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Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg at Africa Summit

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been active in Africa for more than 15 years. (Getty Images)



Bill Clinton will moderate the opening session of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Commerce Department are co-sponsoring in Washington on Aug. 5 — the middle day of a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Barack Obama.

The summit is expected to draw more than 40 African heads of state, the largest gathering of African leaders on U.S. soil — plus 200 U.S. and African CEOs, as well as Cabinet and congressional participants.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will introduce Obama for closing remarks. Vice President Joe Biden will also speak at the forum, to be held at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Organizers say the forum is designed as “an opportunity for government and business leaders to come together to explore new investment possibilities that can fuel job creation in both the U.S. and African economies.”

Bloomberg, who has been active in Africa for more than 15 years, and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will give opening remarks. Secretary of State Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim will be among those giving welcoming remarks. Moderators will include National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Charlie Rose.

Read more at politico.come »

Meet the Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia
Obama Renames Africa Young Leaders Program For Nelson Mandela
U.S.-AFRICA SUMMIT 2014: Preview
Transport Chiefs From Five Countries to Visit Chicago Ahead of U.S.-Africa Summit
Ambassador David Shinn on the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

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Multilingual Twitter Campaign Planned to Demand Release of Zone 9 Bloggers

(Photo courtesy: Zone9Tumblr)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – In solidarity with Ethiopia’s jailed Zone 9 bloggers and journalists, a worldwide, multilingual Tweetathon is being organized by the free speech advocacy organization Global Voices Online. The Twitter event (under the hashtag #FreeZone9Bloggers) is scheduled for Thursday, July 31st, 2014 from 10am – 2pm.

“The Global Voices community and our network of allies are demanding justice for these men and women, all of whom have worked hard to expand spaces for social and political commentary in Ethiopia through blogging and journalism,” the organization announced. “We believe their arrest is a violation of their universal right to free expression, and that the charges filed against them are unjust.”

“The bloggers’ trial begins on August 4, 2014. Until then, and beyond, they will need all the support they can get. So this Thursday, we as a global community of bloggers, writers, activists, and social media experts will share this message around the world, tweeting in our native languages at community leaders, government and diplomatic officials, and mainstream media to draw public attention to the case.”

Below are details about the Tweetathon.

A Tweetathon Demanding the Release of Jailed Ethiopian Bloggers
Date: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Time: 10am – 2pm — no matter what time zone you’re in!
Hashtag: #FreeZone9Bloggers
More info at globalvoicesonline.org.

41 Organizations Call for Release of Detained Ethiopian Journalists and Bloggers
As Ethiopia’s ‘Zone 9′ Bloggers Get Popular, They Get Charged With Terror
Zone 9 Bloggers Charged With Terrorism
Interview With the Lawyer of Illegally Detained Zone9 Bloggers
CPJ condemns closed court hearings for nine Ethiopian journalists
Zone9 Co-Founder Speaks Out (Video)

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Meet the Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia

(Photo courtesy: YALI - Young African leaders Initiative)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – Ethiopia is represented by 13 young leaders in the newly renamed Mandela Washington Fellows for Young African Leaders program.

Per the White House: “Selected from nearly 50,000 applications, the 500 Mandela Washington Fellows represent the extraordinary promise of an emerging generation of entrepreneurs, activists, and public officials. Mandela Washington Fellows are between 25 and 35 years old; have proven track records of leadership in a public, private, or civic organization; and demonstrate a strong commitment to contributing their skills and talents to building and serving their communities. The first class of Fellows represents all 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and includes equal numbers of men and women. Despite their youth, more than 75 percent of Fellows already hold a mid-level or executive position, and 48 percent have a graduate degree. Twenty-five percent of Fellows currently work in a non-governmental institution and 39 percent of them operate their own business. Nearly all Fellows are the first in their families to visit the United States.”

Below are the names and biographies of the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia:

Fozya Tesfa Adem

Fozya Tesfa has over nine years of experience working in the education sector. She is founder and current Dean of the School of Education at the University of Gondar, responsible for recruiting instructors, working with instructors on curriculum planning and delivery, training and advising students, and organizing and delivering pedagogical trainings. Fozya holds a Master of Arts in Educational Planning and Management from Addis Ababa University focusing on identifying management problems and prioritizing possible solutions in technical and vocational education and training institutions. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative and International Education at the same university with a special emphasis on pre-primary education. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Fozya plans to work towards improving the quality of education in Ethiopia by empowering teachers and students and to advocate for children and other stakeholders throughout the educational system.

Mesganaw Assefa

Mesganaw Assefa has experience working in the areas of governance, human rights, and education. He currently serves as a national Peace Expert for the Ministry of Federal Affairs where he advises on strategic directions, policy formulation, and capacity building efforts in its conflict prevention and resolution tasks. He also teaches law for undergraduate students at Addis Ababa University. Previously, he worked at the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission as a member of the team of experts that drafted the first National Human Rights Action Plan of Ethiopia, which is currently being implemented. Mesganaw holds two master’s degrees, an LLM in International Human Rights Law from Lund University and a Master of Arts in Global Political studies with specialization in peace and conflict studies from Malmö University. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Mesganaw plans to continue to engage with public institutions to influence the implementation of strategic policy decisions on safety and justice issues with a particular focus on issues of women and girls.

Darara Mole Banti

Darara Mole has five years of experience working in community development. Currently, he serves as a Program Coordinator with the Harmee Education for Development Association, an organization that works with women, children, youth, and people with disabilities located in rural areas. He is also chairman of the Youth for Action and Charity and previously worked with the Office of Government Labor and Social Affairs. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology and is currently working towards a master’s degree in Social Work at Addis Ababa University. Upon his return from the Washington Fellowship, Darara plans to share his acquired skills and knowledge with his community and engage in leadership cultivation programs at schools to inspire youth to be responsible citizens. He is also very keen to engage in charitable activities and to continue working with children.

Helawi Beshah

Helawi Beshah is an architect that researches and lectures for the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC). For the last seven years he has researched and conducted experiments focusing on innovative, green, and affordable housing alternatives and constructing prototype buildings for lower income neighborhoods in Ethiopia. He is also the founder and Executive Editor of Building Ethiopia, the first architecture and urban scientific journal in Ethiopia. He is skilled in photography, visual communications, and graphics design. Helawi received his bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the Addis Ababa University and a master’s in advanced studies in Urban Design at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Helawi plans to create publications, documentaries, and platforms that focus on innovations and change by youth across Africa.

Saba Bisrat

Saba Bisrat has over five years of experience in the construction business sector. She is currently the founder and Managing Director of Revo Construction where she executes projects that mainly focus on alternative construction methodologies. She is also a partner with a turnkey solution company called TKM Maestro Technology PLC and serves as co-founder and committee president for an international student organization called AIESEC. Saba is planning to launch a labor training center focused on providing skills for those working in the construction sector. Saba holds a bachelor’s degree in Construction Technology and Management from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Upon the completion of the Washington Fellowship, she plans to share her acquired knowledge and skills with her community by giving workshops to different construction associations and graduating students who will be entering the construction industry.

Deginet Doyiso

Deginet Doyiso has four years of experience working as a Public Prosecutor in the Kambata Tambaro Zone Justice Office, in the SNNP Region of Ethiopia. As a disabled person, Deginet works to ensure that all disabled people in Ethiopia are given equal opportunities and do not live in poverty. He has received training in various areas including project management and planning, fundraising, and public speech from the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs in Kerala, India. He is founder of an NGO that focuses on issues and problems important to the disabled community and also has a center that provides training to disabled women in small businesses. After completing the Washington Fellowship, Deginet plans to renew his energy and further improve his NGO to empower disabled persons economically and socially.

Haleta Giday

Haleta Giday has over three years of experience working in community development. She is currently a Lecturer of Law at the Woliyta Sodo University and serves as a public prosecutor in southern Ethiopia. She focuses on the rights of women and children and has conducted several trainings to increase awareness regarding the legal and financial rights of women. Haleta holds a degree in Law from Jimma University and conducted her research on human rights violations in Africa. After completion of the Washington Fellowship, she plans to work with the United Nations and African Union on issues related to peacekeeping and conflict resolution in Africa. She also plans to conduct trainings on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Yonas Moges

Yonas Moges has over ten years of experience working in the hospitality industry with major international hotel chains. Currently, he is a managing partner at Calibra Hospitality Consultancy and Business Plc, where he focuses on advising local hotel developers in hotel design concept development, site selection, conducting feasibility studies, searching and selecting a hotel operator, and sourcing debt and equity finance for hotel projects. Yonas received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Addis Ababa University and is currently pursuing an MBA-HRM in Distance Education from Cambridge International College. Upon the Completion of the Washington Fellowship, he plans to work on strengthening third party hotel management and introducing the first franchised family restaurant to his home city. He is also working to start an Ethiopian Vocational School of Hospitality with an international hotel school accreditation system.

Michael Addisu Haile

Michael Addisu Haile has more than 8 years of experience in lecturing, consultancy and business management, with a focus on the financial sector. He worked in several positions before starting a new and pioneering microfinance institution called Nisir Microfinance. Nisir provides medium size and demand-driven credit, saving, micro-insurance, micro-leasing and business advisory services to medium sized enterprises. Michael was inspired to start Nisir when writing his Master’s thesis in 2006, when he discovered a large gap in the Ethiopian financial sector that was not being served; existing microfinance institutions focused only on the bottom segment and commercial banks mostly served high-end customers only. He was able to raise over $800,000 from over 200 shareholders to establish his company. Upon returning to Ethiopia, Michael will continue to provide young entrepreneurs, including women-owned businesses and other emerging companies through business development and financial services. Michael has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Finance and Accounting, and is currently a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) candidate from the CFA Institute.

Edda Zekarias

Edda Zekarias has eight years of experience working in child and adult education, communication, and advocacy. She currently works closely with UNDP Ethiopia’s Governance and Capacity Building Unit where she is responsible for reporting and sharing program developments with different parties including the Ethiopian government and its people as well as international partners. She also assists with media related projects by producing content and pictures for the UNDP Ethiopia website and writing updates for the organization’s social media networks. Edda also serves as the Secretariat of the UN Communication Group (UNCG) in the office of the UN Ethiopia Resident Coordinator, assisting efforts to strengthen and promote the work of the UN in Ethiopia and also engage the state and private media in developing communication. After The Washington Fellowship, Edda plans to share acquired knowledge and skills with her UNDP Ethiopia and UNCG colleagues.

Aichatou Tamba

Aichatou Tamba has five years of experience in conflict prevention and African peace and security dynamics with the African Union (AU). She is currently working on the AU Border Program, focusing on capacity development in a dozen African States with an emphasis on promoting borders as a conflict prevention tool and an instrument for African integration. Previously, Aichatou conducted research focused on the relation between African regional and continental integration bodies and on the concept of “African Solutions.” For two years, she was the liaison officer of the Africa Peace and Security Program, which gave her advocacy skills and access to a network of multilateral organizations and actors focused on mediation, peace, security, and governance. She received her degree in Comparative Law and Politics with a specialization in International Analysis and Prospective from the University of Auvergne. Upon completing the Washington Fellowship, she plans on advocating for strong diversity management policies for conflict prevention in Africa.

Mitiku Gabrehiwot

Mitiku Gabrehiwot is a lecturer at Mekelle University with over 10 years of research and teaching experience. He is a postgraduate Coordinator at the Department of Anthropology and is responsible for launching and supervising master’s programs within the department. He also works with the Mekelle School for the Blind where he organizes and coordinates volunteers from several different countries including Ethiopia, UK, and USA. He received a bachelor’s degree in History and Law and a master’s degree in Journalism and Medical Anthropology. He is an accomplished photographer and speaks seven different local languages. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, he plans to mobilize and encourage youth in his community to be active in volunteerism and public service.

Tsion Teferra Zeleke

Tsion Teferra Zeleke has seven years of experience serving as a development practitioner. Her work has focused on providing services in strategic development and management, result based program implementation and management, partners appraisal and management, and promotion of community and children participation. She is currently serving as the Director of Child Protection for Save the Children Ethiopia. Her responsibilities include developing and implementing the in-country child protection program and performing advocacy work to positively influence policies. She has a Master of Arts in Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Tsion plans to be engaged in advocating for adequate budgeting for the implementation of projects that protect vulnerable children and families.

Obama Renames Africa Young Leaders Program For Nelson Mandela
U.S.-AFRICA SUMMIT 2014: Preview
Transport Chiefs From Five Countries to Visit Chicago Ahead of U.S.-Africa Summit
Ambassador David Shinn on the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

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Ethiopia, Other African Governments Make Their Pitch in Houston

Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome will host the 2014 U.S. - Ethiopia Investment Summit at the Houstonian Club in Houston, Texas on Wednesday, July 30th, 2014. (Photo: World Bulletin)

Houston Chronicle

By Chris Tomlinson

July 29, 2014

African officials will be in Houston Tuesday to tour American energy infrastructure and to pitch for investments in their power sectors.

The energy ministers from Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania will meet Tuesday with U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Leocadia I. Zak and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, as well as talk to officials from U.S. energy companies, the agency said.

Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome will also host the 2014 U.S. – Ethiopia Investment Summit at the Houstonian Club on Wednesday.

American companies have lagged behind their global competitors in taking advantage of the enormous economic growth and potential for big returns on the continent. I’ve written about the need for American investors to reconsider their preconceived notions about Africa. Now there’s a chance of Houston executives to hear the pitch firsthand.

The goal of the energy ministers’ visit to Houston is to show them the benefits of infrastructure investment in energy projects, and to inform U.S. executives about possible projects in Africa.

Read more at the Houston Chronicle »

Houston Chronicle Editorial: Ethiopia Needs to Do Better

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Oromo Nationalism on the Rise in Ethiopia

Protests and online activism in recent months have brought a resurgence of ethnic Oromo nationalism in Ethiopia. (Photo: Oromo students protest against a government plan to expand Addis Ababa/Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera

By William Davison

29 Jul 2014 09:35

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Aslan Hasan, a student belonging to the Oromo ethnic group in Ethiopia, was called either a guilt-ridden terrorist who committed suicide or an innocent victim of brutal state repression, depending on who you listen to.

His death came following a bout of violence in May, when Oromo students in several towns protested against a government plan for the capital Addis Ababa to expand into Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia’s largest and most populous federal region with around one-third of the nation’s over 90 million people.

Security services said Hasan hanged himself in his cell after being arrested for a grenade attack that occurred at Haramaya University in the east of the country. Online Oromo activists such as Jawar Mohammed say Aslan, 24, had his throat slit by police on June 1 while in custody after being snatched four days before.

Read more at Al Jazeera »

Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

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Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)

Ambo University in Oromia, Ethiopia. (Photo: BBC News)

BBC News

28 July 2014

A plan by the Ethiopian government to expand the capital’s administrative control into neighbouring states has sparked months of student protests.

Security forces have been accused of cracking down on demonstrators in the region of Oromia.

The government says 17 people died in the violence, but human rights groups say that number is much higher.

The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza has gained rare access to the town of Ambo where the protests took place.

Watch the video at BBC News »

Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

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Four Ethiopian Athletes Missing in Oregon May be Staying With Friends

Four Ethiopian athletes are reported missing from World Junior track and field in Oregon. (Image: IAAF)

The Register-guard

By Jeff Wright

JULY 28, 2014

Four members of the Ethiopian track team taking part in the World Junior Champion­ships at Hayward Field have been missing since Saturday morning, University of Oregon spokeswoman Julie Brown said Sunday.

It’s possible that the four athletes — three women and a 17-year-old boy — are staying with friends and family elsewhere in the state, “but we have not been able to confirm that with them directly,” Brown said.

Despite speculation, it’s also not been confirmed that the four are seeking political asylum from their native country, Brown said.

The UO Police Department is leading a missing persons investigation with assistance from Eugene police, Portland police and the FBI, Brown said.

The 30-member Ethiopian team consists of 17 females and 13 males, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations website. Brown said she didn’t know the identities of the four athletes who are un­accounted for.

Essar Gabriel, IAAF general secretary, said late Sunday afternoon that association officials don’t know the athletes’ whereabouts.

The Register-guard »

Four Ethiopian athletes missing from World Junior championships (Oregon Daily Emerald)
Ethiopians Sweep Gold-Silver in 5000m World Junior Championships in Oregon

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Ethiopian Mother Angry Over Murdered Son

University graduates in Ambo, Ethiopia, where deadly protests took place in April, 2014. (Photo: BBC)

BBC News

By Hewete Haileselassie

27 July 2014

Ethiopia – “Yeshi” is still trying to come to terms with the trauma of discovering the body of her son being carried through the streets of the Ethiopian city of Ambo.

A rickshaw driver in his 20s, he had been caught up in deadly protests between the police and students in the city in April.

They were demonstrating about plans to extend the administrative control of the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia state.

Oromia is the country’s largest region and completely surrounds Addis Ababa – and some people feared they would be forced off their land and lose their regional and cultural identity if the plans went ahead.

The government says the “Masterplan”, as it is known, would allow them to better extend city services to rural areas.

Read more at BBC News »

Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

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From Africa to Florida International University, Young Leaders Find Inspiration

Scholars discuss leadership goals in their roles back home in Africa as part of President Obama's Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders training at FIU on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (MH)

Miami Herald


After six weeks at Florida International University, Danbala Garba leaves with much more than good memories. The Nigerian human rights advocate plans to return and redouble his efforts on behalf of those seeking justice.

“I intend to work harder and fight through the court, now more than ever,” said Garba, 32. “I’ve been triggered by what I’ve learned here.”

Garba was among 25 young African leaders who spent six weeks at FIU as part of an Obama administration program to groom the next generation of leaders on the continent. The group left FIU on Saturday and plans to meet later in the day with Obama in Washington.

FIU was the only university selected in Florida to host the 25 young leaders between the ages of 25 and 35. They were selected from throughout sub-Saharan Africa for the Washington Fellowship for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which was created in 2010.

Read more at miamiherald.com »

U.S.-AFRICA SUMMIT 2014: Preview
Transport Chiefs From Five Countries to Visit Chicago Ahead of U.S.-Africa Summit
Ambassador David Shinn on the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

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UPDATE: MMA Fighter Afrem Gebreanenia

Ethiopia-Born Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Fighter Afrem Gebreanenia. (Photograph: YouTube)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, July 25th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian MMA fighter Afrem Gebreanenia’s next fight is at the Victory Fighting Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday, September 12th. Afrem lost his last match (held in Fort Riley, Kansas on July 12th) in the 3rd Round via “Rear Naked Choke.”

“It was a hard fought match and Afrem gave his all,” his manager Timothy White told Tadias Magazine. “He made a simple mistake and his opponent capitalized on it.”

Timothy adds that Afrem is already preparing for his upcoming event. “He will be looking to get back into the win column and would love for any of his fellow Ethiopians, along with general fans to support him,” He said. “Council Bluffs, Iowa is right next to Omaha, Nebraska which has a good size Ethiopian population.”

Tickets can be purchased at Cagetix.com – select the event “VFC: Fight Night Council Bluffs” and select fighter “Afrem Gebreanenia”.

You can learn more about the athlete at: dynamicathletemgmt.wix.com/afremgmma.

Meet Ethiopian Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Afrem Gebreanenia

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John Green and Bill Gates In Ethiopia

‏Bill Gates and John Green talk to students in Ethiopia. (Photo tweeted by Bill Gates)

The Wall Street Journal

By WSJ Staff

“Nerdfighters, meet changemakers,” Bill Gates tweeted to his 16 million followers.

The tech pioneer and world philanthropist was joined by young adult author and YouTube star John Green on a recent trip to Ethiopia. In case you aren’t quite up to speed on essential terms from John Green’s world, “nerdfighters” is the name John Green fans use to describe themselves, and their stated mission is to “increase awesomeness.” Green and his brother also have a charity organization called the Foundation to Decrease Suck, so it makes sense that Green would team up with a fellow Good Samaritan like Bill Gates.

Green detailed their visit to a rural Ethiopian health care center on his Tumblr blog, stating that “the world has a lot to learn from Ethiopia’s health investments.” He also shared that Gates was “the best listener — and question asker — he’s ever met.”

See photos from the trip at The Wall Street Journal »

Bill Gates in Ethiopia Says Africa Needs Better International Aid Audit
Bill Gates Receives Honorary Doctoral Degree From Addis Ababa University

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Bill Gates in Ethiopia Says Africa Needs Better International Aid Audit (Video)

Bill Gates in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday, July 24th, 2014. (Photo: BBC News)

BBC News

24 July 2014

Bill Gates has called for an improved audit of international aid in Africa, to make sure it achieves its aims.

The billionaire philanthropist told the BBC that aid remains vital in ensuring Africa is lifted from poverty, but that African countries need to find solutions for their own problems, especially development matters.

He spoke to BBC Africa’s Emmanuel Igunza in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Watch the video at BBC News »

Bill Gates Receives Honorary Doctoral Degree From Addis Ababa University

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41 Organizations Call for Release of Detained Ethiopian Journalists and Bloggers

(Image courtesy: Htext Africa)


Media Release

24 July 2014

Washington, D.C.: Today, Freedom Now joined 40 other human rights and civil society organizations in a letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressing grave concern at the continued targeting of journalists and bloggers on terrorism charges. The letter, also joined by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the PEN American Center, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, highlighted the recent terror charges laid against seven bloggers associated with the Zone 9 website (one in absentia) and three independent journalists in Ethiopia.

