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Hillary Accepts Historic Nomination

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves to delegates before speaking during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Hillary Clinton accepts historic role as first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. party

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Promising Americans a steady hand, Hillary Clinton cast herself Thursday night as a unifier for divided times, an experienced leader steeled for a volatile world. She aggressively challenged Republican Donald Trump’s ability to do the same.

“Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis,” Clinton said as she accepted the Democratic nomination for president. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

Clinton took the stage to roaring applause from flag-waving delegates on the final night of the Democratic convention, relishing her nomination as the first woman to lead a major U.S. political party. But her real audience was the millions of voters watching at home, many of whom may welcome her experience as secretary of state, senator and first lady, but question her character.

She acknowledged those concerns briefly, saying “I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me.” But her primary focus was persuading Americans to not be seduced by Trump’s vague promises to restore economic security and fend off threats from abroad.

Clinton’s four-day convention began with efforts to shore up liberals who backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and it ended with an outstretched hand to Republicans and independents unnerved by Trump. A parade of military leaders, law enforcement officials and Republicans took the stage ahead of Clinton to endorse her in the general election contest with Trump….

The Democratic nomination now officially hers, Clinton has just over three months to persuade Americans that Trump is unfit for the Oval Office and overcome the visceral connection he has with some voters in a way the Democratic nominee does not.

She embraced her reputation as a studious wonk, a politician more comfortable with policy proposals than rhetorical flourishes. “I sweat the details of policy,” she said.

Clinton’s proposals are an extension of President Barack Obama’s two terms in office: tackling climate change, overhauling the nation’s fractured immigration laws, and restricting access to guns. She disputed Trump’s assertion that she wants to repeal the Second Amendment, saying “I’m not here to take away your guns. I just don’t want you to be shot by someone who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place.”

Read more »


Related:
Clinton declares U.S. is at a ‘moment of reckoning’ (The New York Times)
President Obama’s Full DNC Convention Speech: ‘The America I Know’ (Video)

Watch: Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg on Trump: ‘I’m a New Yorker, And I know a Con When I See One’

Hillary Clinton Wins Historic Nomination
At Democrats’ Convention in Philly Michelle Obama Brings Down the House

On Their Convention’s Eve in Philly, Democrats Bedeviled Anew by Email Scandal (AP)
Bernie Sanders Backers March Against Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia (NY Times)
Discord, Email Scandal Taint Eve of Democrats’ National Convention in Philly (VOA News)
Watch: Clinton Picks Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine for VP:

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President Obama’s Full DNC Convention Speech: ‘The America I Know’ (Video)

President Barack Obama and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wave to the crowd on the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 27, 2016. (Getty Images)

Huffington Post

President Barack Obama on Wednesday night told Americans they face a stark choice in November ― an unusual election that has raised “fundamental” questions “about who we are as a people,” and pitted one of the most qualified candidates in history, Hillary Clinton, against an untrustworthy con man, Donald Trump.

In a Democratic National Convention speech that was at turns emotional and blistering and ended with Clinton appearing by his side, Obama began with a recitation of his accomplishments in office ― reducing unemployment and saving the auto industry, passing health care reform, a nuclear agreement with Iran and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

He acknowledged problems that the country still faces ― people struggling with bills, an epidemic of gun violence ― but he also professed his strong belief in the country’s ability to fix its problems, even if “change is never easy, and never quick.”

“The America I know is full of courage and optimism and ingenuity,” Obama said, contrasting this vision with the dark, pessimistic message that came from the Republican convention in Cleveland last week.

“What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world,” Obama said. “There were no serious solutions to pressing problems ― just the fanning of resentment and blame and anger and hate.”

After laying out those two visions, Obama made his case for Clinton, reminding people not only of her experience and expertise but also of her record of championing groups such as children and veterans.

Read more »

Watch: President Barack Obama FULL Speech DNC Convention – July 27, 2016


Related:
Video: Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg on Trump: ‘I’m a New Yorker, And I know a Con When I See One’

Hillary Clinton Wins Historic Nomination
At Democrats’ Convention in Philly Michelle Obama Brings Down the House

On Their Convention’s Eve in Philly, Democrats Bedeviled Anew by Email Scandal (AP)
Bernie Sanders Backers March Against Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia (NY Times)
Discord, Email Scandal Taint Eve of Democrats’ National Convention in Philly (VOA News)
Watch: Clinton Picks Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine for VP:

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Watch Bloomberg on Trump: ‘I’m a New Yorker, And I know a Con When I See One’

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Photo: Reuters)

New York Daily News

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg ripped into Donald Trump on Tuesday in an unprecedented prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention, calling him a dangerous “demagogue,” reckless hypocrite and — in the worst put-down one billionaire can hurl at another — a failed businessman.

In his most extensive remarks to date on the man who once described him as a “friend,” Bloomberg blasted Trump for his “well-documented record of bankruptcies,” numerous lawsuits and history of hiring undocumented immigrants – despite promises to build a wall to keep them out. “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us,” Bloomberg said, to huge cheers from the crowd. He added, “I’m a New Yorker. And I know a con when I see one.”

Read more »

Watch: Michael Bloomberg FULL Speech DNC Convention Takes On Donald Trump – 7/27/16


Related:
Obama at DNC Convention: ‘The America I Know is Full of Courage and Optimism’

Hillary Clinton Wins Historic Nomination
At Democrats’ Convention in Philly Michelle Obama Brings Down the House

On Their Convention’s Eve in Philly, Democrats Bedeviled Anew by Email Scandal (AP)
Bernie Sanders Backers March Against Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia (NY Times)
Discord, Email Scandal Taint Eve of Democrats’ National Convention in Philly (VOA News)
Watch: Clinton Picks Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine for VP:

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In Photos: Women’s Safe House in Addis

The Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (Awsad) provides holistic services for women and girls who have survived violence in Ethiopia. (Photograph: Maheder Haileselassie Tadese/Womankind)

The Guardian

Photographs by Maheder Haileselassie Tadese

Women and girls who have been abused need a range of services to help their recovery, including medical care, counselling and legal aid as well as training in life skills and employment, according to a report by Womankind Worldwide, More than a roof. A shelter in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, offers exactly this holistic approach.


The shelter set up in 2003, was the first organisation to open a women-only shelter in Ethiopia to support survivors of violence. The World Health Organisation estimates that one in three women have experienced violence in their lifetime. In Ethiopia, the most recent figures show that more than 48% of women aged between 15 and 49 had experienced physical violence by an intimate partner, and 59% reported sexual violence. (Photo by Maheder Haileselassie Tadese)


(Photo by Maheder Haileselassie Tadese)


Amelework Bezawork, 38, was among the first employees at the shelter. She is now assistant coordinator and trains residents in food preparation. (Photo by Maheder Haileselassie Tadese)

Read the full report and see more photos at The Guardian »


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Hillary Clinton Wins Historic Nomination

The Democratic Party made it official Tuesday, naming Hillary Clinton their candidate for president in 2016. (Photo: New York delegates cheer at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. (AP)

The Associated Press

Clinton Becomes First Woman Nominated for U.S. President

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Breaking a historic barrier, Hillary Clinton triumphantly captured the Democratic nomination for president Tuesday night, the first woman ever to lead a major political party in the race for the White House.

Delegates erupted in cheers as Clinton’s primary rival, Bernie Sanders, helped make it official when the roll call got to his home state of Vermont — an important show of unity for a party trying to heal deep divisions.

“I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States,” Sanders declared, asking that it be by acclamation.

It was a striking parallel to the role Clinton played eight years ago when she stepped to the microphone on the convention floor in Denver in support of her former rival, Barack Obama.

This time, Clinton shattered the glass ceiling she couldn’t crack in 2008. And in November, she will take on Donald Trump, nominated last week at the Republican convention in Cleveland.

The second night of the Democratic convention featured former President Bill Clinton, who was taking the stage to deliver a personal validation for his wife. Former presidents often vouch for their potential successors, but never before has that candidate also been a spouse.

Tuesday night wasn’t all celebratory. Moments after Clinton claimed the nomination, a group of Sanders supporters left the convention and headed to a media tent to protest what they said was their being shut out of the party. Earlier, several hundred gathered at Philadelphia’s City Hall under a blazing sun chanting “Bernie or bust.”

Read more »


Related:
At Democrats’ Convention in Philly Michelle Obama Brings Down the House

On Their Convention’s Eve in Philly, Democrats Bedeviled Anew by Email Scandal (AP)
Bernie Sanders Backers March Against Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia (NY Times)
Discord, Email Scandal Taint Eve of Democrats’ National Convention in Philly (VOA News)
Watch: Clinton Picks Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine for VP:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: At Democrats’ Convention Michelle Obama Brings Down the House

Michelle Obama speaking on Monday, the first day of the Democratic convention. (Getty images)

The Huffington Post

Updated: July 25, 2016

PHILADELPHIA ― First lady Michelle Obama on Monday asked Americans to decide who they want serving as a role model for their children ― Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

This election, Obama said during her speech at the Democratic National Convention, “is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.”

The crowd waved purple signs that read simply, “Michelle.”

Obama made clear that this election will determine who will give hope to the next generation, or instill fear.

“Every word we utter, every action we take, we know they are watching,” Obama said. “We as parents are their most important role models.”

That responsibility, Obama said, carries into her role as first lady, and her husband’s job as president

“We know that our words and actions matter not just to our girls, but to children across this country,” she said.

Taking a jab at Trump and others who have questioned the president’s citizenship and his faith, Obama repeated the advice she and the president have shared with their children.

“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level,” she said. “No, our motto is: ‘When they go low, we go high.’”

Read more »

Watch: First Lady Michelle Obama Addresses the Democratic Convention in Philly


Related:
On Their Convention’s Eve in Philly, Democrats Bedeviled Anew by Email Scandal (AP)
Bernie Sanders Backers March Against Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia (NY Times)
Discord, Email Scandal Taint Eve of Democrats’ National Convention in Philly (VOA News)
Watch: Clinton Picks Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine for VP:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bill Gates Declines to Criticize Ethiopia Social Media Cut

Bill Gates. (Getty Images)

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has declined to criticize Ethiopia’s recent blockage of social media, saying it is up to individual countries to regulate their internet.

He was responding to Ethiopian reporters’ questions about the government’s disabling of social media sites earlier this month.

Ethiopian authorities said the sites were disabled during national school examinations so students would not be distracted.

Critics said the government has no legal basis to deny the freedom of expression to millions of citizens.

Gates said each country “decides what the rules are going to be in terms of pornography, hate speech . what is allowed and what’s not allowed.”

He added that making the internet low-cost and available is good for economic growth.

Gates was visiting Ethiopia to discuss health and agriculture.


Related:
In Ethiopia Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Viber Blocked for “Exam Week”

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Making America Afraid Again: His Tone Dark, Donald Trump Takes G.O.P. Mantle

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

CLEVELAND — Donald John Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday night with an unusually vehement appeal to Americans who feel that their country is spiraling out of control and yearn for a leader who will take aggressive, even extreme, actions to protect them.

Mr. Trump, 70, a New York real estate developer and reality television star who leveraged his fame and forceful persona to become the rare political outsider to lead the ticket of a major party, drew exuberant cheers from Republican convention delegates as he strode onto the stage of the Quicken Loans Arena and delivered a speech as fiery as his candidacy.

With dark imagery and an almost angry tone, Mr. Trump portrayed the United States as a diminished and even humiliated nation, and offered himself as an all-powerful savior who could resurrect the country’s standing in the eyes of both enemies and law-abiding Americans.

“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” an ominous-sounding Mr. Trump said, standing against a backdrop of American flags. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.”

Mr. Trump nearly shouted the names of states where police officers had been killed recently, as the crowd erupted in applause, and returned repeatedly to the major theme of the speech: “Law and order,” he said four times, each time drawing out the syllables.

Read more »


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Donald Trump’s dark speech to the Republican National Convention, annotated
Former George H.W. Bush Speechwriter Calls Trump’s RNC Speech ‘Very Dark And Frightening’
Ted Cruz Defies GOP, Won’t Endorse Trump, Is Gangsta (The Root)
Trump’s Wife Melania Accused of Plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 Speech

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Trump’s Wife Melania Accused of Plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 Speech

Parts of Melania Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday, which she claimed she wrote. appears to have stolen passages from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech. (Getty)

The New York Times

JULY 19, 2016

CLEVELAND — The Republican Party woke up to a cascade of finger-pointing and confusion on Tuesday as the Trump campaign was rocked by accusations that parts of Melania Trump’s convention speech had been cribbed from the one that Michelle Obama delivered to Democrats in 2008.

The possibility that Ms. Trump’s remarks had been plagiarized cast a cloud over the second day of the Republican National Convention and laid bare lingering tensions within the party surrounding the nomination of Donald J. Trump, whose campaign continues to be plagued by stumbles and infighting despite several reboots.

The disarray was evident as Mr. Trump’s campaign and senior Republicans offered conflicting explanations for the similarities in the speeches, with some officials conceding that the passages were lifted and demanding accountability, and others insisting that nothing untoward had occurred.

Among Mr. Trump’s aides, there was a palpable sense of frustration that Ms. Trump’s speech, which they considered a highlight of the evening, had become a cause for embarrassment.

Read more »

Watch: Melania Trump Takes a big bite out of Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC speech (The Root)


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How Melania Trump Sent Her Speech Veering Off Course
‘The Astounding Carelessness Of Donald Trump Finally Caught Up With Him’


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Riots in Gonder Claim Several Casualties

The US has issued a temporary travel advisory on Gonder and warned its citizens and those travelling to the city to be cautious. (Photo: Ethiopian Government spokesperson Getachew Reda in Addis Abeba/ DW)

DW

At least 10 people have been killed in Gonder northern Ethiopia in clashes as locals with security forces. The government blames Eritrea for the unrest but residents cite disputes over land and ethnicity.

Ethiopia’s government spokesperson Getachew Reda has accused arch-enemy Eritrea for the unrest
According to several reports, the unrest in Gonder began earlier this week when armed police entered the city to arrest members of the “Wolkayit committee” who had been protesting against the government’s decision to merge the Wolkayit community and its land into the neighboring Tigray Regional State. The Ethiopian government spokesperson Getachew Reda on Friday accused the members of kidnapping, murder and being in possesion of arms with an intent of staging terrorist attacks. He also rejected any notion that the clashes was being spearheaded by the Amhara community.

“What happened is that there were individuals suspected of engaging in crime. So to arrest those individuals the Federal Police moved into this area,” Negusu Tilahun, Head of Communication Affairs with the Amhara Regional Government told DW.

“As result there was a clash between residents and the police. There was also an exchange of gunfire which resulted in the deaths of federal police officers and civilians as well. Besides that, there were also damages to property. The government and the public are now working together to bring the town back to its normal situation,” Tilahun said.

Ethiopian government officials have blamed opposition groups based in Eritrea for the unrest in Gonder. However, residents say ethnic tensions are the real reason behind the skirmishes.

Read more »


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In Ethiopia Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Viber Blocked for “Exam Week”

The authorities in Ethiopia say they have temporarily blocked access to social media during national exams week because it has "proven to be a distraction for students," according to a government spokesperson.

News 24

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia has blocked social media sites for the next few days, after questions from end-of-year exams were posted online last month, sparking a national scandal and leading to their annulment.

A government spokesperson said the ban was aimed at stopping students taking university entrance exams this week from being “distracted”.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Viber have been inaccessible in the Horn of Africa nation since Saturday morning.

“It’s blocked. It’s a temporary measure until Wednesday. Social media have proven to be a distraction for students,” government spokesperson Getachew Reda told AFP.

Prominent blogger Daniel Berhane denounced the move as a “dangerous precedent”.

“There’s no transparency on who decides why it’s necessary or who decides for how long,” he said.

“This time it’s for a few days but next time it could be for months [...] They’re flexing their muscles. They got multiple tools and they’re testing them.”

Read the full article at News 24 »


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Profiles of Ethiopian-born Jews and Life in Israel

In 2013, Pnina Tamano-Shata (L) made history when she became the first Ethiopian-born woman to join the Israeli parliament. And Daniel Sahalo (R) now 36, immigrated to israel as a child in 1984. (Photos: WaPo)

The Washington Post

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic trip to East Africa last week was aimed at boosting relations. But his last stop, in Ethiopia, held special meaning for many of the 135,000 Jews of Ethiopian origin who live in Israel today.

Netanyahu is the first Israeli leader to visit the East African country. Formal ties were established between the two states in 1992.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second right, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, right, watch the guard of honor in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Thursday. (Mulugeta Ayene/AP)

Most Ethiopian Jews arrived in Israel in secret immigration operations that took place in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. In Operation Moses, during the ’80s, roughly 8,000 people were smuggled out of Ethiopia via Sudan and taken to Israel on secret flights organized by the Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service. In Operation Solomon, in 1991, about 14,500 people were airlifted to Israel in less than 36 hours.

More recently, the immigrants have arrived via regular flights almost every month, yet an estimated 9,000 to 20,000 Ethiopian Jews remain in Ethiopia.

Today, about 85,900 Israelis of Ethiopian origin were born in Ethiopia, and 49,600 were born in Israel.

Read a few of their stories at The Washington Post »


Related:
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Israeli Lawmaker Neguise Moved to Tears in Ethiopian Parliament
Israel to Build Ethiopian Heritage Center (The Jerusalem Post)

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Israeli Lawmaker Neguise Moved to Tears in Ethiopian Parliament

Ethiopian-Israeli Lawmaker Avraham Neguise listens to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address the Ethiopian Parliament in Addis Ababa on Thursday, July 7th, 2016 . (Photo jpost)

The Jerusalem Post

ADDIS ABABA – Likud MK Avraham Neguise spoke with tears welling up in his eyes on Thursday about what it meant for him to watch Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address the Ethiopian parliament.

“It was very moving that the prime minister of Israel stood in the parliament of Ethiopia and spoke from the heart about the contributions of Ethiopians in Israel,” said Neguise, currently the country’s only Ethiopian-born MK.

Neguise, who emigrated from Ethiopia in 1985, remembers well when the parliament was not filled with speeches of praise to the Israeli-Ethiopian relationship, as was the case on Thursday, but rather with vitriolic addresses against Israel delivered by those who wanted to find favor with Russia’s leader Leonid Brezhnev, Libya’s strongman Muammar Gaddafi, and Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro during the country’s communist era.

But on Thursday, Netanyahu, who was greeted by rhythmic applause in the red-carpeted parliament, told both houses of that body that the relationship is only growing.

Read more at The Jerusalem Post »


Related:
Ethiopian-born MK decries Netanyahu’s snub of country’s Jewish leaders (The Times of Israel)
Israel to Build Ethiopian Heritage Center (The Jerusalem Post)

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Ethiopia Elected to U.N. Council for 2017-18

The UN General assembly elected Ethiopia on Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 to join the Security Council along with Sweden and Bolivia for 2017-18. (Photo: UN Security Council/Twitter )

Reuters

Sweden, Ethiopia, Bolivia elected to U.N. council for 2017-18

Sweden, Ethiopia and Bolivia were elected to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday for 2017-18, with further voting taking place to decide another two seats with Kazakhstan competing against Thailand and the Netherlands against Italy.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Sweden with 134 votes in favor, Ethiopia with 185 and Bolivia with 183. Countries need more than two-thirds of the vote to win a seat.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)


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Ethiopia: Court Adjourns For Verdict in Professor Bekele Gerbas’s Case

Ethiopian opposition leader Professor Bekele Gerba pictured at the NPR office in Washington, D.C., August 2015. (Photo: Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR)

Addis Standard

By Mahlet Fasil

Addis Ababa — Judges at the Federal High Court 19th Criminal Bench here in the capital have today adjourned the hearing until August 01, 2016 to give verdict involving the case for high level opposition figures.

The verdict will decide on whether or not defendants have a case to defend. Today’s decision came after judges have gone through prosecutors’ charges indicting defendants with terrorism related charges and the preliminary objection statements presented from the defendants.

The 22 detainees who are charged under various articles of Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) include Bekele Gerba and Dejene Fita Geleta, first secretary general and secretary general of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). All of them were arrested between November and December 2015, shortly after the start (and in connection with) Oromo protests in November that gripped the nation for the next five months. Defendants include several members of OFC, students and civil servants who came from various parts of the Oromia regional state…

Speaking to the court on behalf of the first four defendants, Dejene Fita Geleta said that he and the three other co-defendants with him, Addis Bulala, Gurmesa Ayano, and Bekele Gerba, have all been kept in a dark room since the last hearing on June 03 and were only allowed irregular family visits which often lasts between three-five minutes. He also told the court that the cell in which all the four were kept at has an open toilet inside it.

Lawyer Amha Mekonnen, who represented the four, on his part told the court that his client Bekele Gerba was denied access to a prescription medication after falling ill inside the facility.

Read the full article at addisstandard.com »


Related:
US Deeply Concerned by Charges of Terrorism Against Prof. Bekele Gerba
Ethiopia Charges Opposition Leader Professor Bekele Gerba With Terrorism

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On this day, 26 June 1962 Nelson Mandela Arrived in Ethiopia for Military Training

(Photo: The Nelson Mandela Foundation)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, June 26th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — The Nelson Mandela Foundation tweeted today: “On this day, 26 June 1962 Nelson Mandela arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for military training.”

Mandela arrived in Ethiopia under the alias David Motsamayi and disguised as a journalist. In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote: “I felt myself being moulded into a solider and began to think as a soldier thinks – a far cry from the way a politician thinks.”


(Image: Ethiopiaforums.com)

In Ethiopia Mandela’s instructors were Colonel Tadesse Birru, Colonel G.E. Bekele and Lieutenant Wondomu Befikadu. In an article published by Think Africa Press last year, Joseph Hammond noted: “Wondomu, a former fighter, led the physical training while Tadesse lectured Mandela in the philosophy of guerrilla warfare.”

Among the Ethiopians who knew Mandela was Captain Guta Dinka, a young soldier who was assigned to protect him during his stay in Ethiopia. Captain Guta, now 81, lived to tell the dramatic story of how he exposed an attempt to assassinate Mandela by mysterious foreign agents who had approached him to carry out the killing in exchange for cash payment.


