2CrEM


Ruth B. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Ruth B.’s regal voice remains soothing and pleasant, even as she takes you through her innermostfeelings. Currently signed with Columbia Records, it is exciting to see what she will do next.

“Process”–Gabriel Teodros, Shakiah
https://youtu.be/GUC31bcfAfM


Gabriel Teodros. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Gabriel Teodros is an Ethiopian-American son of a refugee, which strongly influences his music. He creates music motivated to heal and promote positive social change. When he’s not creating music, Gabriel is actively involved in local youth communities and advocates on the treatment of immigrants in the US.

“Eye”–Helen Hailu
https://youtu.be/YAvdusDoDCE


Helen Hailu. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

For my last pick, I chose “Eye” by Helen Hailu. “Eye” is the perfect song for a slow Sunday morning. Her jazzy vocals and instrumentals rock steady as she invites listeners to join in her proclamation of independence: “I’d rather be me, myself, and I.”


Stay up to date with TSEHAI Publishers on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Life After Death of ‘Love Bug’ in Ethiopia

Volkswagen will halt production of its latest version of the Beetle model car at its plant in Puebla, Mexico on Wednesday. Production of the original version of the curvy little vehicles ended in 2003. But, in Addis Ababa, Beetles enjoy a kind of life after death; their parts are never discarded but re-used to keep the city's remaining Beetles on the road. (Photo: Ishetu Kinfe, 59, a mechanic, poses next to his 1965 model Volkswagen Beetle car at a garage in Addis Ababa/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Reuters

In Ethiopia authentic spare parts of the original Beetle model are hard to come by. So mechanics there have to “slaughter” some cars to keep others alive.

“If one is in a bad condition, we will cannibalise it and give its parts to other cars. That is how we extend their life,” said Kinfe, the 74-year-old garage-owner who has been working on Beetles for six decades.

“I wish the Germans had continued producing them. They abandoned them and things started falling apart.”

“They are lovely cars,” said Teferi Markos, a mechanic in Kinfe’s garage. “You get satisfied when you fix them. If you want to change the colour, they absorb any paint.”

About 8,000 commercial and other vehicles are assembled in Ethiopia for the home market, about a quarter of them cars. The numbers of expensive imported models on the roads is also rising as a new middle class emerges.

“My brother-in-law owned a Beetle and I learned to drive with it when I was a young student,” said Workineh Kebede, 41, a businessman in the capital.

“I like them because they are so easy to drive. So I bought it because of my love for them since that time. It is not for economic reasons – I could afford to buy other cars.”

Read the full article and see photos »


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Africa Launches Free-Trade Zone

The IMF described the free-trade zone as a potential “economic game changer” of the kind that has boosted growth in Europe and North America. (Photo: AU summit in Niger on June 7th, 2019 where Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters/Reuters)

Reuters

Economic ‘Game Changer’? African Leaders Launch Free-Trade Zone

African leaders launched a continental free-trade zone on Sunday that if successful would unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.

After four years of talks, an agreement to form a 55-nation trade bloc was reached in March, paving the way for Sunday’s African Union summit in Niger where Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters and discussions were held on how exactly the bloc will operate.

It is hoped that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – the largest since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994 – will help unlock Africa’s long-stymied economic potential by boosting intra-regional trade, strengthening supply chains and spreading expertise.

“The eyes of the world are turned towards Africa,” Egyptian President and African Union Chairman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said at the summit’s opening ceremony.

“The success of the AfCFTA will be the real test to achieve the economic growth that will turn our people’s dream of welfare and quality of life into a reality,” he said.

Africa has much catching up to do: its intra-regional trade accounted for just 17% of exports in 2017 versus 59% in Asia and 69% in Europe, and Africa has missed out on the economic booms that other trade blocs have experienced in recent decades.

Economists say significant challenges remain, including poor road and rail links, large areas of unrest, excessive border bureaucracy and petty corruption that have held back growth and integration.

Members have committed to eliminate tariffs on most goods, which will increase trade in the region by 15-25% in the medium term, but this would more than double if these other issues were dealt with, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates.

The IMF in a May report described the free-trade zone as a potential “economic game changer” of the kind that has boosted growth in Europe and North America, but it added a note of caution.

“Reducing tariffs alone is not sufficient,” it said.

Read more »


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In Era of Reform, Ethiopia Still Reverts to Old Tactics to Censor Press (CPJ)

Ethiopians read newspapers in Addis Ababa on June 24. Following what the government refers to as a failed attempted coup, access to the internet was cut and journalists were arrested. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

CPJ

By Muthoki Mumo/CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative

On June 22, Ethiopia was plunged into an internet blackout following what the government described as a failed attempted coup in the Amhara region. In the aftermath at least two journalists were detained under the country’s repressive anti-terror law, part of an uptick in arrests that CPJ has noted in the country since May.

While internet shutdowns and anti-terror laws being turned against journalists are nothing new in Ethiopia, their use in recent weeks is in stark contrast to the Ethiopia that welcomed the international media community for World Press Freedom Day celebrations in May and whose prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has been fêted as taking bold steps in opening up the space for a free press.

Yared Hailemariam, the executive director of the Swiss-based Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, described the June 22 shutdown to CPJ as “a very wrong and old strategy of the government.” But it wasn’t the only blackout last month. The country was hit by intermittent network disruptions affecting internet and SMS services between June 11 and June 18, according to the Open Observatory of Network Interference, a global open sourcing network for tracking blocks. Several outlets, including Bloomberg and CNN, said speculation inside Ethiopia was that authorities cut internet access in those instances to prevent students cheating during examinations.

Alongside the blackouts, in the past two months authorities also arrested several journalists and, on July 8, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Defense said in a press conference that it planned to file charges against “individuals and media creating distrust between the public and the army,” the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported.

Read more »


Related:
Abiy should stick to his liberal instincts

Meet Daniel Bekele: The New Chief at Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

Ethiopia Coup Attempt Heightens Risk of Violent Balkan-style Split

Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

Ethiopian Diplomat: ‘Power in Ethiopia to Come Through Voting, Not Violence’

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

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Ethiopia Lifts Power Rationing for Homes

Fana quoted Seleshi Bekele, the minister for water and electricity, saying the changes were prompted by an increase in water levels at the country's Gibe 3 dam. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Reuters

Ethiopia Lifts Power Rationing After Water Levels Rise

Ethiopia on Monday lifted measures rationing electricity for homes and companies after a rise in water levels at hydroelectric dams, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting said.

Fana quoted Seleshi Bekele, the minister for water and electricity, saying the changes were prompted by an increase in water levels at the country’s Gibe 3 dam.

Seleshi had said in May when announcing the rationing that the drop in water levels at Gibe 3 dam had led to a deficit of 476 megawatts, more than a third of the country’s electricity generation of 1,400 MW.

Load shedding temporarily reduces supply of power to an area of the grid when demand exceeds its supply.

Fana quoted Seleshi as saying power to the grid was also expected to increase when electricity from another dam, the Genale Dawa 3, is inaugurated next month. The dam has an installed capacity of 254 MW.

Under the rationing programme announced in May, domestic consumers faced blackouts for several hours each day, while cement and steel firms had to operate fewer shifts due to the cuts, Seleshi said at the time.


Related:
Ethiopia to Issue Two Telecom Licences

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Oklahoma State University Renews Bond with Haramaya University in Ethiopia

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis meets with Haramaya University officials in Ethiopia during its commencement ceremony on Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

The Oklahoman

Across the globe, standing before a room of foreign graduates, Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis could see the fruits of a program his college helped plant.

Hargis delivered the commencement address Saturday to Haramaya University in Ethiopia, addressing the more than 4,000 graduates earning degrees in agriculture, animal science and plant science.

“OSU has a lot of history in Ethiopia,” Hargis said. “Very excited to be a part of continuing that.”

Hargis is the first Oklahoma State president to visit the Ethiopian school in more than 60 years, renewing a bond between the two institutions that started in the years after World War II.

Established in 1952, Alemaya College of Agriculture (now called Haramaya University), was part of the vision of President Harry S. Truman as part of the Point Four Program, designed to build relationships with countries in Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East, while assisting them in agriculture and technological innovations.

Truman believed it was America’s duty to build up allies in the wake of World War II.

“What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing,” Truman said about the Point 4 program. “All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a constructive program for the better use of the world’s human and natural resources.”

Truman tasked Henry G. Bennett, OSU’s president, to help bring modern farming and ranching techniques to Ethiopia.

With the help of the agricultural experts at Oklahoma State, Bennett established schools in Ethiopia to teach the basics of crop management and rotation.

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie then returned the favor with a visit to Stillwater and Oklahoma State in 1954, marking the first time a foreign head of state had visited Oklahoma.

Clyde Kindell, who served as both an instructor and then as president of the college in Ethiopia, said his eight years in the country were life changing.

“If you establish friendship among the Ethiopians, they will never forget it,” Kindell said. “We have evidence to this day that there’s many Ethiopians in Ethiopia now that you mention Oklahoma State University and they remember it with fond memories.”

At an event last year, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie of Ethiopia, the great-grandson of Emperor Selassie, visited as OSU honored Kindell and four other professors for their work in the African nation.

“OSU’s involvement in the Point Four program in Ethiopia remains an important milestone in the university’s emergence as a truly global institution,” said Randy Kluver, the dean of OSU’s School of Global Studies and Partnerships.

Hargis’ trip to the Horn of Africa is part of a renewed effort on behalf of Oklahoma State and Haramaya to re-establish a strong connection between the two institutions.

Officially, Oklahoma State’s aid for the college ended in the late ‘60s, but earlier this year both schools pledged to reforge the relationship.


Related:

Photos: Emperor Haile Selassie visiting Oklahoma in 1954:

At Oklahoma State University Dr. Clyde Kindell Honored for Service to Ethiopia

Reflection: The 60th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Visit to OSU

Mel Tewahade Honored at Oklahoma State University

Point Four: A Film About Haramaya University

Letter From Harar: Dr. Clyde Kindell’s ‘Fond Memories of Ethiopia’ — Photos

Haile Selassie in America: Q & A with Professor Ted Vestal

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Ethiopia to Issue Two Telecom Licences

Finance Minister Eyob Tekalign Tolina told Reuters that Ethiopia will grant two telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies and a minority stake in Ethio Telecom. (Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopia will award two telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies, a senior official told Reuters on Friday, in the first detailed formal announcement of the government’s plans for opening one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets.

The government will also offer a minority stake in Ethio Telecom, the monopoly operator, and foreign firms will be invited to bid.

“We have announced the market structure as ‘two plus one’,” State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina told Reuters by telephone, referring to the two licences and stake in Ethio Telecom.


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Healing Ethiopian Anger – Jerusalem Post

Protesters stand opposite police during a protest for the death of 18-year old Solomon Tekah of Ethiopian descent, after he was shot by police, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 2, 2019. (photo: REUTERS)

The Jerusalem Post

EDITORIAL – JULY 5, 2019

Israeli leaders and society in general understand that there are problems that we must address, and also help heal the anger among victims in the Ethiopian-Israeli community.

Protests erupted across Israel this week by Israelis from the Ethiopian community. Demonstrators blocked intersections. Some of the protests descended into tragic clashes with police in which more than 60 protesters were arrested and 47 officers injured. There are fears the protests will continue. Now is the time to reach out and heal the wounds and embrace each other.

These are not the scenes anyone in Israel wants to see, either members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community who have suffered racism in the past, or police and others caught in the traffic jams that surrounded the protests. The protests were triggered by the shooting of 19-year old Solomon Tekah in a suburb of Haifa. He was killed after an altercation with an off-duty policeman, the circumstances of which are under investigation.

The wider context, and the reason that people poured into the streets in anger, is that four years after similar nation-wide anti-racism protests in April 2015, there is a feeling among many Ethiopian-Israelis that the systemic issues youth face are still not being addressed. In April 2015, an Israeli soldier named Damas Pakedeh was stopped by police while riding his bicycle. An altercation ensued. At the time, the highest levels of government, from the president to the prime minister, sought to reach out to Pakedeh and the community and assure them that the incident was not consistent with the values of the Israel Police, and that they wanted a society in which people are not accosted for the color of their skin…

Israeli leaders and society in general understand that there are problems of racism that we must address, and also help heal the anger among victims in the Ethiopian-Israeli community. President Reuven Rivlin said we must stop and think how to continue. “Let us sit together in peace.” Articles in the media said it is important that the government addresses anger over discrimination by police. An officer should think twice before pulling his or her weapon.

Read the full editorial at jpost.com »


Ethiopian-Israelis Protest for 3rd Day After Fatal Police Shooting


The man who was killed, Solomon Tekah, 18, arrived from Ethiopia with his family seven years ago. On Sunday night, he was with friends in the northern port city of Haifa, outside a youth center he attended. An altercation broke out, and a police officer, who was out with his wife and children, intervened. (Photo: Israeli security forces detained a protester at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Wednesday/Getty Images)

The New York Times

JERUSALEM — Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters took to the streets across the country on Wednesday for a third day of protests in an outpouring of rage after an off-duty police officer fatally shot a black youth, and the Israeli police turned out in force to try to keep the main roads open.

The mostly young demonstrators have blocked major roads and junctions, paralyzing traffic during the evening rush hour, with disturbances extending into the night, protesting what community activists describe as deeply ingrained racism and discrimination in Israeli society.

Scores have been injured — among them many police officers, according to the emergency services — and dozens of protesters have been detained, most of them briefly. Israeli leaders called for calm; fewer protesters turned out on Wednesday.

“We must stop, I repeat, stop and think together how we go on from here,” President Reuven Rivlin said on Wednesday. “None of us have blood that is thicker than anyone else’s, and the lives of our brothers and sisters will never be forfeit.”…

On Tuesday night, rioters threw stones and firebombs at the police and overturned and set fire to cars in chaotic scenes rarely witnessed in the center of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

After initially holding back, the police fired stun grenades, tear gas and hard sponge bullets and sent in officers on horseback, prompting demonstrators to accuse them of the kind of police brutality that they had turned out to protest in the first place.

The man who was killed, Solomon Tekah, 18, arrived from Ethiopia with his family seven years ago. On Sunday night, he was with friends in the northern port city of Haifa, outside a youth center he attended. An altercation broke out, and a police officer, who was out with his wife and children, intervened.

The officer said that the youths had thrown stones that struck him and that he believed that he was in a life-threatening situation. He drew his gun and said he fired toward the ground, according to Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopian-Israeli teen shot by cop laid to rest amid cries for justice (The Times of Israel)

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Meet Daniel Bekele: The New Chief at Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

Daniel Bekele is the new Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Previously he served as a senior Advisor at Amnesty and as the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in New York. (Photo: by Patricia Williams)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Daniel Bekele, formerly a Senior Advisor at Amnesty International and the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in New York, has been appointed as the new head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called Daniel a “seasoned human rights advocate and lawyer” congratulating him following his appointment by parliament on Tuesday. In a Twitter post Abiy also noted that “independent, credible and strong democratic institutions play a vital role in ensuring multiparty democracy and respect for human rights.” Daniel replaces the outgoing Commissioner Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher.

Prior to his experience at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch “Daniel practiced law in Ethiopia as a partner at Abebe Worke & Associates,” according to his bio shared by HRW. “He served as the Legal Department Director as well as Secretary of the Board for United Insurance Co., and he managed Action Aid Ethiopia’s policy research and advocacy departments.”

HRW adds: “Daniel has extensively consulted with non-governmental organizations including Oxfam, ARTICLE 19, Freedom House, and PACT, as well as with USAID and the World Bank. He has worked in varying capacities with numerous civil society organizations, and led the national-level campaign for the Global Call to Action against Poverty. Daniel’s focus includes promoting African civil society organizations, human rights, and good governance. In the 2005 parliamentary elections in Ethiopia, Daniel was actively involved in promoting human rights, and independent election monitoring, as well as peace initiatives in the aftermath of the post-election crisis. However, he was arrested by the authorities and spent more than two years in prison. He was internationally recognized as a prisoner of conscience, and in 2009 received the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, and in 2010 was nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award and the Index Freedom of Expression Award. Daniel received a Bachelor’s in Law and a Master’s in Regional Development Studies from Addis Ababa University and a Master’s in Legal Studies from Oxford University, where he is completing a PhD in International Law.”


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FT on Liya Kebede’s Brand Lemlem

The supermodel implemented a sustainable approach while sponsoring her foundation for African women. (Photo: Founder Liya Kebede at Lemlem's Muya workshop in Addis Ababa/FT)

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Liya Kebede’s brand Lemlem offers Ethiopian craftsmanship that sells

When supermodel Liya Kebede was growing up in Addis Ababa, she wore comfortable Ethiopian clothing — ample dresses made from strips of woven cotton sewn together. But traditional clothes were beginning to disappear, replaced by the spread of western fast fashion and access to cheap second-hand garments.

Since 2007, her fashion label Lemlem has revived commercial interest in Ethiopian weaving, putting back on the map the artisanship that was at risk of falling into oblivion.

“I wanted to reinject an energy and fuel back into the artisans and into the artisanal industry,” Ms Kebede explains. “The idea is to inspire others to look at Africa as a source of high-end artisanal work, and not just be a place to which you outsource for cheap labour.”

Tailors all over the continent make clothes using traditional techniques, with patterns and styles that are often unique to their culture. But the arrival of faster production methods threatens this treasure trove of skills and traits, in Ethiopia and elsewhere.

“Few in the fashion industry thought it possible to ever use Africa’s traditional skills on a commercial scale,” she says. “We are showing local creators and local entrepreneurs [how] to invest in their own local skills and skill makers, and not just look to the outside.”

Although Lemlem, which means “blooming” in Amharic, shipped 35,000 items last year, 85 per cent of which were made in Ethiopia, Ms Kebede admits it is still “uncharted territory”.