In calling on the Prime Minister to facilitate the immediate release of those writers detained under the widely-criticized 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, the letter (below) noted that previous prosecutions under the same law have been found by international institutions, such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, to violate Ethiopia’s obligations under international law. In closing, the regional and international organizations urge the Prime Minister to facilitate the immediate release all Ethiopians wrongly detained on terrorism charges and amend the law so that it complies with international human rights standards.


Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Office of the Prime Minister
P.O. Box 1031
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

24 July 2014

Re: Detained Journalists and Bloggers

Dear Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn,

We write to you to express our grave concern regarding the terrorism charges laid against seven bloggers associated with the “Zone 9” website and three independent journalists in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights—which both expressly protect the right to freedom of expression. We therefore urge your government to fulfill its obligations under international law and release all individuals who have been arbitrarily detained in violation of their fundamental rights.

As you may be aware, six of the bloggers (Zelalem Kibret, Atnaf Berahane, Natnael Feleke, Mahlet Fantahun, Befeqadu Hailu, and Abel Wabela) and the three journalists (Tesfalem Waldyes, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, and Edom Kassaye) were arrested in late April, shortly after it was announced that the Zone 9 website would resume its activities after suspending operations because of increasing harassment and surveillance. All nine detainees were subsequently held for nearly three months before any specific allegations were presented or formal charges filed against them. Most concerning, however, are reports that some of the detainees have complained of serious mistreatment by investigators and that defense lawyers and their clients have been excluded from some of the proceedings.

Recent reports now indicate that the detained bloggers and journalists have been charged under the widely-criticized 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, including provisions that provide for the death penalty, in addition to charges of committing “outrages against the constitution.” A seventh blogger, Soleyana Shimeles, was also charged in absentia. In accordance with the requirements of both Ethiopian and international law, we call on you to ensure that all allegations of torture or other forms of ill-treatment are promptly investigated and that no statements obtained through such means are admitted in court. Further, we call on you to ensure that the detainees have full access to the assistance of legal counsel and that the proceedings related to this case are open to the public, the media, and members of the diplomatic community.

Unfortunately, these prosecutions are only the most recent example of a worrying pattern. Outspoken Ethiopian journalists Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, and Woubshet Taye have all received long prison terms under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, in trials marred by procedural flaws. Similarly, opposition activists including Andualem Arage have received sentences of up to life imprisonment on such grounds.

While your office has asserted that the prosecution of these individuals is unrelated to their work as journalists, independent inquiries have found that this is not the case. For example, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention held that the imprisonment of Mr. Nega violated Ethiopia’s obligations under international law and requested his immediate release. In addition to procedural violations, the Working Group found that the detention of Mr. Nega resulted directly from his exercise of free expression and that the overly broad offenses established by the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation constituted “an unjustified restriction on expression rights and on fair trial rights.” Despite such a finding, however, Mr. Nega remains in prison.

Other international bodies have similarly criticized your country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation for being overly broad and a tool through which freedom of expression is limited. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted a resolution in 2012 stating that it was “gravely alarmed by the arrests and prosecutions of journalists and political opposition members, charged with terrorism and other offences, including treason, for exercising their peaceful and legitimate rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association.” This message reinforced an earlier statement by five United Nations special procedure mandate holders, including the Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, which expressed their “dismay at the continuing abuse of anti-terrorism legislation to curb freedom of expression in Ethiopia.” During Ethiopia’s Universal Periodic Review earlier this year, similar concerns were raised by a number of countries, including security allies of Ethiopia such as the United States of America.

Despite these clear findings that the targeting of writers under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation is inconsistent with Ethiopia’s international obligations, prosecutors have now charged the seven Zone 9 bloggers and three independent journalists under that very law. As a result, they face exceedingly long prison sentences or even death. Such a practice violates international law and threatens to undermine the legitimacy of international security efforts in the region.

In light of these serious concerns, we urge you to facilitate the immediate release of all journalists and bloggers imprisoned under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and to revise the Proclamation to comply with regional and international human rights standards.


1. Amnesty International
2. ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa
3. Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC), Central Africa
4. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
5. Civil Rights Defenders, Sweden
6. Coalition pour le Développement et la Réhabilitation Sociale (CODR UBUNTU), Burundi
7. Committee to Protect Journalists
8. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), South Sudan
9. Conscience International (CI), The Gambia
10. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
11. Egyptian Democratic Association, Egypt
12. Electronic Frontier Foundation
13. Ethiopian Human Rights Project (EHRP)
14. Elma7rosa Network, Egypt
15. English PEN
16. Freedom Now
17. Front Line Defenders, Dublin
18. Human Rights Watch
19. International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF)
20. Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la region des Grands Lacs (LDGL), Great Lakes
21. Ligue Iteka, Burundi
22. Maranatha Hope, Nigeria
23. Media Legal Defence Initiative
24. National Civic Forum, Sudan
25. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Kenya
26. Niger Delta Women’s movement for Peace and Development, Nigeria
27. Nigeria Network of NGOs, Nigeria
28. Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Nigeria
29. PEN American Center
30. PEN International
31. Réseau africain des journalistes sur la sécurité humaine et la paix (Rajosep), Togo
32. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Uganda
33. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN), South Sudan
34. South Sudan Law Society, South Sudan
35. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Tanzania
36. Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC), Uganda
37. Union de Jeunes pour la Paix et le Développement, Burundi
38. WAN-IFRA (The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers)
39. West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/ WAHRDN), West Africa
40. Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD), Zambia
41. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Zimbabwe

As Ethiopia’s ‘Zone 9′ Bloggers Get Popular, They Get Charged With Terror (CS Monitor)
Zone 9 Bloggers Charged With Terrorism (BBC News)
Interview With the Lawyer of Illegally Detained Zone9 Bloggers (Trial Tracker Blog)
CPJ condemns closed court hearings for nine Ethiopian journalists
Zone9 Co-Founder Speaks Out (Video)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Clarification: There Are No Recent FAA Warnings For Flights In or Out of Ethiopia

Image courtesy: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

U.S. Embassy

Press Release

Clarification of 2000 U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Warning for Ethiopia

July 23, 2014

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – There has been no recent FAA warning for flights in or out of Ethiopia. The FAA flight prohibition (SFAR 87 of May 16, 2000) pertaining to Northern Ethiopia predates the June 18, 2000 cessation of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea and has not been updated subsequently. The FAA advisory (KFDC A0012/97) pertaining to Ethiopia/Kenya dates to 2002.

Neither the FAA flight prohibition nor the FAA advisory was issued after Flight MH 17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, as some media outlets have erroneously reported. Both the Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) No. 87 and the FAA advisory apply only to U.S. air carriers or commercial operators.

Read more »

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First Bottles of Ethiopian Wine Produced by French Firm Castel

Women pick grapes at the Castel vineyard near the town of Ziway in Ethiopia. Half of 1.2m bottles of Rift Valley wine are intended for export, with company planning to double production (Photo: Getty Images)

The Guardian

By Kim Willsher in Paris

Wednesday 23 July 2014

The grape names – merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay – are distinctly French, but the label on the Rift Valley wines is surprising: made in Ethiopia.

The French beverage giant Castel, one of the world’s biggest producers of wines and beers, is raising a glass to its first production of 1.2m bottles of Ethiopian Rift Valley wine.

The African state’s former president Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, encouraged Castel to develop vineyards in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, as a way of improving its image.

Half of the bottles are destined for domestic consumption and half for export to countries where the Ethiopian diaspora have settled, though 26,000 have already been snapped up by a Chinese buyer.

Although Castel does not expect its Ethiopian wine business to make a profit until 2016, it hopes to more than double production to 3m bottles a year. Though Ethiopia is better known for its production of another drink, coffee, Castel says the African country has the potential to rival the continent’s main wine producer, South Africa.

“It’s not that difficult because the climate is good and it’s not too hot,” Castel’s Ethiopia site manager, Olivier Spillebout, told Agence France-Presse. “Exports are small now, but year after year they will grow.”

The company has produced a better quality wine called Rift Valley, selling in Ethiopia for the equivalent of €7 (£5.50) and a grape-mix wine called Acacia, retailing at the equivalent of €5.

Read more at The Guardian »

The French Beverage Giant Castel Announces Wine Made in Ethiopia (AFP)

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Ethiopia Becomes China’s China in Search for Cheap Labor

Ethiopian employees work inside the Huajian Shoes' factory outside Addis Ababa. (Photographer: Ilya Gridneff/Bloomberg)

Bloomberg News

By Kevin Hamlin, Ilya Gridneff and William Davison

July 22, 2014

Ethiopian workers strolling through the parking lot of Huajian Shoes’ factory outside Addis Ababa last month chose the wrong day to leave their shirts untucked.

Company President Zhang Huarong, just arrived on a visit from China, spotted them through the window, sprang up and ran outside. The former People’s Liberation Army soldier harangued them loudly in Chinese, tugging at one man’s aqua polo shirt and forcing another’s shirt into his pants. Nonplussed, the workers stood silently until the eruption subsided.

Shaping up a handful of employees is one small part of Zhang’s quest to profit from Huajian’s factory wages of about $40 a month -– less than 10 percent the level in China.

Read more at Businessweek.com »

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Ethiopia Should Consider Currency Devaluation, Says World Bank

(Image credit: warosu.org)


By Aaron Maasho

Tue Jul 22, 2014

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia should consider devaluing its currency to boost exports as they are mostly unprocessed products and need to stay competitive on price, a World Bank economist said on Tuesday.

Ethiopia, whose main exports are coffee, horticultural products, oilseeds and livestock, has operated a carefully managed floating exchange rate regime since 1992.

The last big devaluation was in 2010 when the birr lost 16.7 percent of its value to the dollar. The central bank quoted the birr at 19.6511/19.8476 to the U.S. currency on Tuesday.

“By one measure of real exchange rate, Ethiopia’s currency is 31 percent overvalued,” the World Bank’s lead economist in Ethiopia, Lars Christian Moller, said in Addis Ababa.

At an event to launch an economic report on the Horn of Africa nation, he said devaluing the currency by 10 percent could increase export growth by 5 percentage points a year.

Read more »

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As Ethiopia’s ‘Zone 9′ Bloggers Get Popular, They Get Charged With Terror

The US says it is 'deeply concerned' over prosecution of young social media activists. But Ethiopia is a key US ally on the Horn of Africa and any censure may remain rhetorical. (csmonitor)

CS Monitor

By William Davison

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia has charged 10 reform-minded bloggers and journalists with terrorism offenses – marking the latest in a long line of repressive acts against civil society by a key US partner in the Horn of Africa.

Seven of the 10 bloggers are part of a social media group called Zone 9. The group are mostly young urban professionals known for a fresh and reasoned approach to peaceful change — and who are increasingly well-respected – in an authoritarian nation known for a history of stifling free expression. With elections coming, some say the charges are an easy way for the government to link dissidents to terrorist groups and undermine them.

Six of the bloggers and the three journalists have been held since April, and are now charged under a 2009 terror law that has broad and loose terms. Analysts say these individuals may receive the same long prison sentences as opposition politicians and journalists recently sentenced on similar charges.

Read more at csmonitor.com »

Zone 9 Bloggers Charged With Terrorism (BBC News)
Interview With the Lawyer of Illegally Detained Zone9 Bloggers (Trial Tracker Blog)
CPJ condemns closed court hearings for nine Ethiopian journalists
Zone9 Co-Founder Speaks Out (Video)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Jailed in China’s First Khat Smuggling Case

(Image: Wikimedia commons)


July 22, 2014

An Ethiopian was sentenced to seven months in jail for trafficking khat to China, marking the first such case in the country, which classed the plant as an illegal drug this year.

The verdict was handed down earlier this month by the Intermediate People’s Court of Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province.

The defendant, Ibrahim Abdulsemed Abdosh, was also fined 30,000 yuan (about 4,878 U.S. dollars), the judge in the case, Liu Yun, told Xinhua Tuesday.

Chinese customs officers at the Hangzhou International Airport found0.63 kilograms of khat carried by the man, who had flown there from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on January 13, Liu said.

She said the man was aware of China’s ban on khat, a leafy plant chewed as a stimulant, but attempted to escape the immigration inspection.

Read more at china.org »

17 Indicted in NY Drug Ring Bust for Khat

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Ethiopia Detains 45 Nigerians For Alleged Drug Trafficking – Official

(Image: Google map)

Leadership Newspaper Nigeria

Jul 22, 2014

No fewer than 45 Nigerian nationals are being detained by the Ethiopian authorities for alleged drugs trafficking and related offences, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

A top official of the Embassy of Nigeria in Addis Ababa, who preferred not be mentioned, told NAN that the suspected traffickers, including seven ladies, were arrested at the Addis Ababa International Airport within a period of five months.

The suspects are being detained in various detention facilities within the city while awaiting trial in accordance with international laws on trafficking of drugs and other related offenses.

The embassy official said the suspected traffickers were on transit through the Addis Ababa Airport from countries in South America being points of origin.

The official said most of the suspects were heading to Nigeria and some countries in West Africa being their destination points.

Read more »

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Australia Grants Permanent Protection Visa to Teenager Who Fled Ethiopia

Australia's immigration minister Scott Morrison during question time in parliament. (Photograph: AAP)

The Guardian

By Oliver Laughland

Tuesday 22 July 2014

The immigration minister has issued a permanent protection visa to an unaccompanied minor who fled Ethiopia and arrived in Australia by boat, in a major backflip that could have ramifications for other asylum seekers in Australia.

Since the Coalition government came to power in September, Scott Morrison has aggressively stated it would not issue permanent visas to asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia and has attempted to cap the number of permanent visas it offers.

But he has now issued a visa to the 15-year-old boy whose case led to a high court ruling that such a cap was invalid.

After the ruling, Morrison had initially indicated he would still not grant the boy a permanent visa, and had appeared intent upon getting around the ruling by introducing a new public interest test in July.

Morrison said following the ruling: “The policy of the Australian government is that those who arrived illegally by boat or plane … should only be granted a temporary visa.

Read more at The Guardian »

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U.S.-AFRICA SUMMIT: United Africa? Not Yet

From Marcus Garvey to Bob Marley, see leading figures who championed a United States of Africa. (WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal


The journalist and black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey wrote a poem about it. The reggae great Bob Marley sang about it. And the Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi poured his oil wealth into it. But none lived to see a United States of Africa.

This history of disappointed hopes will provide the backdrop in early August when President Barack Obama hosts the inaugural U.S.-Africa summit in Washington. Only a few of Africa’s 54 leaders—including Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who is still the target of U.S. sanctions—haven’t been invited.

The U.S. wants to discuss continent-wide issues, such as security and terrorism, and to promote regional initiatives, such as shared electricity. To stress the breadth of the meeting’s aims, Mr. Obama plans to meet with the African heads of state as a group, not individually—a move that has ruffled some diplomatic feathers.

The vision of an impoverished continent of countries coming together as one, flexing its muscle in geopolitics and the global economy, has long enticed activists, poets and politicians. But today’s Africa remains divided, largely along hastily drawn colonial-era borders. The question now is whether the still-remote idea of political unity can find new life in the more modest goal of an integrated economic community. The obstacles are formidable.

Read more at WSJ.com »

Transport Chiefs From Five Countries to Visit Chicago Ahead of U.S.-Africa Summit (TADIAS)
Beyond Obama Haters: Real Recommendations for The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit (Brookings)
Ambassador David Shinn on the 2014 Africa Summit in DC (TADIAS)

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Ethiopia’s Child Brides See Marriage As Key to Jobs Abroad, Says Thinktank

Lubaba Abdella and the family she supported with her earnings in Saudi Arabia. Her marriage lasted only three months and her husband hit her. (Photograph: Clare Price/ODI)

The Guardian

By David Smith

Monday 21 July 2014

Up a bumpy, winding dirt track in the mountains of northern Ethiopia, past two bulls chewing pasture and a rondavel built from sticks and cow dung, is the modest home of Lubaba Abdella, its mudbrick walls reinforced by eucalyptus bark and topped by a corrugated roof.

Abdella has lived a lifetime, yet she is still in her teens. She dropped out of school, married, divorced three months later and emigrated illegally so she could cook and clean for a family in Saudi Arabia, earning money to support her parents and eight siblings. Now she is home and back to square one.

Three-quarters of girls in the Ethiopian region of Amhara become child brides like Abdella, according to the London-based Overseas Development Institute. Many also join the so-called “maid trade”: up to 1,500 girls and women leave the east African country each day to become domestic workers in the Middle East. A study has shown for the first time how these pernicious trends feed off each other.

In Ethiopia’s Muslim communities it is often deeply shameful or “sinful” for girls to remain unmarried after they begin menstruating, notes the ODI. But once girls are married and sexually initiated, parents consider their social and religious obligations complete.

The thinktank’s researchers in Amhara found it was therefore becoming common for parents to insist on marriage followed by a swift divorce so that their daughter was free to migrate and send her earnings home to her parents, rather than her husband. The fact a girl had already been “deflowered” meant she was seen as less likely to be disgraced by foreign men. “It’s a question of virtue and virginity,” one local researcher said. “Better to lose it in a dignified way.”

Read more at The Guardian »

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The French Beverage Giant Castel Announces Wine Made in Ethiopia

The French beverage giant Castel, which bottled its first batch of Ethiopian wine this year, is helping change the way outsiders view the country and doing its bit to boost foreign investment. (Photo: AFP)


Published: 20 Jul 2014

Beyond the donkeys on a potholed road in southern Ethiopia, is an unexpected sight — vineyards bursting with merlot, syrah and chardonnay grapes ripening in the African sun.

The scene is more reminiscent of France’s Beaujolais region than this corner of the Horn of the Africa, which for many still conjures images of famine, poverty and war.

“People outside Ethiopia may know of the drought 10 years ago,” Industry Minister Ahmed Abtew told AFP. “But when they see wine with ‘Made in Ethiopia’ on it, their mind automatically changes.”

The French beverage giant Castel, which bottled its first batch of Ethiopian wine this year, is helping change the way outsiders view the country. It is also boosting government hopes of attracting foreign investment, key to its plans to reach middle income status by 2025.

The country’s growth rates are already among the highest in Africa, hitting 11.2 percent last year according to the government, although the International Monetary Fund puts the figure at 8.2 percent.

For Castel, the ambition is merely to produce good wine, and Ethiopia is an ideal — if surprising — place to do that.

Read more »

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Clarification: There Are No Recent FAA Warnings For Flights in or Out of Ethiopia

Image courtesy: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

U.S. Embassy

Press Release

July 23, 2014

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 23, 2014 – There has been no recent FAA warning for flights in or out of Ethiopia. The FAA flight prohibition (SFAR 87 of May 16, 2000) pertaining to Northern Ethiopia predates the June 18, 2000 cessation of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea and has not been updated subsequently. The FAA advisory (KFDC A0012/97) pertaining to Ethiopia/Kenya dates to 2002.

Neither the FAA flight prohibition nor the FAA advisory was issued after Flight MH 17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, as some media outlets have erroneously reported. Both the Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) No. 87 and the FAA advisory apply only to U.S. air carriers or commercial operators.

FAA Prohibits US Planes in Ethiopian Airspace North of 12 Degrees Latitude

Image courtesy: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Saturday, July 19th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it has prohibited all U.S. air carriers and commercial operators from flying in Ethiopian airspace north of 12 degrees latitude as precaution following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

The Washington Post reports that the “FAA expanded an existing regulation that prohibited certain flights from operating in the region. The FAA regularly issues airspace restrictions and prohibitions for U.S. aircraft traveling through potentially hostile airspace.”

The FAA document entitled ‘Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 87 – Prohibition against Certain Flights Within the Territory and Airspace of Ethiopia’ states that “This Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) applies to all U.S. air carriers or commercial operators, all persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA unless that person is engaged in the operation of a U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier, and all operators using aircraft registered in the United States except where the operator of such aircraft is a foreign air carrier.”

In describing the “potentially hostile situation” in the Horn of Africa the advisory notes that “Aircraft that cross into Ethiopian airspace while taking off or landing at Mandera Airstrip in Kenya may be fired upon by Ethiopian forces. Mandera is located in the extreme northeastern corner of Kenya, adjacent Ethiopia and Somalia. Operators considering flights to northeastern Kenya should familiarize themselves with the current situation.”

Other countries where the American flight prohibitions apply include Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Congo, Egypt Sinai Peninsula, Iran, Kenya, Mali, Syria and Yemen.

The document adds that the special regulation will remain in effect until further notice from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Click here to read FAA’s flight advisory and prohibition for U.S. aircraft in Ethiopia.

Video: Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Ukraine: Russians Shot Down Malaysia Flight (VOA News)

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HRW: Drop Case Against Zone 9 Bloggers

Human Rights Watch says "Politically Motivated Charges Show Misuse of Terrorism Law." (File photos)


Ethiopia: Drop Case Against Bloggers, Journalists

(Nairobi, July 19, 2014) – The Ethiopian government should immediately drop politically motivated charges brought against 10 bloggers and journalists on July 17, 2014, under the country’s deeply flawed anti-terrorism law.

The Ethiopian authorities arrested six of the bloggers and three journalists on April 25 and 26. They have been detained in Maekelawi, the Federal Police Crime Investigation Sector in Addis Ababa. The court charged the nine with having links to banned opposition groups and trying to violently overthrow the government, local media reported. A tenth blogger, who was not in Ethiopia at the time of the arrests, was charged in absentia.

