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U.S. Senators Inhofe & Enzi Visit Ethiopia

Republican Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Michael Enzi of Wyoming. (Photo: Twitter)


U.S. Senators James Inhofe and Michael Enzi visited Ethiopia on October 12 and 13 to discuss U.S.-Ethiopian relations. The Senators met with Prime Minister Hailemariam.

During the meeting the Senators highlighted the value the United States places on its bilateral relations with Ethiopia and the strong ties between our people. They reiterated the United States’ commitment to working in partnership with Ethiopia to take on challenges such as regional security and economic development. Senators Inhofe and Enzi expressed a sincere desire to provide whatever assistance would be helpful to address the ongoing tensions in Ethiopia, and reaffirmed the strong friendship between our two nations.

Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Parliament Speaker Says ‘Disrespect’ Made Him Quit

Abadula Gemeda, the former Speaker of the Ethiopian parliament, says he left his position last week because of "disrespect" of his Oromo ethnic group. (Photo: Reuters)


The speaker of Ethiopia’s lower house of parliament, who resigned last week, said Saturday that he quit because of “disrespect” of his ethnic group.

Abadula Gemeda, a member of the Oromos, the country’s largest ethnic group, announced last Sunday that he was stepping down after seven years as speaker of the House of People’s Representatives.

He is one of the highest-ranking government officials to resign since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition took power in 1991.

A former army chief of staff, Abadula is also a founder of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) C, which represents the Oromos within the EPRDF.

Oromos led a wave of anti-government protests that began in late 2015 and were only quelled after more than 940 deaths and the imposition of a 10-month state of emergency, and distrust of the EPRDF still runs deep.

In comments carried by the state-affiliated Oromia Broadcasting Network, Abadula said he was dissatisfied with the EPRDF’s treatment of his people.

“I resigned because my peoples and party were disrespected,” he said. “However, I will struggle to bring the necessary respect and do the best I can for Oromo people to gain their rights.”

His resignation came at the start of a turbulent week in Ethiopia, which saw protesters return to the streets in several towns in Oromia, the largest of the country’s ethnically based regional states.

On Wednesday, three people were killed and more than 30 injured at a protest in the city of Shashamene, while another protest in the town of Boke left another three dead and three more injured, spokesman for the Oromia regional state Addisu Arega said in a post on Facebook.

His accounts could not be independently verified, and the cause of the deaths remained unclear.

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Speaker of Ethiopian Parliament Resigns
Ethiopia’s PM Protocol Chief Defects to America After United Nations Meeting

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Security Advise for US Citizens in Ethiopia

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Violent protests and road closures in and around Shashamane. (Photo: Addis Gazetta)

U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

US Advises Citizens of Security Risks Amid Continuing Protests in Ethiopia

The U.S. Embassy is aware of reports of violent protests and road closures in and around Shashamane, approximately 250 km south of Addis Ababa. There are reports of casualties. The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to Shashamane at this time. As always, review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.

6 dead as protests surge again in Ethiopia: Official (AP)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian official says protests in the restive Oromia region left six people dead Wednesday as anti-government demonstrations return to some parts of the East African country.

Oromia regional official Abiy Ahmed says more than 30 people were injured in clashes in Shashamane town and an area called Boke. He did not say who was responsible for the killings.

Blogger and university lecturer Seyoum Teshome says more than 15,000 people rallied again Thursday in Wolisso town against the country’s ruling elite. He says it was mostly peaceful.

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Ethiopia Devalues Currency by 15 Percent

A woman counts birr notes, after selling a cabbage at Mercato in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Reuters)


Ethiopia devalues currency by 15 percent to boost exports

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s central bank devalued the Ethiopian birr ETB= by 15 percent on Tuesday, its first such move in seven years to boost lagging exports.

The birr was quoted by the National Bank of Ethiopia at a weighted average of 23.4177 against the dollar on Monday, compared to what will be 26.9215.

“The devaluation was made to prop up exports, which have stagnated the last five years owing to the birr’s strong value against major currencies,” Yohannes Ayalew, the bank’s vice governor, told a news conference in the capital Addis Ababa.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, have both repeatedly urged Ethiopia to consider devaluing its currency to boost exports as they are mostly unprocessed products and need to stay competitive on price.

Ethiopia has operated a managed floating exchange rate regime since 1992.

The Horn of Africa country is the continent’s biggest coffee exporter but its total export revenue has been falling short of targets for the last few years owing to weaker commodity prices.

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In Colorado, Criminal Record Haunts Ethio-American Candidate for Local Office

Abel Laeke is running for City Council Seat in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo: abellaeke.com)

Aurora Sentinel

Abel Laeke pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in 2004 for indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, and sexual contact without consent, a felony, according to court documents. The case landed the at-large candidate on the Colorado sex offender registry, which marks him as having a felony conviction. It’s also one of the top Google search results for ‘Abel Laeke.’

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Denver CBS Local

Abel Laeke, 39, is vying for one of two open at-large seats.

A charge from 2004 landed Laeke on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s sex offender registry.

Laeke told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia on Saturday by phone that he could not comment on his criminal record due to pending litigation.

Court documents show that Laeke has been fighting to appeal the sex charge for years.

On Nov. 7, 2017, Aurora residents will elect two new city council members.

Laeke is on the city’s approved list of 8 candidates.

As a first generation Ethiopian American, Laeke grew up in Aurora and graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He runs his own start-up business consulting firm, serves as a non-profit organization mentor and teaches Sunday school at his Aurora church.

The CBI website shows a 2005 conviction of a sexual contact charge, a class 5 felony.

A background check reveals that Laeke pleaded “not guilty by reason of insanity.”

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Speaker of Ethiopian Parliament Resigns

Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the Ethiopian parliament, submitted his resignation on Sunday. (Reuters)


ADDIS ABABA – The speaker of Ethiopia’s lower house of parliament submitted his resignation on Sunday, one of the highest-ranking officials to do so since the ruling EPRDF coalition came to power in 1991. Abadula Gemeda did not disclose reasons behind his decision, but said he would disclose the factors once his move was approved by parliament.

Analysts in the Horn of Africa country said Abadula, an ethnic Oromo, may have decided to step down owing to disapproval of the government’s response to unrest that roiled Ethiopia’s Oromiya region in 2015 and 2016.

The violence there forced the government to impose a nine-month state of emergency that was only lifted in August. “Given the existence of circumstances that do not enable me to continue in this position, I have submitted my resignation to my political party and the House of People’s Representatives,” he said in a short speech on national television. “I will disclose the reasons behind my decision once my request is reviewed by the House of People’s Representatives,” the former defense minister added.

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Ethiopia’s PM Protocol Chief Defects to America After United Nations Meeting

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Unity v Diversity: Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism is Being Tested

Photo: Reuters

The Economist

Print edition

HARAR — FOR centuries the city of Harar, on the eastern fringes of the Ethiopian highlands, was a sanctuary, its people protected by a great wall that surrounded the entire city. But in the late 19th century it was finally annexed by the Ethiopian empire. Harar regained a bit of independence in 1995, when the area around it became the smallest of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based, semi-autonomous regions. Today it is relatively peaceful and prosperous—and, since last month, a sanctuary once more.