Experienced suppliers do not exist in Ethiopia — each partnership must be built from scratch, workers need to be trained and exports are arduous.

Liya Kebede with Ethiopian artisans working on cotton garments © Gilles Bensimon

This results in long production times and expensive individual products — most of Lemlem’s dresses sell for between $250 and $450.

As the fashion world wrestles with questions of sustainability and wastage, Ms Kebede believes there are opportunities for African brands such as Lemlem, in creating a small number of “beautiful, unique” garments, for consumers who want fewer, better-made clothes.

“The whole world is thinking about excess in general, and in the fashion world there is so much of it,” she says.

Lemlem is now working with 300 artisans, up from 50 when it started, but it will not push for very high production volumes.

Read more »


Related:
Liya Kebede Looks Regal on Porter’s Summer Escape 2019 Covers

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Etenesh Tesfu: From Ethiopian Immigrant to Entrepreneur in Aurora, Colorado

Etenesh Tesfu at her 7-Eleven store in Aurora, Colorado. she and her husband Zek Tesfu, opened their second 7-Eleven franchise this week. (The Sentinel)

The Sentinel

AURORA | Etenesh Tesfu emigrated from Ethiopia in 2000 and got a job at an Aurora 7-Eleven. Now she owns one.

In fact, she and her husband Zek Tesfu, opened their second 7-Eleven franchise this week.

“It’s all about community,” said Zek. “You won’t believe how many people come and, like, try to meet us here.”

The Tesfu’s new store at 3800 Tower Road. in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, celebrated a grand opening with free small Slurpees, coffee and Big Gulps. There were discounted pizza slices and hot dogs and even games. Sponsors set up booths outside to greet customers, like Colorado Lottery, Monster Energy and KS1075. The Denver Broncos mascot Miles came to visit and take photos with families.

Etenesh worked her way up from cashier to assistant manager, to manager to 7-Eleven franchisee. The other location the couple owns is in Commerce City.

Jullian Garcia, 4-years-old, spent his summer morning and afternoon at the grand opening. His tongue turned blue from the blue raspberry Slurpee he sipped on. When he found out that there would be a new location, his father Joseph Garcia promised Jullian that he would take him to the event. According to Joseph, his son has always loved the place.

“So he was always saying ‘They’re gonna build my 7-Eleven,’” said Joseph. “He loves Slurpees, pizza, anything from 7-Eleven.”


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Samuelsson’s Audiobook ‘Our Harlem’

Our Harlem features interviews with folks like style icon Dapper Dan, veteran Harlem chef Charles Gabriel, and food historian Jessica Harris, along with a soundtrack as diverse as Red Rooster's clientele, and most importantly, Samuelsson's rhythmic, affable voice. (Getty Images)

Forbes

Spotlight: Forbes on Marcus Samuelsson’s Audiobook ‘Our Harlem’

Our Harlem opens on the sound of laughter.

You’re welcomed into the story, invited by the voices of the neighborhood. It seems intentional, significant, even, that Marcus Samuelsson’s jovial, hard-to-place voice is the third one to greet listeners on the recording. He wants you to know from the beginning that he’s telling this story, but it’s not a story about him.

Our Harlem is an Audible Original adaptation of Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Cookbook with a few vital differences. In the print version, he tells us about the history, culture, and food of the remarkable place he’s chosen to call home. In the audiobook, he takes you there.

Books are personal totems, little worlds unto themselves, but they cannot give you the mood and the music, the strong sense of place that’s possible on audio. By adapting it into an audiobook, Samuelsson has taken what was a brilliant cookbook with stories and transformed it into a vibrant story with recipes.

In letting the culinary instruction take a backseat, he focuses on Harlem itself. Our Harlem features interviews with folks like style icon Dapper Dan, veteran Harlem chef Charles Gabriel, and food historian Jessica Harris, along with a soundtrack as diverse as Red Rooster’s clientele, and most importantly, Samuelsson’s rhythmic, affable voice.

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In Texas, Father of Girl From Ethiopia Killed by Fleeing Driver Speaks Out

8-year-old Sesinna Kahsay was hit by a fleeing driver and killed while walking with her three brothers and two sisters in their new neighborhood in Fort Bend County, Texas on June 20, 2019, ABC reports. (Photo: ABC13)

ABC13

The father of the girl who was killed in a hit-and-run crash gave a tearful interview just days after his 8-year-old daughter died.

Sesinna Kahsay was hit while walking with her three brothers and two sisters on Bissonnet and Hodges Bend on June 20.

“We all lost her love. We all lost her uniqueness, her character,” Berhane Kahsay Asgedom told ABC13′s Steve Campion.

They were new to the neighborhood and were excited about seeing their new school.

Berhane said they moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia three years ago. Before that, they spent 10 years in a refugee camp there.

Berhane said now only faith can pull him through the sudden death of his daughter.

“I know she’s going to go to heaven because of our faith in Jesus Christ,” Berhane

The woman accused in the hit-and-run, 39-year-old Angela Smith, was arrested and charged on Friday.

A woman accused in a hit-and-run crash that killed an 8-year-old girl in Fort Bend County will face upgraded charges.

She did not answer questions as deputies walked her to a patrol car. Sheriff Troy Nehls said during her interview that Smith had little emotion.

“She has not asked about the status of the person she struck. Very little sympathy and quite honestly, very little remorse,” Nehls said in a Friday afternoon news conference.

Twelve minutes after allegedly hitting Sessina, she rear-ended another vehicle. That driver took a picture that helped deputies identify Smith. They say her family led them to her and her car at Edgewood Park in southeast Houston.

ABC13 was there when they took her in. Nehls said she eventually told them why she left.

“The reason she left the scene, she didn’t stop is because she was scared,” Nehls said. “She had a suspended driver’s license, but she knew she hit somebody.”

Her car’s driver’s side windshield was shattered. The car’s hood was dented. Investigators say the child flew 20 feet on impact.

The victim was crossing Bissonnet at the crosswalk with her brother and sister. Deputies say Smith ran the stop sign and hit the girl.

“All of a sudden I heard my neighbor saying, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’” Bolanle Awoniyi said.

Awoniyi called 911. She says the little girl had a faint pulse when paramedics arrived.

The child was pronounced dead Saturday evening.

A GoFundMe account has been launched to help the Kahsay family pay for Sessina’s funeral.

Smith was originally charged with failure to stop and render aid, a 3rd degree felony with bond set at $40,000.

Her charges were updated Sunday to felony failure to stop and render aid in the second degree. Smith’s bond was increased to $100,000.

Her now-deleted social media accounts show her with children.

In 2008, Smith was convicted on marijuana possession in Harris County.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe account has been made for Sesinna’s funeral expenses. You can make a donation through here.


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Q&A: The Failed Power Grab in Ethiopia

Ethiopian diplomat Samia Zekaria tells Al Jazeera that the attempted power grab in Ethiopia this week "came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms" undertaken under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to power in April last year. (Photo: Reuters)

Al Jazeera

Q&A: ‘Power in Ethiopia to come through voting, not violence’

A failed coup bid last weekend in Ethiopia’s Amhara region was orchestrated by people seeking to forcefully seize power against the will of the population, the Ethiopian ambassador to Qatar has said, adding that the situation has now returned to normal.

In an interview with Al Jazeera this week, Samia Zekaria said the attempted power grab “came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms” undertaken by the government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to power in April last year.

Ethiopia’s government accused General Asamnew Tsige of masterminding two separate attacks on June 22 in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa that killed several people, including the president of the Amhara region and the national army’s chief of staff. The government referred to the killings in Amhara as an attempted coup. Asamnew was shot dead on Monday by security forces.

Al Jazeera spoke to Zekaria, who assumed the position of Ethiopia’s ambassador in Qatar in February, about the recent instability in Ethiopia, the state of human rights in the country and its mediating efforts in neighbouring Sudan. The interview below has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Al Jazeera: What is the current mood in the country following last weekend’s events?

Samia Zekaria: The people of Ethiopia want peace. The coup attempt came completely unexpectedly given the ongoing political and democratic reforms undertaken by the government.

It is a national tragedy. People are condemning what has happened all across the country. Power in Ethiopia will come through the ballot box, not through violence.

Al Jazeera: Many have attributed the recent violence to ethnic tensions. Do you think Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has managed to help defuse ethnic tensions in Ethiopia?

Zekaria: Ethiopia is a country of diversity in terms of religion, language, ethnicity and culture but known for centuries to live together peacefully.

There are more than 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Some have tried to use the differences such as religion and ethnicity to cause trouble and conflict. I believe these tensions will settle down as time goes by.

The recent coup attempt was orchestrated by those who want to acquire power forcefully against the will of the people and in an unconstitutional way. The situation has been normalised now.

Read more »


Related:
Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed, 182 Others Arrested


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

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In Sacramento, California, Fire at Ethiopian Restaurant Queen Sheba Deemed Arson

The owner of the Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento, California that was damaged by a suspicious fire earlier this week has confirmed in a Facebook update that investigators are now pursuing the fire as an arson. (Photo: sacramento cbslocal screenshot)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 26th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Earlier this week in Sacramento, California local media had reported a suspicious fire that had damaged the city’s long-standing Ethiopian Restaurant, Queen Sheba, in the wee hours of Monday morning.

The owner, Zion Taddese, had told The Sacramento Bee newspaper that she was not sure if it was a hate crime or what the motivations may have been, but she “received a call from the Sacramento Fire Department at 4:30 a.m. and first thought it was a kitchen fire. But she said security footage provided by a neighboring business on Broadway showed a person driving up and intentionally starting the fire.”

Zion confirmed in a follow up Facebook update shared yesterday that investigators are now pursuing the fire as an arson.

“It has been confirmed that the Fire Inspector is pursuing this as an arson fire based on all evidence that has been collected — The implications of which are uncertain at this time,” she said. “We do not know the reasons behind this attack, but knowing that the authorities are handling matters has been reassuring.” She added: “We are holding ourselves together for now and awaiting the outcome.”

As the NBC-affiliated media outlet KCRA-TV noted: “flames burned the front of the building, and smoke damaged the inside. Firefighters were able to put out the fire about a minute after arriving at the scene. Surveillance video from a pawn shop next door appears to show someone pulling up to the restaurant, intentionally setting the fire and then driving away. Fire officials said they have the surveillance video.”

Regarding when Queen Sheba may return back to business Zion said:”More details will follow shortly on our re-opening… as the institutions coordinate their red tape, the haze of after-fire bureaucracy is beginning to clarify some matters. Stand by for more information.”


Related:

Sacramento Bee: Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine catches fire in possible arson

Fire Damages Ethiopian Restaurant

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More People To Be Employed In Ethiopia As Coca Cola Expands Market

The investment by Coca-Cola Company, an American multinational corporation, includes the building of a new factory in Sebeta that's expected to be the biggest plant for coca cola in Ethiopia. (Photo: Coca Cola New PET bottling plant, Addis Ababa/Dubber Consulting)

WeeTracker

For the past few years, Ethiopia has continuously attracted investments. Even despite the political ups and downs, the country’s foreign direct investment has been on an upward trajectory.

Ethiopia attracted USD 3.75 Bn worth of investments in the 2017/18 fiscal year. The country now aims to achieve USD 5.1 Bn in the current financial year.

Experts have attributed the positive growth to extensive infrastructural development and friendly government policies and strategies.

The resource-rich country has put strategic measures in place in an attempt to woo investors to pump money in their economy. A noteworthy thing they did is come up with an online investment guide.

The Sahle-Work Zewde-led country launched a web-based investment promotion tool in last year December that seeks to help investors discover opportunities in the country, business costs, key procedures and laws they may need to know before committing their money.

Hardly a year after they unveiled the investment promotion tool, the country has bagged a deal that will see USD 300 Mn pumped into their economy for the coming five years.

The investment is by Coca-Cola Company, an American multinational corporation. The company has made the announcement as they strategise on expanding.

The investment is part of a current project that the soft drink manufacturer is running where a new plant will be established at a cost USD 70 Mn. The new Coca-Cola Factory will be located in Sebeta and is expected to be the biggest plant for coca cola in Ethiopia.

Reportedly, the factory that will sit on a 14.3 hectares of land is set to be finalized early next year. It will have a manufacturing capacity of 70,000 cases per day.

The Sebeta plant will be Coca-Cola’s fourth factory in Ethiopia. The company has plans of setting up a fifth one in Hawassa, capital of the Southern Regional State.

Since its entrance in the Ethiopian market 60 years ago, the beverage manufacturer has created jobs for 2,200 locals and aims to further create 2700 jobs as it commissions the Sebeta plant.

“Coca-Cola has been present in Ethiopia for 60 years and we are proud to be associated with its growth.

“We plan to invest further and have also set some ambitious targets and goals around empowering women and youth, water conservation and access and management of plastic waste,” said Phillipine Mtikitiki General Manager for East & Central Africa.

Burno Pietracci, general manager of the East and Central African Franchise noted that the new investment also seeks to promote Ethiopia as a destination for other potential foreign investors.


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Slate on Ethiopia’s Displacement Crisis

Ethiopia’s current situation brings to mind Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous warning that the most dangerous moment for a government is when it starts to reform. (Photo: A group of internally displaced people waits for aid distribution near shelters at Qercha village on May 20 in southern Ethiopia/ by Yonas Kiros/Getty Images)

Slate Magazine

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

The world’s largest new population of displaced people results from a conflict that has received shockingly little international attention: More than 1.5 million people were displaced by violence in Ethiopia last year, nearly all of them internally. This increase doubled the total number of displaced people in the country.

The fact is surprising in part because Ethiopia is enjoying a period of unusually good publicity. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took over in April 2018, has earned international praise for an ambitious reform agenda that has included freeing thousands of political prisoners, reining in the country’s security services, lifting a state of emergency and restrictions on the media, and resolving a long-running border conflict with neighboring Eritrea. But Monday’s headlines, which saw the killing of a general accused of plotting a coup attempt, suggest the government’s position is fragile. Ethiopia’s current situation brings to mind Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous warning that the most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it starts to reform.

Now that the government is in a moment of transition, ethnic conflict is surfacing. Much of the worst of the crisis has occurred in the country’s southern region, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by fighting between the Oromo and Gedeo ethnic groups. Abiy is Oromo, and many of his reforms are meant to address the marginalization of several ethnic groups, including his own. But observers say the reforms have emboldened communal violence by Oromos. Tensions between the two groups are not new but have intensified in recent years due in part to competition over scarce farmland and resources. (Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world.) Lynchings, rapes, and beheadings have been reported.

Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian political scientist at Georgia Gwinnett College, said in a phone interview that he doesn’t believe Abiy’s government has stoked the violence but said that the prime minister has failed to adequately address it: “Ethiopia is becoming more fragile in that, when you look at the federal government’s inability to curb the violence.”

Many experts see the current crisis as the consequence of the Ethiopian government’s decision in the mid-1990s to set up a system of ethnic federalism, giving groups a greater degree of political autonomy within nine ethnic-based regional states. The system was meant to quell conflict in a country with nearly 80 ethnic groups. The problem, as Gedamu put it, is that “you cannot give every ethnic group its own state, so you have to somehow make it work. The political parties have also become ethnic in nature. It led to the growth of so many nationalist movements. Every political and economic grievance is voiced by ethnic parties or movements.”

Read the full article at slate.com »


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Ethiopia Finally Has Its Internet Back

Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s sole provider, restored service Tuesday after intermittent outages left most of the country’s 16 million internet users unable to access the web or social media for the past week. (AP photo)

VOA

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON – This report originated in the Horn of Africa service. Alula Kebede contributed to the story.

After days without access, internet users in Ethiopia can once again get online.

Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s sole provider, restored service Tuesday after intermittent outages left most of the country’s 16 million internet users unable to access the web or social media for the past week.

The telecom giant, also the country’s main mobile phone provider, acknowledged the outage and apologized for inconveniencing their customers, waiving monthly fees and extending times to use prepaid plans.

The shutdown also affected access to Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging app many Ethiopians use on their mobile phones.

NetBlocks, an independent civil society group that tracks internet shutdowns around the globe, first identified the outage in Ethiopia June 11 and recorded episodic starts and stops since then.

Neither the government nor Ethio Telecom has confirmed why the shutdown happened, but some have speculated that officials cut the internet to prevent high school students from cheating on a national exam.

In 2016 and 2017, the government shut off the internet to block the leak of stolen exam answers.

Tilaye Gete, Ethiopia’s minister of education, told VOA Amharic his ministry did not order the shutdown. “It is not the work of the Ministry of Education but the work of Ethio Telecom, and I want to confirm that the exams weren’t stolen,” he said.

Tilaye added that the federal government has taken into custody more than 100 people accused of distributing stolen exam answers. About 1.5 million 10th grade students took the exam at 2,800 testing centers, he said.

Similar shutdowns in Ethiopia have also occurred during protests and civil unrest, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to a free and open society, despite rhetoric vaunting the benefits of democratic participation.

“It worries me that the government response for every problem has become shutting down the internet without any due process,” Atnafu Berhane, an Ethiopian blogger and a co-founder of the Zone 9, a collective of outspoken political bloggers, told VOA in an email response.

“People have the right to access to information, and the government is taking away that right from the people,” he added.

Investors also worry that frequent shutdowns could ensnarl Ethiopia’s efforts to open and expand its economy — one of Africa’s fastest growing. Any businesses that rely on internet access will experience disruptions with a shutdown, especially with country-wide blackouts like the most recent outage.

Internet disruptions have a tangible financial impact, according to NetBlocks. In Ethiopia, a complete shutdown costs the country about $4.5 million a day, the group estimates.