“Ethiopia’s courts are making a mockery of their own judicial system,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Hiding behind an abusive anti-terrorism law to prosecute bloggers and journalists doing their job is an affront to the constitution and international protection for free expression.”

The charges are part of an intensified crackdown in Ethiopia in recent months against perceived political opponents, Human Rights Watch said.

The six bloggers in custody are Atnaf Berahane, Befekadu Hailu, Abel Wabela, Mahlet Fantahun, Natnael Feleke, and Zelalem Kibret. Soliana Shimeles was charged in absentia. The three journalists are Tesfalem Waldyes, Edom Kassaye, and Asmamaw Hailegiorgis, an editor at weekly magazine Addis Guday.

The bloggers are part of a blogging collective known as Zone 9, which provides commentary on current events in Ethiopia. The Zone 9 group had stopped blogging in February after security officials harassed the group and questioned them about their work and alleged links to political opposition parties and human rights organizations.

Zone 9 announced on Facebook on April 23 that they would resume blogging, and on April 25 and 26 the six bloggers were arrested. They were detained for over 80 days without charge, and remain in custody. Their lawyer, Ameha Mekonnen, has had only sporadic access to them, and family members were not allowed to meet with them until July 9. The lawyer plans to bring a civil suit about irregularities in the legal process, media reports said.

The bloggers and journalists are accused of connections to Ginbot 7 and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), two of five organizations designated as terrorist organizations in 2011 by the House of Representatives, the Ethiopian parliament. Human Rights Watch has not yet obtained the charge sheets, but credible media reports say that the bloggers and journalists are alleged to have taken directions from Ginbot 7 and OLF, planning and organizing terrorist acts, and agreeing to overthrow the government through force.

Judge Tareke Alemayehu was reported in the media saying that the group “took training in how to make explosives and planned to train others,” accusing them of plotting “to destabilize the nation” and using blogging as a cover for “clandestine” activities.

Human Rights Watch and other organizations have repeatedly raised concerns about Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law’s overly broad definition of “terrorist acts” and provisions on support for terrorism. Its vague prohibition of “moral support” for terrorism has been used to convict a number of journalists. Since 2011, at least 11 journalists, and possibly many more, have been convicted for their journalistic activities, even though the Ethiopian constitution and international law protect media freedom.

Three of the Zone 9 bloggers were outside of Ethiopia when their colleagues were arrested. According to media reports, one of these, Soliana Shimeles, was charged in absentia with coordinating foreign relations for the group and coordinating digital security training with “Security in-a-box”, a publicly available training tool used by advocates and human rights defenders. Human Rights Watch has documented how the Ethiopian government monitors email and telephone communications, often using information unlawfully collected, without a warrant, during interrogations.

“The fact that bloggers used digital security isn’t terrorism but common sense, especially in a repressive environment like Ethiopia,” Lefkow said. “The government should drop these charges and immediately release these nine journalists and bloggers, as well as others who have been wrongfully prosecuted under the anti-terrorism law.”

Others caught up in the government’s recent crackdown are four opposition leaders affiliated with political parties – Yeshewas Asefa of the Blue Party, Abraha Desta of the Arena Tigray party, and Daniel Shibeshi and Habtamu Ayalew of the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party. They were arrested on July 8, 2014, accused of providing support to terrorist groups, media reports said. They are scheduled to appear in court on August 14.

On June 23 or 24, Andargachew Tsige, a British citizen and secretary-general of Ginbot 7, was deported to Ethiopia from Yemen while in transit, in violation of international law prohibitions against sending someone to a country where they are likely to face torture or other mistreatment. He had twice been sentenced to death in absentia for his involvement with Ginbot 7. His whereabouts in Ethiopia are unknown. He has been detained for more than three weeks without access to family members, legal counsel, or UK consular officials, in violation of Ethiopian and international law.

Zone 9 Bloggers Charged With Terrorism (BBC News)
Interview With the Lawyer of Illegally Detained Zone9 Bloggers (Trial Tracker Blog)
CPJ condemns closed court hearings for nine Ethiopian journalists
Zone9 Co-Founder Speaks Out (Video)

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The Andargachew Tsige Saga: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ethiopia?

Why the arrest of one of Addis Ababa's most vocal critics is a huge embarrassment for the West. (FP)

Foreign Policy Magazine

By Martin plaut

Tall metal metal gates guard a courtyard just off a busy street north of London’s financial district. The area, once down and out, is today much sought after, but scattered between the newly refurbished warehouses and loft apartments are some blocks of municipal housing populated largely by the city’s African immigrant communities. Inside their yard, small boys are kicking a soccer ball. “Yemi’s my mum,” one of the boys says, leading the way up the building’s aging concrete stairwell to the fourth-floor flat.

A small, slim woman, Yemi smiles easily. On her shelves are portraits of her parents, who left Ethiopia for the United States in 1982 to make a new life for their family. A black-and-white photograph shows her father as a young man in Ethiopian uniform. “He was in the army,” Yemi explains. “But he left for civilian life in 1972 before the Derg took power.”

The Derg, or “Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army,” comprised a group of low-ranking officers who deposed Emperor Haile Selassie. The emperor had ruled Ethiopia for four decades until his failure to respond to a devastating famine in 1974 led to his overthrow and subsequent murder. Mengistu Haile Mariam, an obscure army major, led the coup and went on to rule Ethiopia with an iron fist, engaging in a ruthless campaign of repression that became known as the Red Terror. Executions were rife and tens of thousands of people were imprisoned until the Derg was ousted by the country’s current rulers in 1991.

Yemi was lucky that her father left the military when he did. “Yes,” she agrees, “they killed so many of their own.”

The violent revolutions that have marked Ethiopia’s recent history still reverberate today. The country has enjoyed substantial donor support ever since the devastating 1984-1985 famine and has been an important ally in the fight against Islamic extremism in the Horn of Africa. But the government, while nominally democratic, still tolerates little opposition — a reality Yemi knows all too well.

Yemi, whose full name is Yemsrach Hailemariam, is today caring for her two small boys and their sister on her own. On July 9, her partner, Andargachew Tsige, a leader of Ethiopia’s largest exiled opposition movement, was arrested in an airport transit lounge in Yemen. He had been on his way from the United Arab Emirates to Eritrea when he was picked up by Yemeni security, who then bundled him onto a plane bound for Ethiopia.

Read more at foreignpolicy.com »

BBC News: PM Hailemariam Defends Andargachew Tsege Arrest (BBC News)
Andargachew Tsige: Letter From UK’s Foreign Office to Ethiopian American Council (TADIAS)
Ginbot 7′s Andargachew Tsege: Ethiopia confirms arrest (BBC News)
Snatched: Justice and Politics in Ethiopia (The Economist)
Fears for Safety of Returned Opposition Leader (HRW)
Ethiopia Urged to Protect Opposition Leader (AP via The Washington Post)
Yemen Extradites Exiled Ethiopian Opposition Chief, British Citizen, to Ethiopia (AFP)
Ethiopia Ginbot 7 leader facing death penalty ‘extradited from Yemen’ (BBC News)
UK Stands Accused Over Extradition of Ethiopian Opposition Leader (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Asks Yemen to Extradite Activist (Al Jazeera)
Leading Ethiopian Opposition Figure Detained in Yemen (Yemen Times)

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Denver Post: The 2nd Taste of Ethiopia Festival Has a New Day and Place – Aug 3

Yohanis Mekonen, 8, center, looks up while dancing in a circle at the first annual Taste of Ethiopia Grand Festival at Laredo Elementary School in Aurora, Co, on July 28, 2013. (Denver Post file photograph)

The Denver Post

By Joey Bunch

The second Taste of Ethiopia Festival has a new day and place: Aug. 3 at Central Park in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood.

This year’s event joins Denver Days, Mayor Michael Hancock’s week-long tour of events across the city intended to “help neighbors get to know each other and get involved with their communities,” according to the city.

The Taste of Ethiopia, which runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., includes not just food and drinks, but cultural performances, vendors and music.

Last year, thousands turned out on the last Sunday in July to dine at the first festival, which took place at Laredo Elementary School in Aurora.

Lines lasted until the food — prepared by a team of volunteer cooks with Ethiopian lineage — ran out. There was standing room only for the cultural performances in the school gym.

“As a vibrant and growing community in Colorado, we want to share our best values and culture with Colorado,” said festival organizer Nebiyu Asfaw. “We have a very rich heritage and culture that greatly emphasizes community and sharing.”

Asfaw said the food will be prepared with fresh ingredients “and lots of love.”

Read more at The Denver Post »

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British MPs Brand Ethiopian Farmer Case Funded by UK Taxpayers ‘Ridiculous’

Ethiopia's Gambella region. (Getty Images/AFP)

Daily Mail


An Ethiopian farmer has won permission to use taxpayers’ money to sue the British Government … for sending aid to his homeland.

The case, branded ridiculous by MPs, will be funded entirely by the public even though the farmer has never set foot in this country.

The 33-year-old Ethiopian – granted anonymity to protect his family – says ministers are funding a one-party state in his country that has breached his human rights. He says foreign aid helped the regime inflict ‘brutal treatment’ on thousands of farmers driven from their land, against the International Development Act 2002.

Taxpayers will pay for both the farmer’s lawyers and a defence team from the Department for International Development, in a case that could cost tens of thousands of pounds. This is in addition to the £1.3billion Britain has sent to Ethiopia since 2010.

The farmer lodged the court papers from Kenya, before Justice Secretary Chris Grayling introduced rules to prevent cases being brought by those who have never set foot in the UK. The changes, which come into force next month, will mean anybody seeking legal aid in civil cases must have been resident in Britain for at least 12 months.

A Whitehall source said: ‘Whatever hardships this man has faced, the idea that someone without any connection to this country can get public money to sue the Government borders on the farcical.’

Read more at Daily Mail Online »

Ethiopian Man Takes UK to Court Over Resettlement Policy (BBC News)

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Zone9ers ‘Trial’: Interview With the Lawyer of Illegally Detained Bloggers & Journalists

(Image: Courtesy Trial Tracker Blog and © Fractal Element from Facebook)

Trial Tracker Blog

July 14, 2014

Translator’s note: The first instance court of Arada bench was expected to wrap up the pre-trial ‘hearing’ which took more than 70 days and yet the bloggers were not even brought before the judge. Mr. Amaha a lawyer defending the bloggers & journalists who are detained on unclear but shaping up to be on terrorism charges expected the first instance court at Arada bench to rest the pre-trial procedure on Saturday. The court had set the 12th July hearing for closing arguments but with an extraordinary move the police referred the case to the Federal High Court without even the presence of the defendants and their lawyer himself. The shift overlooked the court and contravenes even the standard procedure of the biased justice system. The lawyer speaks to Dawit Solomon, a journalist based in Addis Ababa about the issue. Here are the translated excerpts from the interview.

DAWIT: What were your thoughts on your way to the court for Saturday’s procedure?

AMAHA: I expected the police might demand for more time to wrap up their interrogation as usual. I also sought to see how the court would reply to this repeated claim of the police. Nevertheless, to the shock of me and all people who were here what unfolded was really baffling. Since the detainees were not brought to the court some journalists went straight to the court’s registrar to ask about the case. Then a person who claimed himself as “the detective” of the case told the journalists since he is done with the interrogation he submitted the case for a prosecutor. He further claimed that the case is closed. This was what I was told by the journalists then I also went in to verify which I found it true. They closed the case without the presence of the defendants and without the presence of me who is representing them.

Read the Full Interview »

CPJ condemns closed court hearings for nine Ethiopian journalists
Zone9 Co-Founder Speaks Out (Video)

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BBC News: Ethiopian Man Takes UK to Court Over Resettlement Policy

Villagers say they are being forcibly relocated from Ethiopia's Gambella region. (Getty Images/AFP)

BBC News

14 July 2014

A legal battle has been launched by an Ethiopian citizen who claims the UK has helped to fund a “brutal” resettlement programme in his country.

The man, who can only be referred to as “O”, won permission to seek a judicial review at London’s High Court.

He wants a ruling that the UK acted unlawfully by providing aid to Ethiopia without assessing its human rights record.

The UK government has denied funding the programme.

The case arises from Ethiopia’s decision to resettle individuals from rural communities into new and larger “communes”, known as the Commune Development Programme (CDP), in an attempt to reduce poverty.

Read the full story at BBC News »

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Ethiopia’s Nile Dam Project Signals Its Intention to Become an African Power

Labourers work at the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Ethiopia. (Photograph: Reuters)

The Guardian

By Emeline Wuilbercq

Monday 14 July 2014

The 4×4 roars off, kicking up a cloud of dust. With one hand on the wheel, the other stifling a yawn, Semegnew Bekele could do this trip with his eyes shut. A construction engineer, he has driven down this track at every hour of the day or night over the past three years. “Ordinary people are building an extraordinary project,” he says. He is referring to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam (Gerd), in the north-west corner of the country close to the border with Sudan. Four hours away from the town of Assosa more than 8,500 workers and engineers are labouring on a massive project to harness the waters of the Blue Nile.

The site is closely guarded. Only officially authorised vehicles are allowed through the three checkpoints. As the kilometres flicker by, the din of the diggers becomes more audible. Then the gigantic site itself appears, with thousands of tonnes of aggregate piled up and smooth expanses of concrete lining the bottom of the Guba valley, ringed by arid hills. The hundreds of families belonging to the Gumuz indigenous people, who lived off fishing, have been moved to a location several tens of kilometres away, making room for a hydroelectric power station that will be the largest in Africa when it comes online in 2017. At present only a third of it has been built.

Bekele, who works for the Ethiopian Electric Power corporation, has already worked on two dam construction jobs, both on the river Omo in the south-west. He answers our questions with a flood of figures: the dam will be 1,780 metres long and 145 high, with a reservoir covering 1,874 sq km expected to contain 70bn cubic metres of water. Output from the 16 turbines will total 6,000MW. It will be sufficient to meet growing demand in Ethiopia, now Africa’s second most populous country, where gross domestic product is estimated to have grown by 10.5% annually over the past five years.

Read the full story at The Guardian »

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Tullow Oil Fails to Find Oil in Ethiopia

Irish-listed explorer says well at Chew Bahir Basin will be plugged and abandoned. (Photo: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times)

The Irish Times

By Pamela Newenham

Tullow Oil has announced that the Gardim-1 exploration well, drilled on the eastern flank of Chew Bahir Basin in Ethiopia, has failed to find commercial levels of oil.

The well intersected lacustrine and volcanic formations, similar to those found in the Shimela-1 well on the north-western flank of the basin.

The explorer said it has reached a total depth of 2,468 metres in basement, without encountering commercial oil.

“We have now drilled two independent wildcat wells in the Chew Bahir Basin, neither of which encountered commercial oil,” exploration director Angus McCoss said.

“Whilst our analysis continues, initial indications suggest that the targeted seismic anomalies related to lavas that flowed into a lake basin,” he added.

As a result, the well will now have to be plugged and abandoned.

Read more at The Irish Times »

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WORLD CUP 2014: Germany Defeats Argentina, 1-0, in Extra Time to Win Final

German players celebrated after Mario Götze, right, scored in extra time. (Photo: Reuters)


Germany won the World Cup with a 1-0 extra time victory over Argentina on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.

The game was deadlocked at 0-0 after regulation, but at the 113-minute mark in overtime, Mario Götze, a substitute, chested down an Andres Schurrle cross and volleyed in the winning goal.

Though there were no goals in regulation, there was plenty of action, and both sides rued some missed chances.

The title is considered Germany’s fourth World Cup, though the first three of those were by West Germany. It was also the first time a European country won the World Cup in the Western Hemisphere after six failures.

The Germans were dominant throughout this Cup, and though this game won them the title, they may be remembered more for their 7-1 shellacking of host Brazil in the semifinal.

Read the Full story »

Hyundai USA Releases World Cup AD “Epic Battle” Video by Wondwossen Dikran
David Mesfin: 2014 Hyundai FIFA World Cup Ad Features Work by Ethiopian Artists

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20 Journalists Fired from Ethiopia State-run Oromia Radio and Television, in Hiding

People demonstrate in Addis Ababa on May 24 against security forces who shot at students at a peaceful rally weeks eearlier in Oromia state. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)


By Tom Rhodes/CPJ East Africa Representative

If they cannot indoctrinate you into their thinking, they fire you,” said one former staff member of the state-run Oromia Radio and Television Organization (ORTO), who was dismissed from work last month after six years of service. “Now we are in hiding since we fear they will find excuses to arrest us soon,” the journalist, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, told CPJ.

On June 25, 20 journalists from the state broadcaster in Oromia, the largest state in terms of area and population in Ethiopia, were denied entry to their station’s headquarters, according to news reports. No letters of termination or explanations were presented, local journalists told CPJ; ORTO’s management simply said the dismissals were orders given by the government. “Apparently this has become common practice when firing state employees in connection with politics,” U.S.-based Ethiopian researcher Jawar Mohammed said in an email to CPJ. “The government seems to want to leave no documented trace.”

The journalists, some of whom had worked for the state broadcaster for over five years, can only speculate on the reason for their dismissals. Two of them told CPJ they believe it is linked to student protests earlier in the year.

On April 25, students at Ambo University, Oromia State, protested the government’s “Master Plan” to cede parts of Oromia State to the capital, Addis Ababa, a federal region, according to news reports. The state claimed in a statement that eight people died in violent protests in Ambo over a plan designed to provide urban services to rural areas. Oromo citizens say that many more died in Ambo at the hands of security forces for demonstrating against a proposal they fear will lead to the federal government grabbing their land and reducing local autonomy, news reports said. More student and civil society protests ensued soon after the Ambo University demonstrations and authorities were determined to quell any reporting on the unrest.

Read more at CPJ Blog.

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BBC News: PM Hailemariam Defends Andargachew Tsege Arrest

PM Hailemariam Desalegn: "If you have any connection with terrorists don't think that the Ethiopian government will let you [go] free." (BBC News)

BBC News

11 July 2014

Ethiopia had a moral obligation to arrest the opposition leader who was controversially extradited from Yemen last month, Ethiopian leader Hailemariam Desalegn has told the BBC.

“Andargachew Tsege is a Trojan horse for the Eritrean government to destabilise this country,” he said.

He was sentenced to death in 2009 while in exile for plotting a coup.

Foreign governments could express their concern, but the man would be dealt with according to the law, the PM said.

Andargachew Tsige, a UK national, leads the banned Ginbot 7 movement. (Image: Ethiopian TV via BBC)

Andargachew, a UK national, is secretary-general of Ethiopia’s banned Ginbot 7 movement.

The group says Andargachew was on his way from the United Arab Emirates to Eritrea when he was detained at Sanaa airport on 24 June.

Ethiopia and Eritrea are long-time rivals and the neighbours fought a bitter border war between 1998 -2000, which left some 100,000 people dead.

Read more at BBC.

Andargachew Tsige: Letter From UK’s Foreign Office to Ethiopian American Council (TADIAS)
Ginbot 7′s Andargachew Tsege: Ethiopia confirms arrest (BBC News)
Snatched: Justice and Politics in Ethiopia (The Economist)
Fears for Safety of Returned Opposition Leader (HRW)
Ethiopia Urged to Protect Opposition Leader (AP via The Washington Post)
Yemen Extradites Exiled Ethiopian Opposition Chief, British Citizen, to Ethiopia (AFP)
Ethiopia Ginbot 7 leader facing death penalty ‘extradited from Yemen’ (BBC News)
UK Stands Accused Over Extradition of Ethiopian Opposition Leader (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Asks Yemen to Extradite Activist (Al Jazeera)
Leading Ethiopian Opposition Figure Detained in Yemen (Yemen Times)

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Irish Rugby Team Ulster Apologize for Weird ‘Ethiopia Photo’ Posted on Twitter

The Irish Rugby team Ulster has issued an apology over a photograph posted on Twitter which showed the white men apparently dressed up as Ethiopians - with black make-up on their faces and arms. (BBC)

BBC News

By Peter Coulter

Ulster Rugby have apologised after a photograph showing four of their players with their faces and bodies coloured with black makeup appeared on a social media site.

The photo was posted on the Twitter profile of Irish international Paddy Jackson.

It shows him with two other Irish internationals, Chris Henry and Andrew Trimble.

The photo has now been removed.

The others pictured are current Ulster player Michael Allen and former Ulster player Paddy McAllister.

Paddy Jackson, Chris Henry and Andrew Trimble were members of the Ireland squad that won this year’s Six Nations Championship.

Ulster Rugby said they “apologise unreservedly for any offence”.

In a statement, the club said the photograph showed the players at an “Olympic-themed fancy dress party held two years ago”.

“It was not the intention of the players to cause upset and the photograph has since been removed.”

Read more at BBC News.

Ulster sorry for ‘Ethiopia photo’ (U TV)

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Harlem Pastor Brewing up Ethiopian Coffee Distribution Deal

Reverend Nicholas S. Richards, the Co-founder and President of Abyssinian Fund, at his office in Harlem during an interview with Tadias Magazine - July, 2012. (Photograph: Kidane Mariam/Tadias Magazine)

New York Daily News


He’s got a couple of beans up his sleeve.

The Rev. Nicholas Richards, founder of the Abyssinian Fund, a nonprofit that supports coffee farmers in Ethiopia, is in the middle of hashing out a distribution deal to launch an Aby Fund-branded coffee in the States, starting in the Big Apple.