In recent weeks thousands of Ethiopians have poured into areas around Harar, fleeing violence in neighbouring towns (see map). Nearly 70,000 people have sought shelter just east of the city. Several thousand more are huddling in a makeshift camp in the west. Most are Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. Its members clashed with ethnic Somalis in February and March, resulting in the death of hundreds. The violence erupted again in September, when more than 30 people were killed in the town of Awaday. Revenge killings, often by local militias or police, have followed, pushing the death toll still higher. In response, the government has sent in the army.

Ethnic violence is common in Ethiopia, especially between Oromos and Somalis, whose vast regions share the country’s longest internal border. Since the introduction of ethnic federalism in 1995, both groups have tried to grab land and resources from each other, often with the backing of local politicians. A referendum in 2004 that was meant to define the border failed to settle the matter. A peace agreement signed by the two regional presidents in April was no more successful.

When the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) swept to power in 1991 after a bloody 15-year civil war, federalism was seen as a way to placate the ethnic liberation movements that helped it to power. The previous regime had been dominated by the Amhara, the second-largest ethnic group (the Eritreans broke away to form a new state). Eventually ethnic loyalties would wither as people grew richer, went the thinking of the Marxist-inspired EPRDF.

But the way federalism was implemented caused problems from the start. New identity cards forced people to choose an ethnicity, though many Ethiopians are of mixed heritage.

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Ethiopia is grappling with heightened risk of state collapse (Addis Standard Editorial)

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Ethiopia’s PM Protocol Chief Defects to US

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn addresses the UN General Assembly’s seventy-first session. His chief protocol officer, Baye Tadesse Teferi, is currently seeking political asylum in the United States. (UN Photo)

Africa News

An Ethiopian diplomat who was part of the government delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month has sought political asylum in the United States.

Baye Tadesse Teferi, the state’s chief protocol officer, quit his job in the United States after serving over two years with the government, he told VOA Amharic on Tuesday.

He added that his decision was due to fears of being persecuted for political reasons.

Teferi attended the summit with the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who has since returned.

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Just Follow the Roads in Ethiopia to Find Unequal Distribution of Infrastructure

(Map: World Bank visualization based on data from various UN agencies)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

September 28th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — For all of Ethiopia’s much talked about infrastructure building over the past three decades, such as highways and power supplies, to date only 22% of the country’s rural population has access to a properly paved road, which is a major hindrance to trade as well as social, political and economic development.

According to a World Bank study focusing on expansion of road density that was published online last week “changes in road density pointed to greater economic concentration towards the center of Ethiopia and the north of the country. These are also areas of greater population density. Between 2006 and 2016 the increase in road density was concentrated in certain regions, notably Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa, as well as Tigray in the north of the country and in Oromia in the center.” The World Bank adds that “remote and economically lagging regions, and Amhara Region, see lesser increases in road density. Taking the development of roads as a proxy for the development of infrastructure, this suggests that infrastructure development has not been homogeneous across all regions. It also shows that road connectivity for some regions is poor, both within those regions and with other regions, with consequences for labor mobility, the transportation of goods and services, and for agricultural productivity as the distance and travel times to markets are longer.”

Figure 2b: Rural Access Index (RAI) and major roads in 2016 (World Bank)

Despite the large infrastructure investments undertaken by the Ethiopian government in the past ten years, accessibility by road to rural areas remains low in Ethiopia; we can see its distribution across the country in Figure 2b. The Rural Access Index was 21.6 percent in 2016, signifying that only around 22 percent of the rural population had access within a 2km distance of them to a decent road.”

What Studies in Spatial Development Show in Ethiopia-Part I
What Studies in Spatial Development Show in Ethiopia-Part II

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UPDATE: Massive Protest at This Year’s Irreecha Festival But No Violence Reported

Thousands of Oromo people attend the "Irreecha" festival in Bishoftu on October 1, 2017. (Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency)

Anadolu Agency

By Addis Getachew Tadesse

Updated: October 1st, 2017

BUSHOFTU, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian festival on Sunday turned into a massive anti-government protest for the second year in a row.

Over a million people gathered at Horra Harsede, a meeting place for Irreecha celebration in the central town of Bushoftu, 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Irreecha, a Thanksgiving holiday, is celebrated by Ethiopia’s largest ethnic Oromo group.

The celebration turned into a protest after the crowd took over the dais reserved for community elders and began chanting anti-government slogans.

Last year, more than 50 people were killed in a stampede caused by tear gas and bullets fired by security forces to disperse anti-government demonstrators during the celebration. The incident led to an imposition of martial law, which lasted for 10 months.

Last week, the government put a ban on the presence of army and armed forces at the site of the celebration.

“The agreement to keep the army and armed police at bay paid off this time around because it prevented confrontations and possible violence,” Lulu Alemu, Oromia Deputy Communications Office head, told Anadolu Agency.

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Ethiopia bans weapons at upcoming religious gathering

Associated Press

By Elias Meseret 

Updated: September 24th, 2017

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia has banned weapons at the upcoming Irrecha religious festival in order to avoid the violence that killed several dozen people last year. The statement from the restive Oromia region comes ahead of the October 1 thanksgiving gathering.

“The security situation in the region has improved immensely compared to last year so armed personnel will not be allowed to be at the center of the festival,” Lomi Beo, head of the Oromia Culture and Tourism Office, told the Associated Press on Sunday. “Armed police will be confined to the outskirts of the festival site as per the request of the religious leaders. We don’t expect last year’s tragedy to happen again.”

Up to 1.5 million people are expected to participate in this year’s celebration in the town of Bishoftu, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa, she said.

Last year security forces at the Irrecha gathering dispersed anti-government protesters with tear gas and gunfire, triggering a deadly stampede that officials said killed at least 50 people. Activists said the death toll was much higher.

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Human Rights Watch to Ethiopia: Exercise Restraint at Upcoming Irreecha Festival (HRW)

Several dozen people were killed and injured in Bishoftu last year after security forces fired at protesters at an Irrecha cultural and religious festival. (Photo: Reuters)

Human Rights Watch

September 20th, 2017

Ethiopian government and security officials should act with restraint and take concrete steps to prevent injuries and deaths at this year’s Irreecha festival on October 1, 2017, Human Rights Watch said in a report and video released today. Many people, likely hundreds, died in a stampede at last year’s festival, triggered by security forces’ use of teargas and obstruction of exits.

The 33-page report, “‘Fuel on the Fire’: Security Force Response to the 2016 Irreecha Cultural Festival,” details the Ethiopian government’s use of force in response to restive crowds at 2016’s Irreecha. The festival, attended by massive crowds, is the most important cultural festival to Ethiopia’s 40 million ethnic Oromos, who gather to celebrate the end of the rains and welcome the harvest. Human Rights Watch found evidence that security force personnel not only triggered the stampede that caused many deaths but subsequently shot and killed some members of the crowd.

“The security forces’ disastrous and disproportionate use of force should not be repeated this year,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “With longstanding grievances still unanswered, this year’s Irreecha could be fraught with tensions. The government and the security forces should take all steps necessary before and during the festival to protect human life and de-escalate tensions.”