Related:
Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela

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Israel’s Only Ethiopian Lawmaker Awaits Invite from PM to Africa Trip

Ethiopian-Israeli Lawmaker Avraham Neguise. (Photo: BERNARD DICHEK/The Jerusalem Post)

The Jerusalem Post

Likud MK Avraham Neguise, the only MK from Ethiopia currently in the Knesset, is still waiting for an invitation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join him in two weeks on his trip to Africa, including a two-day visit to Ethiopia.

“No one has yet asked me,” Neguise, who is the chairman of the Knesset’s Caucus for Israel-Africa Relations, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“I would be happy to go, it would be an honor for me, and I think it would bring honor to Israel,” he said. “It would be an important message to Africa and the world about Israel. I came here, got equal opportunity, and am now a legislator. This is the answer to those who say Zionism is racism, that Israel is apartheid. This is the answer to BDS.”

Neguise, who emigrated in 1985, said he hopes that the reason he has not yet been invited does not have to do with the mini coalition crisis he sparked in the spring along with fellow Likud MK David Amsalem when they refused to vote with the coalition and deprive it of its one-seat majority because the government reneged on a commitment to bring the remaining 9,000 immigrant applicants waiting in Ethiopia to Israel.

“The visit to Africa is a national interest, the other is a parliamentary issue,” Neguise said. “I was sent [to the Knesset] by the public to help [on issues important to them]. I did this because immigration is one of the highest values of the Likud, and also to prevent the suffering of the families.”

Neguise was referring to members of the Ethiopian community here waiting to be reunited with family members from Ethiopia.

Read more at The Jerusalem Post »


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Photo of the Week: NYC Mayor’s Daughter Chooses Ethiopian for Graduation Lunch

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's daughter, Chiara de Blasio, and family pose for a photo with restaurant owners after a graduation luncheon at Walia in San Jose, California on Saturday June 11th, 2016 . (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, June 19th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Here is another fun graduation season story: Last week New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter chose Ethiopian food for graduation lunch with her family at San Jose’s famous Walia Restaurant – located not very far from Santa Clara University, her alma mater, in California.

“The Walia crew prepared special Ethiopian traditional dishes in honor of the graduate [Chiara de Blasio] and invited family members,” the owners told Tadias. “The daughter and the Mayor said that there were no other choices for the luncheon but Walia. We are greatly honored by their choice.”

It’s not the first time that the De Blasio family dined at Walia, however, as they were sighted last June enjoying injera at the same popular spot.

Below are more photos courtesy of the restaurant:


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and family pose for a photo with Walia restaurant staff in San Jose, California on Saturday June 11th, 2016. (Courtesy photo)


The food prepared by Walia staff for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter graduation lunch on Saturday June 11th, 2016. (Courtesy photo)


(Photo courtesy of Walia Ethiopian restaurant)


Mayor Bill de Blasio’s security personnel take a photo at Walia Ethiopian restaurant in San Jose, California on Saturday June 11th, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

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Related:
In pictures: Google Co-Founder Larry Page at Walia Ethiopian Restaurant
Another Cool Sighting at Walia in San Jose
Facebook Founder Zuckerberg Enjoys Ethiopian Food at Walia Restaurant in San Jose

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Sylvia Pankhurst: An ‘Honorary Ethiopian’

Historian Richard Pankhurst's mother, Sylvia Pankhurst, was one of Ethiopia's most vocal supporters during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War writing to newspapers in defence of its sovereignty. (Getty Images)

BBC News

By James Jeffrey

How Sylvia Pankhurst Became An ‘Honorary Ethiopian’

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Just inside the entrance of the Addis Ababa home of British historian Richard Pankhurst hangs a black and white photo of his suffragette mother, Sylvia Pankhurst.

She is pictured wearing a long and elaborate Edwardian dress with sleeves to her wrists, beneath a heading: “Votes for Women.”

She was one of the women whose campaigns, which included going on hunger-strike, led to British women being allowed to vote in the early 19th Century.

In the nearby sitting room, a tapestry hanging on a wall testifies to a less well known side of his mother.

It depicts Ms Pankhurst in June 1935 walking down a gravel path through a garden in the English city of Bath, accompanied by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.

The image comes from a photo taken during his exile in England after Ethiopia was subsumed into the short-lived African empire of fascist Italy, Africa Orientale Italiana.

In previous years, Ms Pankhurst had gone to study art in Venice, where she witnessed the brutality of the fascist regime. Afterwards in the later 1920s and 30s she had become a vocal pacifist, anti-fascist and anti-colonialist activist.

So when Italy began building up its military presence in East Africa she proved to be one of Ethiopia’s most vocal supporters, writing to newspapers in defence of its sovereignty.

Read more at BBC.com »


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Clinton Wins in DC, Meets With Sanders

Hillary Clinton, pictured after meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders at a hotel in Washington, D.C., late Tuesday, brought a close to the primary election with a win in D.C., the final primary poll of 2016. (Reuters)

The New York Times

By YAMICHE ALCINDOR and PATRICK HEALY

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Meet as Their Battle Ends

WASHINGTON — With little affection or trust between them, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders met privately for nearly two hours on Tuesday night to size each other up as they started exploring what kind of alliance they might build for the general election battle against Donald J. Trump.

Yet Mr. Sanders chose to withhold his endorsement of Mrs. Clinton, several Sanders advisers said, because he wants her to take steps to win his confidence before the Democratic convention, where his supporters expect him to speak and Clinton advisers hope he will give her his full-throated backing.

Aides to Mrs. Clinton said she had never expected his endorsement Tuesday night. A statement from the Clinton campaign after the meeting described it as “a positive discussion about their primary campaign, about unifying the party and about the dangerous threat that Donald Trump poses to our nation.” They discussed issues like raising wages and reducing college costs, and “agreed to continue working on their shared agenda, including through the platform development process for the upcoming Democratic National Convention.”

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Senator Bernie Sanders, center, after meeting with Hillary Clinton in Washington on Tuesday. (NY Times)

The Sanders campaign released a nearly identical statement, though it emphasized that the two candidates also spoke about “how best to bring more people into the political process.”

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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Border Clashes Between Ethiopia and Eritrea Heighten Fears of War (NY Times)

The outskirts of Asmara, the Eritrean capital, in February. Fresh border clashes between Ethiopia and Eritrea and recent talk of another border war have opened a vein of nationalism in Eritrea. (Photo: Reuters)

The New York Times

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

JUNE 13, 2016

NAIROBI, Kenya — The Eritrean Embassy in Kenya sent a text message alert Monday morning: The Ethiopians had attacked. Fighting on the border. Situation unfolding.

The jagged line separating Eritrea from its former ruler, Ethiopia, has been one of Africa’s most combustible flash points. Tens of thousands of soldiers died from 1998 to 2000 in a war that had been called as pointless as two bald men fighting over a comb.

As the news of renewed clashes in the rocky, barren frontier began to spread on Monday, many Ethiopians and Eritreans feared the worst. Witnesses said both sides were rushing troops to the Tsorona border area, and heavy artillery was apparently fired from both sides. On the Eritrean side, several people were reported to have been killed. The reports of fighting and the lack of solid information raised fears that the two countries could be sliding once again toward all-out war.

But by Monday afternoon, the extent of the fighting was unclear. The Ethiopian government said Eritrea started it. Getting more information out of Eritrea is like trying to see into a pitch-dark room: The government is one of the most secretive, isolated and repressive nations in the world.

Just last week, a United Nations panel accused Eritrea’s leaders of committing crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and enslavement.

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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U.S. SEC Fines Ethiopia’s Electric Utility $6.5 Million for Selling Unregistered Bonds in U.S.

The seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hangs on the wall at SEC headquarters. (seedinvest.com)

PRESS RELEASE

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

SEC: Ethiopia’s Electric Utility Sold Unregistered Bonds in U.S.

Washington D.C. — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Ethiopia’s electric utility has agreed to pay nearly $6.5 million to settle charges that it violated U.S. securities laws by failing to register bonds it offered and sold to U.S residents of Ethiopian descent.

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding:

Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) conducted the unregistered bond offering to help finance the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Abay River in Ethiopia.

EEP held a series of public road shows in major cities across the U.S. and marketed the bonds on the website of the U.S. Embassy of Ethiopia as well as through radio and television advertising aimed at Ethiopians living in the U.S.

EEP raised approximately $5.8 million from more than 3,100 U.S. residents from 2011 to 2014 without ever registering the bond offering with the SEC.

“Foreign governments are welcome to raise money in the U.S. capital markets so long as they comply with the federal securities laws, including registration provisions designed to ensure that investors receive important information about prospective investments,” said Stephen L. Cohen, Associate Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “This settlement ensures that investors get all of their money back plus interest.”

The SEC’s order finds that EEP violated Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933. EEP admitted the registration violations and agreed to pay $5,847,804 in disgorgement and $601,050.87 in prejudgment interest. The distribution of money back to investors is subject to the SEC’s review and approval. Investors seeking more information should contact the administrator of the distribution, Gilardi & Co. LLC, at 844-851-4591.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Carolyn Kurr and Daniel Rubenstein and supervised by C. Joshua Felker. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Department of State.

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Obama Backs Clinton, Meets Sanders

President Obama met with Senator Bernie Sanders at the White House on Thursday before officially endorsing Hillary Clinton to succeed him as president of the United States. (AP photo)

The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama told Senator Bernie Sanders in an Oval Office meeting on Thursday to channel the energy of his presidential campaign’s millions of supporters behind Hillary Clinton, and said that Mr. Sanders would play a central role in shaping the Democratic agenda if he did.

Less than an hour and a half later, Mr. Obama, who had tried to remain neutral in the race between Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton, formally endorsed her.

Moving swiftly to unite his party after a primary campaign that has left many of Mr. Sanders’s supporters bitter and disillusioned, Mr. Obama, according to his aides, tried to mollify the maverick senator while prodding him to reorient his efforts against Mrs. Clinton into a broader bid to help Democrats in November.

There was no hint after the meeting that Mr. Sanders intended to challenge Mrs. Clinton for the nomination at next month’s convention, but hours later at a rally in Washington he urged voters there to go to the polls in their primary on Tuesday and to keep pushing for a political revolution.

After the White House meeting, Mr. Sanders vowed to take the ideas that have animated his campaign — addressing poverty and income inequality, increasing Social Security benefits, and reducing the role of money in politics — to the convention.

But he also announced plans to meet soon with Mrs. Clinton to discuss ways they could work together to defeat Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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Video: Obama Endorses Clinton Shortly After Meeting with Rival Sanders (VOA)

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Zone 9 Bloggers Still Can’t Leave Ethiopia

At a 2015 press conference with President Obama in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn asked the foreign press corps to "help our journalists to increase their capacity." (Getty Images)

NPR

May 31, 2016

Heard on Morning Edition

Zelalem Kibret remembers the day: July 8, 2015. He was in a prison library reading a biography of Malcolm X, his own copy, when some guards called his name and handed him a piece of paper. The message: All charges against him were withdrawn. He was being released.

“I was asking why,” says Zelalem, a 29-year-old lawyer and blogger. “And nobody was giving us a reason.”

Zelalem, who’d been in jail for more than a year on terrorism charges related to his blog posts, suspected the reason. His release, he believes, was a “personal gift” to President Obama, then three weeks away from an official visit to Ethiopia, the first ever by a U.S. president.

The U.S. had been pushing quietly the release of Zelalem and five other members of Zone 9, his blogging crew. Zone 9 takes its name from the eight zones of the infamous Kality Prison outside Addis Ababa, where political prisoners and journalists are held. Activists joke that the 9th Zone is everything outside the prison walls — the rest of Ethiopia.

“Zone 9 is Ethiopia with relative freedom, but still you felt that you are in detention,” Zelalem explains.

Zelalem and the other Zone 9 bloggers had been critical of corruption and repression by the Ethiopian government, but their blogs and Facebook posts were seen as a relatively safe space for criticism in a country with about 3 percent Internet penetration.

But the arrest of six bloggers, including Zelalem, and three other journalists in 2014 sent a signal that as Facebook was becoming more popular in Ethiopia, digital reportage might now become just as censored as print journalism. Journalists are regularly imprisoned under Ethiopia’s wide-ranging anti-terrorism law, which makes it a crime to have contact with any group that the Ethiopian government deems is trying to overthrow it.

At a press conference during Obama’s visit, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn conceded, “We need many young journalists to come up.” But, he said, “We need ethical journalism. There is also capacity limitations in journalism.”

The phrase “capacity limitations” — and its cousin, “capacity building” — came out of development lingo of the 1990s. Ethiopian officials often use “capacity” explanations to assert that journalists are jailed not because they are critical of the government — but because they are less professional, more unethical and more incendiary than Ethiopia’s fledgling democracy can tolerate.

In keeping with this theme, Hailemariam nodded to Obama’s traveling press corps and asked them to “help our journalists to increase their capacity.”

Obama had offered an opportunity for just that, promoting his Young African Leaders Initiative, which gives scholarships for 1,000 African leaders to study in the U.S. each summer.

Zelalem, out of prison but unable to get back his university teaching job, followed Obama’s advice. He applied and was accepted to the Young African Leaders Initiative. This summer, he was supposed to study civic leadership at the University of Virginia.

He won’t be going. Ethiopian immigration officials confiscated his passport at Bole International Airport in November. They also took away the passports of four of his five colleagues who were released in advance of Obama’s visit.

That’s when Zone 9 became more than a metaphor. They were literally imprisoned in their own country.

Zelalem sees this as evidence of a new strategy. In past years, Ethiopia has been willing to let its critical citizens flee the country. (For several years, Ethiopia has ranked on or near the top of the list of countries with the most exiled journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.) Now, Zelalem says, the government may be deciding that it’s better to keep critics close by.

“Especially for people like us working on social media,” Zelalem says. “Whether we are here or in America or somewhere else, we may write and we can reach our audiences. Therefore, it’s better to keep [us] here and silence [us].”

When I brought up Zelalem’s case with Ethiopia’s Minister of Communication, Getachew Redda, he said he wasn’t familiar with it. But he offered a different explanation for the blogger’s rough treatment at the hands of Ethiopian Immigration: Ethiopia’s young institutions, he said — including its judges and immigration officials — could zealously overstep their bounds. They could even make mistakes that would take months or years to correct.

The minister’s solution? “More capacity building.”

Read more at NPR.org »


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700 Deaths at Sea as Migrant Crisis Flares

A woman was helped aboard an Italian Navy vessel on Sunday at a harbor in southern Italy. So far roughly 41,000 migrants had been rescued at sea this year after leaving Libya. (Photo: Reuters)

The New York Times

Three Days, 700 Deaths on Mediterranean as Migrant Crisis Flares

ROME — The migrant ships kept sinking. First came a battered, blue-decked vessel that flipped over on Wednesday as terrified migrants plunged into the Mediterranean Sea. The next day, a flimsy craft capsized with hundreds of people aboard. And on Friday, still another boat sank into the deceptively placid waters of the Mediterranean.

Three days and three sunken ships are again confronting Europe with the horrors of its refugee crisis, as desperate people trying to reach the Continent keep dying at sea. At least 700 people from the three boats are believed to have drowned, the United Nations refugee agency announced on Sunday, in one of the deadliest weeks in the Mediterranean in recent memory.

The latest drownings — which would push the death toll for the year to more than 2,000 people — are a reminder of the cruel paradox of the Mediterranean calendar: As summer approaches with blue skies, warm weather and tranquil waters prized by tourists, human trafficking along the North African coastline traditionally kicks into a higher gear.

Taking advantage of calm conditions, smugglers in Libya send out more and more migrants toward Italy, often on unseaworthy vessels. Drowning deaths are inevitable, even as Italian Coast Guard and Navy ships race to answer distress calls. Last year, more than 3,700 migrants died in the Mediterranean, a figure that could be surpassed this year.

In a statement on Sunday, the United Nations Children’s Fund said many of the migrants who drowned in the past week were believed to be unaccompanied adolescents.

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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9-year-old Menabe Andargachew Takes UK to Court Over Dad’s Ethiopia Case

Menabe Andargachew poses with a picture of her family. (Photo: Cassandra Vinograd / NBC News)

NBC News

LONDON — It’s not every day that a 9-year-old American girl takes the British government to court.

But for Menabe Andargachew, it’s a matter of life and death: her father’s.

Andargachew “Andy” Tsege disappeared while catching a connecting flight through Yemen in June 2014. The political activist was snatched and forcibly taken to Ethiopia, where he had been sentenced to death for opposition work.

Tsege is British but so far his government hasn’t demanded his release. Now Menabe and her family are trying to force their hand: They filed a legal challenge alleging that approach is “unlawful.”

“My mom said he’s been sentenced to death,” Menabe says as her chin quivers. “I just don’t know if we can get him back in time.”

This week 61-year-old Tsege marked 700 days in detention — without any access to a lawyer.

His Maryland-born partner, family and lawyers say he was kidnapped — a victim of rendition carried out by Ethiopia, which has labeled him a terrorist and enemy of the state. Ethiopia says he was “extradited.”

Tsege was never formally notified of charges against him, trials or given an opportunity to present a defense, according the legal filing. His supporters allege that Tsege — a prominent member of the Ethiopian opposition — is a victim of political persecution.

“I have serious questions about the Ethiopian government’s use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to limit free speech and political dissent, and Mr. Tsege’s grave case is one of many that gives cause for concern,” Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement to NBC News.

Read more »


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History: Obama Visits Hiroshima, Japan

President Barack Obama (L) hugs atomic bomb survivor Shigeaki Mori as he visits Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan on Friday, May 27, 2016 becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city.

Associated Press

Friday, May 27, 2016

HIROSHIMA, Japan — With an unflinching look back at a painful history, President Barack Obama stood on the hallowed ground of Hiroshima on Friday and declared it a fitting place to summon people everywhere to embrace the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

As the first American president to visit the city where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb, Obama came to acknowledge — but not apologize for — an act many Americans see as a justified end to a brutal war that Japan started with a sneak attack at Pearl Harbor.

Some 140,000 people died after a U.S. warplane targeted wartime Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and 70,000 more perished in Nagasaki, where a second bomb was dropped three days later. Japan soon surrendered.

“Their souls speak to us,” Obama said of the dead. “They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and who we might become.”

With a lofty speech and a warm embrace for an elderly survivor, Obama renewed the call for a nuclear-free future that he had first laid out in a 2009 speech in Prague.

This time, Obama spoke as a far more experienced president than the one who had employed his upbeat “Yes, we can” campaign slogan on the first go-round.

The president, who has made uneven progress on his nuclear agenda over the past seven years, spoke of “the courage to escape the logic of fear” as he held out hope for diligent, incremental steps to reduce nuclear stockpiles.

“We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe,” he said.

Read more »


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The Song That Helped Japan Heal After WWII Gets an Ethiopian Remake

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The Song That Helped Japan Heal After WWII Gets an Ethiopian Remake

(Photo: deboband.com)

PRI

They combine saxophones and sousaphones, accordions and electric violins. Part Ethiopian pop and jazz, part American funk, part Eastern European brass ensemble, Debo Band is about as eclectic as musical fusion groups get.

Well, now even more eclectic.

On their new CD, “Ere Gobez,” the group adds yet another musical genre to their repertoire: Japanese folk.

And the high-energy tunes will really get you grooving.

Ere Gobez Album Trailer from Debo Band on Vimeo.

The Boston-based group has its deepest roots in Ethiopian music. Those are still strong in the band’s second album, but this time the songs are “going beyond reinterpreting the classic Ethio-jazz tunes from the golden era,” says accordion player Marié Abe. Saxophonist Danny Mekonnen says this album has a suite of three songs that really depart from that approach.

“These songs are not random tunes that we’re ‘remixing’ with Ethiopian flavors. Rather, these songs are inspired by our understanding of Ethiopia as a dynamic place created by real, but perhaps somewhat unexpected transnational encounters and hidden historical connections,” Abe says.

Take, for example, how the Debo Band reimagined a popular folk tune from Okinawa. “Hiyami Kachi Bushi” was written in the 1950s, eight years after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Taira Shinsuke wrote the lyrics. The song was his attempt to try to help the people of Japan heal after World War II, particularly in Okinawa. It has since become a classic there.

So, what’s the Ethiopia connection? Abe, who is Japanese, points out that Ethiopia and Japan have shared some of the same hardships: “Military occupation, war, famine, and homesickness that comes with forced or voluntary migration under hard circumstances. So I felt like there was a lot in common with Ethiopian experiences and Okinawan experiences,” she says.

“Hiyami Kachi Bushi” has been covered so many times, there’s an annual competition in Japan dedicated to remakes. Debo Band entered their Ethiopian-influenced version in the “International Competition of Hiyami Kachi Bushi” earlier this year. It turns out theirs was the first-ever entry from outside the country.

“There are two kinds of affinity we’re expressing here: one is musical, the use of the particular pentatonic scale,” Abe says. “The other is geopolitical/historical; both Okinawa and Ethiopia have gone through extremely challenging events like famine, military occupation, war, and immigration, that have led to the formation of large diaspora[s] throughout the world.”

Songs on “Ere Gobez” also reimagine what Duke Ellington’s music would have sounded like if he’d traveled to Ethiopia, and add Amharic lyrics to a hit from Somalia. The band starts their tour to promote the new album on Thursday night.


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Samuelsson: Restaurant King of Harlem

Born in Ethiopia, adopted in Sweden, star chef in America. Marcus Samuelsson cooked for the Obamas, now he’s coming to London. Plus, his grandmother’s classic meatball recipe. (Photograph: Neil Wilder)

The Guardian

By Jay Rayner

Marcus Samuelsson: The Restaurant King of Harlem

Walk through Harlem at dusk with Marcus Samuelsson is less gentle stroll than royal procession. The chef may be wearing a flat cap, pulled down over his eyes, and a dark jacket, but they all know who he is out here north of Manhattan’s 110th Street. And they want him to know they know. As we barrel from neon-gilded diner to cocktail place, from his own rotisserie chicken joint to the jazz bars he wants me to see, he is constantly greeted with shouts of “Hey chef!” from passersby which he returns with a gentle, “Oh, pur-leeze”, and a shrug as if to say: “I’m just another guy.”