“The Abyssinian fund believes Ethiopian coffee farmers have everything they need, but they just really need partners,” said Richards, an assistant minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.

The Aby Fund, as Richards calls it, was founded in 2010 and supports 1,000 farmers from Chaffee Jenette village in Ethiopia, who have received $1 million worth of training and supplies from the Fund over the last five years.

The Abyssinian Fund believes Ethiopian coffee farmers have everything they need, but they just really need partners.
Richards envisions distributing Chaffee Jenette-grown coffee beans to such outlets as Fairway Market and Whole Foods Market, as well as restaurants and stores in Harlem, Union Square and Brooklyn. He hopes to ink deals in time to sell 1,000 bags of coffee this year, he said, adding there is a good demand for the Ethiopian-raised beans.

Read more at New York Daily News.

Video: Harlem Ethiopia Connection Featuring Rev. Nicholas Richards (TADIAS)

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Andargachew Tsige: Letter From UK’s Foreign Office to Ethiopian American Council

Andargachew Tsige, a UK national, leads the banned Ginbot 7 movement. (Image: Ethiopian TV via BBC)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has written a letter to the Ethiopian American Council (EAC) regarding Andargachew Tsige who was reported missing in Yemen and now confirmed to be in Ethiopia.

In the letter shared with Tadias Magazine Clive McGill, a desk officer responsible for Ethiopia in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) wrote: “Mr. Tsege’s disappearance is an issue of great concern for us, and as soon as we were informed of this we raised it repeatedly with the Yemeni Government and authorities at all levels, including with the Foreign Minister. It is unacceptable that they did not provide information to us, and that they have now confirmed that Mr. Tsege was removed to Ethiopia. We have raised this with them and will continue to do so in light of their disregard for their obligations under the Vienna Convention and Convention Against Torture.”

Mr. McGill stated that the Foreign Office has also already raised with the Ethiopian Government “the UK’s deep concerns” about Andargachew’s removal. “We have requested consular access without delay and reassurances that the death penalty imposed in absentia will not be carried out,” he said in the letter dated Wednesday, July 9th, 2014. “We will continue to raise this urgently with the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and London.” He added: “While we cannot comment further on individual consular cases, I hope that this reassures you about how seriously we are taking this issue. Mr. Tsege’s case is a priority for the British Government.”

Ginbot 7′s Andargachew Tsege: Ethiopia confirms arrest (BBC News)
Snatched: Justice and Politics in Ethiopia (The Economist)
Fears for Safety of Returned Opposition Leader (HRW)
Ethiopia Urged to Protect Opposition Leader (AP via The Washington Post)
Yemen Extradites Exiled Ethiopian Opposition Chief, British Citizen, to Ethiopia (AFP)
Ethiopia Ginbot 7 leader facing death penalty ‘extradited from Yemen’ (BBC News)
UK Stands Accused Over Extradition of Ethiopian Opposition Leader (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Asks Yemen to Extradite Activist (Al Jazeera)
Leading Ethiopian Opposition Figure Detained in Yemen (Yemen Times)

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BBC News: Ethiopia Confirms Arrest of Ginbot 7′s Andargachew Tsige

Andargachew Tsige, a UK national, leads the banned Ginbot 7 movement. (Image: Ethiopian TV)

BBC News

9 July 2014

Ethiopia has confirmed it has arrested opposition leader Andargachew Tsege, who disappeared in Yemen last month.

His UK-based wife Yemi Hailemariam told the BBC she was shocked to see him paraded on state television.

Ethiopian TV said Andargachew had been arrested in Yemen and then extradited.

It described him as the country’s “most wanted person”. He was sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 on charges of planning to assassinate government officials – which he denied.

Andargachew, a UK national, is secretary-general of Ethiopia’s banned Ginbot 7 movement.

Amnesty International last week warned he was at risk of being tortured while in Ethiopian custody.

Read more at BBC News.

Snatched: Justice and Politics in Ethiopia (The Economist)
Ginbot 7′s Andargachew Tsege: Ethiopia confirms arrest (BBC News)
Fears for Safety of Returned Opposition Leader (HRW)
Ethiopia Urged to Protect Opposition Leader (AP via The Washington Post)
Yemen Extradites Exiled Ethiopian Opposition Chief, British Citizen, to Ethiopia (AFP)
Ethiopia Ginbot 7 leader facing death penalty ‘extradited from Yemen’ (BBC News)
UK Stands Accused Over Extradition of Ethiopian Opposition Leader (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Asks Yemen to Extradite Activist (Al Jazeera)
Leading Ethiopian Opposition Figure Detained in Yemen (Yemen Times)

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Snatched: Justice and Politics in Ethiopia

Andargachew Tsige. (Image: Ethiopian TV via YouTube)

The Economist

Jul 9th 2014 | ADDIS ABABA

ANDARGACHEW TSIGE, an exiled Ethiopian opposition leader with British nationality, could be facing the death penalty after apparently being arrested and sent back to his country of origin while on a trip to the Gulf. While transiting in Yemen on June 23rd, during a journey from Dubai to Eritrea, Andargachew mysteriously ended up on a plane to Ethiopia. It is believed that he was detained by Yemeni officials and handed over to members of Ethiopia’s security apparatus.

Andargachew was charged by the Ethiopian authorities with terrorism and sentenced, in absentia, to death, at two separate trials between 2009 and 2012. Following post-election protests in 2005 he had fled the country and been granted asylum in Britain, where he created Ginbot 7, a leading opposition movement.

Now in the hands of the state which had legally prepared for his execution, his family are concerned about Andargachew’s safety. “The British embassy has still not been granted consular access,” says his wife, Yemisrach Hailemariam, who lives in London. “We are deeply concerned he is being tortured and they will wait for his wounds to be healed before anyone can see him.”

Read more at The Economist.

Ginbot 7′s Andargachew Tsege: Ethiopia confirms arrest (BBC News)
Fears for Safety of Returned Opposition Leader (HRW)
Ethiopia Urged to Protect Opposition Leader (AP via The Washington Post)
Yemen Extradites Exiled Ethiopian Opposition Chief, British Citizen, to Ethiopia (AFP)
Ethiopia Ginbot 7 leader facing death penalty ‘extradited from Yemen’ (BBC News)
UK Stands Accused Over Extradition of Ethiopian Opposition Leader (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Asks Yemen to Extradite Activist (Al Jazeera)
Leading Ethiopian Opposition Figure Detained in Yemen (Yemen Times)

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WORLD CUP 2014: Argentina Defeats Netherlands in Shootout, Advancing to Final

Argentina’s Javier Mascherano challenged Arjen Robben on a shot late in regulation time. (Photo: EPA)


9 July, 2014

Argentina converted all four of its penalty kicks in a shootout against the Netherlands on Wednesday in São Paulo to advance to the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Lionel Messi made the first and his teammates Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero and Maxi Rodriguez followed suit to earn Argentina a date with Germany in Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro. The Netherlands missed two of their first three attempts, with first Ron Vlaar and then Wesley Sneijder seeing their shots saved by Argentina’s goalkeeper, Sergio Romero.

The Netherlands will face host Brazil on Saturday in the third-place game. Read more.

Germany Crushes Brazil, 7-1, in Surreal World Cup Semifinal

Brazil’s Luiz Gustavo (l) and Germany’s Sami Khedira, go for the ball during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, July 8, 2014. (AP)

By Mike Richman | VOA News

8 July, 2014

Germany gave one of the most breathtaking displays of offensive firepower in World Cup history Tuesday – demolishing host Brazil in the semifinals, 7-1, to advance to the championship game.

Germany’s goal total was the most ever by one team in a World Cup semifinal, while Brazil matched its worst-ever margin of defeat and allowed seven goals for the first time in 80 years. Brazil also lost its first official competitive match at home since 1975.

“The responsibility for this catastrophic result is mine,” Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. “I was in charge.”

The Germans seized control early, scoring five times in the first 30 minutes at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte.

Two of those goals came off the foot of Toni Kroos, and teammate Miroslav Klose recorded one to become the all-time scoring leader in World Cup history with 16 goals. Earlier in the tournament, Klose tied the prior record of 15 held by former Brazilian star Ronaldo.

Germany’s Andre Schuerrle also scored twice, both in the second half. Thomas Mueller and Sami Khedira each added a goal for Germany, which will appear in a record eighth World Cup final.

Oscar redeemed some pride for Brazil with a goal in the 90th minute.

“Brazil Shocked”

“Brazil was shocked after the goals. They did not expect that,” Germany’s coach Joachim Loew said of his team’s early offensive success. “They did not know what to do. Their defense was not organized. A little humbleness would not hurt now.”

In 1950, the only other time Brazil has hosted a World Cup, Uruguay beat the Brazilians in the championship game, 2-1.

“We wanted to make the people happy … unfortunately we couldn’t,” said Brazilian defender David Luiz, who had scored in each of the last two matches. “We apologize to all Brazilians.”

Germany was the apparent favorite entering the match, which featured two perennial football powerhouses that have won a total of eight World Cups.

Brazil played without captain Thiago Silva and star striker Neymar. Silva was serving an automatic one-game suspension because he accumulated two yellow cards. Neymar, who scored four goals in the tournament, was out with a fractured vertebra.

Nevertheless, Brazil would enjoy home-field advantage at a stadium seating thousands of its rabid, yellow-shirted supporters.

They were hoping that Brazil would repeat its performance from the 1962 World Cup. That year, legendary Brazilian Pele suffered an injury in the second match that prevented him from playing in the rest of the tournament. But Brazil went on to beat Czechoslovakia in the final, 3-1.

This time, though, Brazilian optimism quickly turned to despair at the hands of a German offense that attacked with surgical precision.

Germany Not Intimidated

“It was important to stay calm, cool and courageous in facing Brazilian passion,” Loew said.

Germany, which posted its biggest World Cup win since routing Saudi Arabia, 8-0, in a group match in 2002, next plays the winner of the other World Cup semifinal pitting Argentina against the Netherlands on Wednesday in Sao Paulo.

Argentina, led by four-time FIFA Player of the year Lionel Messi, is seeking its third World Cup championship. The Dutch, finalists three times, lost to Spain in the World Cup championship in South Africa in 2010.

The Dutch are concerned about star striker Robin van Persie, who has been suffering from stomach problems. Dutch coach Louis van Gaal said he would not be able to make a decision on van Persie’s status until the day of the game.

The semifinal winners meet for the championship in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. The losers play for third place on Saturday in Brasilia.

In other news Tuesday, FIFA announced that the 2014 World Cup has broken online viewing records. The organization said, for example, that in the United States alone, a record 5.3 million people watched the round of 16 match between the U.S. and Belgium on the web sites of television networks ESPN and Univision.

Hyundai USA Releases World Cup AD “Epic Battle” Video by Wondwossen Dikran
David Mesfin: 2014 Hyundai FIFA World Cup Ad Features Work by Ethiopian Artists

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Lalibela One of The Top 50 Cities to See in Your Lifetime

(Photo by Alfonso N. Tappero)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s national treasure, the city of Lalibela, is getting more international media attention as a World Heritage Site. A recent travel highlight (see Huffington Post) by Minube lists Lalibela among “The Top 50 Cities to See in Your Lifetime.”

“With our ever-expanding bucket lists, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the essentials. Well, we’ve gone to the community of travelers at minube.net with a simple goal: find the greatest destinations on Earth,” the website notes. “From the great ancient capitals to the modern cities of Asia, the Americas, and beyond, here are the 50 cities you must see during your lifetime.”

Lalibela, listed as number 17, is described by Minube as “one of Ethiopia’s great holy cities and is famous around the world for its unique and stunning collection of monolithic churches carved right into the rock below your feet.”

Click here to see the list: “The Top 50 Cities to See in Your Lifetime”

Ethiopia’s Lalibela Among 19 Most Stunning Sacred Places in the World

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Human Rights Watch: Fears for Safety of Returned Opposition Leader

HRW: Yemen unlawfully deported Andargachew Tsige, Concerns over possible mistreatment. (Ginbot 7)

Human Rights Watch

JULY 7, 2014

London – An exiled Ethiopian opposition leader unlawfully deported by Yemen back to Ethiopia is at risk of mistreatment including torture. Andargachew Tsige is secretary-general of Ginbot 7, a banned Ethiopian opposition organization, and was convicted and sentenced to death in absentia in separate trials in Ethiopia in 2009 and 2012.

The current whereabouts of Andargachew, a British national, is unknown, raising concerns for his safety. The Ethiopian government should take all necessary steps to ensure Andargachew’s safety and his right to a fair trial. Many individuals arrested in politically related cases in Ethiopia are detained in Addis Ababa’s Maekelawi prison. In an October 2013 report, Human Rights Watch documented the use of torture by authorities against detainees in Maekelawi, including members of opposition political parties and organizations, as well as journalists.

“We are deeply concerned for Andargachew Tsige’s safety,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “Ethiopia needs to demonstrate that it is holding Andargachew in accordance with its international obligations, and he should be allowed immediate access to a lawyer, his family, and to British consular officials.”

Yemeni officials arrested Andargachew at El Rahaba Airport in Sanaa, Yemen, on June 23 or 24, 2014, while he was in transit on a flight from Dubai to Eritrea. They did not permit him consular access to UK embassy officials and summarily deported him to Ethiopia, credible sources told Human Rights Watch, despite his being at risk of mistreatment.

Yemeni authorities initially denied any knowledge of Andargachew’s detention and transfer to Ethiopia. Ethiopian government officials publicly called for his extradition from Yemen on July 3.

Under the Convention against Torture, which Yemen ratified in 1991, a government may not “expel, return (‘refouler’) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” These protections override any extradition treaty or other security arrangement that may exist between Yemen and Ethiopia.

Trials in absentia generally violate the defendant’s right to present an adequate defense, concerns heightened in cases involving the death penalty.

“Yemen blatantly violated its international legal obligations by deporting someone to Ethiopia who not only is at serious risk of torture, but also faces the death sentence after being tried in absentia,” Lefkow said.

Ginbot 7, of which Andargachew is a founding member, was established in the aftermath of Ethiopia’s controversial May 2005 national elections. The Ethiopian government banned Ginbot 7, which has advocated the armed overthrow of the Ethiopian government, and officially considers it to be a terrorist organization.

The government has prosecuted Ginbot 7 members and leaders in trials that did not meet international fair trial standards. In November 2009, a court convicted Andargachew and 39 others under the criminal code on terrorism-related charges. Andargachew, who was tried in absentia, was sentenced to death. In June 2012, he was convicted again in absentia, this time under the abusive 2009 anti-terrorism law, along with 23 journalists, activists, and opposition members. Again, he was sentenced to death.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly criticized provisions in Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law that violate due process rights guaranteed under Ethiopian and international law. At least 34 people, including 11 journalists and four Ginbot 7 leaders, are known to have been sentenced under the law since late 2011 in what appeared to be politically motivated trials; the real number is likely much higher. Suspects held under the law may be detained for up to four months without charge, among the longest periods under anti-terrorism legislation worldwide.

Ethiopian courts have shown little independence from the government in politically sensitive cases. Defendants have regularly been denied access to legal counsel during pretrial detention, and complaints from defendants of mistreatment and torture have not been appropriately investigated or addressed – even when defendants have complained in court.

The Ethiopian government routinely denies that torture and mistreatment occurs in detention. It restricts access to prisons for international observers, monitors, and consular officials, making it difficult to monitor the number and treatment of prisoners. In several cases documented by Human Rights Watch, Ethiopian security officials have arrested foreign nationals, denied knowledge of their whereabouts, and delayed access for consular officials for long periods.

In 2007 Human Rights Watch documented the forced transfer of scores of men, women, and children from Somalia and Kenya to Ethiopia. One of the men, Bashir Makhtal, a Canadian citizen of Ethiopian origin who was accused of membership of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a banned armed movement in Ethiopia, was denied consular access for 18 months. Meanwhile in 2010 and again in 2012, refugees registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya were unlawfully returned to Ethiopia and told Human Rights Watch that they were subsequently tortured in detention. In all of these cases, the individuals were accused of belonging to groups that the Ethiopian government has designated as terrorist groups.

“Given its appalling track record of mistreating members and perceived supporters of banned groups, Ethiopia should know that the world will be watching how it treats Andargachew Tsige,” Lefkow said.

Ethiopia Urged to Protect Opposition Leader (AP via The Washington Post)
Yemen Extradites Exiled Ethiopian Opposition Chief, British Citizen, to Ethiopia (AFP)
Ethiopia Ginbot 7 leader facing death penalty ‘extradited from Yemen’ (BBC News)
UK Stands Accused Over Extradition of Ethiopian Opposition Leader (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Asks Yemen to Extradite Activist (Al Jazeera)
Leading Ethiopian Opposition Figure Detained in Yemen (Yemen Times)

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In Africa, Jill Biden Talks Women’s Issues

Biden's trip to Zambia, Congo and Sierra Leone showcased issues facing women and girls. | Getty Images

Politico.com | By ASSOCIATED PRESS

July 7th, 2014

BUKAVU, Congo — Jill Biden, the wife of the U.S. vice president, traveled Saturday to conflict-wracked eastern Congo, where she met with survivors of sexual violence as part of her three-nation tour of the continent.

Her trip to Zambia, Congo and Sierra Leone, focused on highlighting issues facing women and girls, marks her third to Africa since Joe Biden became vice president.

During her stop in the Bukavu area, Biden visited the Panzi Hospital, which treats sexual violence survivors. As she was greeted by hospital personnel, she said she wanted “to learn and better understand the challenges facing Congolese women.”

Rape has long been used as a weapon of war on all sides of the conflict in eastern Congo, which has been mired in conflict for more than two decades.

She said that U.S. financing of projects had helped provide medical and psychological assistance to 13,000 victims in the country last year, and close to 4,000 women received legal help.

Read more.

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Zone9 Co-Founder Speaks Out (Video)

(Photo © Fractal Element from Facebook)


By Rachael Levy/CPJ Google Journalism Fellow

In April, the Ethiopian government imprisoned nine journalists, including six bloggers from Zone 9, in one of the worst crackdowns against free expression in the country. Ethiopia is the second worst jailer of journalists in Africa, trailing only Eritrea, according to CPJ research.

Ethiopian government officials accuse the Zone 9 bloggers of working with foreign human rights organizations and using social media to create instability in Ethiopia. The group wrote about political repression and social injustice, and their blogs were frequently blocked inside the country. Two months after their arrests, they have yet to be officially charged.

Endalkachew H/Michael, one of the co-founders of Zone 9, is pursuing his doctorate in media studies at the University of Oregon and spoke with CPJ about press freedom in Ethiopia.

What follows is a condensed and edited version of our conversation. You can view CPJ’s Storify on the bloggers here.

Read more at CPJ Blog.

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Ethiopia Urged to Protect Opposition Leader

Exiled Ethiopian opposition leader Andargachew Tsige (center), who is a British citizen, is pictured above during a Congressional hearing on Ethiopia in 2006 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Flickr)

The Washington Post | By Associated Press

July 7th, 2014

KAMPALA, Uganda — Human Rights Watch says an exiled Ethiopian opposition leader who was recently deported from Yemen to Ethiopia is at risk of abuses including torture.

In a statement Monday, the rights group urged Ethiopia’s government to ensure the safety of Andargachew Tsige, the secretary-general of a banned Ethiopian opposition group called Ginbot 7.

Andargachew was convicted and sentenced to death in absentia in separate trials in Ethiopia in 2009 and 2012, but Human Rights Watch says he should be given a fair trial.

Yemeni authorities arrested him last month while he was in transit on a flight from Dubai to Eritrea and then deported him to Ethiopia.

Human Rights Watch said last year that Ethiopian authorities torture members of opposition groups and journalists detained in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Yemen Extradites Exiled Ethiopian Opposition Chief, British Citizen, to Ethiopia (AFP)
Ethiopia Ginbot 7 leader facing death penalty ‘extradited from Yemen’ (BBC News)
UK Stands Accused Over Extradition of Ethiopian Opposition Leader (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Asks Yemen to Extradite Activist (Al Jazeera)
Leading Ethiopian Opposition Figure Detained in Yemen (Yemen Times)

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Latinos and African Immigrants Squeezed as Banks Curtail Money Transfers

A Viamericas CD Mega in Virginia. Viamericas is a money transfer company with a large focus on Mexico. (Photo: NYT)

The New Yokr Times


As government regulators crack down on the financing of terrorists and drug traffickers, many big banks are abandoning the business of transferring money from the United States to other countries, moves that are expected to reverse years of declines in the cost of immigrants sending money home to their families.

While Mexico may be most affected — nearly half of the $51.1 billion in remittances sent from the United States in 2012 ended up in that country — the banks’ broad retreat over the last year is affecting other countries in Latin America and parts of Africa as well. The banks are being held accountable not only for the customers who directly use their money transfer services but also for their role in collecting remittances from money transmitting companies and wiring them abroad.

“This is transforming the business and may increase the costs of international money transfers,” said Manuel Orozco, a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, a research group in Washington.

Read more at NYT.

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The Guardian: Britain is Supporting a Dictatorship in Ethiopia’

One of hundreds of families in the Gambella region who have been forcibly removed from their homes. (Getty Images)

The Guardian

By David Smith

Sunday 6 July 2014

It’s 30 years since Ethiopia’s famine came to attention in the UK. Now, a farmer plans to sue Britain for human rights abuses, claiming its aid has funded a government programme of torture and beatings as villagers have been removed from their homes.