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US Calls for Ethiopia Ethnic Conflict Probe

Latest: Statement by U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa on Reports of Ethnic Violence on the Oromia-Somali Border.


US calls for probe into Ethiopia ethnic clashes

Addis Ababa – The United States on Tuesday urged Ethiopia to investigate deadly clashes between two of the country’s major ethnic groups that have caused tens of thousands to flee.

Fighting broke out in recent weeks along the border between the Oromia and Somali regions, which Oromia president Lemma Megersa said earlier this week led to “brutal killings” and the displacement of 50 000 people.

Details of what started the fighting remain unclear, but the US embassy in the capital Addis Ababa said it had received “troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people”.

“We urge the Ethiopian government to conduct a transparent investigation into all allegations of violence and to hold those responsible accountable,” the embassy said in a statement.

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Hundreds’ dead, thousands displaced in Ethiopia ethnic clashes (AFP)
Deadly Ethnic Clashes Hit Ethiopia (BBC)
55,000 people displaced amid ethnic clashes (AP)
Ethiopia sending troops to region of deadly ethnic clashes (AP)

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The World Loves Ethiopian Pop Star Teddy Afro. His Own Government Doesn’t.

Teddy Afro at his home in Addis Ababa. (Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press)

The Washington Post

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Monday marked the first day of the new Ethiopian year, but it hasn’t been much of a holiday for Teddy Afro, the country’s biggest pop star.

First, the government informed him that his New Year’s concert was canceled. Then, on Sept. 3, police broke up the launch party for his successful new album, “Ethiopia,” in the middle of the sound check at the Hilton Hotel, claiming Teddy hadn’t received permission to hold the event.

“Asking for a permission to organize an album launch is like asking a permit for a wedding or birthday party,” Teddy wrote on his Facebook page. “This is unprecedented and has never been done before because it is unconstitutional.”

But government disapproval certainly isn’t anything new for Teddy: This year was his third straight aborted New Year’s concert. And even as “Ethiopia,” which briefly hit No. 1 on Billboard’s world music chart, could be purchased or heard on virtually every street corner in the capital of Addis Ababa after its May release, Teddy’s songs were nowhere to be found on state radio and TV. An interview with a public TV network was even canceled at the last minute, prompting the resignation of the journalist involved.

At first glance, there seems to be nothing controversial about Teddy Afro, born Tewodros Kassahun, and his traditionally influenced pop songs about love, unity and the glory of Ethiopia. His tunes have earned him a rapturous audience both at home and among the vast Ethiopian diaspora.

If anything, Teddy is quite the patriot. He’s just the wrong kind of patriot.

Teddy’s music has increasingly focused on extended history lessons glorifying Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, who was overthrown by a communist coup in 1974, as well as the great kings of the 19th century. The title track of his 2012 album, “Tikur Sew,” for example, celebrated Emperor Menelik II and his defeat of Italian troops invading Ethiopia in 1896 — complete with a music video that was practically a war movie.

Read more at The Washington Post »

Teddy Afro’s ‘Ethiopia’ Album Launch Blocked, Pop Star Says It’s ‘Ridiculous’
Ethiopia Teddy Afro New Year Concert Cancelled for 3rd Time (Music in Africa)
Teddy Afro ‘Grateful for the Love’ After New CD Ethiopia Ranks No. 1 on Billboard
Ethiopia’s star singer Teddy Afro makes plea for openness (AP)

Watch: Teddy Afro Rocks New York’s SummerStage and B.B. King Blues Club — 2014 (TADIAS Video)

Photos: Teddy Afro at SummerStage 2014 Festival in New York

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Ethiopian Restaurants Foster Community in Silver Spring (Associated Press)

(Photo: Annual Ethiopian Festival in Silver Spring/Ethiopian Community Center in Maryland)

Associated Press

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Beginning in the mid-1970s, war and political turbulence led a large number of Ethiopians to flee their home country. Many of these emigrants came to the United States, with a particularly high number settling in the Washington region.

Thanks to a welcoming environment and local educational institutions, as well as legislation over the decades that eased immigrant entry into the United States, many Ethiopians were eager and able to stay in the area and put down roots.

“This area became a hub for Ethiopians,” Dr. Getachew Metaferia, an Ethiopian native and professor of political science at Morgan State University, told Capital News Service. “They contributed to the dynamics of multiculturalism.”

As this community has grown, it has infused within local neighborhoods vestiges of native Ethiopian culture, from music to language to art. Montgomery County even has a sister city in Ethiopia, the ancient former royal city of Gondar.

Perhaps the most prominent contribution of Ethiopian immigrants to the Washington area, though, has been food.

“A night out at an Ethiopian restaurant is as much a tradition here as an outing to a deep-dish pizzeria might be in Chicago,” Jessica Sidman wrote in Washingtonian magazine in January.

Today, Ethiopian communities – and thus, restaurants – have spread from their traditional neighborhoods within the District of Columbia (Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights and, more recently, Shaw) to several of Washington’s suburbs, most notably Silver Spring.

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Deadly Ethnic Clashes Hit Ethiopia — BBC

Latest: 55,000 people displaced amid ethnic clashes -- AP. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

BBC News

Updated: 15 September 2017

What is behind clashes in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions?

Dozens of people are reported to have died in clashes across Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions in recent days.

According to Adisu Arega, Oromia government’s spokesperson, 18 people have been killed.

Twelve of those victims are ethnic Somalis, Mr Adisu told the BBC.

The figures are however disputed by the Somali regional government, which says that more than 30 ethnic Somalis have been killed in the Oromia town of Awaday.

The clashes have displaced at least 30,000 people, some of whom have taken refuge in makeshift camps at a stadium in the eastern city of Harar, whilst others are camping at police stations.

Local administrators have now asked aid agencies operating in the area to provide humanitarian assistance.

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Ethiopia sending troops to region of deadly ethnic clashes (AP)

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On Facebook Obama Blasts Trump’s ‘Cruel’ Immigration Decision

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday blasted Trump's decision to end an immigration program that protected 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation as 'cruel' and 'self-defeating.' (Getty)

Barack Obama Facebook Page


Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license…

To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love.

And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

Click here to read the full statement »

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US Africa Policy Braintrust is Back

U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass of California is organizer of Africa Braintrust 2017.

Press release

Rep. Karen Bass

Africa Braintrust 2017: Renewing our Commitment and Engagement with Africa

U.S. policy toward Africa is at a crossroads. An Assistant Secretary for African Affairs has yet to be appointed and the budget put forward by the White House has called for deep cuts to the Department of State and USAID. Many across Africa are asking if this signals a shift away from Africa. Given the long history of US-Africa relations, this is a good time to illustrate our continuing commitment to engaging with African nations.

The Seventh Annual Africa Braintrust will explore the various ways the United States can renew our commitment and engagement across Africa via panels, issue-specific discussions and featured speakers by noted African and Diaspora academics, members of civil society, and members of the private sector who are each experts in their respective fields.

Issue Focuses:

  • Security and Insecurity
  • Encouraging prosperity across Africa
  • Ways to partner with African nations
  • Keynote Speakers and Panelists to follow.