For many people in Harlem, Samuelsson is not just another guy. For a start, the Ethiopian-born chef with the aquiline features, the Swedish surname and the only-in-America story, is a major employer. Through his various ventures, including his flagship restaurant the Red Rooster on Lenox Avenue, he has given jobs to 200 locals. Paul McCartney and the jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis have eaten there, along with former state governors and superstar basketball players. It is liberal New York’s fantasy come to life; a single room in this splintered city where its various social tribes really do seem to break bread together.

The food festival Samuelsson launched, Harlem EatUp, held each year in May, brings big-name chefs from all over America to their doorstep. What’s more, having cooked for Barack Obama at the White House, he even brought the president back to his place in Harlem for a $30,000-a-plate election fundraiser. Making his home neighbourhood the star is, he claims, what really matters. “It’s Harlem first, the Red Rooster second,” he says. “A menu you can learn. But the place? Learning a place is different.”

Right now, he is trying to learn an entirely new place. In the autumn, he opens a second Red Rooster, inside the new Curtain Hotel in London’s Shoreditch. His take on American soul food subtly refracted through the lens of his African heritage is coming to London. “We must get 20 requests a year to open a new Red Rooster,” he says. “I only wanted to do it in a city with a dynamic we could learn from.”

Read more The Guardian »


Related:
Marcus Samuelsson Hosts 2nd Annual Harlem EatUp Food Festival May 19 – 22

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Obama, First President to Visit Hiroshima

President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, this month, becoming the first U.S. leader to go to the city where an American warplane dropped the world's first atomic bomb in 1945 during World War II. (NYT)

The New York Times

President Obama to Be First Sitting President to Visit Hiroshima

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and JONATHAN SOBLE

WASHINGTON — President Obama will become the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima, Japan, the White House announced on Tuesday, making a fraught stop this month at the site where the United States dropped an atomic bomb at the end of World War II.

The visit, hotly debated in the White House for months as the president planned a trip to Vietnam and Japan, carries weighty symbolism for Mr. Obama, who is loath to be seen as apologizing for that chapter in American history.

“He will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, his deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, said in a blog post on Medium. “Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future.”

“In making this visit, the president will shine a spotlight on the tremendous and devastating human toll of war,” Mr. Rhodes added in the blog post.


Image: The Front Page of the The New York Times in 1945: Atomic Bomb Wiped Out 60% of Hiroshima, Japan

Read more at The New York Times »


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Using Courts to Crush Dissent in Ethiopia

Yonatan Tesfaye Regassa, the head of PR for the opposition Semayawi (Blue) Party and Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) are charged under Ethiopia's counterterrorism law. (HRW)

HRW

For the past six months, thousands of people have taken to the streets in Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, to protest alleged abuses by their government. The protests, unprecedented in recent years, have seen Ethiopia’s security forces use lethal force against largely peaceful protesters, killing hundreds and arresting tens of thousands more.

The government is inexorably closing off ways for Ethiopians to peacefully express their grievances, not just with bullets but also through the courts. In recent weeks, the Ethiopian authorities have lodged new, politically motivated charges against prominent opposition politicians and others, accusing them of crimes under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law.

Just last week, Yonatan Tesfaye Regassa, the head of public relations for the opposition Semayawi Party (the Blue Party), was charged with “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt” of a terrorist act. The authorities citied Yonatan’s Facebook posts about the protests as evidence; he faces 15 years to life in prison, if convicted.

In April, Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest registered political party, and 21 others, including many senior OFC members, were charged under the counterterrorism law, four months after their arrest on December 23, 2015. Bekele is accused of having links with the banned Oromo Liberation Front, a charge frequently used by the government to target ethnic Oromo dissidents and others. Deeply committed to nonviolence, Bekele has consistently urged the OFC to participate in elections despite the ruling party’s iron grip on the polls. Bekele and the others have described horrible conditions during their detention, including at the notorious Maekalawi prison, where torture and other ill-treatment are routine.

The authorities also charged 20 university students under the criminal code for protesting in front of the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa in March, 2016. The “evidence” against them included a video of their protest and a list of demands, which included the immediate release of opposition leaders and others arrested for peaceful protests, and the establishment of an independent body to investigate and prosecute those who killed and injured peaceful protesters. They face three years in prison if convicted.

The Ethiopian government is sending a clear message when it charges peaceful protesters and opposition politicians like Bekele Gerba with terrorism. The message is that no dissent is tolerated, whether through social media, the electoral system, or peaceful assembly.


Related:
Ethiopia: Activist Charged With Terrorism Over Facebook Post
US Deeply Concerned by Charges of Terrorism Against Professor Bekele Gerba

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Ethiopia: Activist Charged With Terrorism Over Facebook Post

The activist, Yonathan Tesfaye, is a former spokesman for the opposition Semayawi (Blue) Party. (AP)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

May 6, 2016

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — A court in Ethiopia has charged a social media activist for inciting violence and other terror-related offenses citing Facebook posts as evidence.

Yonathan Tesfaye, a former spokesman for the opposition Blue Party, was charged Wednesday by Ethiopia’s Federal High Court. If convicted, he could face a death sentence.

Yonathan was detained by Ethiopian security forces in December at the height of violent protests in the Oromo community over an alleged plan by the government to grab their land.

Rights groups say the Ethiopian government is using sweeping anti-terror laws to crack down on those critical of the regime.

Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty’s regional chief, said Yonathan spoke against a possible land grab in Oromia, which is not a crime and is certainly not terrorism.


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U.S. Election: Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined by his wife Melania (R), as he speaks during a news conference, after rival candidate Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. (Reuters)

VOA News

By Katherine Gypson

May 04, 2016

WASHINGTON — The long battle for the Republican presidential nomination has now ended, settling on a new leader of the Republican Party: Donald Trump.

Republicans nationwide reacted with a mix of disbelief, anger and grudging acceptance Wednesday, revealing a party that may have a new leader but whose future will be unclear until after the general election this November.

The first signs the party would not immediately unite behind Trump as the nominee emerged Tuesday night, when Texas Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race following a resounding loss to Trump in the Indiana primary.

A number of conservative bloggers and party operatives, including former John McCain aide Mark Salter – many of whom had been a part of the unsuccessful Never Trump movement – took to social media to openly declare they would not support Trump, and some even took the unprecedented step of pledging to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton using the hashtag #ImWithHer.

“The idea of mainstream or even fairly conservative Republicans coming out to support a Clinton for the presidency is kind of mind-blowing,” said John Hudak, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

Clinton – a divisive political figure and a lightning rod for conservative criticism over the past two decades – is a highly unlikely figure to attract any kind of Republican support.

“It really puts into perspective how desperate and how angry and how disgusted many elements of the Republican Party are with Trump,” Hudak said.

Read more »


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Watch: President Obama’s Top 10 Jokes at His Final White House Correspondent’s Dinner:

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Watch: President Obama’s Top 10 Jokes at 2016 White House Correspondent’s Dinner

President Barack Obama waves at his last White House Correspondents' Association dinner on April 30, 2016, at the Washington Hilton hotel in Washington, DC. To his left is first lady Michelle Obama (Getty Images)

The Root

BY: ANGELA BRONNER HELM

Hands down, President Obama nailed his final White House correspondent’s dinner. POTUS was in tip-top comedic form last night, and his eighth and final ‘nerd prom’ was filled with pointed sarcasm, witty barbs, surprise video vignettes and wistful nostalgia.

As expected, the first lady, Michelle Obama, who never disappoints when its time to step out, continued to impress. She slaaaaaaayed in Givenchy Couture, with a well-fitted body-hugging dress and a sparkling crystal-embellished sheath layered on top. (The president: “Michelle has not aged a day.”)

As per usual, politicians and journalists bore the brunt of most jokes, but this time, the press got a lecture from the president about their duty (“… In such a climate it’s not enough just to give people a megaphone. And that’s why your power and your responsibility to dig and to question and to counter distortions and untruths is more important than even ever.”) The media was also skewered by host Larry Wilmore, who was unsparing in his attacks on a sometimes tone-deaf and still-in-2016 not-diverse-enough fourth estate.

Read more at Theroot.com »

Watch: President Obama’s hilarious final White House correspondents’ dinner speech:


Related:
White House Correspondents’ Dinner: Obama’s best quotes – CNN.com
The Obamas Refuse to Give in to Haters — The Washington Post
Video: President Obama Shows His Coptic Cross From Ethiopia — The White House
Obama Aide Yohannes Abraham Gives Keynote Address at YEP’s 5th Anniversary Gala

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32 Abducted Ethiopian Children Recovered

The children were abducted last week from Gambela near Ethiopia's border with South Sudan. (Image: BBC)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By JASON PATINKIN

JUBA, South Sudan — Authorities in South Sudan said they have recovered 32 of the 125 Ethiopian children who the Ethiopian government said were abducted from its Gambela region two weeks ago during a deadly cattle raid blamed on a South Sudanese militia.

Ogato Chan, acting governor of South Sudan’s Boma state which borders Gambela, told Associated Press Saturday that local chiefs collected the children from three villages in Likuangole County where the raiders had dropped them off. Chan said the recovered children will be brought to state capital Pibor then sent to Juba to be repatriated to Ethiopia.

“The chiefs are looking for the rest of the children,” he said.

Ethiopia’s government said 208 people died in the April 15 raid and blamed the attack on an ethnic Murle militia from South Sudan.

In Ethiopia, Gambela regional president Gatluak Tut told AP he has not been notified about the recovery of the children.

Deadly cattle raids and abductions of children are common along the border of South Sudan and Ethiopia between the Murle in South Sudan and the Nuer and Anyuak tribes who live in both countries. Children are sometimes kidnapped to look after stolen cows.


AP writer Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia contributed to this report.

Related:
In Gambella Death Toll Tops 200 in Cross-Border Raid By South Sudan Murle Tribe (AFP)
South Sudanese Gunmen Kill At Least 140 Civilians In Ethiopia, Government Says (NPR)

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Scientists Probe Danakil Depression

The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Water at near-boiling temperatures bubbles up from underground and chlorine and sulphur vapour fogs the air. (Europlanet)

Science Alert

Scientists just embarked on a world-first expedition to Ethiopia’s toxic hot springs

If you’ve ever wondered how weird, deadly, and crazy-yellow Earth could get, look no further than Ethiopia’s infamous Danakil Depression.

About 600 km north of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the Danakil Depression boasts hot springs that creep near boiling point, toxic chlorine and sulphur-rich vapours that will sear your lungs and make everything smell like farts (seriously), and magma-heated brine that transforms the whole thing into a retina-burning nightmare with shades of neon.

It might be one of the most inhospitable places on the planet, but the scientific knowledge we can glean from the Danakil Depression is invaluable, particularly when we consider that the best candidates we have right now for life elsewhere in the Universe aren’t exactly lush with greenery and pleasantly mild temperatures.

The strange thing is, despite this place looking like a mad scientist’s backyard, with more unique geology, chemistry, and what could be the hardiest lifeforms anywhere on the planet, no one’s actually managed to study it properly. Until about three weeks ago, of course, when a team led by Felipe Gómez Gómez from Spain’s Centre for Astrobiology led the first ever field expedition into the Danakil Depression.

From April 5th to the 7th, Gómez Gómez and his team measured temperatures, humidity, and pH and oxygen levels across several sites in the region’s hot springs, while collecting samples of bacteria and testing out a new technique for DNA extraction. It might have been brief, but the trip was just the first in a series of planned expeditions that will see these researchers preparing the environment for access by the wider scientific community, which will help us to uncover its many secrets.


(Felipe Gomez/Europlanet 2020 R)


(Felipe Gomez/Europlanet 2020 R)

Read the full article and see more photos at Sciencealert.com »


Related:
Video: Amazing Places on Our Planet — The Unearthly Scenery of Dallol, Ethiopia in HD

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Clinton, Trump Pulling Away From Rivals

Projected victories during Tuesday's five state primary election move Republican billionaire closer to clinching nomination; For Democrats, Clinton won Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. (VOA)

The New York Times

By PATRICK HEALY and JONATHAN MARTIN

Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton barreled toward a general election showdown on Tuesday night as they dominated primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland and other Eastern states, piling up enough delegates to close in on their parties’ nominations.

Looking past their fading rivals, the two even taunted each other in dueling election-night events. Mrs. Clinton chided the Republican’s penchant for harsh language by saying that “love trumps hate.” Mr. Trump was more bluntly dismissive of Mrs. Clinton, saying her appeal boiled down to her gender.

“Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she would get 5 percent of the vote,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump had the more convincing performance on Tuesday: He swept all five primaries, winning landslides of more than 30 percentage points over his rivals, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. His routs represented a breakthrough: He received more than half the vote in every state, after months of winning most primaries by only pluralities.

The big night for Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton intensified the aura of inevitability around their nomination bids and created urgent new challenges for their rivals. More significant, it increased Mr. Trump’s chances of avoiding a fight on the floor of the Republican convention in July and of claiming the nomination on the delegates’ first ballot.

“When the boxer knocks out the other boxer, you don’t have to wait around for a decision,” he said boastfully at an election-night appearance before supporters at Trump Tower in New York. He added: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”

Read more at NYTimes.com »


Related:
As Delegate Leads Grow, Trump-Clinton Matchup Looks Likely (VOA News)
Trump Sweeps 5 Primaries, Clinton Takes 4 as Front-runners Extend Leads (VOA News)

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Ethiopia Charges Opposition Leader Professor Bekele Gerba With Terrorism

55-year-old foreign language professor and Ethiopian opposition leader Professor Bekele Gerba pictured at the NPR office in Washington, D.C., August 2015. (Photo: Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR)

Addis Standard

By Mahlet Fasil

Prosecutors have today charged 22 individuals, including prominent opposition member Bekele Gerba, first secretary general of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), with various articles of Ethiopia’s much criticized Anti Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). Addis Standard could not obtain details of the charges as of yet.

However, charges include, but not limited to, alleged membership of the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), public incitement, encouraging violence, as well as causing the death of innocent civilians and property destructions in cities such as Ambo and Adama, 120km west and 100km east of Addis Abeba during the recent Oromo protests in Ethiopia.

As per the decision during the last hearing, defendants were expected to appear at the Arada First Instance Court this afternoon, but were instead taken to the Federal High Court 19th criminal bench this morning. The court adjourned the next hearing until Tuesday April 26th…

Although Bekele Gerba et.al were represented by lawyer Wondmu Ebbissa during the last five court appearances that took place at the Arada First Instance Court, today’s hearing in which the charges were read to the defendants happened with neither Wondmu nor any public defendant present, the reason why the court adjourned the next appearance until Tuesday April 26th. The next hearing is also scheduled to help six of the 22 defendants who spoke only in Afaan Oromo to come up with interpreters.

Read more »


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UN: 500 Migrants Drown in Mediterranean

(Image: CNN video)

CNN

As many as 500 migrants may have died when a large ship sank in the Mediterranean last week between Libya and Italy, the United Nations refugee agency said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a U.N. team interviewed survivors of what could be one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants in the last 12 months.

The 41 survivors — 37 men, three women and a 3-year-old child — were rescued by a merchant ship Saturday and taken to Kalamata, Greece.

Those rescued include 23 Somalis, 11 Ethiopians, 6 Egyptians and one person from Sudan, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

Disaster came as smugglers transferred people to another boat at sea

The survivors told U.N. officials they had been part of a group of between 100 and 200 people that departed last week on a 30-meter boat from a site near Tobruk, Libya.

Read more and watch video at CNN.com »


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U.S. Senators Condemn Ethiopia’s Crackdown on Civil Society

U.S Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at a past hearing. (Getty Images)

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Press Release

Cardin, Rubio, Colleagues Condemn Ethiopia’s Crackdown on Civil Society

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced a resolution with 11 other Senators today condemning the lethal violence used by the government of Ethiopia against protestors, journalists, and others in civil society for exercising their rights under Ethiopia’s constitution.

The resolution calls for the Secretary of State to conduct a review of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia in light of allegations that Ethiopian security forces have killed civilians. It also calls upon the government of Ethiopia to halt violent crackdowns, conduct a credible investigation into the killing of protesters, and hold perpetrators of such violence accountable.

“I am shocked by the brutal actions of the Ethiopian security forces, and offer condolences to the families of those who have been killed. The Ethiopian constitution affords its citizens the right to peaceful assembly and such actions by Ethiopian government forces are unacceptable,” Senator Cardin said. “The government’s heavy-handed tactics against journalists and use of the 2009 Anti-Terrorism and Charities and Societies Proclamations to stifle free speech and legitimate political dissent demonstrate a troubling lack of respect for democratic freedoms and human rights.”

“Peaceful protestors and activists have been arrested, tortured and killed in Ethiopia for simply exercising their basic rights,” Senator Rubio said. “I condemn these abuses and the Ethiopian government’s stunning disregard for the fundamental rights of the Ethiopian people. I urge the Obama Administration to prioritize respect for human rights and political reforms in the U.S. relationship with Ethiopia.”

Joining Cardin and Rubio as cosponsors of the resolution are Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

The United States works closely with Ethiopia on signature Administration initiatives including Feed the Future and the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership. It also provides funding for Ethiopia’s participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia.

“Given the challenges posed by the devastating drought and border insecurity, it is more important than ever that the government take actions to unify rather than alienate its people. It is critical that the government of Ethiopia respect fundamental human rights if it is to meet those challenges,” Cardin added.

Click here to read the full text of the resolution »

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Legendary Musician Prince Dies at 57

Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida, Feb. 4, 2007. (AP photo)

VOA News

Last updated on: April 21, 2016

American pop icon Prince has died at the age of 57.

The shocking news was confirmed by the artist’s publicist after reports that police were investigating a death at his home outside the northern city of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer Prince Rogers Nelson has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57,” publicist Yvette Noel-Schure said Thursday. “There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time.”Prince was hospitalized last week. His private plane reportedly made an emergency landing in Illinois following concerts in Georgia. No details were released at the time regarding his health.

Prince was just 19 when he released his first album, For You, in 1978. In the decades that followed, the multi-talented musician released “1999,” “Little Red Corvette” and “Purple Rain,” the title track of his breakthrough 1984 album and movie. He sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, won seven Grammys and picked up an Oscar for Best Original Song score for “Purple Rain.”

Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

“He rewrote the rulebook, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting-edge music in the ‘80s,” said a posting on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website. “Prince made dance music that rocked and rock music that had a bristling, funky backbone.”

​President Barack Obama issued a statement about the passing of the American iconic musician who he described as one of the most gifted and prolific artists of our time.

Who was Prince?

Born: Prince Rogers Nelson, named after Prince Roger Trio, a jazz band his father performed with

When: June 7, 1958

Where: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Died: April 21, at his home in Paisley Park, a Minneapolis suburb

Aliases: Briefly used others names, including an unpronounceable symbol O(+>, which led to him often being referred to as “the artist formerly known as Prince”

Debut album: For You, 1978

Several hit albums and songs, including: albums 1999 and Purple Rain, which was later made into a movie, Sign O’ the Times, The Black Album; songs Little Red Corvette, Kiss, Raspberry Beret, Emancipation and When Doves Cry

Career: Sold more than 100 million records, won seven Grammy awards, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, performed during 2007 Super Bowl XLI halftime show

Known for: His songs and albums often created controversy for their sexually charged lyrics

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Trump and Clinton Win New York Primary

Trump received about 60 percent compared to 25 percent for Ohio Governor John Kasich and 15 percent for Texas Senator Ted Cruz; Clinton was beating Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders 57 percent to 42 percent. (AP)

The New York Times

Updated: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Donald J. Trump wrested back control of the Republican presidential race on Tuesday with a commanding victory in the New York primary, while Hillary Clinton dealt a severe blow to Senator Bernie Sanders with an unexpectedly strong win that led her to declare that the Democratic nomination was “in sight.”

The Queens-born, Manhattan-made Mr. Trump was poised to take most of the 95 Republican delegates at stake, substantially adding to his current lead over Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and significantly improving his chances of winning the Republican nomination. Mr. Cruz came away with no delegates, a major setback, while Gov. John Kasich of Ohio had a shot at picking up some in Manhattan and the capital region.

Mrs. Clinton’s decisive victory ended a string of wins by Mr. Sanders and gave her more delegates than her advisers expected. Her base of support was Long Island, the five boroughs, and upstate cities, with female and black and Hispanic voters turning out for her in especially strong numbers.

The two hometown winners beamed thoughout their victory speeches, but it was Mr. Trump who particularly seemed like a different candidate. As he spoke in the lobby of Trump Tower, there were no freewheeling presentations of steaks and bottled water, as in the past. There was no reference to “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary”; he called his opponent “Senator Cruz” instead, and made no mention of Mrs. Clinton. He also took no questions from the news media.

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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In Gambella Death Toll Tops 200 in Cross-Border Raid By South Sudan Murle Tribe

The Murle, a tribe from South Sudan based in the western state of Jonglei, often stage raids to steal cattle and abduct children but rarely on such a large or deadly scale. (AFP Photo/Jose Cendon)

AFP

By Karim Lebhour

Addis Ababa – More than 200 people were killed and over 100 children abducted by armed men from South Sudan in a cross-border raid into Ethiopia, the country’s leader said.

Ethiopian officials blame Murle tribesmen from South Sudan for a series of deadly attacks on Ethiopian villages in the western Gambella region on Friday.

“The atrocities committed by an armed Murle tribe from South Sudan claimed the lives of 208,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on state television on Sunday evening, increasing the death toll from an earlier estimate of 140.

Hailemariam said “mothers and children” were among the dead and, “they also abducted 102 children.”

The foreign ministry said over 2,000 livestock were also stolen.

The Murle, a tribe from South Sudan based in the eastern Jonglei region close to the Ethiopian border, often stage raids to steal cattle and abduct children but rarely on such a large or deadly scale.

“There had been abduction of children and raiding of cattle from Gambella through crossing the Ethiopian border. However, Friday’s attack was massive” Hailemariam said.

“The Ethiopian defence force is taking measures against the attackers to free the abducted children without any precondition,” he said, without specifying whether Ethiopian troops had crossed the border into South Sudan…

The raid — dubbed the “Gambella massacre” in the Ethiopian media — reinforces long-standing fears that South Sudan’s civil war since December 2013 would spill into Ethiopia.