Internet access in Ethiopia remains low, with just 15% of the population benefiting from regular, reliable access. On the whole, Africa is one of the least-connected places on Earth, with a continent-wide access rate of 37%. But some countries fare better. In Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, 56% of people have reliable access. In Kenya, the most-connected country, the number stands at 83%.


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CFR on Ethiopia’s Transition & Challenges

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is a United States nonprofit think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. (Photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responds to questions at the Parliament in Addis Ababa, on February 1, 2019/ Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Council on Foreign Relations

U.S. Should Acknowledge Critical Challenges for Ethiopia’s Transition

Anyone fishing for a good news story out of Africa recently, and rightly, has celebrated Ethiopia, where dynamic young Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has dramatically opened political space, departing from decades of repressive, tightly controlled government. Abiy is a charismatic whirlwind of activity—making peace with neighboring Eritrea, working to open the Ethiopian economy to new opportunities for growth, and even mediating between protestors and securocrats in Sudan. Anyone who cares about stability and prosperity in Africa, and anyone who understands how important African partnership will be to tackle the foreign policy challenges of the future, is pulling for him to succeed. Just days ago, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg wove Ethiopia into a major foreign policy address, citing the country as an example of “what it looks like when hope triumphs over hostility.”

But Ethiopia faces real and urgent challenges, and it is critical that well-wishers not ignore them. Abiy has lifted the lid off of a pressure cooker—one his predecessors held in place with sometimes brutal force—and in some cases the result has not been euphoria, but rather messy, complex eruptions of communal violence. Ethiopia’s story is not a simple one, and the millions internally displaced over the past year, the worrying reports of forced returns, and the potential for 2020 elections to be a flashpoint should focus the minds of policy-makers around concrete ways to provide support to what is sure to be a long and complex transition.

Ethiopia is one of the world’s dozen most populous countries, characterized by tremendous ethnic and linguistic diversity. Over 60 percent of the population is under the age of twenty-five. Despite real gains over the past years, many Ethiopians still live in severe poverty, and official literacy rates hover at around half of the population. It is not an easy country to govern in any circumstance. Against that backdrop, and at a moment of profound change, in which the role of the state and indeed the unifying national idea is being rethought, the possibility of more instability is very real.

The Unites States and others ought to be more ambitious in finding new ways to support the resilience of governing institutions, mechanisms for reconciling longstanding grievances, and the capacity of a government inclined to respect the civil and political rights of citizens to also deliver services and opportunity. Countless talented and patriotic Ethiopians from around the country and across the diaspora have mobilized, sometimes upending their own lives, to lend support to their government’s liberalizing project. They know this will not be a year’s work—it is a generational project. A clear sense of U.S. strategic interests indicates that it is one that deserves more of our own attention and support.


Related:
In Ethiopia, Former U.S. Diplomats See Promise in Reform (U.S. Institute of Peace)
Free Media and New Challenges in Ethiopia
Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

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PM Abiy’s Father Ahmed Ali Dies at 105

Ahmed Ali, father of Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed, passed away on Monday, June 17th at the age of 105, according to the state affiliated Fana Broadcasting. (Photo: @fanatelevision/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 18th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s father Ahmed Ali died Monday afternoon, state media reports. He was 105 years old.

According to Fana Broadcasting the PM’s father passed away while receiving treatment at a hospital in Jima.

Citing the Agaro town government communication affairs office in Jima, Fana reports that Mr. Ahmed will be buried on Tuesday.


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In Ethiopia, Former U.S. Diplomats See Promise in Reform (U.S. Institute of Peace)

This week the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC held a panel featuring former American diplomats to Ethiopia to "identify what lessons are relevant to engagement with Ethiopia today." The event was held on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at USIP. (Photo: From left: Moderator Aly Verjee, Senior Africa Program Advisor at USIP, Ambassador David Shinn, Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal, Ambassador Marc Baas and Ambassador Donald Booth. (U.S. Institute of Peace)

USIP

As the country’s new, young leader spurs dramatic change, serious challenges lie ahead, say former American ambassadors.

In Ethiopia, political prisoners are free and the security services revamped. Women now comprise half the cabinet, and serve as ceremonial head of state, chief justice, and chair of the electoral commission. Significant steps have been taken toward resolving a 20-year conflict with neighboring Eritrea and reforms to unleash the economy—already one of Africa’s fastest growing—are ostensibly on the way. Elections are slated for next year. Under Abiy Ahmed, the nation’s popular new prime minister, Ethiopia is changing in ways long desired by American policymakers, agreed four former U.S. ambassadors to the country. Yet the most the U.S. is likely to do is offer encouragement and a bit of support, they said.

In the past 15 months, Abiy has introduced a “blitzkrieg of reforms,” said Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Institute of Peace senior advisor on Africa, in remarks opening the ambassadors’ discussion at the Institute. After 25 years of rule by the coalition of parties known as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the 42-year old reformist politician has lifted the state of emergency under which it governed and promised to break up and privatize the inefficient state-owned holding companies that strangled Ethiopia’s economy, Carson said.

Despite the positive trends, the ambassadors, whose experience in Ethiopia spanned more than 20 years, concurred with Carson that history in the ethnically divided country has not been erased. The concerns for the future include the possibility that Abiy’s reforms are exacerbating communal tensions, whether the pace of transition is faster than the public can absorb and whether the country is capable of conducting free, fair and peaceful elections in 2020, he said.

Many of the themes implicated in the current round of reforms confronted Ethiopia during the ex-ambassadors’ service in the country, said Aly Verjee, the discussion’s moderator—democratization, elections, economic reforms, political restructuring, federalism, and relations with Eritrea.

“This is not to say Ethiopia faces an exact replica of the past,” said Verjee, a USIP visiting expert in the politics of East Africa. “But it is instructive to see how they, and the United States, dealt with these issues.”

Ethiopian Experience

To illustrate the complexity of Ethiopia, Verjee asked the ex-diplomats what they wish they had known before taking their posts in Addis Ababa and what they learned on the ground.

For Marc Bass, who arrived in 1991, just weeks after the communist regime of dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was overthrown by the EPRDF, it was the depth of ethnic identity in regions that are “more like nation states.” The intensity of the divisions created a “zero sum politics where if you get something, I lose something.” Aurelia Brazeal, the ambassador from 2002-2005, said getting to know the Ethiopian diaspora would have helped with her mission, given the ex-patriates’ role in the country. As for surprises, David Shinn, who became ambassador in 1996, said he found “compromise came very hard to highlanders on both sides of the [Ethiopia-Eritrea] border. You just have to accept that.”

While Washington shows little interest in Africa at the moment, there are a few things the U.S. might do, realistically, over the next 12 to 18 months to aid the country’s democratic transition, Shinn said. It would start with moral and financial support for institutions that promote democracy including a free press, the electoral commission (which other donor countries are eager to assist) and civil society. The U.S. might also offer technical advice on moving quickly to replace the 2007 census with a new one to apportion representation, Shinn said.

“These are relatively small contributions to the problem,” he said. “In the final analysis the fix has to be Ethiopian.”

Election Prospects

While Shinn said he is far from convinced the country will be ready for elections on any level next year, neither can they be indefinitely put off. Hopeful signs include that Abiy is not using a weakening EPRDF to manipulate the electorate, said Donald Booth, who served from 2010-2013. Brazeal noted that the population is more literate than it was in 2005—the only previous competitive, if disputed, election in Ethiopia’s 2,000-year history—and much better informed through social media. Remote regions once virtually cut off from outside communications are now connected, Bass said. In addition, Abiy, who still rules by fiat, has promoted press freedom, a shift that the former diplomats agreed should help foster a more open electoral process.

The vigorous involvement of U.S., NGO and other national and international observers and mediators helped dampen violence and limit breakdown in the system in 2005, said Brazeal, the ambassador at the time. It did not restrain subsequent arrests, detentions and exiles, however. The EPDRF had been jolted by its failures in the election and was determined not to be surprised again, she said. “I don’t know if they’ve evolved,” she said. “I hope so.”

A Booming Economy

On the economic front, Ethiopia has indisputably evolved. Its broad-based growth is the fastest in the region, averaging 10.3 percent a year from 2006-2017 compared to a regional average of 5.4 percent, according to the World Bank. Still, the country’s approximately 105 million people—the second biggest population in Africa after Nigeria—remain among the continent’s poorest, with a per capita income of $783.

Lifting the country economically became the single-minded focus of Meles Zenawi and the EPDRF after they won elections in 2010 and felt securely in control, said Booth, the U.S. ambassador from 2010 to 2013. Their argument, Booth said, was that they needed one-party control to promote growth and create the middle class critical to developing a liberal democracy. They took the opportunity to mobilize the country to do something unthinkable in the past—build a dam on the Blue Nile with only Ethiopia’s own resources.

Structural Problems

Despite the growth, the economy still faces structural problems tied to the political system, Booth said. There are too many state-owned enterprises, too much involvement by the military through entities such as the Defense Forces-owned Metals and Engineering Corporation—which the government is now trying to break up—and massive projects by the sugar corporation that are huge money losers. Yet privatization faces a huge obstacle: No foreigner will invest in Ethiopian enterprises for domestic sales if they have no foreign exchange to repatriate profits. The ban on operation by foreign banks is a big disincentive for Western and Chinese companies, he said.

Further, the lack of industrial infrastructure creates the kind of difficulties Booth said a Turkish textile manufacturer had described to him: He had to bring in tradesmen to build the plant, import all his machinery, build a cardboard box plant for shipping and create his own bus system to get production workers to their jobs.

Perhaps the U.S. could provide some ideas on how to free the economy from monopolies and oligopolies, foster competition and allow Ethiopian entrepreneurship to flourish, Booth said.

“Today we see Abiy making all these changes and most of them we really like.” he said. “But we have to be a little cautious about how much advice they’ll take from outsiders. They are going to do it their own way.”

The former ambassadors touched on other topics critical to Ethiopia’s future:

On Rising Ethnic Tensions

Abiy’s steps to expand press freedom, free political prisoners, and give civil society and NGOs more latitude are positive, Shinn said, but it can also “take the lid off of the pot,” allowing tensions previously repressed by the security forces and government to boil over. At the local level particularly, ethnic relationships are getting out of control, creating conflict without regard to what the central government is doing or can do about it, he said. “Local and regional nationalism is rearing its head” in parts of the country, Booth added. Even some regional governments in the country’s federated system lack control over all of their territory, he said.

On the Peace Agreement with Eritrea

Abiy’s quick move to end hostile relations with Eritrea by ceding disputed territory is widely viewed as his most important foreign policy initiative. Its significance for the future is unclear however, Bass said. Eritrea’s leader Isaias Afwerki, who Bass dealt with frequently, is erratic and hard to predict.

From Isaias’s point of view, Abiy has sent “the hated Tigrayans off into exile,” Booth said, referring to the ethnic group that had dominated Ethiopia’s government, making him more open to rapprochement. But the border is closed again, he said, after tens of thousands of Eritreans crossed into Ethiopia, threatening to “empty the gulag” of one of the world’s most repressive regimes. While Isaias has improved his international standing, “maybe Abiy got played,” Booth speculated. Landlocked Ethiopia ideally wants access to Eritrean ports, but who will invest in roads, railroads and port development in a country where the leader might shut it all down over a perceived slight, he asked. As welcome as the peace deal is, it may not be the end of tensions between the two countries.

On Ethiopian Demographics

“Demographics is the future that has already happened,” Brazeal said. With 43 percent of its population less than 15 years old, an urbanizing Ethiopia faces the urgent need to create millions of jobs annually, she said. Brazeal said she has been working on starting an American university in Africa, situated in Addis Ababa. It is critical to educate people for jobs in a changing economy as opportunities for emigration shrink, curtailing a long running trend in Ethiopia.


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Q&A: Former Zone 9 Blogger Abel Wabella

Abel Wabella, founding members of Zone 9, is Managing Editor of Addis Zeybe. (Image: @Abelpoly Twitter)

FairPlanet

ABEL WABELA: PAYING THE PRICE FOR SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER IN ETHIOPIA

He has been described by his peers as strong willed and a true patriot, but for Ethiopia’s Abel Wabela the journey and clamour for respect of rule of law has seen him pay the ultimate price.

He is one of the founding members of Zone 9, a group formed to advocate for social justice, good governance and protection of human rights. Abel and his colleagues were arrested and charged with terrorism and were tortured which led to Abel becoming partially deaf.

In an exclusive interview with FairPlanet, Abel recalls the harrowing experience at one of the country’s most notorious torture chambers, the resolve to fight on and the future of Zone 9.

FairPlanet: How did the journey to being one of the most vocal groups in Ethiopia on social and civic issues begin and what have been the key highlight of that journey?

Abel: After the general elections of 2005, the Ethiopian government launched a sustained crackdown on opposition, civil society groups and journalists with repressive laws that sought to cripple freedom of press and curtail opposition voices.

As young people we were opposed to this move and because government had blocked media from passing information to masses on its atrocities, we went online to share this information. Many young people were doing it. I had my platform which was very critical of the regime. I started following what others were writing and contacted some of the other bloggers. We formed an online community that strengthened our resolve and eventually started meeting in person.

We were nine of us, six bloggers and three journalists. We started attending political functions and visiting political prisoners. As we continued to find unity of purpose in what we were doing, we decided to form an association that would bolster our passion and that is how Zone 9 was born. We were from different professional backgrounds, I was working as a tool engineer at Ethiopian Airlines, my other colleagues were university lecturers, journalism and others in banking. We did blogging as a part-time activity.

Our political and activism work continued to inspire freedom of expression with even a political party for demonstrators formed to agitate for government’s respect of its people. They even used our hashtag and the story was picked by international media including Al Jazeera.

That is where our problems as Zone 9 started. The government started surveillance on every aspect of our lives from tapping our phones to trailing our family members. As the security situation worsened, people pleaded with us to seek political asylum abroad but we wondered what that would mean for all that we had worked for in the political space. We decided to stay on and wait for what would happen to us.

And the worst happened.

Yes, in April 2014, the government launched a massive crackdown where over 100 security men were deployed to hunt and arrest all political dissidents and that is how we were captured and put into one of the most notorious torture chambers called Maekelawi and charged with terrorism.

What formed the name Zone 9?

In the height of political persecutions in Ethiopia, journalists and other political prisoners were being incarcerated in an infamous state prison called Kaliti Maximum Security Prison which is divided into eight zones. We felt that the country had turned into another Zone where its citizens were held captive by the state. They needed liberation and that is how we ended up calling ourselves Zone9ers with our mantra being, ‘We blog because we care.’ We wanted to be the voice of the million voiceless Ethiopian citizens and we campaigning for rule of law and constitutionalism.

You and the rest of the Zone 9 members were convicted of various charges including terrorism. Tell us about the experience in prison and whether it shook or strengthened your resolve?

It was one of the most harrowing experiences of our lives. We underwent the most inhumane treatment anyone could imagine. They had some prepared confessions that they wanted us to sign admitting to terrorism and disturbing law and order. I blatantly refused to sign and that is when all hell broke loose. I was beaten with thick sticks and computer cables. The prison guards forced me to lay down and stamped on my entire body including my face with their boots. They continued beating me and hitting me and in the process seriously injured my left ear. To date I can no longer hear with my left ear. We were then charged in court and I remember how skewed the court proceedings were. I asked the judge why he wasn’t letting the accused defend themselves and I was given three months jailtime for contempt of court.

We were in prison for one and a half years before the judge dropped all charges saying the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to charge us with the said crimes. But the government didn’t want to let us free so the prosecutor appealed the judge’s ruling in the Supreme court and after one a half years of grueling court cases the Supreme court also threw out the case for lack of evidence.

What has life after release from incarceration been for the members? Are you still involved in blogging?

I went to my former employer Ethiopian Airlines who said they couldn’t employ me as I had been out of work for over six months. My work in blogging and political activism was widely known so the reason they never wanted me back is because they didn’t want to rub government the wrong way.

After taking a break for some time I managed to work for one of the leading publications in Ethiopia called Addis Fortune as new media editor a position that emboldened my zeal for freedom of expression. I then resigned to start my current media company called Addis Zeybe that seeks to highlight various political and social happenings in Ethiopia with a view to ensuring the country has an informed citizenry that understands their rights. The rest of the team has also been involved in running various civic and social ventures spanning civil society groups and political offices.

In November 2015 we were awarded the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Read more »


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Ethiopia Seeks New Image After Years of Media Repression (Video)

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

Spotlight: VOA’s Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards – In Pictures (TADIAS 2015)

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State Projects Leave Tens of Thousands of Lives in the Balance in Ethiopia – Study

US thinktank, the Oakland Institute, says that while the Ethiopian government has made considerable progress on human rights under prime minister Abiy Ahmed, it has yet to address the impact of state development plans on indigenous populations in the lower Omo valley. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

A giant dam and irrigated sugar plantations are “wreaking havoc” in southern Ethiopia and threaten to wipe out tens of thousands of indigenous peoples , a US-based thinktank has claimed.

The Oakland Institute says that while the Ethiopian government has made considerable progress on human rights under prime minister Abiy Ahmed, it has yet to address the impact of state development plans on indigenous populations in the lower Omo valley, where people face loss of livelihoods, starvation, and violent conflict .

Acute hunger is now widespread, the organisation said in a report, due to blockage of the Omo River by Gibe III, Africa’s tallest dam. Since late 2015, the dam has stopped the river’s annual flood, a natural event that the valley’s inhabitants have relied upon for centuries for farming. As a result, entire communities have been tipped into destitution.

Responding to the report, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s minister of water, irrigation and electricity , said that while the government accepts there are problems, “the points raised in the paper are not properly documented or balanced”.

Seleshi said solutions had been put in place to mitigate the impact of the dam, including small-scale irrigation and outgrower schemes.