    If You Go:
    Fri, September 22, 2017
    9:00 AM – 5:00 PM EDT
    Walter E. Washington Convention Center
    801 Mount Vernon Place Northwest
    Room 207 B
    Washington, DC 20001
    Click here to RSVP

    United States to Give Ethiopia $91 Million in Drought Aid for Food & Medicine (The Washington Post)

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  • US Gives Ethiopia $91M in Drought Aid

    Women carry water back to their homes in drought-hit Aydora, Ethiopia. The country is facing its third straight year of drought. (Photo: Aida Muluneh for The Washington Post)

    The Washington Post

    United States to Give Ethiopia $91 Million in Drought Aid for Food and Medicine

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The United States will provide an additional $91 million in humanitarian aid for Ethiopia to cope with a third straight year of drought, the top U.S. official in charge of assistance said Thursday.

    The extra funding brings U.S. aid for food and medical care in Ethiopia to $454 million this year, said Mark Green, the new administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. An extra $210 million in U.S. aid has gone to development projects.

    Green announced the additional aid after he met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. In a statement that he read to reporters, Green said he had also urged the Ethiopian leader to take “concrete steps to create political space for all voices to be heard and to uphold constitutional and guaranteed rights.”

    In August, Ethi­o­pia lifted a 10-month state of emergency imposed after deadly clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters who were alleging human rights abuses and political cronyism.

    “What I said to him is, ‘We look at what countries need around the world to strengthen their ability to deliver for their people,’ ” Green told reporters later.

    “Responsive governance, and a place for people to come together from different points of view and to share ideas openly and publicly, history shows is vitally important,” he said. “Our view is the government should continue to foster that, and do more and more.”

    According to USAID spokesman Clayton McCleskey, Green told Desalegn he was concerned that conditions were deteriorating for people affected by the drought and encouraged the government to “show greater leadership and invest more resources to combat a worsening humanitarian crisis.”

    Green, on his first trip abroad since starting the job three weeks ago, is in Ethiopia to highlight U.S. efforts to help impoverished countries emerge from crises such as drought and famine, and to be better prepared to weather future setbacks.

    Read more »

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    Teddy Afro Concert Cancelled for 3rd Time

    Teddy Afro has been denied a permit for his New Year’s Eve concert in Addis Ababa. (Music in Africa)

    Music in Africa

    Ethiopia Teddy Afro concert cancelled for a third time

    The concert, which was to take place on 10 September at the Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall, was expected to draw more than 10 000 people. The artist was reportedly to receive $76 980 (1.8 million birr) from organisers of the event Joy Events and Promotion PLC, which sent an application for the concert at the start of July.

    According to the Mayor’s Office, the decision was taken to give space to a different music event said to be affiliated to the ruling party. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemarim Desalegn is set to attend this replacement concert.

    The cancellation is third time unlucky for Teddy Afro who was denied a permit for same event in 2015 and again last year. An interview with the artist on state television was abruptly cancelled earlier this year, after which the interviewer resigned. The streak of cancellations has been attributed to some of his politically vocal songs.

    Read more »

    Teddy Afro ‘Grateful for the Love’ After New CD Ethiopia Ranks No. 1 on Billboard
    Ethiopia’s star singer Teddy Afro makes plea for openness (AP)

    Watch: Teddy Afro Rocks New York’s SummerStage and B.B. King Blues Club — 2014 (TADIAS Video)

    Photos: Teddy Afro at SummerStage 2014 Festival in New York

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    Harlem’s Hubert (Black Eagle) Julian Soared to Glory in Ethiopia

    Col. Hubert Julian beside a plane in Le Bourget. (New York Daily News)


    From Italy’s standpoint, it was true, Italy had been fairly royally chiseled out of any substantive World War spoils. The Allies had promised the sun and moon and then left Italy with crumbs, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, nothing but barren desert. Some Roman Empire that was. Well, Italy had Albania, too, but of course Albania was worthless. So it was that Benito Mussolini cast Italian eyes again on the ancient cradle of the Kingdom of Abyssinia. Abyssinia was nothing but barren desert either, so far as that went, but at least there was more of it.

    Italy was still relatively new to the world stage in the 1930s. Until 1870 Italy had been a medieval collection of poor duchies and poorer principalities, and its early attempts to expand across the Mediterranean into Tunis were contemptuously blocked by the older powers. The Italian armies were not particularly sophisticated, in any case: When in 1896 the dictator Francesco Crispi resolved to make a protectorate of Abyssinia, 8,000 Italian soldiers were slaughtered at Adowa by Abyssinians armed with sticks and spears. Great was this sting. Italy had been just mortified ever since.

    Now, in 1935, Mussolini was determined both to avenge the old [Adwa] humiliation and to stake an emperor’s claim at last to Italy’s rightful colonial place in the sun. Now the Roman legions were mechanized, bristling with tanks and warplanes, and all the world knew that Italy would storm defenseless Ethiopia the day the September rains stopped. The great powers did not approve, but the slightest diplomatic misstep could easily mean another world war; now Haile Selassie, Ras Tafari, the Lion of Judah, came before the League of Nations to plead for deliverance, and the great powers all went deaf.

    On Tuesday, the 1st of October, as Europe watched silently, Caproni bombers blasted [Adwa] into rubble and columns of troops poured across the border and destroyed the pathetic war-dancing spearmen who rose up to meet them. The sun had not set before the Italo-Ethiopian War came as well to the hundreds of thousands of Italians and the hundreds of thousands of blacks who sought to live together in the City of New York…

    At this very moment, Col. Hubert Julian, the Black Eagle of Harlem, was in Addis Ababa, and it would have been his most glorious hour if he’d only had an airplane. Trinidad-born Hubert Fauntleroy Julian had been one of Harlem’s most flamboyant figures for years. One of the pioneer black fliers..and he frequently mesmerized citizens by parachuting, crimson-clad, onto 125th St.

    Read the full article at nydailynews.com »

    Prevail: New Film in the Making About Ethiopia’s Resistance Against Fascism (TADIAS)

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    Obama Nudging Deval Patrick to Run

    The former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, would have powerful supporters if he chooses to run for the White House in 2020 including former President Barack Obama and many of his associates. (Politico)

    Politico Magazine

    The former Massachusetts governor would have powerful allies in 2020

    BOSTON — Barack Obama is nudging him to run. His inner circle is actively encouraging it. Obama world’s clear and away 2020 favorite is sitting right here, on the 38th floor of the John Hancock Building, in a nicely decorated office at Bain Capital.

    And Deval Patrick has many thoughts on what he says is Donald Trump’s governing by fear and a dishonest pitch for economic nostalgia, while encouraging a rise in casual racism and ditching any real commitment to civil rights.

    Obama strategist David Axelrod has had several conversations with Patrick about running, and eagerly rattles off the early primary map logic: small-town campaign experience from his 2006 gubernatorial run that will jibe perfectly with Iowa, neighbor-state advantage in New Hampshire and the immediate bloc of votes he’d have as an African-American heading into South Carolina.

    Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s close adviser and friend, says that a President Patrick is what “my heart desires.”