“Life was good because the land was the land of our ancestors. The village was along the riverside, where you could get drinking water, go fishing and plant mango, banana and papaya. The temperature there was good and we could feed ourselves.”

This is how Mr O – his name is protected for his safety – remembers the home he shared with his family in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. The fertile land had been farmed for generations, relatively safe from wars, revolutions and famines. Then, one day, near the end of 2011, everything changed. Ethiopian troops arrived at the village and ordered everyone to leave. The harvest was ripe, but there was no time to gather it. When Mr O showed defiance, he says, he was jailed, beaten and tortured. Women were raped and some of his neighbours murdered during the forced relocation.

Read more at The Guardian.

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WORLD CUP 2014: Brazil’s Other Big Game

Brenda Pontes, right, the reigning queen of the Peladão’s beauty pageant in Brazil's Amazon rain forest getting ready for a television appearance at the A Crítica television station where she works. (Photo: NYT)


JULY 6, 2014

MANAUS, Brazil — It was a newsroom like any television station newsroom, unless you count the brunette receptionist wearing a crown, sash and leopard print dress and offering friendly advice on how to spice up the World Cup.

“Beauty queens,” Brenda Pontes, 19, said.

The World Cup does have many things — consuming attention, enthralling soccer and a carnival atmosphere — but it does not have beauty queens.

In the Amazon rain forest, though, there is a tournament that is equal parts soccer and beauty pageant. It is one of the largest and most unusual amateur soccer competitions in the world, and perhaps the only one with a reality show. Pontes is the reigning queen.

The tournament is called the Peladão. The name is a reference to pelada, a Portuguese word that can mean a naked woman. But in this case it means soccer disrobed of big money and glamour and revealed in its informal essence — pickup games played in Brazil on dusty fields, on sandy beaches and even on ferries in floating villages.

Read more at The New York Times.

In Pictures: African teams at the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Watch: The 2014 FIFA World Cup on ESPN

Hyundai USA Releases World Cup AD “Epic Battle” Video by Wondwossen Dikran
David Mesfin: 2014 Hyundai FIFA World Cup Ad Features Work by Ethiopian Artists

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Friday Muslim Protests Resume in Ethiopia

Photograph: Protesters outside Addis Ababa's Anwar Mosque after Friday prayer last year. (File Photo)

Agence France Presse

Jul. 04, 2014

ADDIS ABABA: Hundreds of Muslims protesters demonstrated in Ethiopia Friday, demanding the release of 17 of their leaders jailed under terrorism charges last year.

“What the government is doing doesn’t solve the problem, rather it will worsen the situation,” said protestor Mohammad Seman, speaking at the demonstration following busy Friday prayers at a popular Addis Ababa mosque.

The leaders were arrested last August, following months of protests by Muslims accusing the government of interfering in religious affairs. They are currently on trial for intending to “carry out acts of terrorism.”

Protesters accuse the government of forcibly imposing the foreign Al-Ahbash branch of Islam, and appointing leaders, or majlis, of the Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs who are traditionally elected by members of the Muslim community.

“We want our freedom, we want neutral majlis,” said protester Noureddine Ali.

The demonstrators carried banners reading “let our voices be heard,” and “we will fight for our religion and rights” at the rally, before police arrested several protestors, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Seman said that the government should release the leaders and urged talks with the Muslim community.

“It is better to solve the problem with peaceful means,” he said.

The government did not return calls for comment Friday.

Human Rights Watch has urged the government to free the jailed leaders, accusing it of a “brutal crackdown” on protests.

Ethiopia has come under fire for its controversial anti-terrorism legislation, which rights groups have said is used to silence critics.

Over 30 percent of Ethiopia’s 91 million people are Muslim, while around 60 percent practice Orthodox Christianity, according to official figures.

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Ethiopia Says Expanding Zones to Become Industrial Hub

Ethiopian PM and Chinese premier visit Oriental Industrial Park in Ethiopia, May 5, 2014. (gov.cn)


By Aaron Maasho

Fri Jul 4, 2014

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia will start setting up a new industrial park in September and will expand another at a total cost of $250 million, an official said, part of efforts to shift away from farming and become a hub for textiles and other industries.

The Horn of Africa nation aims to attract investors who are moving some manufacturing from China and other Asian markets, where costs are rising. Ethiopia offers cheap labour and fast improving power supply, transport and other infrastructure.

Luring new industry is seen as vital to maintaining high growth rates in Ethiopia’s still largely agrarian economy. The economy has expanded annually by double digits in the past decade and is forecast to grow by 8 percent or more this year.

Yaregal Meskir, deputy director general of the Ethiopian Industrial Development Zones Corporation, said plans were being finalised to expand the existing Bole Lemi Industrial Zone, on the southern outskirts of the capital, while a new industrial hub was planned at Kilinto, 30 km (20 miles) further south.

“We have witnessed many investors have come to acquire sheds and land and there is a long queue,” he told Reuters in an interview on Friday. “We prefer labour-based industries like garment manufacturing and shoe manufacturing for exports.”

After selecting a designer, he said building Bole Lemi phase two and the Kilinto Industrial Zone would start in September.

A third of the 156-hectare Bole Lemi site was developed at a cost of 2.5 billion birr ($127.5 million), financed by the state, in the first phase and has attracted Korean garment-maker Myungsung Textile Company and Taiwan’s George Shoe Corporation.

The Kilinto zone will cover 243 hectares.

Read more.

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Image of the Week: Ethiopian Troops Rallying Against Italy’s Invasion in 1935

This photo was taken in Addis Ababa at the start of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in October 1935. (Courtesy: Martin Plaut )

Martin Plaut

This photograph, dated 30 October 1935, shows Ethiopian troops rallying to the cause of the Emperor Haile Selassie.

This is the information on the back of the photo: “Dedjazmatch Machacha, one of Ethiopia’s most influential leaders, recently marched into Addis Ababa with 10,000 of his followers to offer his services and those of his men to Emperor Haile Selassie. This picture shows some of Machacha’s troops in Addis Ababa before leaving for the North.”

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Tom Hucker Still Ahead After First Absentee Vote Count in Maryland Primary

Tom Hucker, a candidate for Montgomery County Council District 5 seat in Maryland, who was endorsed by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), is still leading his primary race. (Photo: courtesy of Tom Hucker)

The Washington Post


Del. Tom Hucker slightly extended his slender margin over Evan Glass in the Montgomery County District 5 County Council Democratic primary race after the first set of absentee ballots were counted late last week.

Hucker won a slight plurality of the 570 absentee ballots, extending his lead from 225 to 244 votes.

Montgomery election officials said Monday there are two more sets of ballots remaining to be counted in the primary contest. Provisional ballots will be tallied on Wednesday and a final set of absentees on July 7.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Tom Hucker Leads in Close Primary in Maryland’s Montgomery County
Ike Leggett Wins Primary Election By A Wide Margin
Sam Liccardo Wins San Jose, California Mayoral Primary Election

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DC Cab Drivers Fed up With City’s ‘Abuses’

(Photo credit: Thomas Peter/Reuters)


By Naomi Gingold

Addis Gebreselassi is a taxi driver in Washington, DC. Like a lot of other immigrant drivers, he’s pretty highly educated — he was formerly an accountant. But he’s been driving a cab in the district for about 14 years.

Even though the job doesn’t get much repsect, he says it has its benefits: “You can work when you want it, not working when you don’t want it.”

The flexibility allows drivers to take care of their kids, take classes or even travel back to their home countries without wondering if they’ll lose their jobs.

In many ways, DC is an especially good place to set up shop as a cab driver. It’s the only major metro area in the US where a majority of drivers are independent owners and no company dominates the market. There are more than a hundred cab companies in DC, and, unlike in New York or Boston, licenses are pretty cheap.

But the DC Taxicab Commission controls pretty much everything drivers do, and drivers have long felt mistreated. “Some of the drivers get abused. They know in their hearts there is no fairness in this city,” Gebreselassie says, echoing complaints among drivers.

Read more at PRI.Org.

Audio: DC cab drivers fed up with ‘abuses’

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Reporters Without Borders on the Dismissal of 20 State Journalists in Ethiopia

Press release from Reporters Without Borders (RSF)


Mon, 30 Jun 2014

Reporters Without Borders condemns last week’s politically-motivated dismissal of 20 journalists from Oromia Radio and Television Organization (ORTO), the main state-owned broadcaster in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest regional State.

The 20 journalists were denied entry to ORTO headquarter on 25 June and were effectively dismissed without any explanations other than their alleged “narrow political views,” an assessment the management reached at the end of a workshop for journalists and regional government officials that included discussions on the controversial Master Plan of Addis that many activists believe is aimed at incorporating parts of Oromia into the federal city of Addis Ababa.

The journalists had reportedly expressed their disagreement with the violence used by the police in May to disperse student protests against the plan, resulting in many deaths.

It is not yet clear whether the journalists may also be subjected to other administrative or judicial proceedings.

“How can you fire journalists for their political views?” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. “The government must provide proper reasons for such a dismissal. Does it mean that Ethiopia has officially criminalized political opinion?

“In our view, this development must be seen as an attempt by the authorities to marginalize and supress all potential critiques ahead of the national elections scheduled for 2015 in Ethiopia. These journalists must be allowed to return to work and must not be subjected to any threats or obstruction.”

Ethiopia is ranked 143rd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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BRAZIL 2014: The Best World Cup Ever?

(Photo: football.voanews.com)

By Andrew Palczewski | VOA News

2 July, 2014

In the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup, there were fears that the event would be a disaster. Would the stadiums be finished in time? Could the teams face the steamy tropical heat of northern Brazil? Would pollution and protests mar the games?

Well, according to FIFA, the 2014 World Cup isn’t a disaster. In fact, they’re calling it the best World Cup…ever.

According to Reuters:

Brazil 2014 may have had organizational glitches, but it is shaping up to be the best on-field World Cup thanks to the exciting soccer being played, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said on Tuesday.

“I think it is the best World Cup in terms of the soccer,” Valcke said in an interview with Globo television’s SporTV cable channel. “It’s the World Cup with the most number of goals since 1982.”

Even before the 32-nation tournament enters the quarter-final phase this week, more goals have been scored than at the previous World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

A pretty bold statement…considering the tournament isn’t over yet.

In Pictures: World Cup 2014 Goal Celebrations

Hyundai USA Releases World Cup AD “Epic Battle” Video by Wondwossen Dikran
David Mesfin: 2014 Hyundai FIFA World Cup Ad Features Work by Ethiopian Artists

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Harar: The City of Beer And Mosques (BBC)

Ethiopia's historic city of Harar is one of Islam's holiest centres - but in recent times it has built up another tradition and is now also known for its brewery. (Photograph credit: ALAMY via BBC News )


By Aidan O’Donnell

As holy cities go, Harar is a colourful one. Inside the walls of the old town I find buildings in greens, purples and yellows – its women seem to take this as a challenge, dressing in veils and robes of shocking pink and the brightest orange.

Harar lies far in the east of Ethiopia, with a road that rises out of the town in the direction of Somaliland.

The mighty Muslim leader Ahmed The Left-Handed led some fierce campaigns from here in the 16th Century.

On its narrow streets I meet goats, old men collapsed from chewing the narcotic khat and a young boy who stops to knock a football back and forth with me for a few minutes.

Off the main square, tailors sit in front of fabric shops ready to run up alterations.

Binyam, slotted behind his sewing machine, does a small tailoring job for me, recounting his Greek ancestry and the provenance of his sewing machine – a gift, he says proudly, which would cost you thousands in the local currency.

Read more.

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Preview: Ethiopian Movie ‘Beti and Amare’

Ethiopian-movie 'Beti and Amare.' (Courtesy Indiewire)

Indie Wire


Premiering at the Durban International Film Festival, which runs July 17 through July 27, is the Kalulu Entertainment independent film production titled “Beti and Amare,” described as a part sci-fi/fantasy and part historical romantic drama set in World War 2-torn Ethiopia.

“Amare,” by German filmmaker Andy Siege, centers on on a young Ethiopian girl named Beti (Hiwot Asres), who seeks refuge from Mussolini’s Italian troops in the south of the country. In the midst of battling hunger and harassment from the local militia, an unprecedented fantastical event occurs causing Beti to fall in love.

Here’s the full synopsis: “Beti and Amare” is a historical science-fiction film set in 1936 Ethiopia. Beti, a young Ethiopian girl has escaped Mussolini’s troops and found refuge in the peaceful south of Ethiopia. As the Italians march ever closer Beti has to battle hunger, thirst, and the unwelcome sexual advances of the local militia. When the situation threatens to escalate towards the unthinkable, a spaceship cracks through the clouds… its cargo… love. This micro-budget gem is filled with many powerful moments made up of stunning, intense and thought provoking imagery, a unique but professional score and sound-design, and masterful acting.

Watch the trailer below:

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17 Indicted in NY Drug Ring Bust for Khat

The drug ring smuggled the Khat from Yemen, Ethiopia, and Kenya into New York and beyond, according to a 215-count indictment unsealed Friday in Brooklyn by the state's Attorney General. (photo DEA)

New York Daily News


17 members of an international drug ring were busted for smuggling tons of Khat into America, authorities announced Friday.

Seventeen members of the alleged drug ring that brought tons of the euphoria-inducing plant from Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia to the city and beyond were charged in a 215-count indictment unsealed in Brooklyn by the state’s Attorney General office.

Khat’s leaves and stems are chewed in their fresh form and contains an amphetamine-like stimulant. It’s legal in many parts of the world, including Kenya and Ethiopia were it’s primarily cultivated, and has been used socially in Yemen for thousands of years.

But Khat is illegal in the United States and most other western countries, earning that designation in the United Kingdom this Tuesday.

Read more at NY Daily News.

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Tom Hucker Leads in Close Primary in Maryland’s Montgomery County

Tom Hucker (courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Tom Hucker, a candidate for Montgomery County Council District 5 seat in Maryland, who was endorsed by the Ethiopian American Council (EAC), is locked in a close Primary race, so far leading by 217 votes, in a contest that will likely be decided by absentee and provisional votes.

The Gazette, which covers Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, reports that “only 217 votes separate the top two vote-getters after Tuesday’s election, likely giving absentee and provisional voters the final say on who will hold the seat in December.”

All precincts reporting, Tom Hucker garnered 7,184 votes compared to his opponents: Evan Glass (6,967), Christopher Barclay (1,789), Terrill North (1,687), and Jeffrey Thames (982).

“However, 940 absentee ballots were requested in District 5 as of Tuesday and of those, 733 were requested by Democrats. The Board of Elections has yet to count absentee and provisional ballots,” The Gazette reported. “While it was too early to celebrate when reached Tuesday night, Hucker praised his campaign volunteers and staff for their hard work.”

Hucker also told the newspaper that he  will wait until “the last vote was counted” before claiming victory. “I’m definitely very proud of the diverse grassroots and relentlessly optimistic campaign that we ran,” he said. “People are exhausted. They left it all on the field.”

Although voter turnout was very low across Maryland on Tuesday, we are told that EAC helped coordinate getting the vote out for Hucker and other candidates through phone banking and volunteering in the field. If Tom Hucker wins, it would round out the successful campaigns of all the three candidates supported by the Ethiopian-American Council, including Montgomery County Executive Isaiah “Ike” Leggett, who won his primary bid for a third term, and San Jose, California Mayoral Candidate Sam Liccardo, who made the runoff as one of the top two primary winners gearing up for the Fall election season.

Stay tuned for updates.

Ike Leggett Wins Primary Election By A Wide Margin

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Your Chance to Present at 9th Annual African Economic Conference in Ethiopia

(Image: The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa logo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The 2014 African Economic Conference will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November and organizers are calling on African researchers in the Diaspora to participate. One of the key objectives of the annual conference, now in its ninth year, is to “provide an opportunity for young African researchers, Africans in the Diaspora, regional and sub-regional organizations to disseminate their research findings as well as share information with African policymakers on the work they do in the region.”

The two-day gathering — scheduled for November 17th through November 19th, 2014 — is being organized jointly by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Program.

“This year’s AEC will offer a unique avenue for researchers, policymakers and development practitioners from Africa, and elsewhere, to debate Africa’s soft infrastructure needs and their catalytic impact on speed and scope of economic transformation and inclusive growth,” noted the announcement from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). “In the light of Africa’s search for economic transformation and its current skills and technology deficit in the face of knowledge-intensive and innovation-driven global competition, Africa needs to urgently devise strategies to capitalise on its youth bulge to drive technological innovation, skills development and the search for new sources of comparative advantage.” The UN agency added: “There is also the need to reflect on the critical barriers to be overcome and seek to capture the lessons to be learnt from various experiences on the continent to guide the development of appropriate policy responses and investment frameworks (public and private). In addition, critical regional dimensions need to be examined.”

Organizers credit high commodity prices and good macroeconomic management for the continent’s notable “economic growth rates averaging 5.2 per cent over the past decade.” Despite this growth, conference organizers are keen to note that there is still failure to translate this success in terms of employment opportunities and other measures of socio-economic development.

“Much attention has been given to the constraints imposed by the physical infrastructure deficit on Africa’s industrialization and structural transformation goals. Issues around Africa’s deficit of soft infrastructure such as skills, technology and innovation have not received equal attention, even though Africa’s severe shortage of technical skills is arguably more likely to pose a binding constraint on achieving sustainable industrialization, transformation and inclusive growth. As the continent pursues its agenda for economic transformation and inclusive growth enshrined in the African Union’s vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”, success will critically depend on the continent accumulating a critical mass of skills, technology and innovation. African leaders, by identifying youth development, and science, technology and innovation as key pillars of the AU Agenda 2063 and the African Common Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, give credence to this view.”

Click here for the Call for Papers.

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Image of the Week: Why Did the Greeks Make Ethiopian Royal Andromeda White?

This sixth century B.C. Greek vase painting is raising a question: Why did the Greeks choose to hide the mythological figure’s true origins? (Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute /MFA, Boston)

The Root


One of the most profound qualities of the classical Greek mind has to do with its capacity to interpret human destiny on a cosmic scale. A particularly affecting example is the story of Andromeda, the daughter of the king and queen of Ethiopia. Like her parents and her lover Perseus, Andromeda was ultimately placed in the heavens by fate, metamorphosed as the constellation bearing her name.

The legend of Andromeda constantly migrates in its telling, always keeping pace with the vibrant, ever-changing perception of the world and its inhabitants by the ancient world. In this evocative example of Greek vase painting, the clear signs of her African origin are tempered with a seeming reluctance to accept the heroine herself as black. Though the reasons for this are not entirely clear, the treatment of Andromeda’s story provides valuable insight into the presentation of race in legend and art, and perhaps in actual life as well.

Read more at Theroot.com.

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Embassies in DC Catch World Cup Fever

Netherlands' Arjen Robben, right, is challenged by Spain's Fernando Torres during the World Cup match between Spain and the Netherlands, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo)

VOA News

By Lee Michael Katz

WASHINGTON — A red sea of about 100 diplomats, family and embassy friends wearing their national color, packed into the Korean cultural center to cheer on their team in a World Cup match against favored Russia last week.

It was just a brief stroll down Washington D.C.’s Massachusetts Avenue from the Korean embassy to the affiliated cultural center, which had set up giant TV screens in two rooms. But it was a big Embassy Row leap from the normal diplomatic routine, as some Korean embassy officials abandoned their formal reserve and thrust their hands in the air to cheer when team Korea scored a critical goal.

Some diplomats shed their suit jackets, opting to put on over their shirt and tie, bright red T-shirts emblazoned in Korean with words “Korea Fighting” for the soccer game.

Perhaps no group of officials here in the American capital has embraced World Cup fever more than the diplomatic community. Televisions are turned on during national games, even during the work day. Diplomats speculate around the water cooler about competitors in their nation’s group and follow the action on computer monitors and smart phones. Some surreptitiously listen to games of interest and obsessively check World Cup scores.

This summer, Washington’s diplomatic community has collectively come down with World Cup fever. Their workday soccer enthusiasm is reminiscent of American office workers, who are famous for office pools, internet game monitoring and lost productivity during the “March Madness” of the NCAA college basketball tournament.

Aiding the diplomatic World Cup mania, soccer is also increasingly popular among the local population in Washington and featured in many restaurants and bars. American fans in the nation’s capital area sport red, white and blue American flag apparel and chant “USA! USA!” during games against Ghana and Portugal.

For those assigned to represent their nation in a foreign capital, the World Cup is a source of national pride far away from home. For example, this game where Korea accomplished an unexpected tie with Russia.

That was good enough for one embassy diplomat to take to heart. Korea has been rocked by the drowning of high school students in a horrific ferry boat incident. The nation has long been “saddened,” a Korean diplomat noted, but the World Cup provided a momentary lift from tragedy. “We had a good game,” the diplomat said. “Now we are very happy.”

All of a half dozen embassies queried for this column about their World Cup activities reported staff would be watching or monitoring the matches.

At the Netherlands embassy, diplomatic staffers wore orange ties, socks and other items to mark their World Cup games. At half-time of one World Cup game, ambassador Rudolf Bekink retweeted a picture of a flag that declared, “Our Roots Are Orange.”

With some initial success, the Dutch national team’s embassy fans became especially captivated by the Cup. “In the midst of other regular work,” reported embassy press officer Carla Bundy, “there are people at the canteen and at the coffee [station] and the office and the cooler, talking about the Dutch national team.”