According to the report, however, such promises have not materialised. Moreover, said the study, communities claim they were tricked into leaving their ancestral land in order to make way for sugar plantations built by the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation as part of its mammoth Omo-Kuraz sugar development project (OKSDP). The project, a 100,000 hectare (247,000 acre) irrigated agricultural scheme, is fed by the waters of the Omo.

Read more »


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Free Media and New Challenges in Ethiopia

Ethiopia jumped 40 places in last year's press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders, which noted that over 250 previously banned websites and blogs are now running. And for the first time in 15 years no journalists are being held in connection with their work. (Reuters)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

June 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Below is a recent video from Reuters highlighting the growing free media environment in Ethiopia as well as the new challenges facing journalists and other professionals in the field including the public’s right to receive factual, timely and balanced news information.

As reuters reports: “Ethiopia was once ranked as one of the worst places in Africa to work as a journalist. It’s now trying to become a model for press freedom in the region.”

Addis Abeba resident Benega Teene spoke to Reuters and shared that “it’s good to have two sides of a story we should encourage that,” and noting “there are those who publish unrealistic stories and photographs.” Benega adds: “Since the transition we now have a platform to entertain all sides of ideas whether good or bad.”

Tolera Fikru, Managing Director of OMN tells Reuters: “Most of the people who work in lower ranks of government have limited understanding of media. We encounter lots of public outcry and when we try to take up these issues with them they either tend to avoid us or fail to respond properly.” He added: “This is one of the emerging challenges we’re facing.”


Related:

Ethiopia: Are Anonymous Bloggers Journalists?

Spotlight: VOA’s Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia

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In Ethiopia, This Woman Gives Birth And Sits Exams 30 Minutes Later

Almaz Derese took three exams at the Karl Mettu hospital in western Ethiopia. (Photo: Illubabor Zone Communication Office)

BBC News

A woman in Ethiopia has taken her exams in a hospital bed just 30 minutes after giving birth.

Almaz Derese, 21, who is from Metu in western Ethiopia, had hoped to sit the tests before her baby was born, but the secondary school exams were postponed because of Ramadan.

She went into labour on Monday shortly before the first exam was due to start.

Ms Almaz said studying while pregnant was not a problem and she did not want to wait until next year to graduate.

She took her English, Amharic and maths secondary school exams in hospital on Monday and will sit her remaining tests at the exam centre over the next two days.


Armed police transport papers and guard exam centres in Ethiopia. (Illubabor Zone Communication Office)

Read more »


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Ethiopia Census Postponed Once More

(Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopia delays census again despite looming election

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s parliament postponed a national census for a second time on Monday, citing security concerns but potentially undermining logistics for the first election under reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopia is due to hold a national vote some time next year, and the census – already postponed once from 2017 – is a crucial step towards demarcating constituencies.

But parliamentarians in both houses voted overwhelmingly to delay the census again by a year, due to an upsurge in ethnic conflicts that has forced 2.4 million Ethiopians out of their homes, according to United Nations figures.

“Our people are still displaced in many parts of the country,” lawmaker Tesfaye Daba told Reuters. “Having this situation, I don’t think it wise to conduct the census this year.”

William Davison, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the decision would disrupt election logistics.

“Preparations for those polls are also behind schedule … this is therefore perhaps another indication that elections will be pushed back,” he said.

The next vote will test Abiy’s reformist agenda that has included ending hostilities with Eritrea, opening the economy to foreign investment, and freeing political prisoners.

Parliament also postponed to Thursday debate on a proposed law to liberalise the telecoms sector.


Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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What You May Have Missed: Ethiopian Scholars Discuss UN Peace Keeping

Left: Awol K. Allo is Lecturer in Law at Keele University in the UK. Right: Dr Mehari Taddele Maru is a Robert Schuman Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre in Italy. (Photos: LSE and MPC)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 7th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – In recognition of “International Day of UN Peacekeepers” last week Al Jazeera’s Inside Story TV program held a timely discussion highlighting how a budget crisis at the United Nations could undermine the missions carried out by the ‘Blue Helmets’ around the world including next door to Ethiopia in South Sudan and other neighboring countries.

Al Jazeera noted: “The UN Secretary-General says the peacekeeping budget is two billion dollars short because member states are not paying their share on time. The United States, the biggest contributor, owes more than one billion. Recent peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Africa have also been implicated in controversies. So, what can be done to improve the system of protecting the world’s most vulnerable?”

Among the guests invited to discuss this issue included Ethiopian scholars Awol K Allo, Lecturer in Law at Keele University in England, and Dr Mehari Taddele Maru, who is a Robert Schuman Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre in Italy. The program also included Mark Goldberg, the Editor of the UN and global affairs news website, UN Dispatch.

Watch: Who should pay for the world’s peacekeepers? | Inside Story


Related:

Ethiopian PM visits Sudan in bid to mediate crisis (AP)

Just in via Ethiopia Observer: An Ethiopian journalist who travelled to Canada for work disappeared

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The Obamas Sign Deal With Spotify to Produce and Host Exclusive Podcasts

Getty Images

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company has announced that it has signed a multi-year deal with Spotify to produce and host exclusive podcasts on their audio streaming platform.

The Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground, announced in a press release that under the agreement Michelle and Barack Obama will “develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, connecting them to listeners around the world on wide-ranging topics.”

“President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are two of the world’s most important voices and it is a privilege to be working with them to identify and share stories that will inspire our global audience, which looks to Spotify for unique, breakthrough content,” said Spotify Chief Content Officer, Dawn Ostroff. “Connecting people with original and thoughtful creators — especially those with the ability to highlight underrepresented and indispensable narratives — is at the core of our mission and we are thrilled that not only will the Obamas be producing content, but that they will be lending their voices to this effort.”

The Obamas signed a similar deal with Netflix last year to produce movies and TV shows.

“We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” President Obama said in a statement regarding the deal with Spotify. “It helps us build connections with each other and open ourselves up to new ideas. We’re excited about Higher Ground Audio because podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together.”

Michelle Obama added: “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to amplify voices that are too often ignored or silenced altogether, and through Spotify, we can share those stories with the world. Our hope is that through compelling, inspirational storytelling, Higher Ground Audio will not only produce engaging podcasts, but help people connect emotionally and open up their minds—and their hearts.”–


Related:

The Obamas Ink Deal With Spotify (Hollywood Reporter)

Photos: President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia – July 2015


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Ethiopia’s US Tour Operator Controversy

A tour group visits Debre Berhan Selassie Church, Gonder, Ethiopia. Photograph: (Getty Images)

The Guardian

LGBT tour operator faces death threats over Ethiopia trip

An LGBT tour operator has received death threats and hate messages on social media after launching a holiday to Ethiopia. Chicago-based Toto Tours’ 16-day trip to Ethiopia is due to take place at the end of October and includes religious sites such as the Debre Berhan Selassie in Gondar and the ancient cave monasteries in the mountains of Lalibela.

But religious groups in the country are urging the Ethiopian government to ban the company from visiting religious sites, warning that gay travellers could face violence.

Ethiopia has strict anti-gay laws, with homosexual acts punishable by up to 15 years in prison. According to Article 629 of the Ethiopian Criminal Code, this applies to both nationals and foreigners.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Dereje Negash, vice chairman of Sileste Mihret United Association, an Ethiopian Orthodox Church organisation, said that gay travellers with Toto Tours, “will be damaged, they could even die”, if they visit Ethiopia. “Toto Tours are wrong to plan to conduct tours in our religious and historical places,” he said.

Tagay Tadele of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia told news agency AFP, which has seven Islamic and Christian denominations as members, said: “[LGBT] tour programmes and dating programmes that try to use our historical sites and heritage should be immediately stopped by the Ethiopian government.”

Read more »


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New Generation Leads Ethiopia’s Ambitious Reform Drive (Financial Times)

New generation with international experience appointed to turn around tightly controlled, state-led economy. (Photo: © AFP)

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Ethiopia looks to young technocrats to lead ambitious reform drive

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has broken with tradition in Ethiopia by appointing young technocrats with international experience to important economic jobs as he seeks to turn the country’s tightly controlled, state-led economy into a competitive free market powered by private capital. 

The officials, including Eyob Tolina at the finance ministry, Abebe Abebayehu at the investment commission and Mamo Mihretu in the prime minister’s office, are leading the most ambitious aspects of Mr Abiy’s promised reforms, investors said. 

Since taking office a year ago, the reformist leader has promised to overhaul the Ethiopian economy and open previously blocked sectors, such as telecommunications and energy, to foreign investment. 

To succeed, his youthful disciples need to push reforms through Ethiopia’s sprawling bureaucracy and navigate conservative political officials in the ruling coalition, many of whom remain suspicious of relinquishing too much control of the economy after 28 years of state-led growth. 

For Mr Eyob, a former private equity executive and now state minister at the ministry of finance, the ruling party has no choice but to evolve. 

“We had public-led economic growth and it did run its course, it was obvious,” Mr Eyob told the Financial Times in an interview in Addis Ababa. “If you didn’t make some pragmatic decisions and shift the course, it would have been a full-blown crisis so you needed to avert that.” 

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Spotlight: Hailu Mergia at DC Jazz Festival

Hailu Mergia plays at The Hamilton on Sunday as part of the DC Jazz Festival. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Hailu Mergia left behind his days as a superstar in Ethiopia. Then the world rediscovered his mind-blowing music.

For 20 years, Hailu Mergia spent his days in a cab shuttling passengers to and from Dulles International Airport. In between fares, he’d pull over, pull out a keyboard and make music.

For most of that time, no one else heard the sounds that were coming out of his instrument.

“I was performing for myself — that’s the best way to say it,” Mergia says.

He wasn’t just a cabbie who played piano as a hobby — Mergia was an accomplished Ethiopian jazz musician, formerly of the Walias Band, who moved to D.C. in the early 1980s after the group toured the region. When the band broke up, he stuck around, recording the hypnotic “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument,” a 1985 album for which he acted as a one-man band, layering Rhodes piano, accordion and Moog synthesizer sounds. He gigged a little around the world and then, in 1991, stopped performing publicly and opened a restaurant.

“But I was practicing everywhere, all the time,” says Mergia, who is in his early 70s and lives in Fort Washington, Md.

In 2013, Brian Shimkovitz, who runs the blog-turned-record label Awesome Tapes From Africa, discovered Mergia’s album on cassette while in Ethiopia and rereleased it on his label the following year. Awesome Tapes went on to rerelease two more Mergia albums: “Wede Harer Guzo,” with the Dahlak Band, and “Tche Belew,” with the Walias Band. Both are heavy on keyboard and accordion work, blending funk and jazz in forward-thinking (at the time) ways that also recall Ethiopia’s past.

“When I started playing in the clubs, I was a singer and then I started playing accordion because accordion, back in the early ’60s in Ethiopia, was very popular — there was no organ,” Mergia says. “When the organ came in the mid-’60s, the accordion became a forgotten instrument — it was lost. So after so many years when I brought it back … along with the Moog, it was kind of like a different sound.”

Mergia is spending more time on the road — his trio plays The Hamilton on Sunday as part of the DC Jazz Festival — and he quit driving his cab in October.

Read more »


Related:
Listen to Hailu Mergia and The Walias Band playing – Tche Belew

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Let’s Talk About Sexual Abuse of Children

(Image: #MeTooEthiopia)

Aljazeera

Sexual abuse against children in Ethiopia: End of the taboo?

Twin sisters Dagim and Yeabsera were young children when their uncle first sexually assaulted them.

The abuse continued for years, as their father was absent – he left when they were born, and their mother worked as a domestic helper in a Middle Eastern country.

“Our uncle used to take turns to rape us, especially at middle of the night, when he was usually either drunk or high from taking drugs,” said Yeabsera.

They had been living with their uncle and maternal grandmother, who they say also physically abused them and failed to acknowledged her son’s devastating actions.

When the uncle was imprisoned for two years for shoplifting, his friends took turns abusing the children.

Dagim developed a heart problem, caused by stress. A school teacher referred her to a hospital for treatment where, finally, the twins’ trauma was revealed.

They are now 15 and, for the past two months, have been living in a refuge in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, run by the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (Awsad), the only local NGO offering shelter and rehabilitation to women and girls.

“We used to think we had no mother and father,” said Yeabsera, “but the care given by Awsad staff has got us feeling we have a real family”.

In socially conservative Ethiopia, the sexual assault of children, who make up around half of the population, is largely a taboo subject.

Read more »


Related:
Spotlight: #MeTooEthiopia “Assault is a Crime, not a Culture”

Watch: Stories We Ignore (Amharic)

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Israel Marks Ethiopian Jews’ Memorial Day

President, PM address memorial ceremony on Mt. Herzl for Ethiopian Jews who perished while attempting to make it to Israel. (Photo: President meets Ethiopian leaders on Ethiopian Jewish Memorial Day/GPO)

Israel National News

President Reuven Rivlin today spoke at the official memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl in memory of the Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Minister of Immigrant Absorption Yoav Galant and a representative of the bereaved families also spoke at the event.

The president began by saying, “with great symbolism, the State of Israel chose to mark the memorial day for the Jews of Ethiopia who perished on their way to Israel on Yom Yerushalayim, the day celebrate Jerusalem. Their journey was not easy and unfortunately, it is not yet over. Not your journey and not the State of Israel’s journey.”

“More and more Ethiopian Israelis are climbing the ranks in the army, advancing in science, medicine, the media, sports, yeshivas and ulpanot, academia and all walks of life, and Israeli society is committed to continuing to correct the failures created in the absorption process, to repair the rifts and to strengthen the faith of the members of the community in the institutions of the state. Thirty-five years since Operation Moses and the twenty-eight years since Operation Solomon, the time has come to stop talking about ‘absorption’ and treating Ethiopian immigrants as a separate group. Ethiopian Israelis are an integral part of the State of Israel, the Jewish people, Israeli society and the story,” he said.

Read the full article at israelnationalnews.com »


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Ethiopia Honors Dr. Catherine Hamlin

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Dr. Catherine Hamlin at the 60th anniversary celebration of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital on May 29th, 2019. (Photo: Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation via Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 1st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Dr. Catherine Hamlin, founder of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, has been honored with Ethiopia’s prestigious citizenship award.

PM Abiy Ahmed presented the award to Dr. Hamlin during the hospital’s 60th anniversary celebration on Wednesday, May 29th.

Since it was launched in 1974 the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, which was co-founded by Dr. Catherine and her late husband Dr. Reginald Hamlin, has treated over 60,000 women, the majority of whom have been cured and have returned to their homes to live healthy, normal lives.

Catherine and Reginald Hamlin, both gynecologists and natives of Australia and New Zealand respectively, moved to Ethiopia in 1959 to start a midwifery school at the Princess Tsehay Hospital in Addis Ababa before opening the dedicated hospital for fistula patients fifteen years later.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 100,000 women are affected worldwide by obstetric fistula — an injury during the birthing process that women with obstructive labor suffer from when they have inadequate access to medical support.

“Prime Minister Abiy commended Dr Catherine Hamlin for her tremendous work of restoring the dignity of Ethiopian women affected by obstetric fistula,” the announcement said. “He expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the care-taking role she took of the most marginalized in their time of grave need.” The PM also “bestowed an award upon Dr Catherine Hamlin on behalf of the Government of Ethiopia for her tireless contribution and together with First Lady Zinash Tayachew planted seedlings in the compound of the hospital.”

Below are photos from the event:


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250 Ethiopians Held in Yemen Return Home

File: Ethiopian migrants depart Aden Airport as part of IOM's Voluntary Humanitarian Return initiative, May 22, 2019. (Photo: IOM)

VOA NEWS

250 Ethiopian Migrants Detained in Yemen Fly Home

GENEVA — The International Organization for Migration reports two flights carrying an estimated 250 Ethiopian migrants are expected to depart Yemen Saturday for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of a larger ongoing repatriation operation.

The UN migration agency says it hopes to repatriate another 1,968 Ethiopian migrants who are being detained under horrific conditions in a sports stadium in the Yemeni port city of Aden.

But the operation, which was to have begun last Saturday got off to a late start. And this says IOM spokeswoman, Angela Wells, might pose a problem.

“The operation was only cleared for eight days. So, because it was delayed, we are now waiting to see if we can continue it past that date, ” she said. “We will do our best to work with the authorities to find sustainable solutions and start another round of VHR (Voluntary Humanitarian Returns) and to help people where we can.”

With the approval of the Saudi-led coalition and Government of Yemen, 347 migrants have been flown home on three IOM chartered flights this past week. Wells says women and children were among the first to be repatriated as they are seen to be the most vulnerable.

At the end of April, Yemeni authorities rounded up more than 2,000 irregular migrants in Aden, most Ethiopians. They are among an estimated 150,000 migrants who have made the arduous journey to war-torn Yemen in hopes of finding work and a better life in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Wells tells VOA the migrants are being held under appalling, life-threatening conditions in Aden’s Al Mansoura Football Stadium. She says delays in repatriating the migrants are likely to result in more suffering and more deaths.

“Already eight people have died from acute watery diarrhea and one migrant was shot by a guard. So, the result if we are not able to get everyone out that we can could be quite catastrophic. And, so that is why we are urging the authorities to work with us and help us get as many people home as possible,” Wells said.

In the meantime, IOM reports Yemeni authorities are continuing to round up more migrants and bring them to the sport stadium. It warns the growing number of people being detained under sub-standard conditions is worsening an already acute humanitarian situation.


Related:
Ethiopia- Eritrea Filmmaker Refugee Stuck in Libya Amid Raging Civil War

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Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes

(File Photo by David Silpa/UPI)

UPI

In his first remarks to news media about two deadly crashes involving his company’s planes, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg apologized to the victims’ families.

Muilenburg has been highly visible over the last few months following the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that killed a combined 346 people. The Max 8 and Max 9 have been grounded worldwide since March while investigators identify the causes and Boeing finalizes a software fix for the airliners’ automated flight systems.