    David Simas, Obama’s political director in the White House and now the CEO of his foundation, used to be Patrick’s deputy chief of staff and remains perhaps his biggest fan on the planet.

    Obama himself—who is personally close to Patrick, and counts him among the very small group of people whom he thinks has actual political talent—has privately encouraged him to think about it, among others.

    Obama veterans light up at the mention of Patrick’s name. In self-assurance, style and politics, they see the former Massachusetts governor as a perfect match, the natural continuation of Obama’s legacy.

    “If you were to poll 100 notable Obama alumni, the only two people who would win that 2020 straw poll right now are [Joe] Biden and Patrick,” said one former senior White House aide.

    Among operatives, “the center of gravity would really shift in his direction in Obama world if he were to decide to run,” said another former top Obama White House official.

    Click here to listen to the interview with Deval Patrick on POLITICO’s Off Message podcast »

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    Harar Celebrates 1,010th Anniversary

    As the UNESCO-recognized Ethiopian city of Harar marks its 1,010th anniversary, the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza explores its unique heritage.(Getty Images)

    BBC News

    Harar – a long history:

  • 7th Century: Part of Coptic Christian Kingdom of Axum, area adopted Islam
  • 1007: Harar city founded
  • 16th Century: Capital of Harari Kingdom, major centre of regional trade and Islamic learning
  • Said by some to be Islam’s fourth holiest site, after Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina
  • 1887: Becomes part of Ethiopia
  • 2006: Named UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Full Ethiopian Timeline

    One of Africa’s best kept secrets – its history

    The city’s fortified walls, built between the 13th and 16th Centuries, even have small holes in them to allow the hyenas to enter the city at night.

    The daily hyena feeding spectacle is just one example of this city’s unique heritage.

    “This is one of the world’s ancient civilisations,” local historian Abdulswamad Idris tells me.
    “Some of the mosques you see here were built in the 10th Century.”

    Early convert to Islam

    Harar is a city that goes by many names, from the city of saints to a living museum, while some consider it to be Islam’s fourth holiest city after Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina.

    It has even been called the city of peace, a name I spot on one huge neon sign as I enter the town.

    Read the full article at BBC.com »

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    Climate Change Threatens an Ancient Way of Life in Ethiopia

    Two seasons of failed rains have left millions in Ethiopia's Somali region dependent on food aid, calling into question how viable traditional forms of life still are in an era of changing climate. (The Washington Post)

    The Washington Post

    Zeinab Taher once roamed through Ethiopia’s arid Somali region tending a vast herd of 350 sheep, goats and cattle with her nine children.

    Then the autumn rains failed and the grass that fed her animals didn’t grow. No rain came this spring, either, and the livestock began to die. Now, wrapped in her orange shawl, the 60-year-old huddles in a makeshift, windblown camp along with several thousand others, depending on food and water from international agencies.

    Another drought has seized the Horn of Africa, devastating the livestock herders in these already dry lands. Even as the government and aid agencies struggle to help them, there is a growing realization that with climate change, certain ways of life in certain parts of the world are becoming much more difficult to sustain.

    In Ethiopia, which unlike neighboring Somalia or South Sudan has a strong, functioning government, the emergency effort has kept people alive. Authorities and aid agencies are trying to get beyond the immediate humanitarian response and encourage a shift to livelihoods less vulnerable to drought and climate shocks.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Warns Emergency Drought Aid to Run Out Next Month (AP)

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    Trump Fails to Repeal Obamacare

    In this March 23, 2010 file photo President Barack Obama signs the health care bill in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo)

    The New York Times

    Trump Finds That Demolishing Obama’s Legacy Is Not So Simple

    WASHINGTON — President Trump’s demolition project just got shut down, at least for now.

    Determined to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy, Mr. Trump in the space of a couple of hours Monday night reluctantly agreed to preserve President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and failed in his effort to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care program.

    The back-to-back events underscored the challenge for a career developer whose main goal since taking office six months ago has been to raze what he sees as the poorly constructed edifices he inherited. Mr. Trump has gone a long way toward that objective through executive action, but as Tuesday dawned, he faced the reality that Mr. Obama’s most prominent domestic and international accomplishments both remained intact.

    In neither case has Mr. Trump given up. He instructed his national security team to keep rethinking the approach to Iran with a view toward either revising or scrapping the nuclear agreement. And he publicly called on Congress to simply repeal Mr. Obama’s health care program without trying to immediately pass a replacement.

    “We will return!” Mr. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning about the collapse of his health care effort.

    Yet there is little appetite among America’s partners to revisit the Iran deal, nor is there much eagerness among lawmakers to cancel the existing health care program without a new system to install in its stead.

    Read more »

    ‘How Trump and Republicans failed on their health-care bill (Washington Post)

    Trump’s Weird Obsession With Obama

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    Economist on Addis Movie Bootleggers

    Ethiopia’s ingenious video pirates: Not even a slow internet can stop the bootleggers of Addis Ababa.

    The Economist

    DOWNLOADING a movie, legally or not, is prohibitively slow in Ethiopia, thanks to glacial internet speeds. Bootleg DVDs are everywhere, but even so it can be hard to find a reasonable-quality version of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Only one cinema in Addis Ababa, the capital, screens foreign hits. Resourceful pirates spy an opportunity.

    Last year yellow ATM-style kiosks began to spring up around Addis Ababa. The brainchild of three Ethiopian science graduates and their software company, Swift Media, the Chinese-built kiosks allow customers to transfer any of 6,000 pirated foreign movies or 500 music albums onto a USB stick they insert for as little as 10 cents per file. The kiosks are located in large malls in full view of authorities, who show no interest in shutting them down.

    This is just one manifestation of a general disregard for foreign intellectual-property (IP) rights in Ethiopia. Swift Media is breaking no local laws by selling plundered foreign films. Ethiopia is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Indeed, it is the largest country that has not yet signed any of the big international treaties governing IP, according to Seble Baraki, a local lawyer. Foreign trademarks are infringed with impunity. Kaldi’s, the country’s biggest coffee chain, has a logo suspiciously similar to that of Starbucks. Intercontinental Hotels Group, a British-owned hotel company, is suing a large hotel in central Addis Ababa with the same name. In-N-Out Burger, an American fast-food franchise, has a popular equivalent in Ethiopia that the American firm only learned about when tourists complained to it about poor standards.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia’s World Heritage Site in Photos

    The World Heritage site draws visitors and pilgrims with its monolithic churches carved into the ground. (Photo: AlJazeera)


    The 11 medieval churches hewn from solid, volcanic rock in the heart of Ethiopia were built on the orders of King Lalibela in the 12th century. Lalibela set out to construct a “New Jerusalem” in Africa after Muslims conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

    Legend has it that the design and layout of the churches mimic those observed by the king in Jerusalem, which he had visited as a youth. Many place names across the town are also said to originate from the king’s memories of the Biblical city.

    The churches were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.

    The blocks were chiselled down, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, trenches and ceremonial passages – some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs. Seven of the churches are organically embedded in the rock, while four are self-standing. The sacred site is a place of pilgrimage for those in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It is said the churches were built in only 24 years.