Read more »


Related:
South Sudanese Gunmen Kill At Least 140 Civilians In Ethiopia, Government Says (NPR)

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Ethiopia’s Skateboarders ‘Go Legit’

Until now, skateboarders in the capital, Addis Ababa, have had to compete with footballers for space to practise their kick-flips and grinds, using any open piece of concrete they can find. (Photo: BBC)

BBC News

Ethiopia’s young skateboarders, who find it hard to get spots to practise, are about to get a huge boost with the opening of the country’s first skatepark, says the BBC’s Roderick Macleod.


Ethiopia Skate wants to get as many young people involved in the sport as possible. (Photo BBC)


The skaters are always on the lookout for the city’s best undiscovered spots, which often happen to be on private property…Though that does not necessarily stop them…Much to the frustration of local security guards who are supposed to be keeping them out. (Photo BBC)


But now, thanks to a global crowdfunding campaign, more than $35,000 (£24,600) has been raised to help build Ethiopia’s first purpose-built skatepark. (Photo BBC)

See more photos at BBC.com »


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Selam Productions – Tigist Schmidt Curates Films for African Diaspora

Selam Productions founder Tigist Schmidt. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 15th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Last Spring Selam Productions organized a week-long film series at The New School in New York City called Beyond Us, which explored Afro-futuristic themes. The films included Sundance hits Oversimplification of her Beauty by Terence Nance and Afronauts by Frances Bodomo. In addition, a diverse selection of video art by Derrick Adams and Renee Cox was screened as well as music videos by Khalil Joseph, and documented live performances from Sanford Biggers band Moonmedicine. All film screenings were followed by an artist talk, discussion or Q+A with the director.The film series was well received by students, filmmakers and cinephiles alike.

A few months later Selam Productions founder, Tigist Helen Schmidt, was approached by Wangechi Mutu’s initiative Africa’s OUT! to pick a film, that followed the inaugural event. After screening God Loves Uganda by Roger Ross Williams at Studio Museum in Harlem, Tigist led a public discussion with the local community.

“The thing about screening films of Africa and its Diaspora is that often times programmers and film curators alike don’t know how to engage members of that particular community or the general audience in a meaningful way,” Tigist says. “Most of the time African films come to the city for a maximum of three screenings, during a film festival, and then it becomes really difficult to find these films again. Rarely do these films get distribution and if so, the distribution company runs into the same problems as the programmers and curators.”

Tigist, who lives and works in New York, knows firsthand what it means to be a Diaspora member. She was born in the United States to Ethiopian and German parents and grew up in Nigeria, Argentina and Germany. When she was sixteen she moved back to the United States for college, and briefly moved to the United Kingdom for graduate studies. She holds a Bachelors in International Relations from San Francisco State University and a Masters from Goldsmiths, University of London.

“Part of Selam Productions’ mission is to support films via Africa and the Diaspora as well as women filmmakers,” Tigist tells Tadias. “And what better tool than to simply screen their films?”

Most recently, Selam Productions screened Stories Of Our Lives by Jim Chuchu at Neue House, a film made possible by Kenyan based grass-root organization UHAI EASHRI. The film was followed by a brief Q+A with Tigist and the organization’s director, Wanja Muguongo.


Poster for Stories Of Our Lives. (Courtesy image)

Tigist is currently working on a monthly film series that focuses on women’s stories on both sides of the camera, an Ethiopian inspired film series, as well as taking her curated film series Beyond Us to Berlin.

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For more information on upcoming screenings subscribe at www.SelamProductions.com or email contact@selamproductions.com.

Related:
The Colors of Ethiopians: Where Are You From? (By Tigist Schmidt)

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Twitter, WhatsApp Down in Oromia Area

Twitter, WhatsApp Down in Ethiopia's Oromia area after unrest, reports Bloomberg News. (Images: TC)

Bloomberg

April 12, 2016

Internet messaging applications such as WhatsApp haven’t worked for more than a month in parts of Ethiopia that include Oromia region, which recently suffered fatal protests, according to local users.

Smartphone owners haven’t been able to access services including Facebook Messenger and Twitter on the state-owned monopoly Ethio Telecom’s connection, Seyoum Teshome, a university lecturer, said by phone from Woliso, about 115 kilometers (71.5 miles) southwest of the capital, Addis Ababa.

“All are not working here for more than one month,” said Seyoum, who teaches at Ambo University’s Woliso campus. “The blackout is targeted at mobile data connections.”

A spokesman for Twitter Inc. declined to comment on the issue when e-mailed by Bloomberg on Monday. Facebook Inc., which bought WhatsApp Inc. in 2014, didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Read more at Bloomberg.com »


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U.S. Election: Trump’s Wisconsin Loss Increases Chance of Contested Convention

Analysts say billionaire mogul would have to win more than 60 percent of remaining delegates to July's national convention in order to claim Republican presidential nomination before convention starts. (AP photo)

VOA News

By Ken Bredemeier

April 06, 2016

The chance of a rare contested Republican presidential nominating convention is growing in the wake of U.S.Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s resounding win over front-runner Donald Trump in the Wisconsin primary election.

There are 16 state Republican nominating contests to go, extending into early June. Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul making his first run for elective office, would have to win more than 60 percent of the remaining delegates to July’s national convention in order to claim the party’s presidential nomination before the convention starts.

Trump still has a sizable lead, but has so far won only about 47 percent of the delegates selected. Cruz would have to take nearly 90 percent of the remaining available delegates to claim the nomination ahead of the convention.

U.S. Republicans have not had a contested convention since 1976.

Delegates selected to attend the 2016 convention in the midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio are generally required to vote according to the outcomes of primary elections and caucuses in their individual states on the first ballot. They mostly can vote for candidates of their choice on subsequent ballots until a nominee is picked.

Surveys of the convention delegates already picked show that while Trump, a brash one-time television reality show host, is likely to have a plurality of convention delegates on the first ballot, many delegates could switch to support Cruz on the second ballot or beyond. A majority of 1237 delegates is required to win the nomination.

Some of these delegates have told U.S. media outlets that they think Cruz is more consistently conservative and in line with their political views than Trump is and would have a better chance to defeat the likely Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in November’s national election.

Recent U.S. political surveys show Clinton consistently defeating both Trump and Cruz in hypothetical match-ups, but in a much tighter race against the Texas senator, a conservative thorn in the side of both Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington.


Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks as his wife Heidi listens during a primary night campaign event, April 5, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

Wisconsin turning point?

Cruz called his 48-to-35 percent rout of Trump on Tuesday in the northern state of Wisconsin a “turning point” and “rallying cry” to America.

“It is a call from the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin to the people of America,” Cruz said. “We have a choice, a real choice.”

He also turned his attention to Clinton, saying, “So let me just say, Hillary, get ready. Here we come.”

Trump’s loss in Wisconsin, following a series of controversial comments about abortion, women, NATO and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, has put him on the defensive after months as the leading Republican presidential contender.

Unlike his primary election victories, Trump made no public appearance after losing the Wisconsin contest.

His campaign issued a dismissive statement, saying, “Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet — he is a Trojan horse being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump.”

A third Republican candidate, Ohio Governor John Kasich, trailed badly in the Wisconsin voting and cannot mathematically win the Republican nomination ahead of the convention. He is hoping that neither Trump nor Cruz claim the nomination beforehand and that convention delegates eventually turn to him as the nominee.

So far, Kasich has won only in the midwestern state he governs. He is meeting Wednesday in Washington with his political advisers on his next steps in the face of demands from both Trump and Cruz that he drop out of the race.


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gestures to supporters during a campaign rally in Laramie, Wyo., Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Sanders challenges Clinton

In the Democratic race, Clinton is facing growing competition from her sole challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who now has defeated her in six of the last seven state nominating contests, including Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin.

Clinton, however, still holds a sizable lead, but not a majority yet, in the number of national convention delegates she needs to claim the party’s presidential nomination. If eventually elected, she would be the first female U.S. president.

The next key nominating contest for both parties is April 19, in New York, where pre-election surveys show Trump and Clinton ahead.


Related:
Rolling Stone Endorses Hillary: “It’s hard not to love Bernie, But Anger is not a plan”
Hillary, Trump in Command of US Election

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Getatchew Mekurya Passed Away at Age 81

Getatchew Mekurya (March 14th, 1935 - April 4th, 2016). Photo: World Music Network.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Legendary Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya passed away this week at the age of 81.

Getatchew, who began his musical career in Addis Ababa in the 1940′s, was a member of Ethiopia’s famous Police Orchestra. However, Getatchew gained international exposure mostly in the past decade through his world tours in collaboration with the Dutch avant-garde band, the Ex, and the release of his album Negus of Ethiopian Sax as part of the Ethiopiques CD series. Getatchew Mekurya was also part of the historic outdoor Ethiopian concert at Lincoln Center here in New York City in 2008 that included Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete.

In a statement the EX band said Getatchew started playing with them in 2004, but recently he had been in failing health. “He recognized something in our music which reminded him of the early groups he was in, like the Fetan Band (Speed Band),” the group said in a Facebook post. “For us it was also an incredible experience. He was always totally himself, full-on intense and dedicated. We played more than 100 concerts and made two beautiful albums together.”

The EX band added: “The last few years, his health was not very good. He couldn’t really go on tour anymore. As a kind of farewell concert for his fans, we organized a big event in the National Theatre in Addis Abeba. He got lots of attention and respect that night: 1500 people in the audience, three TV stations and a legendary concert. Getatchew was playing while sitting on a chair, but his playing was stronger than ever. His whole life was music. With his unique sound and approach he leaves behind an eternal inspiration! We will miss him.”

According to wiki: “Mekurya began his musical studies on traditional Ethiopian instruments such as the krar and the masenqo, and later moved on to the saxophone and clarinet. In 1955 he joined the house band at Addis’ Haile Selassie I Theatre, and in 1965 joined the famous Police Orchestra. He was also one of the first musicians to record an instrumental version of shellela, a genre of traditional Ethiopian vocal music sung by warriors before going into battle. Mekurya took the shellela tradition seriously, often appearing onstage in a warrior’s animal-skin tunic and lion’s mane headdress. He continued to refine his instrumental shellela style, recording an entire album in 1970, Negus of Ethiopian Sax, released on Philips Ethiopia during the heyday of the Ethiojazz movement. Mekurya continued to work alongside many of the biggest orchestras in the Ethiopian capital, accompanying renowned singers Alemayehu Eshete, Hirut Beqele, and Ayalew Mesfin. Mekurya reached an international audience when his album Negus of Ethiopian Sax was re-released as part of the Ethiopiques CD series.”


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The Ethio-jazz Revival in Addis Ababa

A hypnotic mix of musical styles, Ethio-jazz has a fascinating history and is enjoying a comeback at venues across the city. (Photograph: Meleket performing at African Jazz Village/ by Oliver Gordon)

The Guardian

By Oliver Gordon

I’m submerged in a heaving, sweaty mass of bodies, all singing, dancing, clapping along to the mesmeric crooning of Alemayehu Eshete – the man known as the Ethiopian Elvis. It’s Saturday night and I’m sharing limited oxygen with Addis Ababa’s great and good at Mama’s Kitchen, a wood-and-glass bar on the fourth floor of an innocuous shopping mall near Bole airport. Eshete, a shining star of the 1960s Ethiopian music scene, conducts the revelry in local Amharic tones as his band deliver a hypnotic mix of funky jazz, rockabilly and the swinging scales of traditional Ethiopian folk. This is Ethio-jazz.

A fusion of the eerie rhythms of ancient Ethiopian tribal music with the soulful undertones of jazz and the funky bounce of Afrobeat, Ethio-jazz had its heyday in the 1950s and 60s but in recent years has been making a slow but unmistakable comeback in the country’s capital.

“There are kids now playing Ethio-Jazz. It’s really becoming big again,” music legend Mulatu Astatke tells me on the sidelines of a gig at his bar, African Jazz Village. “I have this radio programme; for seven years I have been pumping out Ethio-jazz, teaching the people what it’s all about, but it’s definitely catching on now.”

Ethio-jazz is now played on the radio and taught at all the capital’s music colleges, and a new crop of musicians is beginning to flower as a result. “There are talented young musicians out there, such as Girum Gizaw (from the aforementioned Meleket) and Samuel Yirga, who are really coming up’,” says Astatke. “But they’re not just mimicking the old music, they’re evolving it into new directions.”


Mulatu Astatke. (Photograph: Alamy)

Read more at The Guardian »


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Ethiopia Land-Protest: More Than 2,600 People Arrested in Last Three Weeks

Students hold protest at Haramaya University, December 2015. (Photo via Twitter)

Reuters

BY AARON MAASHO

Ethiopia opposition say land-protest arrests aimed at deterring future demonstrations

ADDIS ABABA — An Ethiopian opposition group said on Friday that police had arrested more than 2,600 people in the last three weeks for taking part in land protests and that the government was thereby aiming to deter future protests.

Plans to requisition farmland in the Oromiya region surrounding the capital for development sparked the country’s worst unrest in over a decade, with rights groups and U.S.-based dissidents saying as many as 200 people may have been killed.

An opposition coalition said the arrests over protests in the four months up to February came despite government assurances of clemency.

Representatives of the government were not immediately available for comment.

Authorities scrapped the land scheme in January and pledged not to prosecute the demonstrators, while Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn issued an apology in parliament last month saying his administration would work to address grievances over governance.

Despite the pledges, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (MEDREK) said 2,627 people have since been “illegally rounded up” and remain under custody.

“It is an act of reprisal,” MEDREK’s chairman Beyene Petros told Reuters.

“The whole purpose why they are increasing their witchhunt is to simply stop the public from planning or initiating any future public protest,” he added.

Read more at Reuters.com »


Related:
Unrest in Ethiopia: Grumbling & Rumbling (Economist)
U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)

US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
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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BBC on Emperor Tewodros II (Audio)

Téwodros II was the Emperor of Ethiopia from February 11th, 1855 until his death on April 13th, 1868. (Drawing of Tewodros II. Credit: Getty Images.)

BBC

Emperor Tewodros II is one of the towering figures of modern Ethiopian history. He tried to unify and modernise Ethiopia. But his reign was also marked by brutality.

He faced a rising tide of rebellion inside the country and then in 1868 a British military expedition marched into the Ethiopian highlands. Their aim was to free British diplomatic envoys the Emperor had imprisoned.

Tewodros II made a last stand at Magdala, his mountain top fortress.

Listen here to the broadcast from BBC World Service:


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Unrest in Ethiopia: Grumbling & Rumbling

Student protesters at Haramaya University in Oromia, Ethiopia, December 2015. (HRW)

The Economist | From the print edition

Months of protests are rattling a fragile federation

ADDIS ABABA — AN OUTBREAK of public protest unprecedented in its duration and spread since the ruling party took power in Ethiopia in 1991 is stirring a rare cocktail of discontent. Demonstrations started in November mainly by members of the Oromo ethnic group, which accounts for about a third of Ethiopia’s 97m-plus people, have refused to die down. Indeed, they have spread. The government has dropped its plan, the original cause of the hubbub, to expand the city limits of Addis Ababa, the capital, into Oromia, the largest of the federal republic’s subdivisions of nine regional states and two city-states. But the protests have billowed into a much wider expression of outrage. People are complaining about land ownership, corruption, political repression and poverty. Such feelings go beyond just one ethnic group.

Human-rights advocates and independent monitors reckon that at least 80 people and perhaps as many as 250, mostly demonstrators, have been killed since the protests began. The government says the true figure is much lower and instead lays stress, as it always does, on terrorist and secessionist threats to the country’s stability. It points out that foreign-owned factories have been attacked, churches burnt down and property looted by organised gangs during the protests. Last month seven federal policemen in the south were killed by local militiamen during a particularly violent wave of disturbances.

Read more at Economist.com »


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U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)

US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
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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Rolling Stone Endorses Hillary: “It’s hard not to love Bernie, But Anger is not a plan”

U.S. pop culture magazine Rolling Stone endorses Hillary Clinton for president. (Illustration: Roberto Parada)

Rolling Stone

BY JANN S. WENNER

March 23, 2016

It’s hard not to love Bernie Sanders. He has proved to be a gifted and eloquent politician. He has articulated the raw and deep anger about the damage the big banks did to the economy and to so many people’s lives. He’s spoken clearly for those who believe the system is rigged against them; he’s made plain how punishing and egregious income inequality has become in this country, and he refuses to let us forget that the villains have gotten away with it.

I’ve been watching the debates and town halls for the past two months, and Sanders’ righteousness knocks me out. My heart is with him. He has brought the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations to the ballot box.

But it is not enough to be a candidate of anger. Anger is not a plan; it is not a reason to wield power; it is not a reason for hope. Anger is too narrow to motivate a majority of voters, and it does not make a case for the ability and experience to govern. I believe that extreme economic inequality, the vast redistribution of wealth to the top one percent — indeed, to the top one percent of the one percent — is the defining issue of our times. Within that issue, almost all issues of social injustice can be seen, none more so than climate change, which can be boiled down to the rights of mankind against the oligarchy that owns oil, coal and vast holdings of dirty energy, and those who profit from their use.

Hillary Clinton has an impressive command of policy, the details, trade-offs and how it gets done. It’s easy to blame billionaires for everything, but quite another to know what to do about it. During his 25 years in Congress, Sanders has stuck to uncompromising ideals, but his outsider stance has not attracted supporters among the Democrats. Paul Krugman writes that the Sanders movement has a “contempt for compromise.”

Read the full article at Rollingstone.com »


Related:
Hillary, Trump in Command of US Election

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President Obama Makes Historic Trip to Cuba: Full Coverage

President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle arrive for a state dinner with Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, in Havana, Cuba on Monday, March 21st, 2016. (AP photo)

VOA News

By Mary Alice Salinas

Last updated: March 22, 2016

HAVANA — U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday acknowledged the difficult history between the U.S. and Cuba, but offered a “message of peace” to the Cuban people as he neared the end of a landmark visit to the communist country.

“Havana is only 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Florida, but to get here we had to travel a great distance over barriers of history and ideology, barriers of pain and separation,” Obama told a crowd at the historic El Gran Teatra de Havana.

Obama said the differences between the Washington and Havana governments “are real and they are important,” but he said both sides can still move forward with a historic normalization of relations.

‘Bury the last remnant’

“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas,” Obama declared confidently, as Cuban President Raul Castro looked on from an upper balcony. “I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.”

WATCH: President Obama addresses Cuban people from Havana

Obama also called for an end to the decades-old U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, which he called an “outdated burden” on the Cuban people. “It’s time to lift the embargo,” he said.

But the president also forcefully criticized the Cuban government, saying even if the embargo were lifted, the Cuban people would still not be able to live up to their potential without democratic reforms.

“People should be able to criticize their government and choose those who govern them,” said Obama. He also called for citizens to be able to “speak their minds without fear.”

Ryan’s reaction

In Washington, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan condemned Obama’s visit to Cuba, telling Reuters news agency the trip legitimizes the “tyrannical dictatorship” of Castro.

Ryan made his remarks to reporters as Obama was wrapping up his historic visit to Havana — a trip that has been marked by clashes between the American and Cuban leaders over human rights abuses.


Cuba’s President Raul Castro waves to the audience as he takes his seat near Cuba’s prima ballerina, Alicia Alonso, second left, before U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Gran Teatro, in Havana, Cuba, March 22, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Obama began his speech by addressing the horrific attacks earlier Tuesday in Brussels, where dozens of people were killed in explosions at the airport and a metro station. He began his speech by saying the U.S. stands in solidarity with Belgium and “will do whatever is necessary … to bring those who are responsible to justice.”

Later Tuesday, Obama will attend a baseball game between Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to be played at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 UTC) at Estadio Latinoamericano.

Talks with Castro

On Monday, Obama hailed the progress in U.S.-Cuba relations while acknowledging that the two sides continue to have “very serious” differences on democracy and human rights.

After “frank and candid” talks in Havana on ways to advance normalization efforts, Obama and Castro held a joint news conference.

“This is a time of hope for Cuba,” Obama told reporters.

The U.S. leader said while he made it “clear” to Castro that the U.S. would continue to speak out on human rights, “Cuba’s destiny will not be decided by the United States or any other nation. The future of Cuba will be decided by Cubans.”


President Barack Obama meets with dissidents and other local Cubans at the U.S. Embassy, in Havana, Cuba, March 22, 2016. (AP photo)

In a rare event, Castro agreed to take questions from journalists after the two leaders’ remarks.

After being questioned about political prisoners, Castro reacted angrily. He demanded to be shown a list of such detainees. Cuba’s position is that it holds no such prisoners.

“Give me a list of those political prisoners right now, and if the list exists, they will be released before the night is through,” Castro said.

‘Forgotten 51′

In Washington, D.C., Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, reacted to Castro’s comments by saying, “We have that list, President Castro.”

Last week, before Obama’s trip to Havana, the group provided a list of jailed dissidents, called “The Forgotten 51,” to major networks and reporters.

At a briefing for reporters in Havana later in the day, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said he has shared with Cuban authorities many lists of political prisoners over the last 2½ years.

Rhodes said the U.S. regularly raises cases of specific political prisoners, and that many of the cases have been resolved. But he said Cuba insists that it doesn’t consider them political prisoners, and that the prisoners are being held for different crimes.

In his remarks, Castro welcomed the easing of trade and travel restrictions announced by Washington, but stressed the need for action to lift a 55-year trade embargo on the communist country. Castro also called on the U.S. to return land used for the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.


A man takes a cigarette break in Plazuela de Albear, three blocks from “el capitolio,” in Havana, Cuba, March 21, 2016. (VOA photo)

The U.S. trade embargo on Cuba can only be lifted by the Republican controlled Congress, where there is disagreement about Obama’s policy shift from isolation to engagement with Cuba.

Cuban policy

President Obama made the historic visit to Cuba early in his final year in office in a bid to make Washington’s new approach toward Cuba essentially irreversible, the White House says.

To push it beyond Obama’s final year in office, the president needs bipartisan support. Obama took along a delegation of nearly 40 lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats.

He said lawmakers are more likely to support it when they see progress under the new Cuba policy. He also said the pace of normalization will also depend on how much progress Cuba makes on human rights issues.

“The embargo is going to end,” Obama predicted during the joint appearance. “When? I can’t be entirely sure, but it will end,” said the president.

Cubans use payphones on Consulado side street across from Havana’s Capitol building. (VOA photo)

Obama and Castro shook hands before going into talks at the Revolutionary Palace, one day after Obama became the first sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years to arrive in the island nation.