Muilenburg apologized to the victims’ families in a video message last month, but Wednesday was the first time he spoke to news media. The Boeing chief told CBS News the 737 Max will be safe when it returns to the skies, and said he’d put his own family on one of the planes “without hesitation.”

“I do personally apologize to the families,” Muilenburg said. “We feel terrible about these accidents. We apologize for what happened. We are sorry for the loss of lives in both accidents, and that will never change. That will always be with us. I can tell you it affects me directly as a leader of this company, it’s very difficult.”

“We know there was inaccurate sensor data that came into the airplane and there appeared to be a maintenance issue with that sensor,” Muilenburg said. “The implementation of that software, we did not do it correctly. Our engineers discovered that. We are fixing it now, and our communication on that was not what it should have been.”

The airplane manufacturer said this month it knew for more than a year a cockpit alert wasn’t working properly. If the angle-of-attack sensors had conflicting data, the alert was supposed to go off before the airplane automatically went into a steep dive to avoid a stall.

“We clearly fell short and the implementation of this angle-of-attack disagree alert was a mistake, right, we did not implement it properly,” Muilenburg said. “We’re confident in the fundamental safety of the airplane.”

“We know … the public’s confidence has been hurt by these accidents and that we have work to do to earn and re-earn the trust of the flying public, and we will do that,” Muilenburg told an investor conference earlier Wednesday. “We are taking all actions necessary to make sure that accidents like those two … never happen again.”


Related:
Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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

(Photo: Ethiopian Airlines Bombardier Aircraft/by Mulat Abera)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: May 31st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian Airlines has dismissed a recent Bloomberg news story titled Long Before Boeing 737 Max Crash, Ethiopian Air Pilot Warned of Dangers as “baseless and factually incorrect.”

The article refers to an ex-Ethiopian Airlines pilot by the name of Bernd Kai von Hoesslin who claims that he had communicated with his former superiors at the company about the need for more Boeing 737 Max training back in December 2018, prior to the March 10 crash of flight 302 that killed all 157 passengers and crew on board.

The claim by von Hoesslin, who is not Ethiopian, mirrors comments made recently by Boeing’s CEO as well as the acting head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and some American politicians blaming the pilots for the Ethiopian crash despite the fact that investigators had preliminarily ruled that a defective software flight data sensor known as MCAS was to blame for the accident and that the pilots performed all the procedures recommended by Boeing but could not control the plane.

Boeing has admitted in a press release earlier this month that it was aware of 737 Max safety problems two years before the deadly Ethiopia and Indonesia crashes, but had deemed the now globally grounded airplane as safe after an internal examination.

“The pilot who has been referred to as a source of these false allegations is a disgruntled former employee of the airline who has left the airline after many administrative problems, failures to comply with the company procedures and repeated demonstration of clear disobedience during his short employment period,” Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement responding to Bloomberg. “As a result of the cumulative problems he created and his inability to perform his duties as per the airline procedures and policies his contract of employment was terminated.” The statement added: “Ethiopian Airlines strictly complies with all global safety standards and regulatory requirements.”

Meanwhile, in his first media appearance since the Ethiopia crash nearly three months ago Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued an apology to the victims’ families. “I do personally apologize to the families,” Muilenburg told CBS News in a broadcast aired this week on Wednesday, May 29th. “We feel terrible about these accidents. We apologize for what happened. We are sorry for the loss of lives in both accidents, and that will never change. That will always be with us. I can tell you it affects me directly as a leader of this company, it’s very difficult.” He added: “We know there was inaccurate sensor data that came into the airplane and there appeared to be a maintenance issue with that sensor. The implementation of that software, we did not do it correctly. Our engineers discovered that. We are fixing it now, and our communication on that was not what it should have been. We clearly fell short and the implementation of this angle-of-attack disagree alert was a mistake. We did not implement it properly.”

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam has emphasized that Ethiopian, which has been a customer of Boeing for more than seven decades, has no plans to fly the Boeing 737 Max again anytime soon, but has not yet made a decision to cancel its pending orders with the U.S. plane maker.


Related:
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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In Ethiopia PM Tackles Displacement Crisis

PM presses plan to return displaced people after violence. (File Photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 28, 2019/REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister on Thursday pursued a plan to return displaced people to their homes following ethnic violence, meeting communities who recently went home, as relief workers voiced fears that the initiative could provoke fresh violence.

Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April 2018, has won international plaudits for announcing bold reform pledges, but the blossoming of political freedoms over the past year has been accompanied by a surge in ethnic violence.

Rivalries between ethnic groups — once repressed by a state with an iron fist — have exploded into the open, and the United Nations says 2.4 million Ethiopians are currently displaced due to these conflicts. More people were displaced last year in the Horn of Africa nation than in any other country, according to data published this month.

Earlier this month the government announced it was scaling up its plan to return displaced people to their homes as soon as possible, a message Abiy reinforced on Thursday when his office published photos of him speaking with people from the Gedeo and West Guji areas in southern Ethiopia who had recently returned to their homes.

“The military has been involved to the extent of supporting and securing the safe passage of the displaced back to their original locales where some still experienced a perception of fear,” a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s office wrote in an email to Reuters.

She added that the government is working to ensure that the returns are “voluntary”, in line with international standards.

Read more »


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Mueller: Probe Did Not Exonerate Trump

“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Former FBI Director Robert Mueller said on Wednesday speaking publicly for the first time about his investigation. Mueller said he couldn't charge a sitting president because of a long-standing Justice Department rule and indicated that only Congress could "formally accuse the president of wrongdoing." (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Mueller: Special counsel probe did not exonerate Trump

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller said Wednesday he was barred from charging President Donald Trump with a crime but pointedly emphasized that his Russia report did not exonerate the president. If he could have cleared Trump of obstruction of justice he “would have said so,” Mueller declared.

The special counsel’s remarks, his first in public since being tasked two years ago with investigating Russian interference to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election, stood as a strong rebuttal to Trump’s repeated claims that he was exonerated and that the inquiry was merely a “witch hunt.” They also marked a clear counter to criticism, including by Attorney General William Barr, that he should have reached a determination on whether the president illegally tried to obstruct the probe by taking actions such as firing his FBI director.

Mueller made clear he believed he was restrained from indicting a sitting president — such an action was “not an option” — because of a Justice Department legal opinion. He said it was Congress’ job to hold the president accountable for any wrongdoing.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not however make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Mueller’s statement largely echoed the central points of his 448-page report released last month with some redactions. But his remarks, just under 10 minutes long and delivered from a Justice Department podium, were nonetheless extraordinary given that he had never before discussed or characterized his findings and had stayed mute during two years of feverish public speculation.

Mueller, a former FBI director, said his work was complete and he was resigning to return to private life. For his rare appearance, he wore a black suit, crisp white shirt and blue tie, walking briskly onto the stage gripping a folder containing prepared remarks that he largely adhered to.


Related:
Impeachment 101: How could Congress remove President Trump from office? (LA Times)

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BBC: Ex-boss of Ethiopia’s Notorious Jail Ogaden Arrested

Ex-boss of Ethiopia's notorious Jail Ogaden arrested. Activists say the jail, in the Somali region of Ethiopia, was the site of particularly brutal torture. (Photo: Google Earth)

BBC

The former head of a notorious Ethiopian prison has been arrested and is expected to face trial.

Hassan Ismail Ibrahim, also known as Hassan Dhere, was arrested in neighbouring Somalia in a town where he had been hiding, following a tip-off.

Campaigners say inmates were routinely tortured at “Jail Ogaden”, which he ran in Ethiopia’s Somali region.

Many prisoners were accused of being linked to the separatist group the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

But that group signed a peace deal with the government in October, following the appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister.

Read more »


Financial Times on Ethiopia’s Displacement Crisis


In total, 2.9m people were displaced by December 2018, more than those dislodged in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan combined, according to estimates published this month. (Financial Times)

Financial Times

Ethiopian ethnic violence has forced almost 3m to flee homes

On a drenched field in southern Ethiopia, hundreds of members of the ethnic Gedeo community are huddled together with nothing to do but wait. It had rained all night and the ragged shelters they had strung together were sinking in the mud. 

“We can’t go back,” said Haptemu Mariam, 28, a father of six who fled his home in the Guji area of the neighbouring Oromia region last year. “The Guji people are dangerous,” he said, referring to a group with which his people had lived peacefully until a recent flare up of violence between the two groups. 

About 700,000 people have been displaced by the Gedeo-Guji dispute, according to the UN. Yet it is just one of many inter-ethnic conflicts raging in Ethiopia that have given the country an unenviable distinction: last year more people fled their homes there than in any other nation on earth.

In total, 2.9m people were displaced by December 2018, more than those dislodged in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan combined, according to estimates published this month.

The upsurge in communal violence has coincided with the early days of Abiy Ahmed’s tenure as prime minister and is arguably the greatest threat to his lofty ambitions.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopia Tops List of Countries with Displaced People – The Economist

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Spotlight: Two Timely U.S. Conferences on Ethiopia That You May Have Missed

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (Photo via @fanatelevision/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 24th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Last month two timely conferences were held in Washington, D.C. reflecting on current Ethiopian affairs and the marathon political and economic reforms being undertaken under the new administration of PM Abiy Ahmed, which should have received more media attention.

The first conference titled “Ethiopia’s Democratic opening One Year Later: Looking Back and Looking Ahead” was organized by The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private nonprofit foundation that has played a valuable role during the long years of struggle for democracy in Ethiopia including awarding fellowships to former opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa — who is now the head of Ethiopia’s Election Board — as well as academic scholar and former prisoner of conscience Dr. Merera Gudina, among others.

Participants of the recent NED gathering included Seife Ayalew, Executive Director of the African Civic Leadership Program, Ltd; Yoseph Badwaza, Senior Program Officer for Ethiopia at Freedom House; Kassahun Follo, Executive Director of the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU); and Obang Metho, Founder and Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia. The panel “examined the success, opportunities, and challenges of Ethiopia’s democratic transformation” in this past year.

Watch: Ethiopia’s Democratic Opening One Year Later: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

The second program titled “Building a Big Tent for Agricultural Transformation in Ethiopia” was held on April 24th and hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a bipartisan and nonprofit policy research organization exploring “current endeavors, and future challenges” of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA).

According to CSIS, the keynote delivered by ATA CEO Khalid Bomba was followed by a panel discussion that included Getachew Diriba, Independent Consultant on Agricultural Development; Beth Dunford, Assistant to the Administrator at USAID; and Sara Boettiger, Senior Advisor at Center for Agricultural Transformation, McKinsey & Company, which compared and contrasted “Ethiopia’s experience in agricultural transformation to that of other countries” and explored “the role that donors like the United States government can play to support such efforts for country-led development.”

Listen to Audio: Building a Big Tent for Agricultural Transformation in Ethiopia


Related:
In Pictures: DC Event on Ethiopia’s Digital Economy

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Pilots Union to Boeing: ‘Inexcusable’ to Blame Pilots for 737 Max Crashes

A spokesman for Allied Pilots Association tells CNN that Ethiopian crash might have been prevented if Boeing took them seriously. (CNN)

CNN

Ethiopian Crash Could Have Been Prevented If Boeing Took Pilots Concerns Seriously, Union Says

Atlanta (CNN Business) — American Airline’s pilots’ union is calling Boeing’s response to two fatal plane crashes “inexcusable,” claiming the crashes might not have happened if the company had listened to pilots.

Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for Allied Pilots Association — a union of American Airlines pilots — told CNN Business that Boeing had “a poisoned, diseased philosophy” for a global company.

“Shame on you… we’re going to call you out on it,” Tajer said.

Boeing did not comment on the union’s position early Thursday morning.

In recent weeks, both Boeing’s CEO and the acting Federal Aviation Administration administrator have said that the actions of the pilots were in part to blame for the recent Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. Both planes were Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.

Tajer pointed instead to Boeing’s software, about which he said American Airlines’ pilots had expressed concerns in a November 2017 meeting with the company. The meeting was a few weeks after the Lion Air crash, but months before the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

It would be fair to conclude, Tajer said, that if Boeing had taken the suggestions of the pilots, the Ethiopian Airlines crash might have been prevented.

On the Ethiopian flight, pilots struggled to right the plane after the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software, which pushes the nose of the aircraft down if it senses a stall, erroneously activated and as the plane traveled at a high speed, according to a preliminary report.

The software pushed the Ethiopian Airlines plane into an aggressive downward angle, according to Tajer.
The pilots did what they were instructed to do, he said.

“They had wired that thing so that is was irrecoverable,” Tajer said. “It just blew us away.”
In the meeting, American Airlines pilots made suggestions including having a way to turn off MCAS and adding an angle of attack disagree alert on all planes, he said. Tajer said Boeing dismissed the concerns.

The changes will be a part of a new software fix, Tajer said, but were not implemented before the Ethiopian crash.

Read more »


Related:
Leaked Audio: Before Ethiopia Crash Pilots ‘Raised Boeing Safety Fears’

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

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

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

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EDTF Ethiopia Board Announced

Of the 11-member Board of Directors five are chosen from the Diaspora representing "different parts of the globe," the announcement stated. (Image: @PMEthiopia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 20th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – The long-awaited selection of the Board of Directors for the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund was announced today.

“The EDTF Board of Directors is the apex governance body which will provide overall leadership and set the strategic direction, policy, oversight and accountability of the EDTF,” the PM’s office stated. “It will, among others, review and approve EDTF financed projects that are identified and vetted by the EDTF Secretariat.”

As of this week, eight months after it was officially launched last October, the fund has raised about 3 million dollars so far from approximately twenty thousand donors worldwide. The aim is to hopefully reach the estimated three million Ethiopians residing in the Diaspora and to generate about a billion dollars annually through the fund.

How Democratic was the Board Selection Process?

The initial announcement of the creation of the Board of Directors had stated that it “will comprise of eleven persons drawn from the Ethiopian Diaspora, Civil Society and the Ethiopian Government.” Notably, in comparison to the EDTF advisory council membership, the new Board of Directors includes more female members and appears to be more gender-balanced. However, the process of how the individuals were selected was not clear in the recent announcement.

During a press conference last December organized by EDTF at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Advisory Board members had emphasized that the selection process for the Board of Directors would be more transparent and promised to engage the public in making recommendations. Since then there has not been much public discussion dedicated to the subject. Nor is there any publicly available document showing the pool of potential candidates that were considered for the positions representing the larger Ethiopian Diaspora.

Of the 11-member Board of Directors five are chosen from the Diaspora representing “different parts of the globe recommended by the EDTF Advisory Council,” the announcement stated. Three members of Civil Society representing Women, Youth and the Ethiopian public; and three members of the Ethiopian Government.”

At the media briefing the idea of using voting mechanisms was also briefly mentioned, but quickly dismissed as being impractical — although it’s worth mentioning that many Diaspora communities in the United States do vote on a regular basis, including online, to select their representative leaders.

The announcement did not state for how long the new Board members will serve and when the next elections will be held.

While we congratulate EDTF on the formation of the new Board of Directors, we continue to encourage the fund to engage the Ethiopian Diaspora not only to discuss fundraising concerns, but to develop more transparency on how representation in governance is decided, and if possible to create a participatory electoral process in the future.

The full names of EDTF’s new Board of Directors are listed below:

Sirgut Yadeta, Editorial Lead, Lloyds Bank Group, London, U.K., representing Diaspora in Europe

Dr. Mehret Mandefro, Founder and President, Truth Aid and Executive Producer, Director of Social Impact, Kana Television, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, representing diaspora in North America

Chernet Debele, Founder and General Manager, Kia Travel & Business LLC, Maryland, USA, representing diaspora in North America

Yohannes Asefa, Director, Agriculture & Agribusiness, USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Nairobi, Kenya, representing diaspora in Africa

Dr. Abdulwehab Ibrahim, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Technology and Science, Abu Dhabi, UAE, representing diaspora in the Middle East

Sister Zebider Zewdie, Founder and Executive Director of Mary Joy Ethiopia, representing women

Mr. EyesusWork Zafu, Chairman of the Board of Directors of United Bank, representing the Ethiopian public

Selamawit Dawit, Director General, Ethiopian Diaspora Agency, representing the Ethiopian Government

Hirut Zemene, State Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bilen Mamo, Advisor, Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation.


Related:
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 and contribute at ethiopiatrustfund.org.

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In Ethiopia, PM Abiy Hosts $173,000-a-seat Dinner to Beautify Capital

The event, 'Dine for Sheger,' was held at the Menelik palace in Addis Ababa on Sunday May 19, 2019. (@PMEthiopia/Twitter)

AFP

Scores of wealthy Ethiopians paid an eye-watering $173,000 (150,000 euros) to attend a dinner thrown by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to raise funds to beautify the capital Addis Ababa, state media reported Monday.

The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate published pictures of diners, some wearing tuxedos, seated at a long rose-covered banquet table.

“A seat at the event is valued at 5 million birr,” the report said.

The dinner was held to raise funds for a three-year project by Abiy to “lift the image” of the capital, a bustling, fast-changing city where modern buildings have shot up, construction is ever-present and greenery scarce.

“The rapid growth and expansion of the city over the past few years has not adequately utilised the natural resources and beautiful topography that the city is endowed with,” according to a video of the project posted on Abiy’s website.

The video said that currently green cover is only 0.3 square metres per capita in Addis Ababa, and the project hopes to raise this to seven square metres per capita — in line with average green coverage in Africa.

The project along an area of 56 square kilometres (21 square miles) envisions parks, bicycle paths and walkways along the rivers of the capital, the planting of trees and the development of urban farms.

The project is estimated to cost $1 billion, according to Fana.

It was not known how many people attended the dinner, or who they were.