    (Photo: AlJazeera)

    (Photo: AlJazeera)

    Read more and view the rest of the photos at Aljazeera.com »

    On the Roof of Africa in Ethiopia, Amazing Portraits of a Christian Community

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    Ethiopia’s Exiled Prince Selassie of the World’s Oldest Monarchy — FR Australia

    Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie says "People identify with Ethiopia – its resistance to colonialism, its long history, its sense of pride, sense of tolerance and the living together of all these different religions in peace." (FRA)

    Financial Review Australia

    Ethiopia’s Prince Selassie. The exiled prince from the world’s oldest monarchy

    On the face of it, Australia and Ethiopia have little in common. A poor country of 100 million people on the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is scarred by coups, civil wars and famine.

    But links range from Australian mining investments to eucalyptus trees ringing the capital Addis Ababa; from Australian “Whaler” horses providing mounts for the ceremonial guard, to both countries’ soldiers fighting alongside in the Korean War. And then there is the Australian-founded, funded and run obstetric fistula hospital, the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.

    Promoting the ties, Prince Ermias, President of the Crown Council and putative successor to the oldest throne in the world, believes both are “gateway” countries – Australia to Asia, and Ethiopia to Africa.

    Australia is “a gateway to Asia and because of that to the world.” he says. Ethiopia is the oldest state in Africa with the oldest continuous Judeo-Christian bloodlines. It hosts the African Union, and ranks, after Brussels, as a major diplomatic capital, making it “the gateway for Africa”.

    Warming to his theme, Prince Ermias views Australia as “a microcosm of what the world may look like in the future because you have all types of people in this supposedly isolated and remote place”.

    Arriving in Sydney, “what struck me the most was the multicultural nature of Australia. I found it more visually stunning than New York.” The Big Apple “is supposed to be a melting pot of the world but when I came to Sydney Airport and I was watching all those faces I just could not believe the interaction of people.”

    Read more @FinancialReview »

    Family of Ethiopia’s Late Emperor Gives $700k to Haile Selassie School in Jamaica
    Tadias Interview With Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie
    In Pictures: 50th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Historic Visit to Jamaica
    Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch
    New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie (TADIAS)

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    Forbes: 5 Ethiopian Multi-Millionaires You Should Know

    Tewodros Ashenafi, co-owner of Ambo Mineral Water (top left), Akiko Seyoum Ambaye, founder of Orchid Business Group (pictured center), Buzuayehu T. Bizenu, chairman of East African Holding (top right), Belayneh Kindie, Import And Export BKIEA (bottom left), and Ketema Kebede, founder of KK PLC. (Forbes)

    Forbes Magazine

    A few Ethiopians have built multi-million and billion dollar empires in industries as diverse as agriculture, food, construction, energy and distribution and earned multi-million dollar fortunes to boot. Their names don’t ring with the African public, and you’ve probably never heard about them before, but they are very successful — and very wealthy. Meet 5 Ethiopian entrepreneurs, who own businesses with annual revenues of $50 million or more.

    See the list at Forbes.com »

    Inside The Weeknd’s $92 Million Year–And The New Streaming Economy Behind It (Forbes)

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    Ethiopia Warns Emergency Drought Aid to Run Out Next Month

    (AP photo by Elias Meseret)

    Associated Press

    By Elias Meseret

    WARDER, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s government is warning it will run out of emergency food aid starting next month as the number of drought victims in the East African country has reached 7.8 million.

    An international delegation visited one of the worst-affected areas Friday near the border with Somalia, which suffers from widespread drought as well. Several hundred people lined the dusty road to meet the officials at the remote airstrip, while rail-thin camels and goats roamed in the bushes. Animal carcasses littered the ground.

    “I came to this area after losing nearly all my goats and camels due to lack of rain,” 75-year-old Ader Ali Yusuf said quietly, wiping her cheek with her headscarf as she sat with other women observing the delegation from afar. The mother of 12 is just one of thousands of Ethiopians who have walked up to three days on foot to displacement camps for aid.

    Ethiopia’s disaster relief chief Mitiku Kassa told The Associated Press that the country needs more than $1 billion for emergency food assistance. Seasonal rains have been critically small and local cattle are dying. The number of drought victims has risen by two million people in the past four months.

    The risk of an acute food and nutritional disaster is “very high,” the disaster relief chief said.

    The International Organization for Migration said hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, with the problem compounded as people pour into Ethiopia from Somalia. — (AP)

    A United Nations humanitarian envoy said donor fatigue and similar crises elsewhere have hurt aid efforts. Both Somalia and neighboring South Sudan are among four countries recently singled out by the United Nations in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine. Already, famine has been declared for two counties in South Sudan.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia’s Civil Society Getting Squeezed

    People walk past the Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa. Observers say Ethiopian courts frequently use the country's anti-terrorism laws to restrict activities of government critics. (AP file photo)

    VOA News

    WASHINGTON — From an internet shutdown to convictions of journalists and opposition members, Ethiopia’s civil society has felt like it’s under attack in recent weeks.

    On May 24, Getachew Shiferaw, editor of the news website Negere Ethiopia, was convicted of “inciting violence” because of a private Facebook conversation. The Ethiopian Federal Court initially charged Shiferaw under the country’s anti-terrorism law, but later charged him under the criminal code and sentenced him to time served since his arrest in 2015.

    On May 25, a court sentenced Ethiopian opposition spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye to six-and-a-half years in prison on charges that he encouraged terrorism with comments on Facebook. Yeshiwas Assefa, newly elected president of the Semayawi (Blue) Party, called the verdict “disappointing and embarrassing.”

    “Yonatan is sentenced to six years and six months just because of what he wrote on Facebook as something that encourages terrorism. He was expressing his thoughts freely. This is what we fear would bring people to protest in our country,” he told VOA.

    The following day, May 26, two men, Tufa Melka and Kedir Bedasso, were charged with terrorism for their role in a stampede that occurred in October 2016 at a cultural festival in the Oromia region. The men are accused of yelling things into the microphone that led to chaos and the death of 55 people.

    Gemeda Wariyo, a protester who grabbed the microphone and admitted to chanting “down, down Woyane” is in exile now and wasn’t mentioned in the court documents. “Woyane” is a colloquial term used to describe the ruling party in Ethiopia.

    “I took the microphone in a peaceful protest,” he told VOA Amharic. “I was the one who protested and I don’t know the men blamed for grabbing the microphone.”

    FILE – Ethiopian men read newspapers and drink coffee at a cafe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 10, 2016. The Ethiopian government temporarily cut off internet access nationwide in early June, saying it was necessary to prevent students from cheating on final exams.

    And in early June, the government cut off internet access nationwide, stating that the measure was needed to prevent high school students from cheating on final exams by sharing answers on social media.

    In a press conference, Communications Minister Negeri Lencho denied the move was to control free communication.

    “The only reason is to help our students to concentrate on the exams because we know we are fighting poverty,” he said.

    As of June 8, internet access including social media sites was restored, according to published reports.

    ‘Under assault’

    In a new report, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international think tank, concluded that the targeting of civil society and restrictions on free speech fit a pattern in Ethiopia. Over the past two decades the space for political opposition has been steadily constricted and civil liberties taken away, the report said.