Earlier Monday, Obama attended a wreath laying ceremony at the monument of the Cuban independence hero Jose Marti at the Plaza of the Revolution.

“It is a great honor to pay tribute to Jose Marti, who gave his life for independence of his homeland. His passion for liberty, freedom and self-determination lives on in the Cuban people today, ” Obama wrote in a guest book.

Cubans cheer

Throughout Havana on Sunday, people lined the streets as the U.S. president’s motorcade rolled by following his arrival, with crowds waving, cheering, blowing kisses and chanting Obama’s name.

At a gathering of several hundred Cuban entrepreneurs and U.S. business people in Havana Monday, Obama said the United States wants to help Cuban entrepreneurs, and that the best way to do this is for the U.S. Congress to lift the trade embargo against Cuba “once and for all.”

He told the gathering “America wants to be your partner.”

William Gallo in Washington, Victoria Macchi in Havana and Aru Pande at the White House contributed to this report.

WATCH: Obama, Castro Hold Joint News Conference

By Mary Alice Salinas

Last updated on: March 21, 2016

HAVANA — U.S. President Barack Obama Monday hailed the progress in relations between the United States and Cuba, while acknowledging that the two sides continue to have “very serious” differences on democracy and human rights.

After “frank and candid” talks in Havana on ways to advance normalization efforts, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro held a joint news conference.

“This is a time of hope for Cuba,” Obama told reporters.

‘Decided by Cubans’

The U.S. leader said while he made it “clear” to Castro that the U.S. would continue to speak out on human rights, “Cuba’s destiny will not be decided by the United States or any other nation. The future of Cuba will be decided by Cubans.”

In a rare event, Castro agreed to take questions from journalists after the two leaders’ remarks.

After being questioned about political prisoners, Castro reacted angrily. He demanded to be shown a list of such detainees. Cuba’s position is that it holds no such prisoners.

“Give me a list of those political prisoners right now, and if the list exists, they will be released before the night is through,” Castro said.

Carson: Lists have been shared

In Washington, D.C., Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, reacted to Castro’s comments, saying, “We have that list, President Castro.”

Last week, before Obama’s trip to Havana, the group provided a list of jailed dissidents, called “The Forgotten 51,” to major networks and reporters.

At a briefing for reporters in Havana later in the day, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said he has shared with Cuban authorities many lists of political prisoners over the last two and a-half years.

Rhodes said the U.S. regularly raises cases of specific political prisoners, and that many of the cases have been resolved. But he said Cuba insists that it doesn’t consider them political prisoners, and that the prisoners are being held for different crimes.

“I think the heart of the difference with President Castro is not their lack of awareness of these individuals and how we follow their cases and how independent organizations follow their cases,” Rhodes said. “It is their belief that they are not political prisoners…that they are in prison for various crimes and offenses against Cuban law.”


U.S. President Barack Obama attends a meeting with entrepreneurs as part of his three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana, March 21, 2016. (Reuters)

In his remarks, Castro welcomed the easing of trade and travel restrictions announced by Washington, but stressed the need for action to lift a 55-year trade embargo on the communist country. Castro also called on the U.S. to return land used for the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

The U.S trade embargo on Cuba has to be lifted by the Republican controlled Congress, where there is disagreement about Obama’s policy shift from isolation to engagement with Cuba.

New approach irreversible

President Obama made the historic visit to Cuba early in his final year in office in a bid to make Washington’s new approach toward Cuba essentially irreversible, the White House says.

To push it beyond Obama’s final year in office, the president needs bipartisan support. Obama took along a delegation of nearly 40 lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats.

He said lawmakers are more likely to support it when they see progress under the new Cuba policy. He also said the pace of normalization will also depend on how much progress Cuba makes on human rights issues.

The embargo is going to come,” Obama predicted during the joint appearance. “When? I can’t be entirely sure, but it will end.”

Obama and Castro shook hands before going into talks at the Revolutionary Palace, one day after Obama became the first sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years to arrive in the island nation.

Day in Havana

Earlier in the day, Obama attended a wreath laying ceremony at the monument of the Cuban independence hero Jose Marti at the Plaza of the Revolution.

“It is a great honor to pay tribute to Jose Marti, who gave his life for independence of his homeland. His passion for liberty, freedom and self-determination lives on in the Cuban people today, ” Obama wrote in a guest book.

Throughout Havana on Sunday, people lined the streets as the U.S. president’s motorcade rolled by following his arrival, with crowds waving, cheering, blowing kisses and chanting Obama’s name.

‘America wants to be your partner’

At a gathering of several hundred Cuban entrepreneurs and U.S. business people in Havana Monday, Obama said the United States wants to help Cuban entrepreneurs, and that the best way to do this is for the U.S. Congress to lift the trade embargo against Cuba “once and for all.”

He told the gathering “America wants to be your partner.”

The highlight of his trip though, according to the White House, will be an address the U.S. leader will deliver to the Cuban people on Tuesday. He is expected to speak about the difficult and complicated history between the two nations, the current course to normalize relations and his vision for future relations between the former Cold War enemies.

State dinner

The Obamas attended a state dinner late Monday at the Revolutionary Palace. Several members of Congress, including House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also attended.

Guests were served shrimp mousse, cream soup flavored with rum, and traditional pork with rice and plantain chips, the Associated Press reported, and servers had a tray of Cuban cigars for the guests.

But the highlight of the trip, according to the White House, will be an address he will deliver to the Cuban people on Tuesday.

He is expected to speak about the difficult and complicated history between the two nations, the current course to normalize relations and his vision for future relations between the former Cold War enemies.


Related:
Proud of Obama’s Presidency, Blacks Are Sad to See Him Go

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Hillary, Trump in Command of US Election

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Palm Beach, Fla., while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, March 15, 2016. (Photo:Reuters/AP)

VOA News

By William Gallo

Last updated on: March 16, 2016

MIAMI — Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have taken commanding leads in their months-long campaigns to claim their parties’ 2016 U.S. presidential nominations, with both scoring impressive victories in contests on Tuesday.

Neither Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul who has never held elective office, nor Clinton, the country’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, has clinched a majority of delegates to their national party conventions in July to be assured of their party nominations, but both have built substantial leads over their remaining challengers.

Of the two, Clinton’s path to the nomination seems more assured.

Clinton, looking to become the first female U.S. president, won four states Tuesday over her sole challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and is leading in a fifth where votes are still being counted. She won contests in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois, and holds a small lead in Missouri.

Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, has now won 66 percent of the convention delegates she needs for the Democratic nomination as the focus turns to voting in more state contests that run through June 14.

The next Democratic contests are set for March 22 in the western states of Arizona, Idaho and Utah.

Flamboyant candidate

The flamboyant Trump, a one-time television reality show host, has amassed slightly more than half of the convention delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination.

Trump, however, would need to win about 60 percent of the remaining available delegates in 21 state-by-state party contests to claim his party’s nomination before the convention.

His closest challenger is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative lawmaker who delights in aiming barbs at the Washington political establishment, Democratic and Republican leaders alike.

Cruz said the race has culminated in a head-to-head match with Trump through the remaining party nominating contests, but Ohio Governor John Kasich won his home state Tuesday over Trump and remains in the race.

Contentious battle

Kasich, however, cannot mathematically win the nomination before the convention and is hoping neither Trump nor Cruz has enough pledged delegates either, throwing the contest into a contentious battle at the quadrennial gathering.

Trump said it is time to bring the Republican Party together, vowing he will not stop until he “wins the country.”

Trump’s resounding victory in the southeastern state of Florida, where he has a lavish second home estate, forced Florida Senator Marco Rubio to quit the race in an election night concession speech.

Numerous establishment Republican figures had endorsed Rubio in hopes of stopping Trump, who many Republicans believe would lose November’s national election to Clinton, a contention supported by numerous surveys showing her winning a hypothetical match over Trump.

The winner of the election will succeed President Barack Obama, a Democrat who leaves office in January 2017.

After polls closed Tuesday, Cruz said it is time for Republicans to unite behind his candidacy, noting that he has won several state contests against Trump in recent weeks.

Cruz welcomed to his campaign those who had supported Rubio, saying, “America has a clear choice going forward.”

Unpredictable

Numerous Republicans, including Cruz, say Trump is too unpredictable and has over the years adopted numerous policy positions tha are at odds with the dominant conservative party philosophy.

One major anti-Trump group has been running a nationwide television ad in recent days, quoting his many comments disparaging women and another pointing attention to the melees that have broken out at some of his rallies between his supporters and those opposed to his candidacy.

After Tuesday’s results, former House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner endorsed his successor, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the losing 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate, to be the party’s presidential nominee over Trump, Cruz and Kasich.

Trump said his run for the White House has drawn new voters to the Republican contests, many of them angry at being ignored by Washington and Republican elites.

He has struck a chord with some voters with his calls for construction of an impenetrable wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. and temporarily banning the entry of all Muslims into the United States.

WATCH: Related video by VOA’s Jim Malone


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Supporters of Donald J. Trump clashed with protesters inside a scheduled campaign
event in Chicago. By REUTERS on Publish Date March 11, 2016. Photo by AP.

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In Addis Ababa, Students Demand End to Police Crackdowns in Rare Protest

Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of Dinka Chala, a primary school teacher shot dead by military forces during a demonstration in Holonkomi, Oromia, Ethiopia on December 17th, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – Dozens of university students protested in Ethiopia’s capital on Tuesday, demanding an end to police crackdowns that followed months of demonstrations over plans to requisition farmland in the country’s Oromiya region late last year.

The government wanted to develop farmland around the capital, Addis Ababa, and its plan triggered some of the worst civil unrest for a decade, with rights groups and U.S.-based dissidents saying as many as 200 people may have been killed.

Officials suggest the figure is far lower but have not given a specific number.

Ethiopia has long been one of the world’s poorest nations but has industrialised rapidly in the past decade and now boasts double-digit growth. However, reallocating land is a thorny issue for Ethiopians, many of whom are subsistence farmers.

Authorities scrapped the land scheme in January, but sporadic demonstrations persist and, on Tuesday, students from Addis Ababa University marched in two groups towards the embassy of the United States, a major donor, holding signs that read “We are not terrorists. Stop killing Oromo people.”

Such protests are rare in a country where police are feared as heavy-handed and the government is seen as repressive.

A government spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read more at Reuters.com »


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Bloomberg Reporter, Freelancer Detained While Covering Protests in Oromia Region

A severe drought and anti-government protests in Oromia have increased restrictions on press freedom in Ethiopia, according to a journalists' association. (Photo: In Oromia, Ethiopia, January 31, 2016/Reuters)

Newsweek

BY CONOR GAFFEY

Two journalists and a translator were arbitrarily detained for 24 hours on Thursday when reporting on the protests in Oromia, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) on Monday. Bloomberg correspondent William Davison and freelance journalist Jacey Fortin, along with their translator, were not given any reason for their detention. Their phones and identification cards were taken during the arrest.

Protests among the Oromos, who constitute Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, have been ongoing since November 2015 and were originally directed against plans by the federal government to expand the capital Addis Ababa. At least 140 protesters were killed between November 2015 and January, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The Addis expansion plans were dropped in January but the protests—which have morphed into a general expression of dissatisfaction with the government among Oromos—have continued and demonstrators are still being subjected to “lethal force,” HRW said on February 22. The Ethiopian government has said that “destructive forces” —including some from neighboring Eritrea—have hijacked the protests and would be dealt with decisively.

Davison told Newsweek that the risks of reporting on certain topics in Ethiopia is too high because of the threat of detainment. “It was a shock to be held overnight in a prison cell and not be given any explanation of what we were being held for,” says Davison. The “very heavy and militarized response” to the Oromo protests “raises the chance that reporters are going to be obstructed from doing their work,” he says.

Read more at Newsweek.com »


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U.S. Election Update: Michigan Goes to Sanders in Upset; Trump Wins 3 States

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders arrives to speak to supporters on the night of the Michigan, Mississippi and other primaries, at his campaign rally in Miami, Florida, March 8, 2016.

The New York Times

By PATRICK HEALY and JONATHAN MARTIN

Updated: MARCH 8, 2016

Donald J. Trump easily dispatched his Republican rivals in the Michigan and Mississippi presidential primaries Tuesday and won the Hawaii caucuses, regaining momentum in the face of intensifying resistance to his campaign among party leaders.

Senator Bernie Sanders scored an upset win in the Michigan Democratic primary, threatening to prolong a Democratic campaign that Hillary Clinton appeared to have all but locked up last week.

Mrs. Clinton lost badly in Michigan among independents, showed continued weakness with working-class white Democrats, and was unable to count on as much of an advantage with black voters as she had in the South.

Addressing reporters in Miami while the votes in Michigan were still being counted, Mr. Sanders said that his powerful showing indicated that “the political revolution that we’re talking about is strong in every part of the country.”

“And frankly,” he added, “we believe that our strongest areas are yet to happen.”

While bolstering Mr. Sanders’s hand as the race turns to a series of large states next week, his victory in Michigan did not dent Mrs. Clinton’s delegate lead as she won overwhelmingly in Mississippi, crushing Mr. Sanders among African-American voters, and netted more delegates over all.

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: ‘Super Saturday’ Vote Results

Lead Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz split four presidential nominating contests Saturday, while Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton claims one race and rival Bernie Sanders two. (VOA)

The Associated Press

Last updated on: March 06, 2016

WICHITA, Kan. — In a split decision, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump each captured two victories in Saturday’s four-state round of voting, fresh evidence that there’s no quick end in sight to the fractious GOP race for president. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders notched wins in Nebraska and Kansas, while front-runner Hillary Clinton snagged Louisiana, another divided verdict from the American people.

Cruz claimed Kansas and Maine, and declared it “a manifestation of a real shift in momentum.” Trump, still the front-runner in the hunt for delegates, bagged Louisiana and Kentucky. Despite strong support from the GOP establishment, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had another disappointing night, raising serious questions about his viability in the race.

Trump, at a post-election news conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, declared himself primed for a head-on contest between himself and Cruz, and called for Rubio to drop out.

“I would like to take on Ted one-on-one,” he said, ticking off a list of big states where he said Cruz had no chance. “That would be so much fun.”

Cruz, a tea party favorite, said the results should send a loud message that the GOP contest for the nomination is far from over, and that the status quo is in trouble.

“The scream you hear, the howl that comes from Washington D.C., is utter terror at what we the people are doing together,” he declared during a rally in Idaho, which votes in three days.

With the GOP race in chaos, establishment figures frantically are looking for any way to derail Trump, perhaps at a contested convention if no candidate can get enough delegates to lock up the nomination in advance. Party leaders — including 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and 2008 nominee Sen. John McCain — are fearful a Trump victory would lead to a disastrous November election, with losses up and down the GOP ticket.

“Everyone’s trying to figure out how to stop Trump,” the billionaire marveled at an afternoon rally in Orlando, Florida, where he had supporters raise their hands and swear to vote for him.

Trump prevailed in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been critical of the front-runner for incendiary comments on Muslims and a slow disavowal of white supremacist groups.

Rubio, who finished no better than third anywhere and has only one win so far, insisted the upcoming schedule of primaries is “better for us,” and renewed his vow to win his home state of Florida, claiming all 99 delegates there on March 15.

But Cruz suggested it was time for Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to go.

“As long as the field remains divided, it gives Donald an advantage,” he said.

Campaigning in Detroit, Clinton said she was thrilled to add to her delegate count and expected to do well in Michigan’s primary on Tuesday.

“No matter who wins this Democratic nomination,” she said, “I have not the slightest doubt that on our worst day we will be infinitely better than the Republicans on their best day.”

Tara Evans, a 52-year-old quilt maker from Bellevue, Nebraska, said she was caucusing for Clinton, and happy to know that the former first lady could bring her husband back to the White House.

“I like Bernie, but I think Hillary had the best chance of winning,” she said.

Sanders won by solid margins in Nebraska and Kansas, giving him seven victories so far in the nominating season, compared to 11 for Clinton, who still maintains a commanding lead in competition for delegates.

Sanders, in an interview with The Associated Press, pointed to his wide margins of victory and called it evidence that his political revolution is coming to pass.

Read more »


Related:
‘Super Saturday’: Cruz, Trump Split Wins in Presidential Contests; Clinton Maintains Lead
Hillary, Trump Sweep Super Tuesday Votes
Trump wins push GOP to breaking point
Hillary Wins in Nevada, Trump Solidifies Lead in South Carolina
U.S. Election 2016: Year of The Outsiders
NH primary: Trump Wins, Hillary ‘Feels the Bern’
In Iowa Trump Defeated, Hillary Wins
Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits A Potential White House Run (NY Times)

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Ancient Writings of Ethiopia (CNN)

Ethiopia Ancient Writings trailer. (CNN Video - CNN.com)

CNN Inside Africa

Unlock the secrets of Ge’ez: an ancient, nearly forgotten language from the Horn of Africa that’s being preserved in the religious chants of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and in the meticulous rewriting of ancient liturgical manuscripts. Researchers believe that most Ethiopians spoke the Ge’ez language until as late as the 12th Century AD. Since then, the country’s strong pillars of faith and tradition continue to guard the language and protect its future. Find out what it takes to make sure Ge’ez is available to Ethiopians for generations to come.

Watch the video at CNN Inside Africa »


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Ethiopia’s Women’s Soccer Team (Lucy) and the Seattle Reign to Forge Partnership

Members of the Ethiopian Women’s National Football Team (Lucy) and visiting Seattle Reign officials holding a ceremonial jersey exchange at Elilly Hotel in Addis Ababa, Feb 19,2016. (Photo: U.S. Embassy -- Ethiopia)

Press Release

U.S. Embassy

Addis Ababa – The Ethiopian Football Federation and representatives of one of America’s leading professional women’s soccer teams, the Seattle Reign, met today in Addis Ababa and took the first steps in forging a strategic partnership aimed at forging international linkages and strengthening Ethiopian women’s soccer.

Visiting Seattle Reign co-owner Teresa Predmore, and visiting American women players met with Ethiopian Football Federation officials at the Elili hotel to discuss plans for forging a strategic partnership which would link the Ethiopian National team known as the Lucy’s and the U.S. based Seattle Reign. Representatives of the two teams performed a ceremonial jersey exchange to cement their partnership.

During the jersey exchange ceremony, Juneidi Basha, President of the Ethiopia Football Federation, said, “We are happy to work with the U.S. in the area of women’s soccer in order to grow the sport here at home. Ethiopia has a lot to learn from the U.S., which has unrivalled experience in soccer.”

The Seattle Reign FC is an American professional women’s soccer team based in Seattle, Washington. The team plays in the professional National Women’s Soccer League. The Reign finished the 2015 season in first place clinching the NWSL Shield for the second consecutive time. Seattle Reign coach, Laura Harvey was named Coach of the Year for a second consecutive year.

The collaboration is supported by the US Embassy’s public diplomacy sports outreach program which has forged links and implemented programs for thousands of young Ethiopian boys and girls in collaboration with the Ethiopian Football Federation and the Ethiopian Basketball Federation. These programs include the semi-annual Community Outreach Youth (COYS) soccer tournament in Dire Dawa for boys and girls based in Oromia, Dire Dawa and Somali and Harari regions and two basketball clinics in Addis organized in conjunction with visiting stars from the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

“This is great opportunity to expand our sports diplomacy program and engage with young people in Ethiopia,” said David Kennedy, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy. “This strategic partnership is a great example of the possibilities linking Ethiopian and the American institutions and programs.”


Juneidi Basha, President of the Ethiopia Football Federation and Teresa Predmore, owner of the Seattle Reign observing the jersey swap between Emebet Addisu and Lauren Lauren Barnes. (Photo: US Embassy)


Left to Right: Emebet Addisu, Lauren Barnes, Elli Reed and Tsion Seyera (photo: US Embassy – Ethiopia)


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U.S. Election: Hillary Wins in Nevada, Trump Solidifies Lead in South Carolina

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton picked up her second victory on Saturday after winning the Democrats' Nevada caucuses, while Donald Trump won the Republican contest in South Carolina. (AP photo)

VOA News

By Cindy Saine

Last updated on: February 20, 2016

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday won the Nevada Democratic caucuses, defeating Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.

And in South Carolina’s closely fought Republican primary, initial results showed Donald Trump edging out his rivals by taking more than 34 percent of the total vote. Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas were each taking about 21 percent.

The Associated Press reported that after his poor showing in Saturday’s South Carolina contest, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush ended his campaign for the presidency. He, Ben Carson and Ohio Governor John Kasich each appeared to garner less than 10 percent of the vote.

After Trump’s big victory in New Hampshire last week, his win Saturday was likely to solidify the billionaire real estate mogul as the Republican front-runner. Cruz and Rubio are now locked in a close race for second place, with each hoping to attract support from Republicans who do not support Trump.

Clinton jubilant

Analysts said Clinton’s win showed that her national network of support remained formidable, and that Sanders must do more to appeal to Democrats beyond the young people who have formed the core of his campaign.

Clinton was jubilant as she addressed cheering supporters at her Nevada headquarters.

“Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other.” She congratulated Sanders for a hard-fought race, singling out hotel and casino workers, students and families for their support in the Western state.

Speaking to his Nevada supporters, Sanders said, “We are bringing working people and young people into the political process in a way we have not seen in a long while.”

Sanders was upbeat as he said he would soon be on a plane to South Carolina, and then would compete in 11 states on Super Tuesday, March 1. “The wind is at our backs and we have the momentum.”


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont waves to hotel workers at MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Feb. 20, 2016. (AP photo)

He said he believed that when Democrats hold their nominating convention in Philadelphia in July, voters will see “one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States.”

Both campaigns had viewed multiethnic Nevada as a test for electoral viability nationwide. Exit polls indicated that Sanders won the Hispanic vote in Nevada, but that Clinton won the African-American vote by a large margin.

Clinton will head into next week’s Democratic primary in South Carolina with momentum, and she already has a commanding lead in the polls there. She told her supporters she was traveling to the delegate-rich state of Texas late Saturday to campaign there, and that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was traveling to Colorado.