In fact, the Netherlands Embassy played upon the World Cup excitement to promote their nation in Congress. The Dutch actually built a miniature indoor soccer field in a Capitol Hill office building, complete with artificial turf. Congressional aides were offered famous Dutch Heineken beer, as well as American ice cream and widescreen TV’s showing the Netherlands vs. Spain match.

As for Spain, its diplomatic personnel watched another midday game last week in the basement of the embassy on a “big, big TV,” according to spokesman Gregorio Laso.

Some Spanish embassy staffers even started work at the very undiplomatic hour of 7:00 a.m., Laso explained, so “they could finish their job and watch the match.” Though Spain has been known for its leisurely mealtimes, Laso skipped lunch so he could watch the 3:00 p.m. game versus Chile.

For Chile, “I think we are not going to be working at the time of the game,” a Chilean diplomat admitted honestly, but privately. “We get very patriotic” over the matches.

“I think everyone is taking the time to watch their country play,” she observed. “This whole month everyone’s going to be talking about soccer.”

At the Mexican embassy, the World Cup “can bring out a lot of passion and enthusiasm rallying behind our national team,” deputy embassy spokesman Vanessa Calva noted. “Some of our colleagues have been wearing our Mexican decorations…My mind has been rather busy about talking soccer.”

Were Mexico to get past the first round, she said, “then things will get very interesting and nervous for us.”

Fittingly, perhaps the most extreme World Cup diplomatic celebrant in Washington was Brazil, the host country and a major soccer power at the start of the competition. The Brazilian ambassador in Washington threw a huge party for the start of Brazil’s Cup play, with the signature national caipirinha drinks.

But that was just the beginning of Brazilian diplomatic devotion to their World Cup matches. For those dialing the embassy after 1:00 p.m., a couple of hours before Brazil’s game with Mexico, the phone went unanswered. It seems the entire embassy was closed: for the soccer holiday.

World Cup 2014: The latest from Brazil

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U.S. House Votes to Limit NSA Spying

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted on Thursday in favor of an amendment that would stop NSA's key domestic surveillance activities without a warrant. (Video transcript by Newsy.com)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Ben Levin

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bipartisan amendment limiting the ability of the National Security Agency to spy on U.S. citizens.

The amendment passed 293-123, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voting for it.

Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, proposed and passed an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill closing off the “incidental” loophole in a late-night session.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that the NSA routinely collects intelligence on millions of U.S. citizens without a warrant. (See The Guardian)

The NSA’s reasoning, as approved by former President George W. Bush and maintained by President Obama, holds that as long as the “target” of a surveillance effort is a foreigner, any “incidental” intelligence gathered is fair game for the NSA. (Via Washington Times).

The agency’s logic has been criticized by politicians and civil liberty advocates such as Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Read more at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Watch: U.S. Congress passes amendment to limit NSA surveillance (Video by Newsy.com)

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How Fast is Africa Really Growing?

(Images: Time magazine covers)

Financial Times

By Razia Khan of Standard Chartered Bank

Africa is rising, but poor data availability means that we can’t be sure by how much.

There are proxies that help shed some light. Chinese customs data show that Africa-China trade ballooned to $210bn last year from $5bn-$7bn at the end of the 1990s. Lending to the private sector in Africa has also surged, with private-sector credit growth more than doubling in real terms between 2000 and 2010.

Such data points aside, however, little is known about the true magnitude of Africa’s growth surge.

Data quality in most Sub-Saharan African economies is weak. In many instances, the official data are too out of date to tell us much that is useful.

The lack of data complicates decision-making for both the private sector and governments. It reduces certainty, adds to the cost of doing business and can delay the formulation of much-needed policy.

While Africa has seen surging inflows from foreign direct investment and private portfolio investment in recent years, investors – especially those new to the region – are often shooting in the dark when it comes to data.

Improved data quality can alter our perceptions dramatically. When Ghana released its rebased GDP figures in 2010 (the first rebasing since 1993) the economy turned out to be 63 per cent larger than previously thought.

Nigeria’s rebasing this year was even more dramatic, with the estimated size of the economy increasing by 89 per cent. Nigeria ‘became’ the largest economy in Africa and the 26th-largest in the world.

Read more.

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Heineken to Open New Plant in Ethiopia

(Image: Heineken International)

The Wall Street Journal


Heineken will next month open a new brewery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in what is the Dutch brewer’s latest push to expand in Africa, one of the world’s fastest-growing beer markets.

The brewery in Kilinto, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, will be Heineken third plant in the East African country and will have an annual capacity of 1.5 million hectoliters (40 million U.S. gallons).

The facility, which will produce local brands such as Bedele and Harar and possibly Heineken’s premium lager beer in the future, is meant to bolster the brewer’s footprint in the Ethiopian capital, said Siep Hiemstra, the president of Heineken’s operations in Africa and the Middle East, in an interview.

“We couldn’t serve the Addis Ababa region from our existing two breweries,” he said. “So this will strengthen our position in the country.”

Heineken’s expansion in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country, highlights the growing importance of the continent for the world’s top brewers.

Read more.

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UN Warns of Sharp Influx of Refugees From South Sudan to Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, the United Nations World Food Programme, WFP, assists roughly 550,000 refugees from neighboring countries, including the latest influx of asylum-seekers from South Sudan. (WFP)


19 Jun 2014

ADDIS ABABA – As South Sudanese continue to flee their conflict-torn homeland, the United Nations World Food Programme in Ethiopia marks World Refugee Day with an urgent appeal for US$50 million to meet the needs of nearly 150,000 who have sought shelter here since the conflict began in December 2013–and for our larger refugee response.

“Thanks to its generous open-door policy, Ethiopia currently hosts the largest number of South Sudanese refugees of any neighbouring country,” said WFP Ethiopia’s Country Director, Abdou Dieng. “If WFP is to meet their food and nutritional needs, we need a massive and rapid influx of funds. Otherwise, we risk running out of food for our refugee operation in Ethiopia by the end of August.”

In Rome, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin highlighted the devastating fallout of the humanitarian crises in South Sudan and in several other nations where conflict has uprooted millions. Roughly 45.2 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, including half-a-million people who have fled the renewed violence in Iraq, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Working with the UNHCR and other partners, WFP assisted 4.2 million refugees and 8.9 million internally displaced people around the world in 2013.

“As the newly displaced join the ranks of those already forced from their homes by conflict or natural disaster, no one should feel alone and without help. No refugee should ever feel forgotten,” Cousin said. “Together with our colleagues at UNHCR, partner organizations and donor governments around the world, we are diligently responding to their urgent and life stabilizing needs.”

In Ethiopia, WFP assists roughly 550,000 refugees from neighbouring countries, including the latest influx of asylum-seekers from South Sudan. At the border points, we are distributing calorie-packed High Energy Biscuits to give an immediate boost to the many South Sudanese who arrive here exhausted and famished, after walking for days to reach safety.

WFP also distributes rations of grains, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and salt at camps and border points. And we are providing special nutritional supplements to counter often alarmingly high malnutrition rates among the most vulnerable, notably young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

“The fighting has prevented people from planting their fields,” WFP Country Director Dieng says of South Sudan. “This will push more people to flee their country – this time not because of conflict, but because of hunger. All the more reason for the international community to give generously to those in need.”

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Yetnebersh Nigussie Talks About the Challenges for the Disabled in Ethiopia

Yetnebersh Nigussie, who lost her eyesight at the age of 5, is a lawyer and disability rights activist. (VOA)

VOA News

Kim Lewis

June 16, 2014

The Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which held its seventh annual session in New York from June 10-12, gave delegates from around the world a chance to exchange ideas about programs and discuss how to improve the lives of the disabled and to raise human rights issues.

An attendee from Ethiopia, Yetnebersh Nigussie, talks about the challenges for the disabled in Ethiopia, where she says the disabled face prejudice and low-socio-economic status. She speaks from personal as well as professional experience. Nigussie is the executive director of the non-profit Ethiopian Center for Disabilities and Development in Addis. She is an attorney and she is blind.

Most of the disabilities in Ethiopia – such as child trachoma and polio – are preventable, says Nigussie. “But, once you are disabled, it’s very tough to get included in the community, and to be able to contribute towards development.”

In addition to physical and infrastructural obstacles such as lack of accessibility to buildings and services, Nigussie says obstacles persist in gaining access to information, communications, and transportation.

Other, more daunting obstacles are even harder to overcome, she says. People with disabilities in Ethiopia have no capacity to develop. A civil society law in Ethiopia prohibits organizations from receiving foreign funds for advocating disability rights.

“In Ethiopia, I’m not sure if you are aware, we have a new … law that was passed three years ago, and that law requires organizations receiving funds from abroad not to engage in disability rights and awareness. So, that becomes an impediment …,” Nigussie says.

However, the human rights advocate noted Ethiopia’s government has passed other recent laws that require the inclusion of people with disabilities in decision-making policies, and employment. Nigussie says Ethiopia’s parliament has developed a checklist to hold decision-makers accountable for what they are doing to include people with disabilities

The downside has been, she points out, is the checklist is ineffective when it comes to civil society. The government is trying to put in place systems and policies to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, but there is no real enforcement, she says. What is needed is a strong and vibrant voice for persons with disabilities, not just advocacy groups.

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54 Days in Prison and Counting for Zone 9 Bloggers and 3 Journalists

(Image credit: zoneniner tumblr)

Global Voices

16 June 2014

It has been 54 days since six members of the Zone Nine blogging collective and three journalists believed to be associated with the group were arrested in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group formed in 2012 in an effort to report on and increase public discussion about political and social issues affecting a diverse cross-section of Ethiopian society.

On their Facebook page, they describes themselves as young Ethiopians seeking to use fact-based reporting and analysis to create a new, more nuanced narrative of life in Ethiopia today:

“Zone9 is an informal group of young Ethiopian bloggers working together to create an alternative independent narration of the socio-political conditions in Ethiopia and thereby foster public discourse that will result in emergence of ideas for the betterment of the Nation”

The bloggers have appeared in court at four times since their arrest on April 25, 2014 — their next court date has been set for July 12, 2014. Each time, police have asked for more time to carry out their investigation of the group. Although they have been informally accused of “working with foreign organizations that claim to be human rights activists and agreeing in idea and receiving finance to incite public violence through social media,” they have been issued no formal charges as of yet. Close friends and allies of the group fear that they will be charged with terrorism, similar to journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu, both Ethiopian journalists who have been in prison since 2011.

Read more at Global Voices Online.

Investigation stalls in case of nine detained journalists and bloggers (RSF via Reuters)

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World Cup Fans Gather Atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Video)

A Brazilian football fan plays with a soccer ball on a beach in Rio de Janeiro on June 8, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Brian Allen

June 15, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO — Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the iconic attractions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Offering unparalleled views of the city, thousands of World Cup fans are ascending to the top each day, either to watch the games or just enjoy the sights.

Sugarloaf Mountain dominates the skyline from almost all of Rio de Janeiro, including here in Copacabana Beach.

Getting to the top just takes two short cable car rides – although for the more adventurous, climbing is an option.

The top of Sugarloaf reveals Rio in a way that most people here say can’t be beaten. You can see Copacabana, Ipanema, Botafogo, and downtown Rio. Of course, watching over all, is Corcovado, featuring the Christ the Redeemer statue.

Rodrigo is a local resident. He has lived here his whole life, but this was his first trip to the top.

“It represents the spirit of the nature of Rio de Janeiro. You can see the beauty of the city all in one, single place,” he said.

Not everyone is so close. Hayden and Jordan spent 29 hours traveling from Australia.

“Three different flights – eight hours, seven hours, and 14 hours,” explains Jordan.

Soccer fans from around the world have chosen Rio for their World Cup experience, and Sugarloaf Mountain is part of that. It’s not unusual to see Brazilian and Colombian supporters taking a photo of a group of Germans.

Alex and Christian also came to Rio from Germany.

“We’ve got the Alps, but you can’t compare them to this,” says Alex.

When your day on Sugarloaf Mountain is done, all that’s left is the cable car ride back down. That is, of course, only if you choose not to take the helicopter.

Watch: World Cup Fans Gather Atop Sugarloaf Mountain (VOA News Video)

WORLD CUP 2014: The Latest From Brazil
Hyundai USA Releases World Cup AD “Epic Battle” Video by Wondwossen Dikran
David Mesfin: 2014 Hyundai FIFA World Cup Ad Features Work by Ethiopian Artists

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Ethiopia Welcomes Egypt’s Change of Heart Over Nile Water Row

Ethiopian foreign minister Tedros Adhanom meets Egypt`s newly inaugurated president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt on Monday, June 9th, 2014. (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Sudan Tribune

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

June 13, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia on Thursday commended Egypt’s unprecedented and an official decision to peacefully resolve a long-standing dispute with Addis Ababa over a controversial power plant project known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“Ethiopia strongly welcomes Egypt’s interest to re-launch talk over the GERD and solve the problem through dialogue,” spokesperson for Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Dina Mufti told journalists.

“Egypt has no other option except dialogue and win-win negotiation to find a solution that is acceptable by both sides,” he added.

Egypt’s newly elected president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has recently pledged to resolve the water dispute with Ethiopia through dialogue.

Ethiopian officials said that al-Sisi is expected to pay an official visit to Ethiopia soon probably making it his first trip to a foreign nation since he assumed office in June 8.

Ethiopian foreign minister Tedros Adhanom, who attended the new president’s inaugural ceremony in Cairo, has held meeting with al-Sisi and other high ranking officials over the multi-billion dollar power plant project.

During their discussion Adhanom has reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment for cooperation with Egypt based on mutual trust and confidence.

Read more at Sudan Tribune.

Egypt’s Newly Inaugurated President Vows to Ease Tensions With Ethiopia (Al-Ahram)

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Summer Fashion Highlights: African Beach Wear ‘Bantu’ by Yodit Eklund

Bantu Wax Africa “Beach wear” by Yodit Eklund. (Photo via WAPA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The New York Times highlights the colorful African beach label Bantu owned by designer Yodit Eklund, an Ethiopian American born in Germany. The Bantu swimsuit collection was launched in 2008 and initially manufactured in Ethiopia. NYT notes that for this summer Yodit “developed the prints for her collaboration with J. Crew from traditional West African wax cloth patterns. Her color palette was based on 1970s funk and high-life album covers from Africa.”

Read more.

Vanity Fair: African-based swimwear debuts in Los Angeles

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Remember Susan Rice? She Strikes Again

Remember Susan Rice and the ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Horn of Africa Debate? She Strikes Again. (UNA)

By Jim Acosta, CNN Senior White House Correspondent

Colleville-sur-Mer, FRANCE (CNN) — President Barack Obama’s national security adviser said Friday that her full-throated praise of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was appropriate given the former Taliban prisoner’s willingness to go to war for his country — despite questions about whether or not he deserted his Army colleagues.

Susan Rice, who on Sunday said Bergdahl served the United States with “honor and distinction,” told CNN in an interview that she was speaking about the fact the Idaho native enlisted and went to Afghanistan in the service of his country.

“I realize there has been lots of discussion and controversy around this,” Rice said. “But what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing.”

The Obama administration has come under fire for the decision to trade five Taliban prisoners previously held at Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl, who was held for nearly five years.

Read more at CNN.

Post-Susan Rice Debacle: The ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Horn of Africa Debate

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Death Threats Force San Jose Stowaway’s Mom to Flee Ethiopian Refugee Camp

Ubah Mohammed Abdule, 33, sheds tears as she talks about her son Yahya Abdi, outside her hut in the Shedder refugee camp near the town of Jigjiga, in far eastern Ethiopia. (AP Photograph/Elias Asmare)

KTVU and AP Wires

June 9th, 2014

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The mother of an ethnic Somali teenager who stowed away on a plane from San Jose to Hawaii has left a refugee camp in Ethiopia because of what she says are death threats.

An official at the Shedder Refugee Camp in Ethiopia, Abdlrasak Abas Omar, says Ubah Mohammed Abdule was moved from the camp for safety reasons.

He said Abdule showed camp administrators anonymous calls she said were made by people threatening her with death.

Her son who lives with his father in San Jose stowed away in the wheel well of a jetliner during a 5 1/2-hour flight to Hawaii in April. Since then, Abdule says she has received threats from callers she believes are her ex-husband’s relatives.

A family spokeswoman forwarded questions to father Abdilahi Yusuf about the allegations. As with past requests, Yusuf did not respond.

IMAGES: San Jose Stowaway teen’s mom’s daily life in refugee camp in Ethiopia(KTVU)

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Regional Heads of State to Meet in Ethiopia

FILE - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 9, 2014. (Photograph: Reuters)

VOA News

By Peter Clottey

Updated on: June 09, 2014

Heads of state and government from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries plan to meet in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa on Tuesday, according to Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s foreign minister.

IGAD officials say the focus will be on ways of improving peace and security in the six-country East African bloc devoted to boosting political and economic cooperation. Participants will also strive to come up with solutions for resolving the conflict in South Sudan as well as security threats posed by the Somali-based Islamist insurgent group, al-Shabab.

Benjamin said South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former vice president and rebel leader Riek Macher will meet on Tuesday, as part of IGAD-mediated peace talks.

Their meeting comes a month after both Kiir and Macher signed a deal in Ethiopia to recommit to a cessation of hostilities agreement as negotiations continue between the two sides.

“This was a requirement by the IGAD mediators that the president will be able to meet the rebel leader to see how far they have honored the cessation of hostilities,” Benjamin said. “This is the fulfillment of the commitment of President Salva Kiir Mayardit to see that the peace process moves ahead.”

Both the government and the rebels have recently traded accusations of undermining the cessation of hostilities agreement. But, Benjamin says the rebels are to blame for attacking government positions.

“Unfortunately, the rebels’ side had actually violated the cessation of hostilities and they have been attacking left and right all the positions of the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army], especially in Unity State,” said Benjamin.

The conflict has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes.

Benjamin says the administration in Juba is committed to the peace talks, but called on regional leaders to pressure the rebels to become more serious about the negotiations.

Officials of South Sudan’s government recently expressed displeasure with neighboring Kenya and Sudan over their relationship with the rebels. Kenya was criticized for according preferential treatment to Macher. Sudan was accused of undermining the Juba government’s legitimacy when it allowed a rebel delegation to hold a news conference in Khartoum over the weekend.

Benjamin rejected media reports of the criticism as mere media speculation. He says the government has confidence in Nairobi’s efforts to help resolve the conflict and says bilateral relations between South Sudan and Sudan are being continuously strengthened.

“South Sudan has the confidence of the ability of President Uhuru [Kenyatta] and his government to continue doing the best they can in order to bring peace to the republic of South Sudan,” said Benjamin. “For Sudan, our relations have been improving every day there is no question about that. Our message is that… a democratically-elected government cannot be equated with a rebel movement that is our concern.”

The violence in South Sudan erupted after President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, accused former vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer, of attempting a coup. Machar denied the accusation, but subsequently formed a rebel group to fight the administration in Juba.

Audio: VOA’s Clottey interview with Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan foreign minister

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Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o Named MTV Africa 2014 Personality

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o. (Getty Images)

AFP via New Vision

June 8th, 2014

DURBAN – Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o won the personality of the year award at the 2014 MTV African Music Awards (MAMA) held in South Africa’s southeastern city of Durban on Saturday. The 31-year-old, who won the best supporting actress Academy Award in March for her role in historical drama “12 Years a Slave,” was not present to receive her award.

She became the first winner of the newly introduced lifestyle non-music personality of the year award. IN doing so she beat Nigerian award-winning novelist Chimamanda Adichie, South African top stand up comedian Trevor Noah, Ivory Coast footballer Yaya Toure and popular Nollywood actress Omotola Jalade- Ekeinde. The MTV African Music Award celebrates pan African music, youth culture and talent, and winners are chosen by public vote. South Africa’s afro-pop duo Mafikizolo took the best group award, while their track “khona” was voted song of the year.

They beat other strong nominees including Nigeria’s popular R&B duo P-Square. Nigerian afro-pop artist and producer Davido won the favorite artist of the year award. He also took the best male artist prize while his compatriot, the multi-talented sensation Tiwa Savage took the best female artist award. Sarkordie of Ghana was named the best hip-pop group. Awards host, American stand up comic, film and television sensation Marlon Wayans expressed the wish for the “safe return” of the more than 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped by extremist Islamist group Boko Haram . Wayans also paid tribute to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.”Madiba had a profound impact on not only South Africa but on the entire world as a whole, so tonight we pay tribute to Mr Mandela,” said host Wayans. —AFP

Photo & Video Gallery: Durban hosts 2014 MTV Africa Awards

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U.S. Firm KKR Buys Rose Farm in Ethiopia

KKR is investing about $200 million in Ethiopian flower company Afriflora. (Photo:, an Afriflora worker)

The Wall Street Journal


LONDON—For private-equity giant KKR & Co., a debut investment in Africa smells of sweetheart roses.

Afriflora is an Ethiopian company that grows about 730 million of the flowers a year for export to Europe, making it a significant player in the east African country’s blossoming cut flower export industry. KKR is investing about $200 million from its $6.2 billion European fund to buy a stake in the company, according to a person familiar with the transaction.

The deal opens a new chapter for KKR, the New York-based firm best-known for its hostile $25 billion leveraged takeover of RJR Nabisco in 1988, the subject of the book “Barbarians at the Gate.”It also comes as private-equity firms, seeking opportunities outside the crowded markets of North America and Europe, show tentative interest in Africa. KKR rival, Washington-based Carlyle Group LP, raised a $698 million African fund earlier this year and has invested in a food distributor and a logistics company, for instance.