Abiy’s website said that those present would have a plaque with their name on it placed along the project route, and would have a private photo-op with the prime minister. The pictures would be compiled into “an album of individuals who changed the face of Addis Ababa.”

Abiy has won praise for his reformist agenda since taking office in April last year.

Ethiopia is home to over 100 million people, the second most populous country on the continent after Nigeria, and its economy is the fastest growing in the region.

However, it is also one of the poorest, and the World Bank estimates average earnings of $783 per year.


Related:


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Review of the Play ‘EthiopianAmerica’

“EthiopianAmerica,” is a new play by Sam Kebede making its world premiere at Definition Theatre in Chicago. (Photo: Simon Gebremedhin and Freedom Martin in "EthiopianAmerica" by Definition Theatre Company/ by Joe Mazza)

Chicago Tribune

‘EthiopianAmerica’ really captures immigrant, teenage lives as they are lived.

The children of immigrants long have written plays and novels about what it’s like to be a first-generation American, trying to build a life in a new country under the watchful eyes of foreign-born parents.

In such works, mostly penned by the young and the restless (you know, Eugene O’Neill, Ayad Akhtar and so on), these parental figures are most usually severe, determined and troubled figures whose own lives involved great risk and who are determined that their offspring will recognize the importance of an education that might help them thrive and prosper in a new world these parents both admire and deeply distrust. For their part, the kids want to respect the traditions and ancestors of whence they came, but also make their own path in a country with different priorities. Their work is usually about trying to reconcile the pull of two forces that seem to be thrusting them in different directions.

“EthiopianAmerica,” a new work by Sam Kebede now in its world premiere by Definition Theatre, is one of those plays, the work of a first-generation American with Ethiopian-born parents. But it’s far more interesting and original than most. That’s partly because of its topic: When did you last see a play about Ethiopian Americans? I have known some members of that community in Chicago very well, and over a long period of time, and, for much of “EthiopianAmerica,” I was thinking it was time to get on the phone and make a recommendation, until Kebede took his play in a different and more critical turn toward his father’s generation of men. Even so, I think “EthiopianAmerica” would be widely respected.

That’s because Kebede writes about domestic life (in California, but if could be anywhere in America) with real veracity. Anyone who has teenage kids (I have two myself), or tough parents, can relate to the inter-generational struggle that fills this play. Kebede really gets the clash of the authority figure and the young person, striving to find a place in a changed world, and he does so with real understanding of what it is like to be the child of someone born in a different country. (It’s not easy.)

Read more »


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Brookings Institution Appoints Lemma Senbet to Africa Board

Professor Lemma Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, also serves on the advisory council of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund. (Photo: @AERCAFRICA)

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park

Professor Lemma Senbet at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business has been appointed to the Distinguished Advisory Board of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

“You join a panel of select, high-level policymakers, academics and practitioners on African socio-economic development issues,” Africa Growth Initiative director Brahima S. Coulibaly writes in a March 7, 2019, letter to Senbet.

The advisory board provides guidance to the Africa Growth Initiative on key issues facing Africa.

Senbet, the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at Maryland Smith, also serves on the advisory council of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund.

He finished a five-year term as executive director and CEO of the African Economic Research Consortium in summer 2018. The nonprofit organization is the largest and oldest economic research and training network in Africa. During his African tenure, Senbet visited and led missions to 25 countries.


Related:
Tadias Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on EDTF

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Ethiopia- Eritrea Filmmaker Refugee Stuck in Libya Amid Raging Civil War

At a refugee detention centre in Tripoli, Libya last month. (Photo: © UNHCR)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 15th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Abraha Taeme, who is in a refugee camp near Tripoli in Libya, has a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from a university in Ethiopia, and he has been sending out desperate calls for help through Facebook to whoever may listen to his plea. His heart-wrenching messages was recently forwarded to Tadias by an American filmmaker in California who happened to be researching human trafficking in the region and befriended Abraha through Facebook messenger.

Abraha says he was staying in Qasir bin Gashir detention center along with several hundred East African refugees, which he described as including “children, women and sick people among us” before he was transferred into another camp.

“Yesterday UNHCR transfer 140 refugees from Zahawia to the GDF and I am one of them,” he wrote last week. “Zahawia is dang near a death camp due to disease and IF they’re taken there ….they won’t get them because of fear of spreading infection.” He also mentioned that a local charity organization is helping to supply one meal a day as well as access to electricity. “These are the good news so far,” he adds. “About the war, still it is close to our center. Restless heavy weapons bursts close to our ears. We can’t get sleep. When we see the children and our sisters our hearts sunken in a deep grief. Literary they are shocked.”

According to AP: “The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, launched an offensive on Tripoli last month. His force, based in eastern Libya, is battling rival militias loosely allied with the U.N.-supported government in the capital.”

Caught in the middle are foreign refugees like Abraha. Last month around 146 asylum-seekers arrived in Italy as part of a U.N.-backed humanitarian evacuation from Libya. The Associated Press notes that “the U.N. refugee agency says it’s the fifth such evacuation since 2017, though previous airlifts have taken migrants to Niger and elsewhere. Dozens of the asylum-seekers are minors, many of whom are unaccompanied. They hail from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Ethiopia.”

But Abraha was not among them and his Facebook friend Flip Webster of Jurupa Valley, California hopes that Ethiopian or the Eritrean government will step in to help or international media agencies like Voice of America could try to locate him.

Webster said Abraha is originally from Eritrea. “I am a refuge from Ethiopia (Addis Abeba) I was a film maker, I have BA Degree in Theater Arts,” Abraha wrote to Webster. “I was working with a lot of governmental and non-governmental organizations during my stay in Ethiopia.” He added: “I had my own theater and film company. Unfortunately right now I am here. What are my hopes? I spent two solid years here in Libya in a warehouses owned by smugglers. They hit us, gave us small portion of meal two times a day, no medication, even sun light was luxury.”


If you are able to assist Abraha to leave Libya you can contact Flip Webster at flenoit@gmail.com.

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Ethiopia Tops List of Countries with Displaced People – The Economist

Ethiopia tops the list of countries with displaced people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. (The Economist)

The Economist

After drought, famine and war, ethnic conflict now plagues Ethiopia

FOR MANY years Ethiopia struggled with drought and starvation, creating a population that moved frequently in search of food and water. Now it is violence that millions of Ethiopians are fleeing. Last year it topped the list of countries with displaced people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), an NGO.

There are nearly 70m forcibly displaced people in the world. Refugees and asylum-seekers have rights and protections, but the roughly 40m who are “internally displaced” do not. Two-thirds are in African and Middle Eastern countries. And 2018 was another awful year, with an additional 10.8m newly-displaced people.

Read more »


Related:
‘Go and we die, stay and we starve’: the Ethiopians facing a deadly dilemma (The Guardian)

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New Freedom of Expression in Ethiopia

Whether it was ruled by an aging emperor, Soviet-backed army officers or former rebels, Ethiopia was rarely a place where you could criticize leaders so openly. Until last year, there were dozens of journalists and opposition politicians in jail or exile. (Photo: Ethiopian activist Eskinder Nega (2nd right) answered questions from BBC presenter Jonathan Dimbleby (center) at BBC's World Questions program held in Addis Ababa on Monday. The other panelists from left include Mustafa Omar, president of the Somali Region, Tsedale Lemma, editor of the Addis Standard and on the far right academic Merera Gudina. (Henock Birhanu/BBC)

The Washington Post

‘We don’t want another messiah’: Newly vocal Ethiopians debate an uncertain future

In a scene that would have been unimaginable just a year ago, some 200 Ethiopians in the capital debated their country’s politics, economics and expressed their fears over the rise in ethnic violence.

The BBC’s “World Questions” current events program came to Addis Ababa on Monday demonstrating how much freedom of expression has changed in Africa’s second-most populous nation.

After decades of authoritarian governments that tightly controlled the press, the new reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has transformed the country by taking the shackles off the media and promising wide-ranging reforms.

But the loosening of such restrictions in Ethiopia has been accompanied by an explosion of ethnic conflict in the countryside. Millions of people have been displaced as long-simmering disputes over land boil to the surface — and as Monday’s discussion showed, people are frightened. Just in the week before the show, there were reports of tit-for-tat massacres between the Amhara and Gumuz peoples in the northern part of the country that killed dozens.

“I used to be afraid of the government; now I’m afraid of the people,” said one audience member, citing a common concern over the rise in lawlessness. “Before it was dictatorship we were afraid of; now it’s about the [lack] of rule of law.”

The prime minister himself was not spared criticism, either, with some singling him out for the speed and what they called the recklessness of his reforms and a personal style of leadership that often bypasses the country’s institutions.

“I believe that Dr. Abiy is a problem because we want a systematic change that can sustain itself whether there is a messiah or not,” said one man. “We don’t want another messiah.”

Whether it was ruled by an aging emperor, Soviet-backed army officers or former rebels, Ethiopia was rarely a place where you could criticize leaders so openly. Until last year, there were dozens of journalists and opposition politicians in jail or exile.

Read more »


Related:
Spotlight: Voice of America’s Negussie Mengesha on New Media Freedoms in Ethiopia
After years of repression, Ethiopia’s media is free — and fanning the flames of ethnic tension
World Press Freedom Day events raise alarm on fake news (AP)
Ethiopian Selected as Official Carrier for 2019 World Press Freedom Day
Tadias Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

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Meet the 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows

Here are 20 reasons to be hopeful this week: The Obama Foundation just announced its new class of Obama Fellows — comprising of educators, organizers, problem-solvers, and entrepreneurs from around the world. (Photo: The Obama Foundation)

Press Release

The Obama Foundation Fellowship supports outstanding civic innovators—leaders who are working with their communities to create transformational change and addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems. The program selects 20 community-minded rising stars from around the world for a two-year, non-residential program, designed to amplify the impact of their work and inspire a wave of civic innovation.

The second-ever class of Obama Foundation Fellows represents a diverse set of leaders who all model a powerful truth: that each of us has a role to play in making our communities better. These Fellows are building cultures of entrepreneurship in neighborhoods that need it most. They’re protecting our environment and ensuring we can live sustainably for generations to come. They’re showing the world that criminal justice can be restorative justice. And they’re proving that our most disadvantaged and disconnected communities can also be our most vital and innovative.

GET TO KNOW THE 2019 CLASS OF OBAMA FOUNDATION FELLOWS


Related:
I spent my 20s as an Obama speechwriter. Here’s what he taught me about growing up.

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DC Area U.S. Firm FAAZ Apologizes for ‘No Ethiopians’ Need Apply Job Posting

(Image courtesy Pixabay under Creative Commons license)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — A Washington, DC area hiring firm, FAAZ Consulting, is apologizing to the Ethiopian community for its recent offensive job posting that appeared on LinkedIn declaring in all capital letters that “no Ethiopians and no Federal government employees” need apply for the position. The job placement that has since been taken down had shocked many Ethiopians and created a firestorm on social media.

Contacted by Tadias Magazine the company’s owner Fatima Ali was profusely apologetic and stating that the announcement was a blunder by a rookie employee. Ali also denied that the posting was made at the request of the firm’s client as indicated in the job description that was seeking qualified SharePoint developers.

“Only apply if you are a SharePoint developer with strong .NET experience,” the job posting had stated. “Please no Ethiopians and no Federal government employees as per client.”


FAAZ Consulting job post on Linkedin looking for SharePoint Developer in the DC area. (Image: Screen shot)

“This posting was a mistake by a new team member which didn’t go through proper internal review,” Ali told Tadias. “The information contained in the posting negates the values we stand by.” She added: “I would personally like to apologize to each one of those who have been inadvertently affected by this mistake. We would further investigate internally to understand how it happened and would take appropriate disciplinary action to ensure that such unfortunate mistakes never happen again.”

Ali said that FAAZ Consulting, which is based in Mclean, Virginia, is a minority-owned small business and is sensitive to these type of issues.

“FAAZ is a small minority women owned small business,” Ali said. “We have hired and placed people from all races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and regions.” She added: “Our recruitment only focuses on applicant’s skill set. As a minority woman and a person of color I understand the challenges faced by minority communities.”

Ali said they are working to remove the content from the internet. “The position was posted on one job board which essentially mass posted the job on different websites,” she said. “We have requested every website to take the content down and await for them to honor our request.”


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CPJ on Media in Ethiopia

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an American independent non-profit based in New York City. It promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists. CPJ says "since Abiy's election, conditions for Ethiopia's journalists have improved, but some challenges remain." (Photo: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during a press conference in Addis Ababa, in August 2018/AFP/Michael Tewelde)

CPJ

Under Abiy, Ethiopia’s media have more freedom but challenges remain

During a trip to Addis Ababa in January, it was impossible to miss the signs that Ethiopian media are enjoying unprecedented freedom. A flurry of new publications were on the streets. At apublic forum that CPJ attended, journalists spoke about positive reforms, but also openly criticized their lack of access to the government. At a press conference, journalists from state media and the Oromia Media Network, an outlet previously banned and accused of terrorism, sat side by side.

Mesud Gebeyehu, a lawyer who heads the Consortium of Ethiopian Rights Organizations, an alliance of human rights groups, told CPJ he had been on television “many times” in the past year to speak about human rights, an issue that was previously taboo for the media.

Ethiopia, which was one of the most-censored countries in the world and one of the worst jailers of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, has gone through dramatic reforms under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office last April. In 2018–for the first time in 14 years–CPJ recorded no journalists behind bars in its annual census. And the country ended its block of over 260 websites and ban on media outlets forced to work in exile.

“I was fighting for [press freedom], but I did not expect it to happen in such a short time,” said Abel Wabella, a journalist who was detained and charged with terrorism under the previous government.

In May, Ethiopia will host UNESCO’s annual World Press Freedom Day: a reflection, UNESCO said, of the country’s commitment to democratic and media reforms.

Though the Ethiopian press is much freer today than before Abiy took power, CPJ spoke to over a dozen journalists and rights defenders who said that challenges remain, including the risk of attack and arrest, especially in restive regions; attracting advertisers in a market where businesses are wary of being seen to support critical publications; accusations of sowing divisiveness; and a proposed law that could curtail their newly found freedoms.

CPJ also attempted to reach the government for comment on conditions for the press. The Prime Minister’s press secretary, Billene Seyoum, acknowledged receipt but did not respond to CPJ’s emailed questions sent on April 24.

Perhaps most fundamentally, journalists told CPJ they are anxious for the freedoms they are enjoying to be rooted in law, rather than guaranteed only by the good will of the Abiy government.

The reforms “are not legally nor institutionally guaranteed until now. They are so because the leaders on top are willing, but neither their willingness nor their hold on power is permanent,” Befekadu Hailu, a journalist and social activist who edits the Addis Maleda weekly, told CPJ.

A council established under the attorney general’s office is reviewing a raft of laws including those previously used to restrict the press, such as the anti-terror proclamation and the mass media law, according to media reports.

Most of the journalists with whom CPJ spoke with said they were happy with the reform process, which included public consultations. Befekadu said he believes those involved are “independent.” Jawar Mohammed, executive director of the Oromia Media Network, said that those involved could move faster and communicate more frequently and clearly with the public.

However, a proposed law on hate speech is splitting opinion.

The government last year said it would draft the law in response to concern abouttoxic rhetoric online that some say amounts to incitement to violence or has the potential to exacerbate divisions, largely along ethnic lines, according to reports. The government has previously responded to tension by cutting off access to the internet. CPJ documented two such shutdowns under Abiy’s government, during unrest in Addis Ababa in September and in the Somali region during a crisis in August.

Yared Hailemariam, the executive director of the Swiss-based Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, told CPJ said that the media stand accused of “aggravating” tension. “It is a reflection of the political situation in the country, tension is high,” he said.

Most of those who spoke with CPJ said they felt there was a need for Ethiopian media to grow into “professionalism” and to act more “ethically” and “responsibly” within the newly opened space. But even so, some, like Befekadu, said they feared the hate speech law could have a “chilling effect on freedom of expression.”

“They want to give the government more power to regulate speech. Given the divisiveness in the country, it is understandable. But we need to be careful… we should not allow government to pass legislation which gives them reason to take down content they don’t like,” said Endalk Chala, assistant professor at Hamline University in Minnesota, who has studied Ethiopian media.

A copy of the draft law, viewed by CPJ, includes criminal penalties for hate speech and publishing “false news.” The privately owned Addis Fortune warned in an April 13 article that the draft law would not be a “golden bullet … to contain hate speech” and raised concerns that it harks back to laws Ethiopia previously used to suppress critical speech.

Eskinder Nega, who launched the weekly Ethiopis last year, months after he was freed from almost seven years in prison, said that ideas ought to be allowed to flourish, hate will be “filtered out”. Jawar said it was “dangerous” to invite government regulation of speech, suggesting instead a peer regulatory mechanism for the media.

Jawar and Eskinder are among the prominent media personalities whose work has been criticized for inflaming tensions, according to media reports.

Both strongly refuted these views. Jawar said that a strong political and advocacy position was being conflated with divisive speech. Eskinder said that while he has strong opinions, he has never advocated for violence. In a follow up email exchange on April 26, Eskinder told CPJ that the allegations of divisiveness were part of a “manufactured debate” and based on a misinterpretation of his work.

For the new papers that have mushroomed in Addis Ababa, financial concerns are urgent.

Abel can attest to that– he established the weekly Addis Zeybe in October, only for the paper to go out of print after four editions following financial pressures and distribution challenges.

Abel told CPJ that publications have a hard time attracting advertisers, whom he said can be shy of being associated with critical publications. This was a sentiment echoed by Jawar, who recently established a magazine, Gulale Post.

“Businesses are cautious. This is a popular government so they don’t want to be seen as being anti-government,” said Eskinder.