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Democratic caucuses on Saturday, February 20, 2016. (AP photo)

It was the second win of the 2016 election season for Clinton, after she narrowly won the Iowa caucuses earlier this month. Sanders won the New Hampshire primary by a big margin. Political experts said the clear win in Nevada was a big relief for Clinton and her backers, after recent reports of a Sanders surge. Analysts said there was now more pressure on Sanders to prove he can win in a more diverse state than New Hampshire.

Read more »

Watch: Trump, Clinton Big Winners in US Presidential Contests


Related:
U.S. Election 2016: Year of The Outsiders
NH primary: Trump Wins, Hillary ‘Feels the Bern’
In Iowa Trump Defeated, Hillary Wins
Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits A Potential White House Run (NY Times)

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Meet Minnesota Teen Hordofa Burka, Winner of Horatio Alger Scholarship

Minnesota High School senior Hordofa Burka winner of the Horatio Alger Scholarship. (Photo: Seth Duin)

Twin Cities Pioneer Press

By MAJA BECKSTROM

February 19, 2016

During his freshman year at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Hordofa Burka didn’t say much. He had just arrived from Ethiopia and didn’t understand English. Four years later, Burka is on the honor roll and has been selected as one of two Minnesota recipients of the prestigious Horatio Alger National Scholarship, which comes with $22,000 to attend any college.

“There aren’t many kids who work quite as hard as he does,” said Caroline Church, assistant director with the college preparation program Upward Bound at Como. “He’s in Advanced Placement classes and has gotten into every single one of his colleges. That to me is amazing.”

What makes it more amazing is Burka’s past.

He does not know much about his childhood, only that his parents were farmers in Ethiopia, and that shortly after he was born, his father was likely killed by government forces. His mother fled to Kenya with other ethnic Oromo refugees and left her five children in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

“After they took my father’s life, she thought they would follow and kill her, too,” said Burka, who grew up knowing his mother only as a face in a framed photo on the wall and an occasional voice on the telephone from Kenya encouraging him to do well in school and stay out of trouble.

“I look back, and now I feel guilty,” he said. “I did not have strong feelings for her then. I did not miss her.”

In Ethiopia, two older sisters worked to support the orphaned family. They told Burka and a middle brother and sister to focus on school and not to dwell on their mother or worry about the future. In 2007, Burka’s mother received permission to enter the United States as a refugee. Five years later in April 2012, Burka and three of his siblings joined her in Minnesota.

“It was really emotional when I met my mom,” said Burka. “Everybody cried. She brought flowers, a lot of flowers. She wouldn’t believe I was this tall. She was happy and laughing. No one went to bed that night.”

Read more »


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Where to Find DC’s New Little Ethiopia

(Bonnie Dain / For The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

By Elizabeth Chang

February 18th, 2016

Washington’s ethnic enclaves have moved over the years, as transportation, suburbanization and gentrification have redrawn our regional map. Here are the new locations rich in international cuisine and supplies.

Ethiopian

The District has drawn Africans for many reasons: its capital city status, its African American political leadership and historically black Howard University. Ethiopians who arrived after the 1974 overthrow of Haile Selassie gathered in diverse and already-gentrifying Adams Morgan. As rents increased, many businesses moved to Shaw (unsuccessfully petitioning in 2005 to have a strip of Ninth Street designated “Little Ethiopia”). Now, you can also find Ethiopian storefronts in Silver Spring, Md., and Alexandria, Va.

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


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President Obama to travel to Cuba in March

President Barack Obama will be the first American President since Calvin Coolidge (second from left) in 1928 to visit Cuba. (Photo: medium.com)

VOA News

By William Gallo

Last updated on: February 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama confirmed Thursday that he will visit Cuba next month to advance progress in relations between the two nations and “efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.”

Writing on Twitter, Obama also vowed to raise human rights issues in talks with officials in the communist-led nation.

“This historic visit – the first by a sitting U.S. President in nearly 90 years – is another demonstration of the President’s commitment to chart a new course for U.S.-Cuban relations and connect U.S. and Cuban citizens through expanded travel, commerce, and access to information,” a White House statement said, noting that Obama will arrive for a two day visit on March 21, before traveling to Argentina.

The Cuba trip suggests Obama remains determined to push ahead with what he sees as a legacy achievement before leaving office a year from now.


President Barack Obama talks with President Raúl Castro of Cuba from the Oval Office, Dec. 16, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chargé d’Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis watch as Marines raise the American flag at the Ambassador’s residence in Havana, Cuba, on August 14, 2015. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Since the historic thaw in ties was announced in December 2014, Obama has made steady progress breaking down diplomatic barriers with the former Cold War enemy. The successes include restoring diplomatic relations and reopening embassies in each other’s capitals. The U.S. removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have talked regularly and met twice.

Using his executive authority, Obama has persistently chipped away at the longstanding U.S. restrictions on business, investment and travel in Cuba.

The latest step came last week, when the two countries reached an arrangement to restore the first direct regularly scheduled commercial flights between the countries in more than 50 years.

Cuba slow to make reforms

But while Obama has continued to loosen restrictions on Cuba during the past year, progress on the Cuban end has stalled, according to John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.

“The Cubans haven’t really done anything, other than allowing more individuals into Cuba and making more money from them,” Kavulich told VOA.

But Havana could be motivated to make some major concessions over the next year, Kavulich says, in part to head off any future president who may want to overturn Obama’s moves.

“Everything can be reversed. And if the only activities are some airlines traveling to Cuba, that’s not going to be much of an impediment for a new president. So the Cubans now know they’re going to have make some things happen.”

Obama can also continue to loosen restrictions on his own. The biggest change Obama can enact, according to Kavulich, would be to remove the restrictions on Cuba using the dollar in international transactions, a move that could dramatically improve Cuba’s economy.

“That is the last of the big regulations that he has control of. He may be saving that for this trip,” he says.

Embargo remains in place

But there is a limit to what Obama can achieve unilaterally. The U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, which has been in place for decades, can only be removed by Congress. Although support for the embargo is declining, it still has widespread backing from lawmakers in both parties who say lifting the restrictions would essentially reward what is one of Latin America’s most politically repressive countries.

Obama argues the embargo is a broken policy that has failed to spur democratic reforms, something he says will only come when Cuba opens up to the world.

But there is little evidence detente has led to human rights improvements. Despite Cuba’s freeing some political prisoners and working to improve Internet access, censorship remains widespread and dissidents continue to be jailed at about the same rate as in past years, according to rights groups.

Nonetheless, there are hints Cuba is considering at least modest reforms to its rigid, one-party political system. Cuban President Raul Castro, brother of iconic revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, has proposed term limits for senior leaders and raised the possibility of a constitutional referendum.

More significantly, Raul, who took over from his brother in 2006, has promised to step down in 2018. If that happens, it will be the first time since 1959 that a Castro has not been in charge of the island.

Photo gallery: US Rapprochement With Cuba

Sticking points remain, but US attitudes changing

But other issues beside the Castros complicate the U.S.-Cuba relationship, including the American-run military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Raul Castro has said the only way for ties to be completely restored is if Washington returns the base to Cuban control. Obama has given no signs he intends to do that, but is working to fulfill his longtime promise of closing down the base’s controversial prison, which holds dozens of suspected terrorists.

Although challenges to the U.S.-Cuba relationship remain, there is evidence to suggest the American public does not view its southern neighbor with as much suspicion as it once did. A poll released this week by Gallup indicates 54 percent of Americans view Cuba favorably. That is up from the 10 percent of Americans who viewed Cuba positively in 1996.

But Gallup also noted the partisan divide over Cuba has grown larger. While 73 percent of Democrats view Cuba favorably, only 34 percent of Republicans do the same.

Watch: July 01, 2015 – President Obama Announces Reestablishment of US-Cuba Relations


Related:
President Obama is going to Cuba. Here’s why

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Election 2016: Year of The Outsiders

Outspoken New York businessman Donald Trump and Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. (Getty Images)

MSNBC

BY LAWRENCE O’DONNELL

In the ‘Year of the Outsiders’, American politics has never seen anything quite like the Donald Trump for President show.

How did he become the frontrunner for the Republican nomination?

Watch: 2016 Year of The Outsiders — Special Edition of MSNBC’s The Last Word

Bernie Sanders’ The ‘outsider’ approach

In the following video Bernie Sanders talks to MSNBC about what it’s like to be an outsider in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. “The landslide winner of the Democratic Party’s New Hampshire primary is a career politician who has lived outside the two-party system for more than 30-years,” explains the host Lawrence O’Donnell. “He was elected as Mayor of the biggest city in Vermont as an independent, he was elected to the House of Representatives as an independent, then elected to the United States Senate as an independent.” O’Donnell adds: “And through it all Bernie Sanders has been a self-proclaimed socialist — probably the single most harmful label an American politician can have. It’s right down there at the bottom of a list of categories in the Gallup poll. In that poll more people say they would vote for an atheist or a muslim than would vote for a socialist for president. And many more people in that poll say they would vote for a gay candidate for president than the number of people who would vote for a socialist candidate for president. Nothing says ‘outsider’ in American politics more strongly than the word at the bottom of that poll: socialist.”

Watch: Bernie Sanders: The ‘outsider’ approach


Related:
NH primary: Trump Wins, Hillary ‘Feels the Bern’
In Iowa Trump Defeated, Hillary Wins
Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits A Potential White House Run (NY Times)

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New Hampshire Primary: Trump Wins, Hillary ‘Feels the Bern’

Vermont senator Sanders routed Hillary Clinton by 60-38 percent margin; Trump collected 35 percent of Republican vote, more than double that of his nearest challenger, Ohio Governor John Kasich. (AP Photo)

VOA News

By William Gallo

Last updated on: February 10, 2016

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders and outspoken billionaire Donald Trump have won their respective New Hampshire primary contests, securing their first U.S. presidential primary election victories.

With more than 85 percent of polling places reporting, Sanders had 60 percent of the Democratic vote compared to 38 percent for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Trump had a similar margin for the Republicans as he grabbed 35 percent to win among a much more crowded field.

In another closely watched battle, Ohio Governor John Kasich finished second in the GOP race with 16 percent.

The results were in line with recent opinion polls, which showed the Vermont Senator Sanders and the New York billionaire Trump with comfortable, double digit leads over their rivals in the northeastern state.

Candidates react

“We are going to make America great again,” a triumphant Trump told supporters during a victory speech. “But we’re going to do it the old fashioned way. We are going to start winning again, and we are going to win so much, you are going to be so happy,” Trump added.

The quick victory for Sanders was in stark contrast to last week’s first nominating contest in Iowa, which ended in a virtual tie between him and Clinton.

Smiling broadly and laughing, Sanders stayed on message, focusing on economic inequality in his post-win speech to a cheering crowd.

“Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California. And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their Super PACs (independent campaign committees),” Sanders said.

Video: Remarks from Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and John Kasich

Clinton, appearing alongside her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was upbeat and confident as she conceded defeat.

“Here’s what we’re going to do. We take this campaign to the entire country; we fight for every vote in every state; we are going to fight for real solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Watch: Manchester, New Hampshire voters speak out.

Results

It is still unclear just how big of a lead Sanders and Trump will earn.

Meanwhile, the soft-spoken Kasich, whose campaign has focused on issues rather than personal attacks, put nearly all his resources into doing well in New Hampshire.

“Maybe, just maybe, we are turning the page on a dark part of American politics, because tonight the light overcame the darkness of negative campaigning,” Kasich said after the vote during what felt like a victory speech.

Second-tier candidates

Bunched up a few percentage points behind Kasich were Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. They each got about 11 percent of the vote.

It is not clear whether the result will further narrow the Republican field. But many analysts now say that Trump appears to be the consensus GOP frontrunner.

“When you consider all the negative comments that are made about him, all the attacks. If he can survive it, and beat all these guys by 10 points or more, then he’s clearly the frontrunner,” conservative pollster Frank Luntz told VOA.

There had been questions about whether Trump’s frenzied wave of support, which showed up in opinion polls and at massive rallies, would translate into votes.


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacts as former President Bill Clinton smiles at her New Hampshire presidential primary campaign rally in Hooksett, New Hampshire, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP photo)

Voters chime in

But on Tuesday, New Hampshire voters seem to have answered that question, for now.

“I voted for Donald Trump because the economy is so bad, and I think he could probably be the best man to help,” said Roberta Latour from Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Voters across the state braved snowy conditions and waited in long lines at polling stations, turning out in what was expected to be record numbers.

Oscar Villacis is a Clinton supporter from Nashua. “My heart was telling me Bernie Sanders, but my mind was telling me Clinton,” he said.

The campaign now heads to South Carolina, where both Clinton and Trump have substantial leads.


Donald Trump eats breakfast at the Airport Diner in Manchester, NH on the morning of the primary, Feb. 6, 2016. (Photo: K. Gypson/VOA)


Related:
In Iowa Trump Defeated, Hillary Wins
Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits A Potential White House Run (NY Times)

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Mulatu Astatke’s Rousing Borderless Jazz

Mulatu Astatke’s exuberant blend of the best in African and western-themed improvisation is a finely balanced craft. (Photo: Mulatu Astatke at the Roundhouse, London. Photograph: Edu Hawkins/Redferns)

The Guardian

By John Fordham

Nobody fuses the sounds and rhythms of African, American and European music the way Mulatu Astatke does. The Ethiopian multi-instrumentalist balances a songwriter’s seductiveness with a borderless vision and a relaxed faith in left-field improvisers. Much of this Roundhouse gig sounded off the cuff, but the trim, smiling, white-clad 72-year-old at the centre was always tweaking the overview with the lightest of touches on the helm.

Early in the show, Astatke’s Dewel was soon showcasing his talent for rousing free-collective improv exchanges from insistently riffy, bitter-sweet anthems, and rhythmic underpinnings that sometimes float and sometimes throb. Saxophonist James Arben’s blurted free-jazz tenor break, Byron Wallen’s warm flugelhorn sound, the abrupt punctuation of Alex Hawkins’s piano chording, and the combined percussion of the loose-limbed Tom Skinner, the talking-drums of Richard Olatunde Baker and Astatke himself on congas took the piece through constant changes.

Yekermo Sew (a simmering Astatke twister from Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers that sounds like a Latin-jazz theme with a raft of extra bars in it) spurred a shapely vibraphone solo from its creator. Urgent, barking riffs, John Edwards’s volcanic basslines and the drummers’ churning polyrhythms brought a kind of dark, Bitches Brew-like ecstasy to the set. Two female dancers whirled on, shimmied and shuddered amid the slamming riffs, and vanished to roars. The tenderness of Astatke’s Motherland was cherished by the classical poise of Danny Keane’s cello, the spirited London rapper Afrikan Boy clattered out fast-moving monologues against Edwards’s wild bass rejoinders, and the leader’s ruminative closing piano solo became the kind of glowing melody of rich brass sounds, lateral sax prods and deft resolutions to lazily curving themes that typified a truly memorable show.

Read more at The Guardian »


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In Iowa Trump Defeated, Hillary Wins

Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz of Texas beat Donald J. Trump in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP Photo)

VOA News

By William Gallo

Updated on: February 02, 2016

DES MOINES, IOWA — Senator Ted Cruz defeated billionaire Donald Trump in Iowa’s Republican caucus Monday, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton barely edged Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic contest.

Cruz, a conservative lawmaker from Texas, finished with 28 percent of the vote. That is 3½ percentage points better than Trump, the national front-runner.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio finished with 23 percent, making him easily the leader among establishment Republican candidates.

On the Democratic side, Clinton and Sanders were in a virtual tie until the former Secretary of State was declared the winner Tuesday.

Voter sentiment

The results provided the first concrete look at voter sentiment, after a year of fierce campaigning and endless speculation.


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by former President Bill Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea Clinton, arrives at her caucus night rally at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP photo)


Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and his wife, Jane, acknowledge the crowd as he arrives for his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP photo)

After the results were announced, each candidate tried to spin the outcome in their favor.

Cruz, who came away as the night’s clear winner, sounded upbeat as he gave a victory speech in Des Moines.

“Let me first of all say, to God be the glory,” Cruz said to loud cheers. “Tonight, is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation.”

Subdued

Trump appeared more subdued, even while assuring his supporters he was “so happy with the way everything worked out.”


Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks as his wife, Melania, watches at his caucus night rally in West Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP photo)

“We will go on to get the Republican nomination. And we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie or whoever the hell they throw up there,” Trump said.

Rubio had his own reason to be optimistic after a better than expected third-place finish.

For months they told us we had no chance,” Rubio said. “But tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a great message.”

Democrats

In her post-caucus speech, Clinton seemed to acknowledge there is a tough fight ahead with Sanders, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist who has outflanked her to the left on many issues.

“It is rare that we have the opportunity we do now to have a real contest of ideas,” she said. “I am excited about getting into a debate with Senator Sanders about the best way forward for America.”

For his part, Sanders sounded triumphant, as he pumped his fist in the air at a rally in the capital.

“Nine months ago, we came to this beautiful state, we had no political organization, we had no money, we had no name recognition,” he said.

“We were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America. And tonight, while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie,” Sanders added.

Watch: Iowa Caucuses Set Stage for New Hampshire Primary

Iowa momentum

Iowa’s first-in-the-nation vote is seen as a crucial way for candidates to gain momentum in the U.S. primary election, which will continue to be held state-by-state until mid-June.

The goal is for candidates to win their party’s nomination by securing a majority of delegates, or party representatives, which are handed out based on the result of each state vote.

In Iowa, those delegates are rewarded proportionally rather than on a winner-takes-all basis.

And while Iowa rewards a relatively small number of delegates, the outcome is expected to create crucial narratives that will have a major impact on the race.

In Iowa, those delegates are rewarded proportionally rather than on a winner-takes-all basis.

That meant it was much less likely a clear winner would emerge from Iowa, said Arthur Sanders, a professor of politics at Drake University in Des Moines.

“When you have so many people running, for there to be a simple storyline is more complicated than it is when you only have three people running,” Sanders told VOA.

Next up: New Hampshire

The primary race now heads to New Hampshire, which will vote on February 9. That election will take place with a reduced field of presidential hopefuls.

As the Iowa results were released, GOP contender Mike Huckabee announced on Twitter he is suspending his campaign. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is also dropping his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Kathryn Gypson and Kane Farabaugh contributed to this report.


Related:
Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits A Potential White House Run (NY Times)

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US Pledges $97M to Fight Ethiopia Drought

The $97 million from USAID will include some 176,000 metric tons of food to be distributed to 4 million people. Since October 2014, the U.S. has given $532 million in humanitarian aid to Ethiopia. (Photo: UN)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Paul Schemm | AP

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The U.S. has boosted its emergency food aid to Ethiopia by nearly $100 million to combat one of the worst droughts in decades, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced Sunday.

The aid is urgently needed to head off a humanitarian disaster brought on by the El Nino climate phenomenon that has affected seasonal rains, said USAID administrator Gayle Smith.

“The funding for this is not where it needs to be and we are up against very tight timelines,” she said at a briefing during the annual African Union summit. “This is the worst El Nino in history and it has affected the African continent in particular, most dramatically in Ethiopia where 11 million people have been affected.”

The El Nino warming over the Pacific Ocean has been particularly severe this year with spring and summer rains failing in Ethiopia and causing crops to fail and killing livestock.

The $97 million from USAID will include some 176,000 metric tons of food to be distributed to 4 million people. Since October 2014, the U.S. has given $532 million in humanitarian aid to Ethiopia.

The U.N. has issued an international appeal for $1.4 billion in emergency funding for Ethiopia, of which less than half has been met by donors.

Read more »


Related:
Afar Region, Hardest-Hit by El Nino (AP)
How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia?
Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas (AP)
Thirty years of talking about famine in Ethiopia – why’s nothing changed? (BBC)
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

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Afar Region, Hardest-Hit by El Nino (AP)

In this photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, Mayrem Humeyisu talks about food supply in her neighborhood in a rural village Dubti Woreda, Afar, Ethiopia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Drought threatens malnourished children in Ethiopia

DUBTI, Ethiopia — Morbid thoughts linger on people’s minds here. The crops have failed and farm animals have been dying amid severe drought that has left Ethiopia appealing for international help to feed its people.

On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is set to visit some drought stricken locations in Ethiopia as the government and its humanitarian partners seek additional financial support.

Here, in the Dubti area of Ethiopia’s Afar region, one of the hardest-hit regions, the river that runs through is slowly drying up, leaving this normally hot and arid land even worse off. Some worry that children may start dying next.

“My child is severely malnourished to the point that he could no more do breast feeding,” said Fatuma Hussein, a 30-year-old mother who has spent two months at a local clinic trying to get her child treated for malnutrition. Health officials said her child’s condition was serious because the mother had no food left at home and had been sharing the enriched food provided to her weak son with her older children.

“They are asking me to stay at the clinic until my son’s condition improves. But I couldn’t. If I stay here, the rest of my children will die. If Allah choses to take his life then let it be,” she said.

The Ethiopian government and aid agencies say El Nino conditions triggered drought in Ethiopia that has left more than 10 million people food insecure, and it is estimated that there will be at least 400,000 cases of severe malnutrition among children under age 5 in the country soon. Only a third of the $1.2 billion needed for emergency food assistance in the country has been raised.

Read more »


Related:
How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia?
Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas (AP)
Thirty years of talking about famine in Ethiopia – why’s nothing changed? (BBC)
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bloomberg Considering White House Run

Michael R. Bloomberg at City Hall in New York in 2013 on the day before his last day as mayor. Mr. Bloomberg is considering a third-party run for the White House. (Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times)

The New York Times

By ALEXANDER BURNS and MAGGIE HABERMAN

Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits A Potential White House Run

Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has in the past contemplated running for the White House on a third-party ticket, but always concluded he could not win. A confluence of unlikely events in the 2016 election, however, has given new impetus to his presidential aspirations.

Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

Read more at The New York Times »


Related:
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Battle for Future of Democratic Party
In Iowa, Donald Trump tries out some old-fashioned campaigning — Spends Night in a Motel

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Women of Africa: Swimwear by Yodit (BBC)

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

BBC News

With 26,000km (16,155 miles) of coastline, Africa is a surfer’s dream. Ethiopian-American entrepreneur Yodit Eklund is hoping to tap into this burgeoning beach culture with her home-grown swimwear brand Bantu Wax.