Read more.

KKR seeks fertile ground in Ethiopia (Financial Times)

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Mobile Phone Internet Use Doubles in Africa

Researchers say increase will take place in next five years and will be double the rate of growth in rest of world. (Photographs: Dan Chung via The Guardian, left, and Sven Torrfin via The Wall Street Journal, right)

The Guardian

By the end of 2014, it is forecast that there will be more than 635m mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa’s claim to be the “mobile continent” is even stronger than previously thought, with researchers predicting internet use on mobile phones will increase 20-fold in the next five years – double the rate of growth in the rest of the world.

People in Africa use mobiles for online activities that others normally perform on laptops or desktop computers as the technology overcomes weak or non-existent landline infrastructure in large swaths of the world’s poorest continent.

Declining prices of handsets and data, along with faster transmission speeds, mean Facebook, Twitter and cash transfer services can reach both the growing African middle class and the remotest rural areas, where villagers often find ingenious ways of keeping phones charged. Consumers in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria are increasingly using video and media services on newly affordable smartphones.

Read more at The Guardian.

Mobile Data Use Doubles in Sub-Saharan Africa (The Wall Street Journal)

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3 Ethiopians Killed in Virginia Car Crash

(Photo: WYCB)


Jun 04 2014

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. – Virginia State Police have released the names of the three people killed in a crash on Interstate 81 in Washington County, Virginia Tuesday evening.

The Toyota’s male driver, Abenezer D. Thewdros, 19, of Arlington, Va., and two male passengers, Abel N. Ayele, 19, of Arlington, Va., and Alemu S. Ameha, 25, of Alexandria, Va., all died at the scene. A [fourth] male passenger, Arketsadik Yilma, 19, of Alexandria, Va., was flown by Virginia State Police Med-Flight helicopter to Bristol Regional Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries.

Officers said the crash happened when a Toyota car struck a tractor trailer in the shoulder of the southbound lanes.

The tractor trailer was parked due to a flat tire.

At the time of the crash Virginia State Police said the tractor trailer driver and passenger were walking back to the cab of the big rig when the car struck the back end of the 18-wheeler.

Neither the tractor-trailer driver nor his passenger was injured.

The crash remains under investigation. Alcohol does not appear to have been a factor in the crash.

Read more.

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Teddy Afro On Coke’s Cancellation of the Ethiopian Version of World Cup Anthem

The following is a press release from Teddy Afro regarding the Ethiopian version of the World Cup anthem.


Press Release

Over the past months, we have been under intense pressures with flooding requests to reveal our positions regarding the relationship that exist between Coca Cola and the widely rumoured involvement of Artist Tewodros Kassahun or “Teddy Afro,” on the Ethiopian Version of the World Cup Anthem. While it came as a big surprise for us to learn how Teddy Afro’s association with Coke could leak out and became almost a public knowledge considering the fact that we have made and upheld a firm contractual commitment to maintain strict confidentiality, we have now come to understand that the disclosure of Teddy’s association with Coke by producers a local FM media entertainment program was ironically, not only confirmed but even the Coke’s TV production was praised by Mr. Misikir Mulugeta, Coca Cola Brand Manager for Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Undoubtedly, on behalf of Coca Cola, the local Brand Manager initiated to bring Teddy Afro with Coke TV Production to take part in the Ethiopian Version of World Cup Anthem. We welcomed the request in absolute good faith since the project brings our lovely motherland to the spot light of world cup spectators around the globe on its positive side and make Ethiopians presence in this major global sporting event, highly anticipated by large number of the world population, visibly felt as part of our contribution to image building efforts to our country and people. In addition to this, we were also mindful that upon its release, the Ethiopian version of the World Cup Anthem will heighten and enhance worldwide recognition and reputation of Teddy Afro’s artistic image and personality.

In response to our unwavering allegiance to our esteemed motherland and fans among humanities at home and abroad, our involvement was appropriate and justified. On his part, Teddy Afro invested his time, energy, and artistic wisdom to his level best in his bid to achieve the best possible TV production on the Ethiopian Version of the World Cup Anthem. He was perfectly aware that his participation in the Coke Studio project had among others, a daunting mission of bringing the image of Ethiopia in to global attention through world class brand and not prompted by a negligible and token advantage acquired from commercial ad to promote certain products.

Read more.

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Ethiopians Rule San Diego Half Marathon

Solomon Deksisa and Birhane Dibaba won the San Diego Half Marathon on Sunday, June 1st, 2014. (PhotoRun.net)

Running Competitor

By Don Norcross

Jun. 1, 2014

On the 17th anniversary of the Suja Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday morning, at the 13.1-mile distance, youth was served—and it was a pair of Ethiopians who ruled the roads.

On the men’s side, 20-year-old Solomon Deksisa of Ethiopia broke away from Kenyan Geoffrey Bundi near Mile 11 and sped to victory, winning in 1 hour, 10 seconds. Bundi, 26, finished second in 1:00:26.

In the women’s race, three-time Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo, 33, of Kenya soaked up the pre-race hype. But on a humid morning with temperatures in the 60s, it was 20-year-old Ethiopian Birhane Dibaba stealing the show.

Read more.

In Pictures: Ethiopian Victories at Major World Running Events in 2014

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Yemeni People Traffickers Prey on Ethiopia Migrants Seeking Work (Bloomberg News)

Ethiopian immigrants wait near Obok, north of Djibouti's capital, for smugglers' boats to cross the Gulf of Aden into Yemen. (Photographer: Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images)

Bloomberg News

By William Davison

Jun 1, 2014

Sintayehu Beyene left Ethiopia planning to earn money to begin a carpentry business — he ended up captive in Yemen where Kalashnikov-wielding traffickers stole what little he owned.

Grabbed from a boatload of migrant workers as it landed on a Yemeni shore, he says the armed gang whisked him inland to a desert camp. Beaten and detained for nine days with about 30 other people, he was forced to hand over the 1,400 Ethiopian birr ($72) he was carrying before being released. He crossed to neighboring Saudi Arabia, where wages are sometimes more than double the rates paid in Ethiopia, only to be deported a month later when authorities cracked down on illegal migrants.

“They robbed and beat me,” Sintayehu, 31, said in a May 22 interview in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, recalling his treatment at the camp in northern Yemen five months ago. “They took all the money I had.” Sintayehu may have got off lightly, according to Human Rights Watch. Ethiopians and other migrants arriving in Yemen have been captured and tortured by human traffickers planning to extort ransoms that can be more than $1,000 from their families, the New York-based advocacy group said in a May 25 report. One witness cited by HRW described captors gouging out a man’s eyes with a water bottle.

Read more.

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Poetry Magazine Editor: Maya Angelou’s Art Came From Life (VOA Interview)

Poet, novelist, actress, professor, singer, dancer and activist Maya Angelou answers questions at her portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, April 5th, 2014. (AP photo)

VOA News

By David Byrd

The world is mourning the loss of poet and educator Maya Angelou, who died Wednesday at age 86. To get some perspective, we spoke with Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine, about Angelou’s life and legacy for VOA’s radio program Now!

BYRD: What do you think Maya Angelou’s legacy will be as far as poetry and as far as literature? What did she mean to the world?

SHARE: Well actually her legacy, which was very much a vigorous part of her own presence while she was around and while we were lucky enough to have her around, consisted of the fact that she connected poetry and literature with living, with real living. She worked in night clubs as a dancer, she was a fry cook, she worked in a mechanics shop taking the paint – we’re told – off cars with her hands.

And so her life really ran the gamut of experience. And the result of that was the poetry that we are remembering her now for, but also for her legacy of generosity and kindness. She inspired people who maybe don’t have lives that seem like the subjects of poems or maybe people who have occupations that do not give them the luxury of reading or writing what we’re calling literature.

She appealed to those people because she always accounted for them and always communicated directly with them, understood them, and more importantly made them feel worth something. She was always full of a kind of energy – as her poetry was – that made you feel like life was worth living, and that surviving was good, and that being kind to people was our sustenance.

BYRD: She was also an educator at Wake Forest University but she said that comedians like Chris Rock or Richard Pryor as well as leaders in the African American community, people in literature and in poetry came to her almost to get some of the wisdom or some of the insight that she carried as her natural being.

SHARE: I think she did. I mean a lot of it was her shear charisma and energy. I mean we have to remember that she did have a career in TV and in film. She was the first black woman to have a screenplay produced in this country back in 1972 and she was nominated for an Emmy for being in the series Roots, and of course her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was adapted by television for a movie of the same name.

So in a way there was something charismatic and even show business about her, but show business not in the shallow way that we think of with celebrities who don’t have any depth, but in a true sense of it which is that she was performing who she was – she was a character but that character was who she really was and that made you feel that you could be who you are. And I think that is an attractive quality whether you are just some person browsing through books or whether you are a movie star or another kind of celebrity or President of the United States.

BYRD: Did you ever personally meet Maya [Angelou]? Did you ever get a chance to talk with her?

SHARE: I have never spoken with her. I have heard her lectures – which are electrifying. There are recordings of them that people can listen to and I don’t think you’re ever the same when you hear her. She makes you laugh; she makes you stop and think; she encourages you; there was a rhythm in her speaking voice that was a kind of the rhythm of poetry. All very inspiring. But just to hear her voice could be an inspiration and to listen to what she was saying. And I think that’s why people are feeling her loss so keenly now: it’s almost like that voice will have to be heard now in retrospect.

BYRD: Do you have a favorite poem of hers? Many people have quoted her poem “Still I Rise” but do you have a personal favorite?

SHARE: I do. You know another poem you’ll hear people talk about is the Caged Bird, but I like another poem called “Awaking in New York.” It’s just a small poem, but it’s just so vivid and wonderful. And I can read it to you, actually.

BYRD: That’d be great.

SHARE: Yeah, so this is “Awaking in New York.”

“Curtains forcing their will
against the wind,
children sleep,
exchanging dreams with
seraphim. The city
drags itself awake on
subway straps; and
I, an alarm, awake as a
rumor of war,
lie stretching into dawn,
unasked and unheeded.”

BYRD: That is short, but that’s great imagery. Is there anything we’ve forgotten?

SHARE: The main thing that we’ll miss on the one hand but always carry with us through the work that will survive is that courageousness, that sensitivity, but also the toughness and sense of humor that it takes to get by. She made you feel like you could get through anything and that it was worth getting through. So I think that that’s something that everyone will always remain inspired by.

Don Share is the editor of Poetry Magazine.

CNN Video: In Memoriam – Maya Angelou (1928 -2014)

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Tribal People Desperately Cling to Tradition in Omo Valley, Ethiopia (LA Times)

The Mursi women of Omo Valley. (Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Times


With every generation, the chance to see some of the world’s last tribal people living authentically dwindles. When I visited the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia almost two decades ago, there were few dirt roads, and tribes lived in mud huts and were mostly naked except for spectacular body paint. The Mursi were particularly sensational, with dotted body decorations and the women with enormous lip plates.

They were pastoralists and lived in isolated regions that, until recently, were left alone. When I was there in the late ’90s, they had seen few white people, although now there appears to be a steady stream. Among other tribes in the area are the Kara, the Bodi and the Hamar.

To attract more tourists, the government recently turned a large part of the Omo Valley into a giant national park, burning some villages and forcing certain tribes off their land. Then it decommissioned much of that parkland and turned it over to massive commercial agricultural operations.

Human Rights Watch says encroaching on tribal land for large-scale agricultural use is illegal, but it’s happening here. And what is being cultivated? Sugar, which needs water and power in what is mostly arid desert. Without involving the tribal people, the government built a huge hydroelectric dam on the Omo River, opening this year. It will divert the water upon which thousands of tribes and their livestock depend, thereby creating the largest irrigated farmland in Ethiopia.

Read more at LA Times.

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The Remarkable Story of Ethiopian Tour Guide Firew Ayele (The West Australian)

Ethiopian tour guide Firew Ayele. (Photo: Stephen Scourfield)

The West Australian

May 31, 2014

When Ethiopian Firew Ayele was nine years old, he was captured by soldiers from neighbouring Somalia, and spent more than 10 years as a prisoner.

Today, he is 43 years old and one of the most respected tourist guides in Ethiopia. The company he owns and runs with wife Senait employs up to 50 people and he leads groups from all over the world, explaining Ethiopia’s extraordinary history and introducing them to its vibrant culture.

He’s a geographer, a historian, and a great and knowledgeable story teller.

A measure of his professionalism is that he looks after, researches for and guides perhaps 90 per cent of the film crews which visit Ethiopia, including the BBC, Al Jazeera and documentary makers.

Read more.

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Only in Ethiopia: Very Funny Video of A Goat Riding a Guy Riding a Bike

(Image from You Tube video uploaded by Nuno Sa)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 30th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The following video was shot by Bezaye Tesfaye and Eyob Tegegn in Ethiopia who “were traveling in [Addis] when they spotted the goat seemingly having a great time,” according to the New York Daily News. “The two were laughing at the spectacle but drove by and were unable to speak to the man, Nuno Sa, who uploaded the video for his friends, told the Daily News.”

Watch: Goat riding a guy riding a bike

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CPJ: Another Editor Arrested in Ethiopia

Elias Gebru, editor-in-chief of Enku magazine, is being held without charge. (Photo: CPJ and Enqu mag)


May 28, 2014

New York –The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention of a journalist without charge since Monday and calls on Ethiopian authorities to release him immediately. An Ethiopian court on Tuesday extended by 14 days the pre-trial detention of Elias Gebru, according to news reports.

Ethiopia’s federal police in the capital, Addis Ababa, summoned Elias, editor-in-chief of the independent news magazine Enku, for questioning in connection with a column published in his paper, according to news reports. The Awramba Times reported that the column discussed a monument recently erected outside the capital in honor of ethnic Oromos massacred in the 19th century by Emperor Menelik’s forces. The monument has ignited divisions between some Oromos and supporters of the emperor’s legacy.

Local journalists said authorities were attempting to link the paper’s publication to the deadly clashes between Oromo student protesters and security forces last month. Ethiopian authorities claimed eight protesters were killed in the violence, while news outlets and human rights groups cited witnesses as saying that security forces killed more than a dozen protesters.

At least 17 other journalists are in jail in Ethiopia in connection with their journalistic work, according to CPJ research. Only Eritrea holds more journalists behind bars in Africa, CPJ research shows.

“The detention without charge of Elias Gebru is the latest move by the Ethiopian government to tighten the noose on the country’s independent press,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We call on authorities to release Elias immediately and to stop arresting journalists as a means to quell information and debate.”

Elias is being held at the Maekelawi detention center, according to local journalists.

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Ethiopia May Postpone Joining WTO in 2015

A general view of the Friendship City Center shopping mall in Addis Ababa, May 26, 2014. (Reuters/VOA)

Reuters via VOA News

May 28, 2014

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia may delay plans to join the World Trade Organization in 2015 if the country is required to liberalize its tightly regulated telecoms and banking industries sooner than it would like, the trade minister said.

Kebede Chane told lawmakers late on Tuesday that member countries had raised dozens of questions with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s government, focusing on the time frame for opening up the service sector to international competition.

Ethiopia’s fast-growing market of 90 million people has lured foreign investors from Sweden, China and Turkey to its manufacturing sector. But laws deny outside firms access to areas viewed domestically as cash-cows or politically sensitive.

Washington, which wants Ethiopia to allow more competition, said it was committed to renewing its African Growth and Opportunities Act with Addis Ababa, an accord that gives Ethiopia-made textiles preferential access to U.S. markets.

“A lot of issues are being raised regarding the service sector,” Kebede said in parliament, referring to the telecoms, banking and power industries. “We are being asked to clarify our timetable for privatizing these sectors.”

State-interventionist policies

Addis Ababa, with its strong state-interventionist policies, has one of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest growing economies and its fifth biggest.

But it has spurned the liberalizing approach of other African markets to shield its infant private sector from foreign competition and to keep profits at home.

Reuters revealed this week that Ethiopia – once run by communists – was pushing the door ajar to outside investors by offering management of government-owned enterprises while leaving the state in full control.

U.S. retail giant Walmart’s unit Massmart told Reuters Ethiopia offered a “compelling growth opportunity.”

“(Washington)is interested in ways to update the legislation to encourage diversification within Africa’s economies, which will better support the continent’s growth, development and competitiveness,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in a statement after visiting Ethiopia.

Other big brands are prising open the door in areas opened up by the government. Drinks giant Diageo DGE.L bought a brewery and fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz makes garments in Ethiopia. Trade officials said last year that Unilever and Nestle were both sniffing around.

However, Ethiopia has held onto control of its telecoms monopoly and kept foreigners out of retail and banking.

US deal

A U.S. management consultancy firm this week announced its deal to run Ethiopia’s just-launched state-owned cash-and-carry chain, the first such retail concession.

Kebede said Addis Ababa was under pressure to deepen reform to liberalize its service industries before the conclusion of its current five-year economic plan ending in 2015.

“We need to give serious thought to this issue,” Kebede said. “Right now, our economy is small and still needs to develop a lot.”

The minister cited Asian powerhouse China, which he said took 50 years to accept membership into the global trading club.

New WTO rules adopted in 2012 lowered the bar for joining for the world’s least developed countries. They allow members to open fewer sectors, liberalize fewer types of transactions, and only open up their markets as their economies develop.

“We are now looking into which laws are compatible with WTO’s regulations and which are not. We are taking one step at a time. As a result, membership might not be completed (in 2015),” Kebede said.

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In a Speech at West Point President Obama Defines American Foreign Policy Approach

President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's Class of 2014, May 28, 2014, in West Point, New York. (Associated Press photograph)

VOA News

May 28, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama said that American isolationism is not an option, but not every problem has a military solution, during a speech in which he defined his foreign policy approach.

In a commencement speech to U.S. Military Academy graduates, Obama said that America will always be a world leader, but military action cannot be the only force behind its leadership.

“Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will,” Obama said.

“The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only – or even primary – component of our leadership in every instance,” he added.

Addressing the graduates, Obama said the world is changing at an accelerating pace, which “presents opportunities, but also new dangers.”

“It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead,” Obama said.

President Barack Obama applauds those who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan as he deliverers the commencement address to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Class of 2014, in West Point, N.Y., May 28, 2014. (AP photo)

‘Isolationism not an option’

Foreign policy experts have increasingly criticized Obama’s handling of issues such as the civil war in Syria, the political crisis in Ukraine and the struggle against terrorism, saying the U.S. no longer holds a leadership position in world affairs.

In his speech, though, the president attempted to promote U.S. foreign policy as finding a balance between isolationism and interventionism.

Obama said some critics say conflicts, such as those in Syria, Ukraine or the Central African Republic, are not for the U.S. to solve.

“Not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges at home, that view is shared by many Americans,” he said.

The opposite view says “we ignore these conflicts at our own peril; that America’s willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and America’s failure to act in the face of Syrian brutality or Russian provocations not only violates our conscience, but invites escalating aggression in the future,” he said.

“Each side can point to history to support its claims. But I believe neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment,” Obama said.

“It is absolutely true that in the 21st century, American isolationism is not an option,” he added.

Diplomacy efforts

Obama said, when America’s core interests demand it – our people are threatened or allies are in danger – the U.S. will use military force. But, when global issues don’t pose a direct threat to the U.S., the threshold for military action must be higher.

“In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. We must broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law and – if just, necessary, and effective – multilateral military action,” the president said.

Obama cited international sanctions against Russia for its involvement in Ukraine unrest as an example of the effectiveness of multilateral action.

“Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away,” he said.

“Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions. Europe and the G-7 joined us to impose sanctions. NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies. The IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine’s economy. OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine, and this mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda, and Russian troops on the border and armed militias in ski masks,” Obama added.

Fighting terrorism

Rather than launching large-scale military efforts, Obama called for partnering with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.

That effort includes a new $5 billion fund to help countries fight terrorism and to expand funding for Defense Department intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, special operations and other activities.

“Indeed, this should be one of the hard-earned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where our military became the strongest advocate for diplomacy and development,” Obama said.

“Foreign assistance isn’t an afterthought – something nice to do apart from our national defense. It’s part of what makes us strong,” he added.

The president’s broad vision for America’s role in the world – one that is reliant on international diplomacy and avoids over-reaching or unilateral action – has drawn fire from opposition Republicans in Congress and various foreign policy pundits, who would prefer a more robust approach.

“Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures – without thinking through the consequences; without building international support and legitimacy for our action, or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required,” Obama said.

Afghanistan troop decision

The speech in West Point, N.Y., came one day after the president put forward a blueprint for ending U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan by the time he leaves office.

Republicans in the Senate, most vocally John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, called Obama’s decision on Afghanistan a monumental mistake on Tuesday, saying the response was a victory of politics over strategy.

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday, bristled at the criticism.

“Well, I just flatly disagree. There seems to be an industry of automatic opposition to anything, but the fact is that everything that has been accomplished in Afghanistan in the last five years has been accomplished with a deadline,” Kerry said.

In defending the decision regarding troop levels in Afghanistan on CBS This Morning, Kerry said, “What it really is is a statement of transition that is appropriate to the timing as expressed by the military and the generals and by the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.”