The government has also not been very open to the media, with Abiy hosting only a couple of press conferences with local journalists since he came to power, according to media reports and two of the journalists with whom CPJ spoke.

Journalists in Ethiopia also still face the risk of attack. CPJ has documented how mobs attacked a crew from the state-run Dire Dawa Mass Media Agency, in Meiso, in the Oromia region in July, in an incident that killed their driver, and how two journalists with the privately owned Mereja TV were briefly detained by police in Legetafo, in the same region, and assaulted by a mob upon their release in March . The regional government made initial promises to investigate, but Mereja TV chief executive Elias Kifle told CPJ in April that authorities had not investigated the crime.

Oromia government spokesperson Admasu Damtew did not answer CPJ’s phone calls or text messages on April 24 and April 27.

“They [have fulfilled] their obligation of respecting human rights, but the Abiy administration also has to protect people, to protect journalists, to protect human rights organizations from being attacked,” Yared, from the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, told CPJ.

The Economist reported last month that reform under Abiy “is not the first blossoming of free media,” pointing to how liberalization in the 1990s was followed by crackdowns in the 2000s. When CPJ asked Befekadu if he thought this current era of freedom would last he said, “I cannot say yes or no. But there is equal chance for the change to regress as it can progress. It needs collective effort of the media, civil society, and government to save it from falling into the vicious cycle.”


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Biden Releases New Video Starring Obama, Says Trump Should be Impeached (Update)

U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has released a second campaign video in less than a week, this time featuring his close friend former president Barack Obama. Biden is also making national news after he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that Congress would have “no alternative” but to impeach President Trump if he blocks investigations of issues raised in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference. (Photo by Pete Souza)

The Washington Post

Biden says Congress will have ‘no alternative’ but to impeach Trump if he blocks its investigations

Former vice president Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that Congress would have “no alternative” but to impeach President Trump if his administration seeks to block its investigations of issues raised in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference.

Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Biden said that the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III left several unanswered questions related to whether Trump obstructed the nearly two-year probe, and he argued that Congress should follow up.

“What the Congress should do and they are doing is investigate that,” Biden said. “And if in fact they block the investigation, they have no alternative to go to the only other constitutional resort they have: impeachment.”

“My job in the meantime is to make sure he’s not back as president of the United States of America,” added Biden, who formally launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last week.

Read more »

Watch: Biden Releases New Video Starring Obama:


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Joe Biden Raises $6.3 Million on 1st Day of 2020 U.S. Presidential Campaign (UPDATE)

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

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In US the Growing Neo-Nazi Violence Takes Center Stage in 2020 Election

In the last couple of years the lack of a strong political and media leadership in the U.S. against the growing menace of neo-Nazi violence and the outdated ideology of white-nationalism & supremacy has severely damaged America's global brand as a multicultural and forward-looking country. But the conversation may now be changing thanks to Joe Biden's blockbuster campaign video released last week in which he tackled the issue straight ahead while speaking truth to power. Below is a new Washington Post article focusing on the timely topic. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

As Trump stands by Charlottesville remarks, rise of white-nationalist violence becomes an issue in 2020 presidential race

First came Joe Biden’s campaign announcement video highlighting President Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comment about the 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left a counterprotester dead.

Then Trump dug in, arguing that he was referring not to the self-professed neo-Nazi marchers, but to those who had opposed the removal of a statue of the “great” Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Less than 24 hours later came another act of violence described by authorities as a hate crime: Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Poway, Calif., in which a gunman killed one person and injured three others.

Those events have pushed the rising tide of white nationalism to the forefront of the 2020 presidential campaign, putting Trump on the defensive and prompting even some Republicans to acknowledge that the president is taking a political risk by continuing to stand by his Charlottesville comments.

“The president’s handling of Charlottesville was not one of the finer moments of his time in office,” Republican strategist Ryan Williams said. “He shouldn’t take Joe Biden’s bait and re-litigate this controversy.”..

Nonetheless, the rise of white-nationalist violence during Trump’s tenure is emerging as an issue as the president turns his attention toward his reelection campaign.

According to the most recent annual report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has long tracked extremist activity, 39 of the 50 extremist-related murders tallied by the group in 2018 were committed by white supremacists, up from 2017, when white supremacists were responsible for 18 of 34 such crimes.

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


Related:

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

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Dr. Negasso Gidada, Former President of Ethiopia, Dies at 76

Dr. Negasso Gidada served as President of Ethiopia from 1995 until 2001. (Photo: @PMEthiopia/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 27th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia is mourning the passing of Dr. Negasso Gidada, who served as President of Ethiopia from 1995 until 2001. Dr. Negasso passed away on Saturday at the age of 76.

According to local media reports the former president died in Germany where he was undergoing medical treatment.

“It is with deep regrets that we share the passing of former FDRE President, H.E. Dr. Negasso Gidada. PM Abiy Ahmed extends his condolences to the people of Ethiopia and his family,” Office of the Prime Minister shared on social media. “A national committee to oversee the funeral arrangements is being established & will share details.”

Fana Broadcasting noted that “similarly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the House of People’s Representatives, the House of Federation, the Ministry of Transport and regional states also expressed their deepest condolences.”


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Ethiopia to Extradite U.S. Murder Suspect

22-year-olds Henok Yohannes and Kedest Simeneh were killed in Fairfax County, Virginia in December 2016. The suspect Yohannes Nesibu who fled to Ethiopia soon after the incident is set to be extradited to face murder charges in the U.S. (Image: fox5dc.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 26th, 2019

The Story Behind Yohannes Nesibu’s Imminent Extradition From Ethiopia to U.S.

New York (TADIAS) — You may remember this shocking and disturbing story of a brutal double murder in Virginia two and half years ago involving Ethiopian victims Henok Yohannes and Kedest Simeneh, both 22, of Fairfax County. The suspect Yohannes Nesibu had escaped to Ethiopia and was seen roaming around Addis Abeba, freely club-hopping and sharing his adventures on social media.

As The Washington Post put it succinctly at the time: “After a young couple was killed, the alleged gunman fled to Ethiopia. He may never face trial.”

That’s about to change as Ethiopia prepares to extradite Yohannes Nesibu, who is currently under detention, to the U.S. According to the spokesperson for the office of Ethiopia’s Attorney General who spoke with the state affiliated Fana Broadcasting the decision to extradite Yohannes was made following “the request of the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division for his extradition.”


Henok Yohannes (left) and Kedest Simeneh. (fox5dc)

“Authorities are confident they know who carried out the brutal double slaying in Northern Virginia last December. A witness places an aspiring rapper at the scenes of the killings,” The Washington Post had noted in its October 2017 article. “A Fairfax grand jury indicted him for murder. Detectives know where he lives. Nessibu is out of reach because he boarded a flight to his native Ethi­o­pia, just before police closed in on him…Kedest’s family said detectives told them Nessibu paid about $3,000 in cash for a one-way plane ticket from Dulles International Airport to Addis Ababa, leaving the same day Kedest’s body was found.”

Fana added: “His extradition also took into account his nationality, the pledge made by the U.S. to treat him properly and the positive cooperation currently existed between the two countries in the justice sector.”


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Joe Biden Raises $6.3 Million on 1st Day of 2020 U.S. Presidential Campaign (UPDATE)

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden formally announced the launch of his 2020 Presidential campaign on Thursday declaring that he is on a rescue mission to save America's 'Soul.' Biden has said he would campaign as an “Obama-Biden Democrat." (Photo: Joe Biden Facebook)

CNN

Updated: Fri April 26, 2019

Joe Biden tops Democratic field with $6.3 million haul on first day of 2020 bid

Washington — Joe Biden’s campaign said it raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours of his presidential campaign launch, a haul that surpassed the Day One amounts collected by his rivals in the crowded Democratic field.

Biden’s fundraising total underscores his prominence in the party — as a former vice president with near-universal name recognition and a cadre of supporters built up over decades in the Senate and eight years at President Barack Obama’s side.

More than 96,900 people donated online to the former vice president’s campaign, his aides said in a news release Friday.

A source familiar with the figures said the total does not include any general election funds. That means the money can all be used for the nomination battle against the 19 other Democrats seeking the party’s nod.

Of that haul, $4.4 million was raised through online donations, his campaign said.

“We are incredibly heartened by the energy and enthusiasm displayed throughout the country for Joe Biden,” his deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

Read more »


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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 25th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has officially announced that he is running for president in 2020.

In a video posted on Twitter this morning Biden took an immediate aim at the current president citing Trump’s infamous response in the aftermath of the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago in which he had claimed there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the violent confrontation between white supremacists and counterprotesters.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

Watch: Joe Biden Announces 2020 Presidential Campaign:

The Associated Press notes that “the 76-year-old Biden becomes an instant front-runner alongside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is leading many polls and has proved to be a successful fundraiser. Among Democrats, Biden has unmatched international and legislative experience, and he is among the best-known faces in U.S. politics. He quickly racked up endorsements on Thursday morning, becoming the first Democrat running for president with the backing of more than one U.S. senator. Still, Biden must compete in a field that now spans at least 20 Democrats and has been celebrated for its racial and gender diversity. As an older white man with occasionally centrist views, Biden has to prove he’s not out of step with his party. He’s betting that his working-class appeal and ties to Barack Obama’s presidency will help him overcome those questions. Biden has said he would campaign as an ‘Obama-Biden Democrat,’ who is as pragmatic as he is progressive.”

President Obama also weighed in on Thursday releasing a statement via his spokeswoman Katie Hill.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Hill said. “He relied on the vice president’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”

AP adds: “Privately, Trump allies have warned that Biden might be the biggest re-election threat given the former vice president’s potential appeal among the white working class in the Midwest, the region that gave Trump a path to the presidency. Biden is paying special attention to Pennsylvania, a state that swung to Trump in 2016 after voting for Democratic presidential candidates for decades. The former vice president will be in the state three times within the opening weeks of his campaign. He’ll be in Philadelphia on Thursday evening headlining a fundraiser at the home of David L. Cohen, executive senior vice president of Comcast. Biden is aiming to raise $500,000 at the event. He will hold an event in Pittsburgh on Monday and will return to Philadelphia in the next two weeks for a major rally. He’s scheduled to make his first media appearance as a 2020 presidential contender Friday morning on ABC’s “The View,” a move that may help him make an appeal to women whose support will be crucial to winning the primary.”


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In US Call for Trump Impeachment Grows

Senator Kamala Harris became the latest U.S. presidential candidate to call on Congress to impeach President Trump in the wake of the explosive Mueller report released last week. (Photo: Reuters)

CNBC

Sen. Kamala Harris calls on Congress to take steps toward Trump impeachment

Sen. Kamala Harris late Monday said she would support Congress starting impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

That comes on the heels of fellow Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren last week calling for impeachment.

“I think we have very good reason to believe that there is an investigation that has been conducted, which has produced evidence that tells us that this president and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice,” Harris said in response to a question at a CNN town hall in New Hampshire. “I believe Congress should take the steps toward impeachment.”

Harris, the junior senator from California and a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee and Select Intelligence Committee, said the report released following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election made it clear there was “good evidence” to make a case for obstruction of justice.

“For those of us who have been following the investigation, and have seen any part of that report, it’s very clear that there’s a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction and obstruction of justice,” said Harris, a former prosecutor who once served as district attorney in San Francisco and later as California attorney general.

Added Harris: “I believe that we need to get rid of this president.”

Read more »


Pelosi’s impeachment dam has been breached — The Washington Post

The Washington Post

Pelosi’s impeachment dam has been breached

Monday was the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had to know might be coming but did her best to forestall. It was the day the dam she had erected against the Democrats’ impeachment fervor was breached.

Despite polls long showing about three-quarters of Democratic voters favor impeachment, Pelosi and her fellow leaders had done a good job keeping their party’s congressional contingent unified behind a more cautious approach. While a handful of mostly backbenchers have kept beating the impeachment drum, it hadn’t really filtered up into the ranks of top leaders and presidential candidates.

After the release of the Mueller report, that’s changing. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the first big-name 2020 candidate to come out in favor of impeachment, and on Monday Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) joined her.

In some ways, it’s a wonder it’s taken this long…

But while the vast majority of Democratic voters have told pollsters they favor impeachment, there hasn’t really been a national movement. Part of that was because everyone was waiting to see the Mueller report, and part of that was that there really hasn’t been a national leader for the movement.

Neither of those reasons applies any more.

Read more »


Paranoia, Lies and Fear: Trump’s Presidency Laid Bare by Mueller Report


In his highly anticipated report released to the public on Thursday, April 18th former FBI Director Robert Mueller painted a damning portrait of Trump in the White House outlining in a cinematic fashion 10 “episodes” of obstruction of justice evidence and jarring scenes of presidential scheming, paranoia, fear and fabrication of false record. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

The moment President Trump learned two years ago that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate Russian election interference, he declared in the Oval Office, “This is the end of my presidency.”

Trump nearly made that a self-fulfilling prophecy as he then plotted for months to thwart the probe, spawning a culture of corruption and deception inside the White House.

Trump’s advisers rarely challenged him and often willingly did his bidding, according to the special counsel’s report released Thursday. But in some cases, they refused when Trump pushed them to the brink of committing outright crimes.

Trump ordered Donald McGahn to instigate special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s firing, but the White House lawyer decided he would resign rather than follow through.

Trump urged Corey Lewandowski to ask then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to curtail the investigation, but his former campaign manager only delivered the message to an intermediary.

And Trump demanded that Reince Priebus procure Sessions’s resignation, but the White House chief of staff did not carry out the directive.

The vivid portrait that emerges from Mueller’s 448-page report is of a presidency plagued by paranoia, insecurity and scheming — and of an inner circle gripped by fear of Trump’s spasms. Again and again, Trump frantically pressured his aides to lie to the public, deny true news stories and fabricate a false record.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report says. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Read more »


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The Media is Failing Ethiopia

We are only a year away from a major and historic election season in Ethiopia, but is the media ready for the challenge ahead? “This opening up is sort of an ultimate test for us, and we are failing it, I’m afraid,” Tsedale Lemma, editor of Addis Standard, told The Washington Post in a recent interview. “That is damaging, not just to the industry, not just media, but to the social cohesion in a country that’s deeply polarized, ethnicized and going through a fragile moment of transition.” Below is an excerpt from The Post article published on Sunday, April 21st, 2019. (Photo: Paul Schemm/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

After years of repression, Ethiopia’s media is free — and fanning the flames of ethnic tension

Ethiopia has been a rare bright spot of increased rights and democracy on a continent more known for leaders overstaying their mandates. Its progress in media freedom — there are no longer any imprisoned journalists — has been so dramatic that it was chosen to host World Press Freedom Day next month.

The changes have also prompted conflicts and unearthed long-buried grievances, often revolving around land and ethnicity. To many, a newly polarized press is making things worse.

In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, Ethi­o­pia rose 40 places, from 150 out of 180 countries to 110 — the biggest improvement this year in any country.

Next year, Ethi­o­pia will hold its first free elections in 15 years, and there are fears that the toxic media environment could lead to violence.

“This opening up is sort of an ultimate test for us, and we are failing it, I’m afraid,” said Tsedale Lemma, editor of the English-language Addis Standard. “That is damaging, not just to the industry, not just media, but to the social cohesion in a country that’s deeply polarized, ethnicized and going through a fragile moment of transition.”

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


Related:
Ethiopian Selected as Official Carrier for 2019 World Press Freedom Day
Tadias Reflection on PM Abiy’s One Year in Office

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Artnet News on Ethiopia’s Zoma Museum

‘It’s All About Life’: Ethiopia’s newest art museum doubles as an experiment in environmental sustainability. The Zoma Museum, an alternative arts and ecological institution in Addis Ababa, opened in March. (Photo by Michel Temteme, courtesy of Zoma Museum)

Artnet News

A museum made of mud and straw has opened its doors in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

When the Zoma Museum’s co-founders, curator Meskerem Assegued and architect Elias Sime, decided to build a museum in their home city 20 years ago, they knew they didn’t want it to be just another brick-and-mortar building with statement architecture. “As high-rise concrete and glass buildings are crowding the city with fewer and fewer green spaces, Elias and I felt strongly [about building] a large museum with huge garden where city dwellers can be connected to nature,” says Assegued, who is the museum’s director as well as an anthropologist.

To that end, the Zoma Museum, which opened its doors on March 23, is a low-lying, eco-sensitive arts center with farming plots, herb gardens, grazing animals, and traditional Ethiopian houses for artist residencies, workshops, and exhibitions. A small family of cows lives in an on-site stable, their dairy production supervised by a previous landowner. In short, it’s a haven.

Visitors to the museum “come to experience the sources of food,” which is cultivated on site at Zoma, Assegued says. It is both a literal source of nutrition and a symbolic one aimed at providing Ethiopians an alternate view of how to live in the increasingly crowded city. “Most children don’t know where milk comes from, so they come to see how cows are milked or smell the aroma of herbs. It is all about life and love.”

Read more »


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ABIY AHMED By Feyisa Lilesa (TIME)

In the following article published by Time magazine Ethiopian Olympic-silver-medalist marathoner Feyisa Lilesa honors Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who has been named one of Time's 100 most influential people of 2019. (Photo: Yonas Tadesse—Getty Images)

TIME

By Feyisa Lilesa

In 2016, the situation in Ethiopia was very bad. People were being killed and many were in jail, and I wanted the world to know what the government was doing. That’s why, during the 2016 marathon at the Rio Olympics, I crossed my wrists at the finish line—to symbolize that the Ethiopian people want to stop the killing, stop the jailing. We don’t want a dictatorship.

After that, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back. The government was killing dissidents. I missed my country; I missed my mother. She cried to me on the phone every day for two years.