    Two laws in particular, the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-terrorism Proclamation, both passed in 2009, have given the government wide latitude to imprison opposition members and journalists and shut down groups advocating for human rights, Carnegie found.

    Saskia Brechenmacher, an associate fellow at the Carnegie Endowment who worked on the report, said anti-terrorism laws have been used across Africa to stifle dissent.

    “Those laws have become very effective tools, especially in moments of crisis as we are seeing right now,” she said. “Ahead of elections or during moments of sustained protests, [they are used] to target selectively, particularly activists and journalists that are seen as particularly threatening.”

    FILE – Security personnel take action against protesters in Bishoftu town in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, Oct. 2, 2016. Critics say that ahead of elections or during moments of sustained protests the Ethiopian government has been known to resort to a self-serving interpretation of the country’s anti-terrorism laws to stifle dissent, selectively targeting activists and journalists.

    Brechenmacher said Ethiopia also cracks down on civil society groups through a provision in the charities law, which prevents organizations from receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad.

    “Many organizations had to switch their mandate and activities and turn more toward developmental and civil liberties because they couldn’t carry out the kind of work they had been doing before,” she said.

    Brechenmacher said these restrictions represent an abrupt reversal for a country that was becoming more open prior to the crackdowns that followed the 2005 elections.

    “Ethiopia showcases what a dramatic effect this could have on independent civil society and the amount of information that is available in a country,” she said. “And also it really testifies the extent to which this does not really address the grievances that citizens have vis-a-vis the government and therefore those grievances will find another outlet.”

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    Comey Accuses White House of ‘Lies’ and Says Trump Tried to Derail Inquiry

    “Those were lies, plain and simple,” James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Jun. 08, 2017 discussing White House explanations for his firing. (New York Times)

    The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the recently fired F.B.I. director, said Thursday in an extraordinary Senate hearing that he believed that President Trump had clearly tried to derail an F.B.I. investigation into his former national security adviser and that the president had lied and defamed him.

    Mr. Comey, no longer constrained by the formalities of a government job, offered a blunt, plain-spoken assessment of a president whose conversations unnerved him from the day they met, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. His testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee provided an unflattering back story to his abrupt dismissal and squarely raised the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice.

    Answering that falls to the Justice Department special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Comey revealed that he gave all of the memos he wrote on his interactions with the president to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the first suggestion that prosecutors would investigate Mr. Comey’s firing last month.

    Read more »

    Comey says he was fired over Russia probe, blasts ‘lies’ (AP)
    Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate the Trump-Russia Case (AP)

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    Tedros Adhanom Elected Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General-Elect (center), with Dr Veronika Skvortsova, President of the 70th World Health Assembly (left), and Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. (UN photo)

    The Associated Press

    Published: May 23rd, 2017

    GENEVA — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian minister of health, was elected as the next director-general of the World Health Organization on Tuesday, becoming the first non-medical doctor and the first African tapped to lead the U.N. health agency.

    Delegates, health ministers and other high-level envoys chose Tedros over Britain’s Dr. David Nabarro, a U.N. veteran, in the third and final round of voting. Tedros had 133 votes to Nabarro’s 50, with two abstentions.

    The third candidate, Pakistan’s Dr. Sania Nishtar, was eliminated in the first round.

    Ethiopian delegates could be seen hugging and high-fiving each other after their countryman made it to the second round. Tedro succeeds China’s Dr. Margaret Chan, who is ending a 10-year tenure at the U.N. health agency on June 30.

    The director-general of WHO wields considerable power in setting medical priorities that affect billions of people and declaring when crises like disease outbreaks evolve into global emergencies.

    The agency has stumbled in recent years, most notably in its error-prone response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and all three candidates vowed to overhaul its organization to restore credibility.

    Of the U.N. health agency’s 194 member states, 185 were eligible to cast ballots; nine others either were in arrears on their dues or not represented at the gathering.

    Jean-Marie Ehouzou, the African Union’s top envoy in Geneva, expressed “happiness, happiness, happiness” at the result.

    “It’s not only a question of symbolism,” he said, referring to Tedros’ status as the first African to run WHO. “It shows when we are united, we can do everything.”

    Read more »

    News Release

    United Nations

    Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom elected to top UN health post

    GENEVA – The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the United Nations health agency, today elected Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

    “Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was nominated by the Government of Ethiopia, and will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017,” WHO said in a statement following the afternoon vote.

    Among his previous positions, Dr. Tedros was Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and, prior, Minister of Health.

    He also served as Chair of the Global Fund and of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board (RBM), where he secured “record funding” for the two organizations and created the Global Malaria Action Plan, which expanded RBM’s reach beyond Africa to Asia and Latin America, according to the UN agency.

    The incoming health chief was chosen from amongst three nominees presented to the World Health Assembly, along with David Nabarro from the UK, and Sania Nishtar from Pakistan, in a process that began before September 2016.

    Dr. Tedros will succeed Margaret Chan, who yesterday addressed the World Health Assembly for the final time after serving two consecutive five-year terms.

    Ethiopian wins race to be next leader of UN health agency (The Associated Press)

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    Carnegie Endowment Report Outlines Civil Society Under Assault in Ethiopia

    In Ethiopia the government has used court proceedings to selectively intimidate and silence high-profile activists, reporters, and civil society leaders. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

    Carnegie Endowment

    Civil Society Under Assault in Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia

    The closing of civic space has become a defining feature of political life in an ever-increasing number of countries. Civil society organizations worldwide are facing systematic efforts to reduce their legitimacy and effectiveness. Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia have been at the forefront of this global trend. In all three countries, governments’ sweeping assault on associational life has forced civic groups to reorient their activities, seek out new funding sources, and move toward more resilient organizational models. Competing security and geopolitical interests have muddled U.S. and European responses, with governments divided over the value of aggressive pushback versus continued engagement.

    Governments in Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia have used a wide range of tactics to restrict civil society:

    Public vilification. Governments rely on aggressive smear campaigns to discredit independent civil society groups, building on suspicions of foreign political meddling, fears of violent extremism, and anti-elite attitudes within society.

    Sweeping legal measures. In addition to restrictive laws controlling nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), sweeping antiterror and antiprotest measures with vague legal definitions enable selective and unpredictable enforcement, which reinforces fear and self-censorship among activists.

    Civil society co-optation. Governments purposefully sow divisions between apolitical and politically oriented organizations and selectively disburse rewards to co-opt civic actors and promote pro-government mobilization.

    However, there are also differences among the three cases:

    In Ethiopia, authorities have pushed NGOs from rights-based efforts to service delivery activities and imposed onerous funding limitations. Targeted repression in the name of counterterrorism has further stifled civic activism, and the government is increasingly relying on emergency powers to suppress growing rural dissent.

    Click here to read the full report »

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    U.S. Senators Call on Ethiopia to Respect Human Rights, Open Democratic Space

    The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is charged with leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. The Committee is generally responsible for overseeing and funding foreign aid programs.

    Press Release

    Cardin, Rubio Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Calling on Ethiopia to Respect Human Rights, Open Democratic Space

    WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a Senate resolution Wednesday condemning excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces that led to hundreds of deaths last year, and calling on the Ethiopian government to release all political opposition, dissidents, activists, and journalists and to respect the rights enshrined in its constitution.