Kerry said the U.S. understands “its role of leadership in the world,” adding that the U.S. is continuing to lead in Iran; Syria, where the U.S. is increasingly offering assistance to the Syrian opposition; and in “Maghreb, in the Sahel, in the Levant, in South Asia and in East Asia.”

“The fact is, the United States is more engaged in more places than it has ever been at any time in history,” Kerry said.

Obama told the West Point graduates that “you are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Syria aid

Obama cast the bloody civil war in Syria as more of counterterrorism challenge than a humanitarian crisis.

The president defended his decision to keep the U.S. military out of the conflict but said he would seek to increase support for the Syrian opposition, as well as neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq that have faced an influx of refugees and fear the spread of terrorism.

“I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator,” he said.

“And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World – to push for a political resolution of this crisis, and make sure that those countries, and not just the United States, are contributing their fair share of support to the Syrian people,” Obama added.

How Obama’s So-Called Foreign Policy Critics Ignore Context & Facts

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Ethiopia’s National Day: Press Statement From Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry takes a "selfie" with nurses and workers during a visit to the Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa May 1, 2014. (Photograph: POOL/Reuters)

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC

May 27, 2014

On behalf of the government and the people of the United States, I send my best wishes to the government and people of Ethiopia as you celebrate your national day on May 28.

It was a great pleasure to return to Addis Ababa earlier this month and see first-hand examples of the longstanding partnership between the United States and Ethiopia.

During a visit to Gandhi Memorial Hospital and a conversation with the doctors, nurses and patients there, I was moved and proud to see results of our joint efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

I was also delighted to celebrate the impressive contributions to society of Ethiopian youth and look forward to welcoming several to the United States to participate in the Young African Leaders Initiative Summit.

These are just two examples of our support of Ethiopia’s peaceful and prosperous future. The United States is committed to promoting Ethiopia’s economic growth and development, democratic governance and respect for human rights, and peace and security in the region.

As you gather with family and friends on your national day, the government and people of the United States wish you a most festive celebration.

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Amazing Photo: Ethiopia’s Blue Volcano

The blue flames are deadly sulphuric gas erupting from a volcano in Ethiopia. (Image: Olivier Grunewald)

New Scientist

By Clare Wilson

27 May 2014

IT’S a volcano, but not as we know it. This cerulean eruption takes place in the Danakil Depression, a low-lying plain in Ethiopia. The volcano’s lava is the usual orange-red – the blue comes from flames produced when escaping sulphuric gases burn.

French photographer Olivier Grunewald creates such images without using colour filters or digital enhancement, which is no simple task. To get this shot he had to wait until dusk, when the electric blue flames were visible, but before all the daylight had ebbed away. Then the wind had to be blowing away from him so he could get close enough. Photographing the similarly sulphurous Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia, where he worked inside the crater, was even more treacherous. “We have to take care when the winds push the flames close to us,” he says. “In Danakil it is easier to escape as the land is flat.”

Read more.

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Ethiopia Pushes Retail Door Ajar to Foreigners

Kenyan supermarket chain Nakumatt is eyeing the Ethiopian market and may open shop in Addis. (Nakumatt.net)


By Richard Lough

May 26, 2014

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia has pushed the door ajar for foreign retailers keen to enter the fast-growing market of 90 million people, welcoming them as managers but keeping the state in control.

It is a tantalising, if limited, offer for firms such as Walmart of the United States and Kenya’s Nakumatt supermarket, which already have stores elsewhere on the continent and would like a foothold in sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth biggest economy.

“It is a vibrant market. The population is huge, the income is there, they have a lot to go around,” Nakumatt’s managing director Atul Shah said. “Why are we not there?”

Ethiopia has said it needs to modernise its supply and distribution networks and encourage competition to cut costs and keep down inflation, which leapt to 40 percent in 2011 when food prices surged and government price caps led to hoarding.

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Ethiopia Deports Head of Egypt’s Middle East News Agency in Addis Ababa

(Photo: egyptindependent.com)

Egypt Independent

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

The Egyptian Embassy in Addis Ababa sent an official note to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry to express its deep regret at the decision of Ethiopian authorities to deport the manager of Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency in Addis Ababa for no apparent reason.

“The ministry has formally asked the Ethiopian authorities to provide explanations and clarifications for deporting [MENA's office manager] without notifying the Egyptian Embassy in Addis Ababa immediately once he was detained,” spokesperson for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Badr Abdel Aaty said.

Relations between Cairo and Addis Ababa were strained after the latter started the construction of the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, which Egypt says would threaten its share of the Nile River water.

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Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia Wins 4th Elite Women’s Bolder Boulder Title in Colorado

Mamitu Daska, of Ethiopia, runs through the finish line tape as the first female finisher in the international team race at the 36th Annual BolderBOULDER 10K road race on May 26, 2014. (Photo: DP)

Denver Post

By Daniel Petty

May 26th, 2014

BOULDER — Mamitu Daska is unquestionably the current queen of the Bolder Boulder’s elite women’s 10K race.

The Ethiopian won her fourth title Monday well ahead of the rest of the field, finishing in 32 minutes, 21.63 seconds. She also won in 2009, 2010 and 2012 and was the runner-up in 2011. Only Portugal’s Rosa Mota has more career Bolder Boulder victories with five.

Even with temperatures in the high 60s, and even with a hard early pace from Deena Kastor, Daska felt the pace was too slow. So she took off down the left side of a long straightaway before the first mile while the rest of the women followed the inside curve of the road.

The champion “did good training and felt the pace was easy at the beginning,” Daska said through a translator.

That set the tone: If you want to win, prepare for bold moves and a long grind over the scorching pavement of this rolling, high-altitude course.

Read more at Denverpost.com.

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Led by Firehiwot Dado, Ethiopian Women Sweep 2014 Prague Marathon
Buzunesh Deba & Mare Dibaba Take Second & Third Place at 2014 Boston Marathon

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Opinion: How Obama’s So-Called Foreign Policy Critics Ignore Context & Facts

President Barack Obama greets U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (C) and Gen. Joseph Dunfore, Commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, during a surprise visit to Kabul May 25. (AFP)


By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Ross Douthat says of the man who ended two long wars, killed America’s most relentless enemy – you know, the guy behind the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001 – and who, perhaps, most significantly, did not start any new wars, “if Obama’s presidency ended today I have no idea what major foreign policy achievements his defenders could reasonably cite.” For Douthat, “the absence of an Iraq-scale fiasco is not identical to success.”

For many of us, the fact that Barack Obama is not George W. Bush, is indeed a success. Douthat, like every conservative, chary of naming Bush, says, “history shouldn’t grade this president on a curve set by Donald Rumsfeld,” which is a ridiculous comparison since Rumsfeld was not president, or even vice president. But Douthat cannot even bring himself to name Bush, but rather, calls him Obama’s “predecessor.”

As ever, Douthat adopts a reasonable tone, trying to set himself apart from the extremists whose voices we are accustomed to hearing at Fox News:

“Failure is a relative term, to be sure. His predecessor’s invasion of Iraq still looms as the largest American blunder of the post-Vietnam era. None of Obama’s difficulties have rivaled that debacle. And many of the sweeping conservative critiques of his foreign policy — that Obama has weakened America’s position in the world, that he’s too chary about using military force — lack perspective on how much damage the Iraq war did to American interests, and how many current problems can be traced back to errors made in 2003.”

There is a big “but” coming, of course, but now Douthat has put himself in the position of not simply deriding Obama’s efforts because he’s Obama, of not sounding like all Obama’s other critics. In this, he is like a male, print-version of Megyn Kelly, and one wearing (presumably) more clothes.

Read more.

Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

VOA News

May 25, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama has left Afghanistan after a 4-hour surprise visit to see American troops during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Speaking late Sunday at Bagram Airfield, the president told troops he is thankful for their service. He called them “real heroes.” He also pledged to bring a “responsible end” to America’s longest war. He promised to announce “fairly shortly” how many U.S. troops will remain in the country after the current combat mission is concluded at end of this year.

Memorial Day is a time when Americans honor the country’s war dead.

Obama said they are completing the U.S. mission in Afghanistan by decimating al-Qaida leaders in the tribal regions, reversing the Taliban’s momentum and protecting lives back home by preventing attacks from the region.

He also said he hopes a U.S.-Afghan security agreement will be signed once a new Afghan president is sworn in.

Before leaving Afghanistan, Obama called President Hamid Karzai to praise the progress being made by security forces and the successful first round of presidential elections, and to express support for an Afghan-led reconciliation process with the Taliban. The call lasted 15 to 20 minutes according to a senior administration official.

Read more at VOA News.

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Kefelegn Alemu Worku: Amazing Tale of Derg Prison Torturer Sentenced in Denver

Kefelegn Alemu Worku, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Friday in Denver for US immigration crimes, was a notorious prison guard accused of killing and torturing dozens of people in Ethiopia. (DP)

Colorado Springs Independent


FRI, MAY 23, 2014

Today, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the state of Colorado sent out a press release detailing a 22-year prison sentence given to 62-year-old Ethiopia native Kefelegn Alemu Worku, who was living in Denver until he was arrested for crimes perpetrated as a prison guard in the 1970s.

It’s a compelling tale that just goes to show what a small world it is. The release is copied in its entirety below.


Defendants citizenship stripped by the judge as a result of his conviction

DENVER – A Colorado man who used a false identity and lied to gain immigration status in the United States to hide his role in the torture and murder of civilians in Ethiopia in the 1970s was sentenced today in federal court to serve 22 years in federal prison. John Doe, a/k/a Habteab Berhe Temanu, a/k/a Habteab B Temanu, a/k/a “TUFA”, a/k/a Kefelegn Alemu, a/k/a Kefelegn Alemu Worku, age approximately 62, a Denver resident of Ethiopian descent, was sentenced this morning by Senior U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane to the lengthy prison term for unlawful procurement of citizenship, making false statements on immigration documents and identity theft, U.S. Attorney John Walsh and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Kumar Kibble announced. The defendant lied on immigration forms about his involvement in the torturing and murder of people in Ethiopia during the Red Terror. Following his prison sentence, Judge Kane ordered Worku to serve 3 years on supervised release, at which time he will begin proceedings with U.S. Immigration authorities. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Kane stripped Worku of his U.S. citizenship he had obtained after immigrating to the U.S. Taking Worku’s citizenship is required based on the conviction of these crimes. The defendant appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, and was remanded at its conclusion.

The man we now know as Kefelegn Alemu Worku was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on August 20, 2012. He was arrested a short time later. A superseding indictment was obtained on June 18, 2013. The defendant was convicted of all counts of the superseding indictment on October 11, 2013 following a five day jury trial before Judge Kane. The counts of conviction were the unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization; aggravated identity theft; and fraud and misuse of Visas, Permits and Other Documents. Worku was sentenced today, May 23, 2014.

According to court documents, and arguments at trial and at sentencing, the defendant did knowingly use the identification of another person, Habteab Berhe Temanu, to unlawfully procure citizenship or naturalization. Further, the defendant made false statements in connection with his application for naturalization which was submitted in November 2009, and which statements the defendant re-affirmed under penalty of perjury in March 2010, including falsely identifying himself as Habteab Berhe Temanu; falsely representing that he was the father of five children; and falsely responding “No” to the question: “Have you ever persecuted (either directly or indirectly) any person because of race, religion, national origin, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

In May 2011, HSI received information from an informant who was a naturalized U.S. citizen, originally a native of Ethiopia, that he had recently encountered a person in Denver who he recognized as Kefelegn Alemu Worku, a prison guard during a period in the late 1970′s in Ethiopia known as the “Red Terror.”

In the late 1970′s in Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam assumed unofficial control of the Provisional Military Administrative Committee also known as the Dergue. The Dergue was a committee of nearly 120 military officers that established a Marxist regime and abolished Ethiopia’s Constitution and arrested the former emperor and members of the imperial government for alleged crimes against the Ethiopian people. Mengistu seized full control in 1977 which unleashed a two-year campaign known as the “Red Terror.”

During the Red Terror, tens of thousands of Ethiopian men, women and children suspected of being members or supporters of the anti-Dergue group were arrested, tortured and summarily executed. One prison that held, tortured and killed individuals was known as “Kebele 15″ or “Kefetegna 15″ which in English roughly translates as “Higher 15.” This prison housed approximately 1500 prisoners who had been imprisoned due to their political opinions and affiliations. During the Red Terror families of the killed or missing were often required to pay the government for the bullet used to kill the family member. Historical accounts indicate that a minimum of 10,000 people were killed in the city of Addis Ababa alone in 1977, with probably comparable numbers in the provinces in 1977 and 1978.

The witness explained that he had become a political prisoner in Ethiopia in 1978 when he was arrested and sent to the Higher 15. He witnessed Worku torture fellow prisoners and learned that other prisoners were being executed at the hands of prison guards, including Worku. The informant managed to escape the prison in September 1979. Two additional Ethiopian refugees who are now naturalized U.S. citizens who testified at sentencing also identified the defendant as Worku and recounted how Worku had personally participated in beating and torturing them at the same prison during the same time period.

HSI agents, using information obtained from the informant, determined that Worku was using the identity of Habteab B. Temanu and living in an apartment in Denver. Immigration records confirmed that Worku, using Temanu’s identity, came to the United States in July 2004 as a refugee. He lived in Denver until his indictment.

“Today, justice was done. By sentencing defendant Worku to the maximum possible term for his crime, Judge Kane sent a stern, determined message that the United States will not allow its generous asylum laws to be manipulated to create a safe haven for murderers and torturers from abroad,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Our system of justice has successfully removed the defendant from the immigrant community he once terrorized, and in so doing vindicated not only our laws, but the rights of the defendant’s many victims now living here in our country.”

“Homeland Security Investigations aggressively pursues Human Rights and War Crimes Violators like Kefelegn Alemu Worku,” said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. “Our HSI investigation and partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute Worku show that we will not allow the United States to become a safe haven for war criminals. In the unlikely event that Worku ever completes his lengthy prison sentence, he will be transferred to ICE custody and placed in deportation proceedings. A federal immigration judge will then determine if he will be deported to Ethiopia.”

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda Taylor.

Photos: Denver Post and federal authorities.

A Notorious Derg Era Ethiopian Jail Guard Sentenced to 22 Years in U.S. Prison
Denver Jurors Convict Man Accused of Being Ethiopian Prison Torturer
How an Ethiopian torturer hid in Denver for 7 years in plain sight
Man responsible for murder, torture caught in Denver area

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A Notorious Derg Era Jail Guard Sentenced to 22 Years in U.S. Prison

UPDATE: Kefelgn Alemu Worku, a notorious prison guard accused of killing and torturing dozens of people in Ethiopia in the 1970s, was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Friday in Denver. (The Denver Post)

Associated Press

DENVER — A man identified as a brutal Ethiopian prison guard has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for immigration violations.

Kefelgn Alemu Worku was given the maximum possible sentence Friday in federal court in Denver.

Judge John Kane said the long term was necessary to protect the country’s immigration process.

The judge said Worku would likely be deported after serving his sentence.

He was convicted of assuming another man’s identity and lying on U.S. immigration forms. He has denied committing acts of political persecution.

Worku was spotted by chance at an Ethiopian restaurant in 2011 by a man who alerted authorities.

Read more at USA Today.

(Photo: Provided by federal authorities)

Notorious Ethiopian prison guard Worku sentenced to maximum 22 years
Kefelegn Alemu Worku: Amazing Tale of Ethiopian War Criminal Sentenced in Denver
Denver Jurors Convict Man Accused of Being Ethiopian Prison Torturer
How an Ethiopian torturer hid in Denver for 7 years in plain sight

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Nigerian Militant Group Boko Haram Blacklisted by the United Nations

Teachers join in a rally to call for the release of abducted schoolgirls held by Boko Haram and to demand better security, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, May 22, 2014. (Reuters)

VOA News

May 22, 2014 3:22 PM

The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions against Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, which has carried out a wave of deadly attacks and the recent abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Nigeria had asked the committee to add the militant group to the list of al-Qaida-linked entities that are subject to asset freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power welcomed the council’s action, calling it “an important step in support of the government of Nigeria’s efforts to defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable for atrocities.”

In Nigeria, gunmen killed at least 29 people in an attack late Wednesday on a remote village in the northeast. It was the third major attack blamed on Boko Haram this week.

On Thursday, teachers across Nigeria took to the streets in a one-day strike to protest Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the schoolgirls, who have been missing for more than a month.

Several countries have pledged to support Nigeria in its effort to find the girls. On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama deployed 80 U.S. military personnel to Nigeria’s neighbor Chad to help in the search.

The U.N. is also backing efforts to find the girls, including preparing a “support package” for the girls and their families.

Boko Haram has said it wants to establish a strict Islamist state in northern Nigeria.

In recent weeks, the group has stepped up the frequency and intensity of its attacks. Nigerian officials believe the militants are responsible for twin bombings in the central city of Jos on Tuesday that killed at least 118 people.

The militants are also blamed for attacks on three Borno state villages overnight Tuesday in which 48 people were killed.

Earlier this week, lawmakers extended a year-old state of emergency in the northeast, where Boko Haram has been most active.

Video: US steps up its role to find Nigerian girls (NBC News)

US Lawmakers Take Action to Curb Human Trafficking
US Using Chad as Base in Search for Nigerian Girls

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US Lawmakers Take Action to Curb Human Trafficking

Human trafficking survivor Shandra Woworuntu (C) with U.S. House of Representatives Victims' Rights Caucus Chairman Rep. Ted Poe (L) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney at the U.S. Capitol in DC on May 20, 2014.

VOA News
Photo: AFP

By Cindy Saine

CAPITOL HILL — Many Americans think of human trafficking as a problem that exists far away from U.S. shores, such as the case of the almost 300 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram and are still missing.

But the U.S. government says as many as 17,500 people, mostly girls, are trafficked into the United States annually, and that does not include those who are kidnapped and forced into sex slavery within U.S. borders.

The U.S. House of Representatives has taken action to help the victims and to crack down on perpetrators.

A survivor of human trafficking, Shandra Woworuntu, was on Capitol Hill Tuesday to advocate for restitution and other government services to help victims. Woworuntu is originally from Indonesia. She is college-educated and worked as a financial analyst in her country until she lost her job due to political instability.

Woworuntu came to the United States in 2001 under the false impression that she had been offered a job in the hospitality industry, but she was kidnapped at the airport in New York and forced into sex slavery, as she told VOA:

“During my arrival someone picked me up, and took me into the van. They took my passport, they took my hidden ticket, and the same day I was trafficked into underground sex business,” said she.

Woworuntu escaped and her trafficker is now in prison. She received help from a non-profit organization and now advocates to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers joined forces on five bills to help state and local governments develop victim-centered programs and to train law enforcement officers to rescue victims and not to treat them as prostitutes. House Majority leader Eric Cantor called for bipartisan efforts to address the problem.

“And we must confront this issue head on, not just as Republicans, not just as Democrats, but as dads, as moms, as sisters and brothers. We must protect our children,” said Cantor.

Representative Carolyn Maloney has worked to combat human trafficking internationally for more than a decade.

“There is no crime on earth more appalling, no offense as terrible, no act of depravity as harmful to the community of a nation and certainly to the individuals affected,” said Maloney.

The five bills, which must be approved by the Senate, also seek to reduce the demand for human trafficking by encouraging police and judges to treat those who solicit sexual activities from minors as human traffickers, rather than petty criminals. The average age for girls forced into sex slavery is 13, and the average age for boys is 12.

US Using Chad as Base in Search for Nigerian Girls

Nigerians take part in a protest demanding for the release of secondary school girls abducted from the remote village of Chibok, in Asokoro district in Abuja, Nigeria, May 13, 2014. (Photograph: Reuters)

VOA News

By Jeff Seldin

May 21, 2014 3:41 PM

PENTAGON — U.S. President Barack Obama has deployed 80 U.S. military personnel to Chad to help find more than 250 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militants last month in neighboring Nigeria.

Pentagon officials said the Air Force team will fly unmanned and unarmed aircraft over northern Nigeria and that Chad’s proximity to the search area will cut down on travel time, allowing for around-the-clock surveillance.

GlobalSecurity.org’s Tim Brown told VOA via Skype launching drones from Chad also gives the U.S. more flexibility.

“They’re probably going to be used for a wider area of search, surveillance and then support if there happens to be a hostage rescue attempt or any kind of on the ground deployment of troops,” he said.

The move, announced in a letter from U.S. President Barack Obama to lawmakers, is part of Washington’s ongoing effort “to locate and support the safe return” of the girls, kidnapped last month by Boko Haram, the militant Islamic sect that has been terrorizing Nigeria.

But it’s an effort that’s been complicated by concerns about the Nigerian government, and weaknesses Brown said have been further exposed by Boko Haram’s actions.

“They’re [Boko Haram] showing the fact that these guys [the Nigerian government] are not able to walk and chew gum at the same time and they’re corrupt, and they are,” he said.

The new drone flights from Chad will be in addition to ongoing U.S. surveillance efforts.

“We’re flying unmanned reconnaissance flights over the areas in which we think it’s possible for the girls to be. We’ve not seen anything that indicates their location at this point,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby earlier this week.

So far, the flights have produced little. “People have said it’s a needle in a haystack. It’s a needle in a jungle,” Kirby said.

U.S. military officials remain convinced Boko Haram has split the girls up into smaller groups and may be moving them around, making the search even more difficult. But they said the U.S. will do all it can to find the girls short of sending in combat troops, or as they put it, putting boots on the ground.

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