Ms Eklund founded the company in 2009, and the label went on to gain international attention – with a place on the shelves of Barneys New York, Opening Ceremony and J Crew, and in the pages of renowned fashion magazine Vogue.

But the African market remains the 30-year-old’s main focus, and the company has just opened new stores in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, and surfing hotspot Cape Town in South Africa. A new branch in Morocco is planned for later this year.

All Bantu Wax’s colourful clothing is made on the continent too, its designs inspired by traditional African wax prints.

Women of Africa is a BBC season recognising inspiring women across the continent.

Watch the video at BBC.com »


Related:
NY Times: Summer Fashion Highlights — African Beach Wear ‘Bantu’ by Yodit Eklund

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Human Rights Watch: Government Backs Down, But Will Protests End in Ethiopia?

Student protesters in Oromia state, Ethiopia, December 2015. (HRW)

Human Rights Watch

By Felix Horne
Researcher, Horn of Africa

JANUARY 15, 2016

Nine weeks after bloody protests broke out in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, the government has made a major concession to the protestors – halting a plan to expand the municipal boundary of Addis Ababa, the issue that sparked the crisis.

The announcement January 12 by the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), the ruling party’s local affiliate in Oromia region, is a rare concession from the government and a hard fought victory for protesters. But it may be too late to calm Oromia.

Initially the protesters said they feared the expansion of Addis Ababa would result in forced displacement of Oromo farmers without adequate compensation. But as security forces responded to the protests with mass arrests, use of live ammunition, and other brutality, the protests have become about so much more. While there have been some violent incidents, most of the protests have reportedly been peaceful. But the government’s heavy handed approach has shifted the focus of the protests towards the brutal crackdown and inflamed historical grievances against the government.

Despite the announcement, the security forces don’t seem to have changed their approach. The daily reports of killings by security forces and mass arrests continue, particularly of university students.

Many protesters say they are skeptical that the government will follow through and halt the plan. But with or without the plan, the displacement of farmers is likely to continue as it has in many parts of Ethiopia, unless the government fundamentally changes its approach to development. Until the government involves communities as meaningful partners in development, respecting their land and other rights, rather than just an obstacle to be removed, protest movements like this are likely to continue to flare up.

In the short term, if the government wants to calm the situation it should start by releasing those arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned. It should commit to establishing a credible, independent investigation into the killings and other violations that have taken place. And last but not least, it needs to listen to and begin to address the longer list of rights violations against Oromo that have fueled these tragic protests.


Related:
Ethiopia confronts its worst ethnic violence in years (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia halts regional plan after Protests (The New York Times)
The United States Calls for Meaningful Dialogue About Oromo Community Concerns
The Washington Post Editorial on Deadly Crackdown in Ethiopia Land Dispute
140 Dead In Ethiopia Land Dispute: The Problem With Government Ownership Of Land (Forbes)
Residents in Addis Ababa Worried at Ongoing Protests and Deadly Crackdown (RFI)
White House: US Wants Journalists Detained in Ethiopia Set Free (VOA)
US urges Ethiopia to free jailed journalists (Daily Mail)
White House says concerned by arrest of journalists in Ethiopia (Reuters)
In Ethiopia a Second Journalist is Arrested in a Week, Zone 9 Bloggers Summoned (BSN)
Professor Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests in Ethiopia
Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Addis Ababa Master Plan Canceled

Protesters blocked a road in Wolenkomi, Ethiopia, in December. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By JACEY FORTIN

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian government has canceled a widely promoted plan to integrate the capital, Addis Ababa, with the surrounding region after it touched off protests and violence that has killed scores of people since late last year.

Opposition activists belonging to the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, called the plan unfair because it threatened the sovereignty of their communities in the Oromia region on the edges of the capital.

The so-called master plan was abandoned after the Oromo branch of the governing coalition decided to withdraw its support, according to Getachew Reda, a government spokesman. He added that he did not expect violence to decrease, claiming that the protests have been hijacked by antigovernment elements.

“This is not an attempt to pander to some violent people,” Mr. Getachew said Wednesday. “This is a decision by the ruling party in Oromia, which believes in heeding the call of the people.”

But Merera Gudina, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, expressed suspicion as to whether or not the plan would be scrapped for good. “They say they stopped it, but it could be temporarily,” he said.

The estimated death toll of at least 140, he said, was still rising.

Read more at The New York Times »


Ethiopia confronts its worst ethnic violence in years (The Washington Post)


Women mourn at the funeral for Dinka Chala, a schoolteacher who family members said was shot to death by military forces during a protest in Holonkomi, in the Oromo region of Ethi­o­pia. (Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Washington Post

By Paul Schemm

January 14th, 2016

WENCHI, Ethi­o­pia — The cows are back in the valley near the village of Wenchi in Ethiopia’s highlands, after being driven out five years ago by the arrival of a Dutch agricultural company.

They returned in the past few weeks, after villagers burned the warehouses filled with seed potatoes that were to be planted on communal grazing lands that authorities had turned over to the Solagrow PLC company.

This attack is among dozens of demonstrations taking place for the past two months across Ethiopia’s Oromo state, which comprises a third of the country.

Protesters from the Oromo ethnic group say the government is trying to take away their lands and use them for everything from industrial development to luxury housing projects.

The response has been harsh, with Human Rights Watch estimating that 140 people have been killed by security forces using live rounds to quell the protests. The demonstrations are threatening Ethiopia’s goal of transforming itself into a new industrial and agribusiness powerhouse for the continent and harming its reputation for stability.

The violence has also earned Ethiopia a rare rebuke from the U.S. government, which considers it a key ally in the fight against terrorism.

“We were protesting peacefully and marching around the town when we heard about the deaths in the other villages, and so we became angry and attacked the farm,” said 27-year-old Drabuma Terrafa, standing near the charred remnants of a Solagrow potato warehouse.

Ethiopia’s federal police and army counterterrorism units have poured into the state. In more than a dozen interviews, people described arbitrary arrests, beatings and killings by security forces.

“I think the strategy is to terrorize people by shooting them point blank,” said Merera Gudina, the chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress party.

Read more at The Washington Post »


Related:
The United States Calls for Meaningful Dialogue About Oromo Community Concerns
The Washington Post Editorial on Deadly Crackdown in Ethiopia Land Dispute
140 Dead In Ethiopia Land Dispute: The Problem With Government Ownership Of Land (Forbes)
Residents in Addis Ababa Worried at Ongoing Protests and Deadly Crackdown (RFI)
White House: US Wants Journalists Detained in Ethiopia Set Free (VOA)
US urges Ethiopia to free jailed journalists (Daily Mail)
White House says concerned by arrest of journalists in Ethiopia (Reuters)
In Ethiopia a Second Journalist is Arrested in a Week, Zone 9 Bloggers Summoned (BSN)
Professor Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests in Ethiopia
Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Obama’s Final State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama gives his last State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016. (Photograph: The Associated Press)

VOA News

By William Gallo

January 13, 2016

Obama Focuses on Future, Slams GOP Rivals, at State of the Union Address

In his seventh and final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted his accomplishments and focused on his vision for the future, in an optimistic speech that attempted to define his legacy as he enters his final year in office.

Addressing a packed House of Representatives chamber Tuesday in the U.S. Capitol, Obama appeared relaxed and his tone was largely positive as he focused on the need to heal the country’s deep political divides.

But the president also took several swipes at his critics, on several occasions offering indirect but harsh criticisms of the Republican rivals who are vying to replace him as president in the ongoing 2016 election campaign.

In particular, Obama slammed “politics that targets people because of race or religion,” a statement seen as a criticism of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, the blunt-talking billionaire who wants a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.

“When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong,” he said. “It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.”

Watch highlights of the address:

Economy

Obama also hit out at his domestic opponents on economic issues, saying “anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

“The United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world,” Obama said. He pointed to more than 14 million new jobs, an unemployment rate cut in half, and growing automobile and manufacturing industries.

“Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either,” he said, to applause.


Smoke believed to be from an airstrike billows over the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, Nov. 12, 2015. (AP)

Foreign policy

On foreign policy, Obama acknowledged the threat posed by terrorist groups, including Islamic State, which has carried out a series of high-profile attacks around the globe.

But he cautioned that Islamist terrorists are not an existential concern, warning against those who say the world is sinking into “World War III.”

“Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped,” he said. “But they do not threaten our national existence.”

Obama also vowed to continue the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a campaign many have criticized as being too weak and indecisive.

“If you doubt America’s commitment – or mine – to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden,” he said, referring to the late head of al-Qaida killed by a U.S. special forces operation in Pakistan in 2011.

“When you come after Americans, we will go after you,” Obama said. “It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.”

Obama also cited other foreign policy accomplishments, including stopping the spread of Ebola in West Africa, forging the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, restarting diplomatic relations with Cuba, and sealing the Iran nuclear deal.

More work needed

But more work needs to be done, the president said.

Specifically, he renewed his vow to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. “It’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies,” he said.

Obama also called on fellow lawmakers to join him in efforts to combat global warming, an issue he said was crucial to protecting national security.

“If anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it,” he said. “You’ll be pretty lonely.”

“Because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it,” he said.


U.S. President Barack Obama (L) tours the Kotzebue Shore Avenue Project, an effort to protect against rising sea levels in Kotzebue, Alaska Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

No mention of Iran dispute

Obama’s speech did not mention Tuesday’s incident in which 10 U.S. sailors were detained by Iran, after apparently straying into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.

Other U.S. officials have attempted to play down the incident, saying Iran has agreed to “promptly” release the sailors.

The incident threatened to become an awkward distraction for Obama, coming hours before the address during which he was to present his Iran policy as a major achievement.

Partisan divide ‘has gotten worse’

The president’s speech was introspective, and at times even apologetic. One of Obama’s biggest regrets, he said, is that he failed to fulfill his campaign promises to help heal the country’s massive political divide.

“The rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he lamented.

Obama acknowledged that the expectations are low for his final year in office, but vowed he will not stop working to achieve his policy goals.

“Fixing a broken immigration system, protecting our kids from gun violence, equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage – all these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done,” he said.


Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan listen as President Obama gives his State of the Union address, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP photo)

GOP response

The Republican response to Obama’s speech was delivered by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who has been rumored as a possible vice presidential choice for the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

Governor Haley accused the president of not living up to his “soaring words.”

“As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We’re feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities,” Haley said.

“Even worse, we are facing the most dangerous terrorist threat our nation has seen since September 11th, and this president appears either unwilling or unable to deal with it. Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction. That direction is what I want to talk about tonight,” she added.


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The Gambella Farmer Who Took on UK

Employees of Saudi Star rice farm work in a paddy in Gambella, Ethiopia. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)

The Guardian

By Ben Rawlence

Tuesday 12 January 2016

One day in late 2010, a farmer – I will call him Opik – woke up in his village in the remote Ethiopian province of Gambella. In this lush lowland area of savanna bordering South Sudan, the semi-nomadic Anuak people have lived for centuries, cultivating sorghum and maize, swimming in the river and gathering nuts, berries and fruits from the trees and wild honey from the forest. “It was paradise,” Opik recalled.

The Anuak have an intimate relationship with their landscape. Their highest traditional authority is a spiritual leader called the wat-ngomi, who must sanction any human intervention in nature. Some trees are deemed sacred and cannot be cut down. Spirits live in certain sites and even the boundaries of their territory are inscribed with religious meaning. Everyone knows where the land of one community ends and that of another begins. This intimacy is reflected in their language: “How are you?” in the Anuak language is piny bede nidi, which literally translates as “how is the earth?” The reply is piny ber jak (“the earth is fine”) or piny rac (“the earth is bad”).

That morning, the earth was bad. Officials from the regional government in Gambella, accompanied by soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) had come to tell Opik and the other inhabitants of the village to leave. It was not the first time they had come. Earlier in the year there had been several meetings. The government had arrived with police and militias and informed the residents that they were to be moved to a new location. There was a national plan called “villagisation” and Gambella was in the first phase.

The officials had explained that the purpose of the relocations was to cluster communities together in places where the government promised to provide a new school, a clinic, a borehole and a grinding mill. In time, the new settlements would be better-connected to the rest of the country via new roads, they said. The officials also promised to provide a grader to clear the land at the new site and make it ready for planting.

Read more at The Guardian »


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Insider’s Guide to Shopping in Addis (CNN)

Hamere Eleni Demissie is the founder of Actuel Urban Living which makes contemporary furniture in Ethiopia.

CNN

BY Eliza Anyangwe

January 12, 2016

With the headquarters of the African Union located in Ethiopia’s capital city, as well as an award-winning airline and a rapidly-growing economy, Addis Ababa is increasingly recognized as a political and economic hub in Africa.

Now, with its rich cultural and artistic heritage, a new generation of Ethiopians are trying to put Addis on the world’s retail map.

Luxury brands and boutiques

Abai Schulze is one of these entrepreneurs. Her brand, Zaaf, sells a delectable range of handmade leather handbags and accessories. With an online store and stockists in Europe and the US, it’s hard to believe that the business was started just over two years ago, or that Schulze — who is 27– grew up in an orphanage.

Born in remote Gishen in northeastern Ethiopia, Schulze’s life took a very different turn when she was adopted by an American family at age 11. That hard start would give her the desire to make change happen in her native Ethiopia. “I grew up in Texas but always had the desire to come back and start a business,” Schulze says. “I knew I wanted to be in the creative space and create jobs in Ethiopia so Zaaf was a combination of passion and opportunity.”

Today, Zaaf which means tree in Amharic, employs 17 people — 10 of which are artisans — but the team often swells to many times its size. “We outsource when we have large orders,” Schulze explains.


Abai Shculze, founder of Ethiopian accessories brand Zaaf (Photo: CNN)


Amelsa Yazew, (L) founder of baby boutique Little Gabies poses with Tensae who works in the shop. (CNN)

Read more and view photos at CNN.com »


Related:
Meet Abai Schulze: Owner of Zaaf Collection, a Luxury Handbag Brand from Ethiopia (TADIAS)

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Ethiopia Skate Photo Journal

The following article is written by Metasebia Yoseph, Founder of Design Week Addis Ababa, for NATAAL.com. (Photos: Rudi Geyser)

NATAAL

Photography Rudi Geyser
Words by Metasebia Yoseph

The skateboarding crew inspiring the country’s youth to conquer Addis Ababa’s streets

Ethiopia Skate is one of the key organisations responsible for bolstering this fresh scene taking hold of the country’s youth. Although primarily based in Addis Ababa, on an open pocket of concrete originally intended as parking for taxicabs in the Old Airport Sar Bet area, the group also activates skate spots around Ethiopia. Since its inception in 2014, Ethiopia Skate has worked to provide access to skateboarding equipment and spaces where members from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds can “just skate.” Like Nike’s iconic motto, this minimalist ethos fuels their urban conquests. With each new push, kickflip and ollie, founders and skateboarding enthusiasts Addisu Hailemichael, Sean Stromsoe, and Abenezer Temesgen, hope to build not only confidence and creativity within their followers, but also a deep sense of community.

Read the full article and view the photos at NATAAL.com »


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Ethiopia’s Ongoing Protests & Crackdown

(Photo: Radio France International)

RFI

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

At least 150 people have been killed in an ongoing deadly crackdown against protests in Ethiopia, according to rights activists and opposition groups. Demonstrators in the Oromia region have been protesting for the past six weeks against the government’s plans to extend the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa.

“I am worried,” says Eyasped Tesfaye, a member of the opposition Blue Party, saying it is taboo to talk about the reported 150 people allegedly killed by Ethiopian security forces in the capital. “The people in the Oromia region are under martial law,” he adds.

Tesfaye is referring to the ongoing protests that have been attributed to Qeerroo, the national youth movement for freedom and democracy, which is protesting against the alleged land-grabbing underway around Addis Ababa.

Oromia, the largest region in Ethiopia with some 27 million people, includes the capital.

Although the government has imposed a near total media blackout in the capital, including confiscating satellite dishes, those protesting have been able to send videos, photos and messages to the diaspora about the alleged brutality. Many of the photos show Ethiopians with their hands raised, their wrists crossed, a sign which has become a symbol of the protests.

Read more at Radio France International (RFI) English »


Related:
White House: US Wants Journalists Detained in Ethiopia Set Free (VOA)
US urges Ethiopia to free jailed journalists (Daily Mail)
White House says concerned by arrest of journalists in Ethiopia (Reuters)
In Ethiopia a Second Journalist is Arrested in a Week, Zone 9 Bloggers Summoned (BSN)
Professor Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests in Ethiopia
Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: What If People Were Really Free?

(Photo: Reuters)

The Economist | From the print edition

Ethiopia is poised to take off. But to fly, the government must set the people free

ADDIS ABABA AND LALIBELA — THE Ben Abeba restaurant is a spiral-shaped concrete confection perched on a mountain ridge near Lalibela, an Ethiopian town known for its labyrinth of 12th-century churches hewn out of solid rock. The view is breathtaking: as the sun goes down, a spur of the Great Rift Valley stretches out seemingly miles below in subtly changing hues of green and brown, rolling away, fold after fold, as far as the eye can see. An immense lammergeyer, or bearded vulture, floats past, showing off its russet trousers.

The staff, chivvied jovially along by an intrepid retired Scottish schoolmarm who created the restaurant a few years ago with an Ethiopian business partner, wrap yellow and white shawls around the guests against the sudden evening chill. The most popular dish is a spicy Ethiopian version of that old British staple, shepherd’s pie, with minced goat’s meat sometimes replacing lamb. Ben Abeba, whose name is a fusion of Scots and Amharic, Ethiopia’s main language, is widely considered the best eatery in the highlands surrounding Lalibela, nearly 700km (435 miles) north of Addis Ababa, the capital, by bumpy road.

Yet the obstacles faced by its owners illustrate what go-ahead locals and foreign investors must overcome if Ethiopia is to take off. Electricity is sporadic. Refrigeration is ropey, so fish is off the menu. So are butter and cheese; Susan Aitchison, the restaurant’s resilient co-owner, won’t use the local milk, as it is unpasteurised. Honey, mangoes, guava, papaya and avocados, grown on farmland leased to the enterprising pair, who have planted 30,000 trees, are delicious. All land belongs to the state, so it cannot be used as collateral for borrowing, which is one reason why commercial farming has yet to reach Lalibela. Consequently supplies of culinary basics are spotty. Local chickens are too scrawny. The government will not yet allow retailers such as South Africa’s Shoprite or Kenya’s Nakumatt to set up in Ethiopia, let alone in Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Read more at The Economist »


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US Stops Flying Drones From Ethiopia

The U.S. Air Force has ended flying armed drones on counterterrorism missions from its remote base in Arba Minch, Ethi­o­pia, a U.S. Embassy official in Addis Ababa told the Associated Press. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Associated Press

By Elias Meseret

The U.S. government has shut down its drone operation base in southern Ethiopia, an embassy official announced.

A decision has been reached that the base in Arba Minch, 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Addis Ababa, is no longer necessary, embassy spokesman David Kennedy told The Associated Press by email.

“U.S. military personnel are no longer in Arba Minch,” Kennedy said. “In our ongoing bilateral discussions on defense cooperation, we reached a mutual decision that our presence in Arba Minch is not required at this time.”

Read more »


Related:
White House Confirms Existence of U.S. Military Drones in Ethiopia

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White House: US Wants Journalists Detained in Ethiopia Set Free

The White House on Wednesday voiced concern about the arrest of journalists in Ethiopia and urged that country's government to release people imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression - Reuters.

VOA News

The United States has urged Ethiopia to free all journalists detained by the state and stop using its controversial anti-terror law to silence dissent.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday the U.S. is “deeply concerned by the recent arrests of other journalists in Ethiopia.” He urged “the Ethiopian government to release journalists and all others imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression.”

In October, Washington welcomed the release of a group of dissident bloggers and journalists, but on Wednesday the White House warned Ethiopia against new arrests.

Price said Washington “has consistently applauded Ethiopia for being a model and a voice for development in Africa.” But he cautioned Addis Ababa that “such gains must rest on a foundation of democratic governance and respect for human rights if they are to be sustainable.”

Price did not name the reporters the United States is concerned about, but he spoke amid a harsh Ethiopian crackdown on dissent.

On Saturday, Human Rights Watch reported that Ethiopian security forces had killed at least 75 demonstrators during weeks of regional anti-government protests.


Related:
US urges Ethiopia to free jailed journalists (Daily Mail)
White House says concerned by arrest of journalists in Ethiopia (Reuters)
In Ethiopia a Second Journalist is Arrested in a Week, Zone 9 Bloggers Summoned (BSN)
Professor Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests in Ethiopia
Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan

President of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum Beyene Petros during press conference in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopian government forces have killed more than 80 people in the past four weeks in protests in the country’s Oromia region, an Ethiopian opposition party charged Wednesday.

“Trigger-happy government forces have killed more than 80 peaceful protesters in Ethiopia during the past four weeks,” Beyene Petros, president of the party told reporters, adding that hundreds of others were wounded and arrested. “We are still discovering disfigured bodies in various locations. The government has continued its brutal killings so we call on the international community and donors to step in and force the government to stop these inhumane actions.”

Party officials provided names of the alleged victims to The Associated Press.

The government has rejected, for the second time, the opposition party’s request to hold a public demonstration on Dec. 27 to protest the controversial Addis Ababa Master Plan, the opposition leader said.

The opposition party’s charge comes after a report last week by Human Rights Watch that said government forces killed at least 75 people protesting the government plan to incorporate some rural areas into the capital city, Addis Ababa.

An Ethiopian opposition party said more than 80 people have been killed by government forces during massive protests in the past four weeks in the country’s Oromia region, the biggest of the country’s federal states. The Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum, a coalition of four opposition parties, has blamed the government on Sunday for the killings and has called for a criminal investigation.

Read more »


Related:

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

News Anchor Arrested After TV Station Covers Ethiopia Protests (CPJ)

In Wolenkomi, Ethiopia some 60km west of Addis Ababa on December 15, 2015 after protesters were shot dead by security forces (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

CPJ

December 22, 2015

Nairobi -The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in Ethiopia to release news anchor Fikadu Mirkana. Fikadu, who works for the state-run broadcaster Oromia Radio and TV, was arrested at his Addis Ababa home on Saturday morning, according to news reports.