Then last March, while I was training in Kenya, I heard that Dr. Abiy Ahmed would be the next Prime Minister. In Ethiopian history, we have never seen a leader like him. He’s an educated person who talks about unity. He has released thousands of people from jail. He brought peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea after 20 years of war. And he made it possible for me to come home.

Yes, people are still protesting. But now, when they protest, they aren’t going to jail. To me, that is democracy. That is hope.

See the full list at Time.com »


Related:
Photos: Ethiopia Honors Feyisa Lilesa

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US Elections 2020|In NJ Cory Booker Kicks Off Bid With Echo of MLK: “We can’t wait.”

U.S. presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker formally Kicked off his campaign in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey this past weekend with a speech that echoed the world famous Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “We can’t wait.” (Photo: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) takes a selfie with his supporters during a hometown kickoff for his presidential campaign in downtown Newark on Saturday, April 13th, 2019/AP)

The Washington Post

Sen. Cory Booker formally joins presidential race with an echo of Martin Luther King Jr.: “We can’t wait.”

NEWARK — Speaking in the rejuvenated downtown of the city he helmed as mayor for seven years, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) offered himself as an optimistic and hopeful counterpoint to President Trump who would heal political and social toxicity that Booker said extends far beyond the White House.

Like most of the Democrats running for president, he mentioned Trump sparingly in his remarks during his hometown kickoff — and then only as a symptom of a more pervasive problem in American society.

“We can’t wait when powerful forces are turning their prejudice into policy and rolling back the rights that generations of Americans fought for and died for,” he told the crowd of 4,100…

“And we can’t wait because many of our most serious challenges as a nation were with us long before Donald Trump entered the White House.”

Booker, the mayor of New Jersey’s largest city from 2006 until 2013, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, finds himself solidly in the middle of a presidential pack that now numbers 18. Booker raised more than $5 million in the two months since he announced his bid for the presidency, a number that places him behind other high-profile aspirants like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Corey Booker begins tour for president with ‘hometown kickoff’

UPI

April 13 (UPI) — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker began a two-week tour for president with a “hometown kickoff” Saturday in Newark, N.J., where still has a house and was mayor.

A crowd of around 4,000 to 5,000 people, according to police, turned out at Military Park for a campaign stretch billed as a “justice for all tour” — including criminal, economic and environmental. Because the supporters were slow in arriving, Booker’s speech was delayed by one hour, CNN reported.

Booker, who was elected senator in November 2012 after serving two terms as Newark’s mayor, announced his candidacy for president on Feb. 1 by emailing supporting with an email announcement.

Booker was the eighth Democrat to announce he was running for president. The Democratic field has ballooned to 17 other candidates, including six U.S. senators. He is backed by 3.8 percent of voters, according to RealClearPolitics, way behind 31.1 percent for Joe Biden, who hasn’t announced he is running for president, and 21.2 percent for Bernie Sanders, who ran in 2016 for president. All of the other candidates are in single digits.

“Together, we will fulfill our pledge to be a nation of liberty and justice for all,” Booker said in downtown Newark. “Together, we will win. And together, America, we will rise.”

Booker next plans to campaign in Iowa, Georgia and Nevada. He will be focusing on communities that have been left out, according to his campaign.

RELATED Democrats begin reporting funding totals; Sanders hauls $18.2M
“Too many people believe the forces that are tearing us apart are stronger than the bonds that hold us together. I don’t believe that,” the 50-year-old Booker told his supporters. “I believe we will achieve things that other people say are impossible. I believe we will make justice real for all.”

Booker, the first African-American to represent New Jersey in the chamber, mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written in 1963, and its declaration that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

“We are here today to say, we can’t wait,” Booker said.

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Related:
Addisu Demissie to Manage Cory Booker’s 2020 U.S. Presidential Campaign

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Ethiopia’s ‘Roof of Africa’ Forest Burns: Israel Joins Fire Combat

A wildfire burning in Ethiopia's Semien National Park. (Photo via Africa News)

Africa News

Israeli firefighters are the latest addition to a growing list of experts in Ethiopia to help authorities deal with a rampaging forest fire that has hit the Semien National Park in the northern Amhara region.

Fire have been raging in parts of the historic national park for the past few months but it wasn’t until last week that external intervention was sought for to combat the crisis.

Experts from South Africa, Kenya and France were among the first to offer their assistance as of last week. Media reports quoting an Amhara regional state official said after weeks of battling fires, a renewed forest fire had broken out as of April 9.

The Times of Israel said the team joining the efforts “is being led by Zion Shenkar, who was born in Ethiopia and was the Israel Defense Force’s first-ever battalion commander from the Ethiopian community.”

Local media portal, Addis Standard added that the fire has been on and off for the last two weeks with efforts aimed at controlling it largely unsuccessful. South Africa agreed to send six firefighter planes to help.

Kenya which is also dealing with a similar case in the Mount Kenya area could not deliver on its promised assistance as at close of last week. The regional state president admitted yesterday that the issue had gotten beyond their control and needed federal intervention.

The nature of gorges and the landscape of the area is also said to be a major contributory factor that largely hampered earlier efforts at extinguishing the blaze.

A BBC reporter said: volunteers and residents had joined in the effort to put out the blaze. Another fire broke out in the park last month, destroying 340 hectares (840 acres) of forest and grass. The cause of the fires have yet to be established.

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Los Angeles: Nipsey Hussle, A Hometown Hero, Immortalized at Memorial

People watch as a hearse carrying the casket of slain rapper Nipsey Hussle passes Hussle's clothing store The Marathon, Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Los Angeles. Hussle’s casket, draped in the flag of his father’s native country, Eritrea, embarked on a 25-mile tour of the city after his memorial service, drawing thousands to the streets to catch a glimpse of the recently-anointed hometown hero. (AP Photo)

AP

By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. and MESFIN FEKADU

LOS ANGELES — Nipsey Hussle’s legacy as a persistent rapper, community activist, uniter, doting father, protective sibling and a loving son were underscored at his public memorial service on Thursday, with deeply personal testimonies from those closest to the rapper, including his actress-fiancee Lauren London, collaborator and dear friend Snoop Dogg and his mother, who said she was at peace with the death of her “superhero” son.

Beyonce and Jay-Z were among the big-name celebrities who attended the three-hour event in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, where the last celebrity funeral held at the concert arena was Michael Jackson’s in 2009.

The arena was packed with more than 21,000 fans and drove home the important impact Hussle — just 33 when he died — had on his city and the rest of the world.

“I’m very proud of my son. My son Ermias Joseph Asghedom was a great man,” said Angelique Smith, dressed in all white. Standing onstage with Hussle’s father, Dawit Asghedom, she declared: “Ermias was a legacy.”

London, who was in dark sunglasses, was emotional but stood strong onstage as she told the audience: “I’ve never felt this type of pain before.”

London called Hussle “majestic” and “brilliant” and said she had learned so much from his presence. She added that though she was hurting, she was really sad for their son Kross, whom she feared wouldn’t remember his dad: “My pain is for my 2-year-old.”

Snoop Dogg’s words to immortalize his friend were both serious and silly, as he told old stories about Hussle and their brotherhood.

“This a tough one right here,” he said, visibly shaken but keeping his composure.

Snoop thanked Hussle’s parents multiple times and told his father that “you picked up another son in me.”

Hussle’s father said he knew his son was strong because when he was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck but he prevailed.

“He was a fighter,” he said.

Earlier in the ceremony, Hussle’s children also appeared onstage to pay tribute. London’s son with rapper Lil Wayne, Cameron Carter, said days after Hussle died, he had a dream he saw the rapper.

“I realized Ermias told me what heaven was like. He told me it was paradise,” Cameron said.

Cameron then told the audience that Hussle would look at him through the window at times and say “respect.” Cameron then asked the crowd to say “respect” in unison, and they complied.


Nipsey Hussle

Hussle was slain last month in front of a store that he tried to use to empower his South Los Angeles neighborhood. The public memorial service kicked off by paying respect to Hussle the rapper, as songs from his latest Grammy-nominated album, “Victory Lap,” filled the arena.

“Everybody put your hands in the air,” the DJ said as one of Hussle’s songs played. “It’s a celebration.”

Indeed, his mother danced in the aisle as R&B singer Marsha Ambrosius sang the Mariah Carey song “Fly Like a Bird” while fighting back tears. “This is for Nipsey y’all,” Ambrosius said before she started as she tried to gain her composure, sighing heavily.

But soon the focus was squarely on the person behind the persona. A montage of photos featuring the rapper from infancy, childhood and adulthood, with fellow rappers, his family and London, were shown to the crowd, set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

Stevie Wonder was the last performer to pay tribute to Hussle, who he said he had the chance to meet, saying: “We had a good conversation.” Before he sang “Rocket Song,” one of Hussle’s favorites, Wonder denounced gun violence and told the audience “there’s enough people being killed by guns and violence.”

Anthony Hamilton invoked the spirit of a church service when he performed in Hussle’s honor. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan hailed Hussle’s ability to bring different factions together. And blogger and media figure Karen Civil read a letter sent by former U.S. President Barack Obama, who wrote that he never met Nipsey but heard of his music through his daughters.

“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that even through its flaws taught him to always keep going. He chose to invest in that community rather than to ignore it,” the Obama letter read. “He set an example for young people to follow and is a legacy worth of celebration. I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it. Michelle and I send our sympathies to Lauren, Emani, Kross and his whole family and to all those who love Nipsey.”

Father Thomas Uwal read a scripture in Tigrinya — the native language in Eritrea, the African country where Hussle’s father was from. Uwal spoke of Hussle being “proud to be an Eritrean-American,” later saying to the late rapper’s family: “On behalf of all Eritreans … we say our condolences to you.”


A makeshift memorial site for Nipsey Hussle is filled with candles outside The Marathon Clothing store. (AP photo)

Books with an image of Hussle on the cover were handed out to service attendees. The book of nearly 100 pages contained numerous photos of Hussle with London, his children, and friends like Russell Westbrook and Snoop Dogg. It also had heartfelt messages from Rick Ross, The Game and LeBron James.

“I’ve never cried myself to sleep over any public figure before, but Nipsey’s presence meant so much for our community,” actress Issa Rae said in her message inside the book.

The hearse carrying Hussle’s coffin went through a 25-mile (40-kilometer) lap through the city, including past the property where Hussle had planned to turn an aging strip mall into new businesses and affordable homes.

Thousands of people crowded the streets, some on bicycles and motorcycles, following and surrounding the vehicle as it slowly wound its way to the funeral home. The silver Cadillac passed the rapper’s childhood home in Watts. It came to a halt at times, unable to move in the vast crowd of people.

Police kept an eye on the crowd, which appeared largely peaceful. At one point, people sat atop a police car spray-painted with the words: “Nips in Paradise.”

At one point during the procession, there was a brief stampede, apparently because of some kind of startling noise that may have been Mylar balloons popping. The Fire Department said several power lines were downed by the metalized balloons. There also were reports of people feeling unwell from the heat and the packed conditions. The Fire Department said it treated 15 people, including five who were taken to local hospitals.

There were reports of leg pain and dehydration but no reports of major injuries, fire officials said.

The hearse finally arrived Wednesday evening at a funeral home in the city’s hard-scrabble Crenshaw district, where the rapper was born on Aug. 15, 1985.

Hussle was shot to death March 31 while standing outside The Marathon, his South Los Angeles clothing store, not far from where the rapper grew up.

Eric R. Holder Jr., who has been charged with killing Hussle, has pleaded not guilty. Police have said Holder and Hussle had several interactions the day of the shooting and have described it as being the result of a personal dispute.

For a decade, Hussle released much sought-after mixtapes that he sold out of the trunk of his car, helping him create a buzz and gain respect from rap purists and his peers. His said his stage name, a play on the 1960s and ’70s rhyming standup comic Nipsey Russell, was given to him as a teen by an older friend because he was such a go-getter — always hustling.

Last year he hit new heights with “Victory Lap,” his critically acclaimed major-label debut album on Atlantic Records that made several critics’ best-of lists. The album debuted at No. 4 on Billboard’s 200 albums charts and earned him a Grammy nomination.

But the rapper was also a beloved figure for his philanthropic work that went well beyond the usual celebrity “giving back” ethos. Following his death, political and community leaders were as quick and effusive in their praise as his fellow hip-hop artists.

His family and friends vowed to continue his work, and London told the crowd: “The marathon continues!”

Associated Press Writers Andrew Dalton, Amanda Myers and John Rogers contributed to this report.
___

In Ethiopia Candlelight Vigil Held for Slain Eritrean American Artist Nipsey Hussle


Hundreds of Ethiopians and Eritreans living in Addis Ababa attended a memorial service for Eritrean American rapper, Nipsey Hussle who was shot dead last month near a clothes shop he owned in Los Angeles. (AFP)

AFP

Ethiopians bid farewell to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle

Addis Ababa — With poems and speeches, Ethiopians have held an emotional farewell for murdered rapper Nipsey Hussle, whose roots in neighbouring Eritrea won him admirers in both countries.

Known for his Grammy-nominated debut album, Hussle was shot dead last week in front of the clothing store he owned in the US city of Los Angeles, whose violence-plagued neighbourhoods he had tried to revitalise.

On Friday, 29-year-old Eric Holder pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder over the shooting that also wounded two other men.

At the Saturday evening memorial in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Hussle was remembered as a rare entertainer who bridged his American upbringing with his roots in the Horn of Africa.

“When we heard there’s an Eritrean rapper out there, we were fans before we heard his music,” said Ambaye Michael Tesfay, who eulogised Hussle at the event held in a darkened parking lot. “He was an icon for us.”

Before his 2018 debut album “Victory Lap” scored a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album, Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, had won the attention of rap fans from both Ethiopia and Eritrea for his embrace of his father’s Eritrean heritage.

Eritrea was a province of Ethiopia until 1993, when it voted for independence after a decades-long independence struggle, but both countries still have close cultural and family ties.

“It’s just really tragic what happened,” said Tezeta Solomon, an Ethiopian living in Los Angeles who attended the memorial in Addis Ababa.

“When he first came out, we were all so excited. To know there was a habesha rapper out there definitely sparked some pride,” she said, using a common term to describe people from the Horn of Africa.

Hussle embraced his Eritrean heritage, visiting the country last year and telling state media, “More than anything I am proud of being Eritrean.”

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Nipsey Hussle’s Eritrean American Dream (The Atlantic)


As the staff writer for The Atlantic magazine Hannah Giorgis highlights in the following article: “The slain rapper, who was known for his investment in his Los Angeles community, also inspired fans and fellow musicians who share his East African heritage.” (Getty Images)

The Atlantic

By HANNAH GIORGIS

Updated: APR 4, 2019

In April 2018, the Los Angeles–born street rapper Nipsey Hussle traveled to his father’s native Eritrea for the first time in 14 years. The trip found the musician, née Ermias Davidson Asghedom, both contemplative and triumphant: After a prolific run of mixtapes spanning more than a decade, the fiercely independent artist had recently released his major-label studio debut, Victory Lap. (The February 2018 record, which debuted at No. 4, would later earn him a nomination for Best Rap Album at this year’s Grammys.)

While in the East African country, Hussle and his brother, Samiel “Blacc Sam” Asghedom, followed their father’s lead: They traveled to historical sites and met the country’s divisive president; they were blessed by their 90-year-old grandmother with himbasha, the slightly sweet bread most often served during celebrations. Hussle was also interviewed by a number of state-run media outlets. In one interview, which was posted to Eritrea’s Ministry of Information website, the Eritrean journalist Billion Temesghen told the musician that his listeners, particularly those on the continent, saw his hard-won successes as their own. Hussle’s response at the time was gracious and affirming. “I want to thank my Eritrean fans for feeling connected to me and for supporting me. I feel extremely grateful,” he replied. “I am going to keep coming back here and make frequent returns … Thank you for keeping my name alive out here.”

But now, less than a year later, Hussle’s connection to his fans, Eritrean and American alike, has taken on a far more tragic valence. On Sunday afternoon, Hussle was fatally shot outside the store he co-owned in South L.A., the neighborhood Hussle celebrated in his music, advocacy, and philanthropic ventures. The Los Angeles Police Department has since apprehended a suspect in the case, but the rapper and activist’s killing remains a devastating blow to his family and to fans around the world, many of whom have likened him to the late Tupac Shakur.

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How Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom) Connected to His Eritrean Roots


Grammy-nominated Eritrean-American rapper Nipsey Hussle whose real name was Ermias Asghedom was shot and killed on Sunday outside the clothing store he founded in Los Angeles. He was 33. (Getty Images)

CNN

Rapper Nipsey Hussle’s death in a shooting near his clothing store was greeted with shock and disbelief by celebrities and fans alike.

The 33-year-old musician, real name Ermias Davidson Asghedom, was shot dead in an attack on Sunday that also left two others injured.

The city of Los Angeles where he grew up and dedicated his life to helping kids break out of the cycle of gang violence mourned his passing.

But somewhere, thousands of miles away in east Africa, Nipsey’s death was felt even more keenly by the people of Eritrea.

His father, Nipsey once said, fled a war in Eritrea to settle in the US.

Hussle visited Eritrea twice in his lifetime: first as an 18-year-old when he spent three months and most recently in April 2018.

With his brother Samiel and their dad, Hussle met the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and sat down with the Ministry of Information’s website for a wide-ranging interview about his life and experiences growing up in Los Angeles in a culture of gang violence.

Then he spoke of his love for Eritrea and his desire to connect with his extended family after fourteen years since his last visit.

“I am here to visit my family and reconnect with my grandmother, my cousins and everybody else,” Hussle said during the interview.

“I love to be here. The people, the food, the culture, and the lifestyle are extremely good.”

During his trip back to his father’s country, Hussle also visited a local textile factory in the capital Asmara to explore business opportunities.

Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane Meskel led the tributes to Hussle after news of his death broke.

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