CPJ could not determine the reason for Fikadu’s arrest. It comes as Oromia Radio and TV has, in recent weeks, covered protests against a plan to expand the Ethiopian capital, in a move that campaigners say would displace hundreds of thousands of farmers, according to news reports. Dozens of protesters have been killed during clashes with police during the unrest in the regional state of Oromia, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

“Journalists have a vital role to play in ensuring the flow of information, both from the Ethiopian government and also, critically, from those who will be affected by its decisions,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine in New York. “We call on authorities to release Fikadu Mirkana immediately.”

It is not clear where Fikadu is being held and neither his family nor his lawyers have been allowed access to him, an Addis Ababa-based journalist, who has spoken with Fikadu’s family and who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, told CPJ.

The Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for details about Fikadu’s arrest.

Read more at CPJ.org »


Related:

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)

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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias to Launch Mobile App

(Image: Tadias logo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Tadias Magazine is proud to announce the upcoming launch of our mobile app in early 2016, which allows our audience to access original Tadias content in audio format. Through the Tadias Audio App you will be able to access interviews, highlights of arts, business and sports-related news, event announcements, as well as breaking news from major international news outlets. Our new audio app provides radio-like experience to our audience as well as make our content more accessible and in line with universal design principles.

In the meantime, you can listen to a few clips on-air by calling 605.475.4444 or on Soundcloud.


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2016 Grammy Awards: The Weeknd

Abel Tesfaye (the Weeknd) performs on NBC's "Today" show on May 7, 2015, in New York. (AP photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) is one of top three music stars who has been nominated in multiple categories for the 2016 Grammy Awards.

The Ethiopian-Canadian artist received seven nominations including the categories of Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance.

The Los Angeles Times reports: “This all comes from artists today who are emboldened, who are fearless and who are not willing, or wanting to be, sort of put in a nice little box with a bow on it,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told The Times. “Artists today have the ability to be exposed to multiple kinds of genres in music, and we’ll give credit to the world of technology we live in that gives easy access to whatever direction you want to head in.”

“With more than 400 nominations across 83 categories for 2016, there is plenty more recognition spread out among the music community” says the LA Times.

Last month The Weeknd won the 2015 American Music Awards for favorite album in Soul and R&B.

The 2016 Grammy Awards ceremony will be held on Monday, February 15, 2016 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. ‘


Related:
The Weeknd First Winner at 2015 American Music Awards
The Unstoppable Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd): Rebel with Harmony
The Weeknd Interview: Abel Says Grew Up Listening to Aster Aweke & Mulatu Astatke
The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) to Guest Star in TV’s Hottest Hip-Hop Drama ‘Empire’
Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World? (NY Times)
Inspired by Michael Jackson, The Weeknd Goes from Rebellious Songwriter to Chorus Lover
The reclusive artist talks ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ (Radio.com)

With dark tales of sex and drugs, is the Weeknd the next face of R&B? (The Guardian)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: Drought Conditions Worsening

This soil moisture map by Gro-Intelligence shows that the ground is getting drier in many parts of Ethiopia.

VOA News

By Anita Powell

JOHANNESBURG — Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in 50 years. Save the Children has launched an urgent call for food aid but says that is only a temporary fix and world leaders meeting in Paris must act on climate change.

Ethiopia’s government says a staggering 10.1 million people will face critical food shortages in 2016 — and that more than half of those are children. Adding to that, an estimated 400,000 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition — a condition that can lead to stunting and physical and mental problems.

John Graham, Save the Children’s Country Director in Ethiopia, says this year’s crisis is the result of a cascade of meteorological dominoes — a severe drought related to the El Nino weather phenomenon ruined two major expected rainfalls this year. As a result, the next harvest is not expected to come until June of next year.

Spoking to VOA News from Addis Ababa, Graham said: “So we’re seeing one thing piling on top of another and it’s really affecting the rural population very badly.”

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that around 80 percent of Ethiopians work in the agriculture sector — and most of those are subsistence farmers who rely on rain-fed farming. That is part of the reason that this nation sees food crises time and time again — farmers lack the means and the knowledge to work around weather challenges.

Save the Children is appealing for about $100 million in donor aid from the international community — but he says this year is the slowest response he’s seen to such a crisis in his 18 years in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government has already committed a record sum — $192 million.

Graham says he also wants to see bigger, more meaningful, change coming from world leaders who are currently meeting in Paris for climate change talks.

“I’d say that we should be spending a lot more effort on adaptation of people who are badly affected by climate change, and helping them to transition to new livelihoods, to be able to cope with the impact of climate change,” he said. “Because so much of the focus doesn’t seem to be on that area at all. It’s on other things that are worthwhile, like making sure that there is a reduction in the carbon emissions and so on. But we should also care about those people, especially the poorest people, who are dramatically impacted by these climate changes, and why aren’t we investing more in helping them to adapt?”

This is one of many questions that climate change negotiators are asking this week. Developing countries are pushing to have funding for them to adapt to climate change included in any binding international agreement that comes out of the Paris summit.


Related:
Science Behind Current Ethiopia Drought & El Niño Explained (Gro-Intel)
Drought Dries Ethiopia Dams (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Seeks Help to Survive Drought (VOA)
How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia? (IRIN NEWS)
Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas (AP)
Thirty years of talking about famine in Ethiopia – why’s nothing changed? (BBC)
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Human Rights Watch: Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia

Federal police clash with student protesters at Haramaya University, Ethiopia, Dec 1, 2015. (Photo: Twitter)

HRW

By Felix Horne

Student protests are spreading throughout Ethiopia’s Oromia region, as people demonstrate against the possibility that Oromo farmers and residents living near the capital, Addis Ababa, could be evicted from their lands without appropriate – or possibly any – compensation. Social media is filled with images of bloodied protesters; there are credible reports of injuries and arrests in a number of towns; and local police have publicly acknowledged that three students have died so far.

The current protests echo the bloody events of April and May 2014, when federal forces fired into groups of largely peaceful Oromo protesters, killing dozens. At least hundreds more students were arrested, and many remain behind bars. Both then and today, the demonstrators are ostensibly protesting the expansion of Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary into the surrounding Oromia region, which protesters fear will displace Oromo farmers from their land. But these protests are about much more: Many Oromos have felt marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments and have often felt unable to voice their concerns over government policies.

Of the student protesters detained in 2014, some have been released. Those I spoke with told me about the torture they endured as part of interrogations. But countless others remain in detention. Some have been charged under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law for their role in the protests; others languish without charge in unknown detention centers and military camps throughout Oromia. This week, five students were convicted of terrorism-related offenses for their role in the protests.

There has been no government investigation into the use of live ammunition and excessive force by security personnel last year.

Ethiopia’s tight restrictions on civil society and media make it difficult to corroborate the current, mounting allegations and the exact details of the ongoing protests emerging from towns like Haramaya, Jarso, Walliso, and Robe. The government may think this strategy of silencing bad news is succeeding. But while the fear of threats and harassment means it is often months before victims and witnesses come forward to reveal what happened in their communities, they eventually do, and the truth will emerge.

The government should ensure that the use of excessive force by its security personnel stops immediately. It should then support an independent and impartial inquiry into the conduct of security forces in the current protests – and last year’s as well. Those responsible for serious abuses should be fairly prosecuted. This would be the best way for the Ethiopian government to show its concern about the deaths and injuries inflicted on the students, that it does not condone the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters, and that those who break the law are appropriately punished.


Related:
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)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

AU to Introduce an African Passport

Stamps in an African passport. (Photo: Jon Rawlinson/Wikimedia)

This Is Africa

By Arthur Chatora

The African Union has said the continent could soon become borderless with the introduction of an African passport as part of the bloc’s 2063 Agenda. So far, two countries – Rwanda and Mauritius are implementing the plan

The African Union has said the free movement of citizens could be improved with the introduction of an African passport as part of its 2063 Agenda for “a continent with seamless borders”.

AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Dr. Aisha Abdullahi said on Sunday that Africa could soon become borderless and the plan for a single African passport is in progress and so far, two countries – Rwanda and Mauritius – have implemented it, Zegabi reported.

“This would also ensure the free movement of people on the continent,”

“Our people will not have to carry a visa to gain access to other African states. There will be free trade of goods” Dr. Abdullahi said at the #Africities summit.

“We have identified flagship projects, for example, [the introduction] of an African passport to ensure that Africans can move freely to every African state,” Dr. Abdullahi reportedly said.

Read more »


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Science Behind Current Ethiopia Drought & El Niño Explained (Gro-Intel)

"Ethiopia’s ongoing drought has been widely reported as simply being the result of a severe El Niño. And while that appears to be partly true, the reality is a bit more complex," says a report by Gro-Intelligence.

Gro-Intelligence

For several months now, Ethiopia has been creeping towards a slow-onset natural disaster. Grain prices have slinked upward, news reports have grown ominous, aid agencies have quietly sounded their internal alarms, and the Ethiopian government has been buying up cereals on the international market.

Now, finally, the severity of the drought has become clear: the United Nations predicts that a staggering 15 million Ethiopians will be in need of food assistance by early 2016.

And as this drought continues to take shape and wreak havoc on the region, it becomes increasingly important to build a complex and comprehensive understanding of what is happening in the country.

El Niño in Ethiopia

For many, the words “drought” and “famine” are unfortunately still closely associated with “Ethiopia”—an association shaped by the 1983-1985 devastation made famous by the likes of Bob Geldof. And while that catastrophe was rooted in natural disaster, it was exacerbated by man-made disasters as well, with conflict and authoritarianism playing significant roles in the severity and longevity of the drought and famine.

Since 1983-1985, Ethiopia has experienced a number of other drought events, most notably in 1988, 2000, again in 2002- 2003, 2006, 2011, and, of course, 2015.

Read more at gro-intelligence.com »


Related:
Drought Dries Ethiopia Dams (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Seeks Help to Survive Drought (VOA)
How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia? (IRIN NEWS)
Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas (AP)
Thirty years of talking about famine in Ethiopia – why’s nothing changed? (BBC)
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Story of Walatta Petros: Earliest Known Biography of African Woman

An illustration of Walatta Petros as she “[made spring forth] water while on her way to the wilderness of Waldeba”. (Photograph: MS A, f. 148v c SLUB Mscr.Dresd.Eb.415.e,2)

The Guardian

By Alison Flood

The earliest known book-length biography of an African woman, a 17th-century text detailing the life of the Ethiopian saint Walatta Petros, has been translated into English for the first time.

Walatta Petros was an Ethiopian religious leader who lived from 1592 to 1642. A noblewoman, she left her husband to lead the struggle against the Jesuits’ mission to convert Ethiopian Christians to Roman Catholicism. It was for this that the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwaḥədo Church elevated her to sainthood.

Walatta Petros’s story was written by her disciples in the Gəˁəz language in 1672, after her death. Translator and editor Wendy Laura Belcher, an associate professor at Princeton University, came across the biography while she was studying Samuel Johnson’s translation, A Voyage to Abyssinia. “I saw that Johnson was fascinated by the powerful noble Ethiopian women in the text,” said Belcher. “I was speaking with an Ethiopian priest about this admiration and he told me that the women were admired in Ethiopia as well, where some of them had become saints in the Ethiopian church and had had hagiographies written about them.”

Ten years later, Belcher still remembers how “thrilling” this revelation was. “What? Biographies of powerful African women written by Africans in an African language? And to be able to pair European and African texts about the same encounter? I knew then I wouldn’t rest until I had translated this priceless work into English.”

Read more at The Guardian »


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Drought Dries Ethiopia Dams (Bloomberg)

Ethiopia sees nationwide power cuts while drought dries dams, Bloomberg News reports. (Google Map)

Bloomberg

By William Davison

December 1, 2015

Ethiopia may face further power shortages because of low water levels at dams after a poor rainy season, an official said, following two days of sporadic cuts caused by technical faults at hydropower plants.

Unspecified issues at a substation serving Oromia region’s Gibe 1 and 2 plants, which together can produce as much as 604 megawatts, and a shutdown at the 320-megawatt Tana Beles installation in Amhara state, caused the outages on Nov. 28-29, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy spokesman Bezuneh Tolcha said Monday by phone.

The drought affecting the east of the country that’s left 8.2 million Ethiopians in need of food aid wasn’t related to the outages, though that may change in the coming months unless there’s non-seasonal rainfall, he said.

“There has been a shortage of rain all over country,” he said from the capital, Addis Ababa. “The dams have not collected as much water as they can collect.”

Read more at Bloomberg.com »


Related:
Ethiopia Seeks Help to Survive Drought (VOA)
How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia? (IRIN NEWS)
Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas (AP)
Thirty years of talking about famine in Ethiopia – why’s nothing changed? (BBC)
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

New Album ‘Out Of Addis’ Celebrates Ethiopia’s Diverse Musical Traditions

Album cover for "Out of Addis." (Image: Sheba Sound and Paradise Bangkok)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In complement to the more famous “Ethio-Funk” and “Swinging-Addis” sounds of an earlier era, popularized by the Éthiopiques CD series, a new album called Out Of Addis was released last week by the Ethiopian label Sheba Sound in collaboration with Anglo-Thai company Paradise Bangkok bringing forth an eclectic collection of traditional Ethiopian recordings hailing from the country’s vast rural areas.

“This album is the product of more than six years of music digging, road trips, recordings and events, from the northern rocky expanses of Tigray to the central forested highlands of Oromia to the western sweltering grasslands of Gambella,” Paradise Bangkok said in a press release.

“Ethiopia has over 80 ethnic groups, each with its own deep-rooted language and culture. Contemporary musicians living outside Addis Abeba, the capital, have had few opportunities to record or play their mesmerising sounds for visitors,” the press release stated. “Sheba Sound, a label and sound system collective based in Addis, wanted to redress this by recording and releasing little-known classics to Ethiopian and foreign audiences.”

According to the label: “This album showcases northern-based rhythms such as the Tigray, Amhara and Gurage beat. The song ‘Mal Ameni’ distinguishes itself by coming from the Oromo people.”

“This music touches the tip of the iceberg,” the Thai record company said. “There are so many more unique, intoxicating sounds to be shared, testifying to the diversity that lives on.”

Video: Out Of Addis (Official Teaser)


Learn more at Paradise Bangkok’s website.

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Audio: Interview With Zone 9 Bloggers Soleyana S. Gebremichael & Endalk Chala

Soleyana S. Gebremichael and Endalk Chala of Zone 9 bloggers at CPJ's 25th International Press Freedom Awards ceremony in New York City on Tuesday, November 24th, 2015. (Photo credit: Jeffrey Phipps/Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, November 27th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Zone 9 bloggers Soleyana S. Gebremichael and Endalk Chala were in New York City recently to accept the 2015 International Press Freedom Awards on behalf of their colleagues in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian bloggers were recognized with the prestigious media award last Tuesday along with other journalists from Malaysia, Paraguay and Syria.

Below is an audio excerpt from an interview that Soleyana and Endalk gave to Tadias Magazine during the award ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City on November 24th:


Related:
Ethiopia’s Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards

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Audio: Filmmaker Mel Tewahade on His ‘Point Four’ Documentary

Mel Tewahade, producer of the Point Four documentary series, pictured at Oklahoma State University's Point Four Room. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur Mel Tewahade was in Washington, D.C. this week for a private screening of his documentary series, Point Four.

The U.S. government program Point Four, which was eventually replaced by the current United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was a foreign policy initiative launched during the era of President Truman. Mel points out that in the 1950′s and 60′s the program helped establish Ethiopia’s first agricultural high school in Jimma, known as the Jimma Agricultural and Technical School (JATS), and later the Harar and Debre Brehan Teacher Training Institutes as well as the Alemaya Agricultural College (now Haramaya University).

Point Four also assisted in setting up the Ethiopian Highway Authority and Malaria Control Agency. USAID still funds many programs there, including projects related to population control, tuberculosis prevention, family planning, reproductive health, newborn care, water sanitation, primary education, teacher training, scholarship for young girls, and strengthening good governance.

In the following interview with Tadias conducted over the phone on Monday morning Mel, who resides in Denver, Colorado, discusses the screening of his Point Four documentary.


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Ethiopia Seeks Help to Survive Drought

FILE - An unidentified government official sits on sacks of wheat donated by the U.S. at a food distribution point near Jijiga, eastern Ethiopia, Dec. 1, 2009. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Drought has ruined this year’s harvest for many Ethiopian farmers. In a country where 85 percent of the people are farmers, millions are in need of aid.

The government has purchased nearly 1 million metric tons of wheat at a cost of about $280 million to get through the next three to four months.

Government spokesman Getachew Redda said the government is in control of the crisis, but is also focused on measures that will reduce the impact of future droughts.

“From a strategic point of view,” Redda said, “the government will continue to further enhance its efforts to develop underground water resources and develop irrigation mechanisms which do not have to depend on the varieties of weather.”

Experts believe the reduction in rainfall is due to the El Nino weather phenomenon. While cycles of drought are expected every 10 to 12 years, the frequency of droughts and erratic rainfalls is expected to increase because of global climate change.

Wagayehu Bekele, climate director at Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency, said getting better information to farmers so they can adjust their schedules is a priority.

“Farmers have traditional wisdom,” Bekele said. “They know when to sow, they know when to harvest, when to cultivate. But the problem now is that traditional wisdom is not working anymore. The problem is, even if the rain starts early, they don’t start sowing or planting. Why? They say it’s not the normal time to plant.”

Modernizing traditional practices is part of a short-term solution. Wagayehu thinks that focusing on sustainable ways of farming is just as important.

Agriculture makes up almost half of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product. The lack of rain has severely affected the lowlands and livestock.

Araya Asfaw, director of the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center and Network, said not enough information about the effect of climate change on Africa is available.

“The model for Africa is not as good because we don’t have enough data, meteorological data, to predict what will happen,” Asfaw said. “We need to have more meteorological stations all over the place.”

Drought and hunger have been sensitive topics in Ethiopia since the infamous famine in the early 1980s that killed over 400,000 people. The government says that the current drought has not killed anyone yet, but that about 8 million people need assistance. The United Nations estimates that number will nearly double in the coming months.


Related:
How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia? (IRIN NEWS)
Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas (AP)
Thirty years of talking about famine in Ethiopia – why’s nothing changed? (BBC)
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

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How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia?

Satellite meteorological data for Ethiopia in the above set of maps and graphics from FEWS NET shows that localised areas in eastern and northern parts of the country are as dry as they have been for 30 years. (IRIN)

IRIN NEWS

November 19th, 2015

Alarm bells are ringing for a food emergency in Ethiopia. The UN says 15 million people will need help over the coming months. The government, wary of stigma and therefore hesitant to ask for help, has nevertheless said more than eight million Ethiopians need food assistance. Extra imports to stem the crisis are already pegged at more than a million tonnes of grain, beyond the government’s means. Inevitably, comment and media coverage compare the current situation with 1984 – the year Ethiopia’s notorious famine hit the headlines. Reports suggest this is the worst drought in 30 years. One declares it a “code red” drought. So how bad actually is it?

The country of close to 100 million people is huge, spread over an area of more than a million square kilometres that ranges from semi-desert to swamp to mountain ranges and fertile farmland. The weather systems and agricultural patterns are diverse and complex. Even within the higher-altitude areas of the country, the most densely populated, the typical rainy seasons vary and crops are grown at different times of the year. This year, the weather has been prone to even greater variation due to the global climate phenomenon El Niño, last seen in 1997-1998.

The weather is only one part of the equation in whether people go hungry. Politics, economics, the availability of seeds and fertiliser, conflict, trade and labour markets, population pressure, social habits, and a host of other factors matter too.

Read more at IRIN NEWS »


Related:
Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas (AP)
Thirty years of talking about famine in Ethiopia – why’s nothing changed? (BBC)
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

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Zone9 Blogger Zelalem Kibret Prevented From Leaving Ethiopia to Accept Award

Zelalem Kibret was one of the six Zone9 bloggers who were released in July 2015 after being held for 15 months. He has been banned from traveling to France to accept the 2015 RSF Press Freedom Prize. (RSF)

RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is worried about a travel ban imposed on the blogger Zelalem Kibret, which prevented him from flying to France to receive this year’s RSF Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category on behalf of the Zone9 blogger collective.

As Zelalem Kibret was about to set off for Paris on 16 November, the Ethiopian authorities confiscated his passport and prevented him from boarding his plane. Immigration officials said he could not leave Ethiopia because he and other Zone9 members had previously been arrested.

RSF has repeatedly tried to obtain more information about the travel ban from the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and Paris, but without success.

“We are surprised and disturbed by the travel ban imposed on Zelalem Kibret,” said Clea Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.

“No restriction was placed on his movements when he was released in July, and the rest of the collective was cleared of all terrorism charges in October. We do not understand why his passport has been confiscated and we urge the relevant authorities to quickly restore his rights.”

When Kibret complied with instructions to go to the police the next day, he was told that an investigation was under way and that his passport would not be returned until it was completed.

Read more »

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Related:
Zone 9 Bloggers Recognized With International Press Freedom Awards
International Press Freedom Awards Goes to Zone 9 Bloggers from Ethiopia

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Watch: Ethiopian Uber Driver Attacked by Passenger Who Mistook Him for a Muslim

Samson Woldemichael, an Uber driver from Ethiopia, was attacked by a passenger in North Carolina on Sunday, apparently because the attacker thought Samson was a Muslim, reports WBTV. (Video: WBTV News)

The Grio

North Carolina Uber driver from Ethiopia was attacked by a passenger on Sunday morning when the passenger claimed the driver was Muslim.

“He asked me if I was a Muslim. I said I was not a Muslim,” said the victim, Samson Woldemichael. “I was driving and he hit me while I was driving.”

Woldemichael explained that the drive itself had been peaceful but that when they arrived at the drop-off point, the passenger became belligerent.

He said he’s gonna shoot me right in the face. He’s gonna strangle me,” Woldemichael told WBTV. “I asked him why. He was calling me too many bad word names… insulting me. He told me I was a Muslim.”

“I told him in the first place I was not a Muslim. It’s not right to generalize people and do that,” he said.

After the passenger threatened to kill him, Woldemichael asked the passenger to leave the car, but the man refused. Woldemichael then began to drive around.

Watch: Ethiopian Uber driver attacked by passenger who mistook him for a Muslim (WBTV 3 News)
WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Read more at The Grio »


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