    The Resolution notes that hundreds of people have been killed and thousands were arrested during the course of the protests. To date, there has not been a credible accounting for the excesses of security forces.

    Joining Senators Cardin and Rubio as original cosponsors of the resolution are U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

    “The Ethiopian government must make progress on respecting human rights and democratic freedoms. I am deeply troubled by the arrest and ongoing detention of a number of prominent opposition political figures. The fact that we have partnered with the Ethiopian government on counterterrorism does not mean that we will stay silent when it abuses its own people,” said Senator Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “On the contrary, our partnership means that we must speak out when innocent people are detained, and laws are used to stifle legitimate political dissent.”

    “As the Ethiopian government continues to stall on making progress on human rights and democratic reform, it is critical that the United States remains vocal in condemning Ethiopia’s human rights abuses against its own people,” said Senator Rubio, chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on human rights and civilian security. “I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to urge the Ethiopian government to respect the rule of law and prioritize human rights and political reforms.”

    The text of the resolution is at this link.

    EU Calls for Urgent UN Inquiry Into Protester Deaths & Detention in Ethiopia
    Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia

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    EU Calls for Urgent UN Inquiry Into Protester Deaths & Detention in Ethiopia

    European Parliament Demands Investigation Into Ethiopia Killings. (Photo: Reuters)

    Human Rights Watch

    May 18, 2017

    New York — Today, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a United Nations-led independent investigation into the killing of protesters in Ethiopia. Between November 2015 and October 2016, Ethiopian security forces killed hundreds of protesters, and detained tens of thousands. An overly restrictive state of emergency has been in place for the past seven months, and tens of thousands more people have been detained under it. Today’s resolution echoes a previous European Union parliamentary resolution, resolutions by other countries, and last month’s request by the UN’s top human rights chief for access to investigate the abuses.

    Ethiopia’s government has always rejected outside scrutiny of its horrific rights record, insisting that it can investigate itself. Yet it has conspicuously failed to do so. Past investigations by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have not met basic standards of impartiality, including its June 2016 report into abuses during the protests’ first six months. In April 2017, the EHRC acknowledged that 669 people were killed in an oral report to parliament, but found that security forces had used excessive force in just a few situations. This stands in stark contrast to what Human Rights Watch and other organizations have found, drawing on evidence that includes a wealth of video and photographic material. The EHRC hasn’t publicly released a version of their findings, so it’s impossible to assess their methodology or learn how they reached their conclusions.

    International experts having access to areas where protests occurred and to people still in detention are important first steps towards meaningful investigations. But there are other obstacles too, like victims and witnesses being too afraid to speak out about government abuses. Thousands of Ethiopians have fled the country since the protests, seeking asylum in bordering countries. They too should be part of investigations into what happened, from locations where they may be more free to speak without fear.

    Today’s resolution specifically calls on Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, to “mobilise EU Member States” to urgently pursue the setting up of the UN-led international inquiry, and they can take the first step towards this at the upcoming Human Rights Council session next month in Geneva.

    It’s hoped that implementing today’s timely resolution can help address the pervasive culture of impunity in Ethiopia. The resolution also reiterates the EU’s recognition of the importance of justice to ensure Ethiopia’s long-term stability. To the many victims of Ethiopia’s brutality, a UN-led inquiry could at least begin to answer pleas for justice that too often have gone unheard.

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    In Ethiopia Blue Party Leader Faces 20 Years in Jail for a Facebook Post

    Yonatan Tesfaye, who was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party, is due to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 20 years' imprisonment. (BBC News)

    BBC News

    Ethiopian opposition politician Yonatan Tesfaye has been found guilty of encouraging terrorism for comments he made on Facebook.

    He was arrested in December 2015 as a wave of anti-government protests in the Oromia region was gathering momentum.

    The authorities objected to several posts including one in which he said the government used “force against the people instead of peaceful discussion”.

    Ethiopia has been criticised for using anti-terror laws to silence dissent.

    Amnesty International described the charges as “trumped up”, when they were confirmed in May 2016.

    A section of Ethiopia’s anti-terror law says that anyone who makes a statement that could be seen as encouraging people to commit an act of terror can be prosecuted.

    In a translation of the charge sheet by the Ethiopian Human Rights Project that details the Facebook comments, Mr Yonatan allegedly said: “I am telling you to destroy [the ruling party's] oppressive materials… Now is the time to make our killers lame.”

    Mr Yonatan, who was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party, is due to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

    Read more »

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    UPDATE: Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate the Trump-Russia Case

    The U.S. Justice Dept. appointed former prosecutor and FBI director Robert Mueller to lead an investigation into the Trump-Russia case. The decision fulfilled lawmakers' demands for an independently probe. (AP)

    Associated Press

    Updated: May 17th, 2017

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department abruptly appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday night as a special counsel to lead a federal investigation into allegations that Donald Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election that put him in the White House. Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.

    The surprise announcement to hand the probe over to Mueller, a lawman with deep bipartisan respect, was a striking shift for Trump’s Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly loud calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor. It immediately escalated the legal stakes — and the potential political damage — for a president who has tried to dismiss the matter as partisan witch hunt and a “hoax.”

    The announcement, the latest in the shock-a-day Washington saga, was made by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The White House counsel’s office was alerted only after the order appointing Mueller was signed, said a senior White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly by name and commented only on condition of anonymity.

    In a written statement, Trump insisted anew there were no nefarious ties between his campaign and Russia.

    “A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” he declared. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

    Mueller’s broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russia probe, but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” That would surely include Trump’s firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

    Mueller, a former federal prosecutor at the Justice Department, was confirmed as FBI director days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that would ultimately shape his tenure. The FBI’s counterterror mission was elevated in those years, as the U.S. intelligence agencies adjusted to better position America to prevent another attack of such magnitude. He was so valued that President Barack Obama asked him to stay on two years longer than his 10-year term.

    Comey succeeded him, appointed by Obama.

    Rosenstein said the appointment was “necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”

    Read more »

    Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation (The New York Times)
    U.S. Lawmakers to Trump: Turn Over Transcript of Meeting With Russians (The Washington Post)
    Trump Shared Top US Secrets With Russia (The Washington Post)

    Political Chaos in Washington is a Return on Investment for Moscow (The Washington Post)
    Former director of US national intelligence says US institutions under assault by Trump & Russia (CNN)

    Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey (The Washington Post)

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    Report: Trump Gave Top Secrets to Russia

    President Trump with the Russian foreign minister, left, and the Russian ambassador at the White House on May 10th 2017. (The photo was taken by a Russian photographer. American journalists were not allowed)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: May 16th, 2017

    U.S. Lawmakers to Trump: Turn Over Transcript of Meeting With Russians

    A growing number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are calling on President Trump to hand over the transcript of the White House meeting last week in which he revealed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador, according to current and former U.S. officials.

    Members of Congress — primarily Democrats — have spent several days demanding that Trump turn over tapes of White House meetings after he suggested, while defending his decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, that he records his conversations.

    But the calls intensified Tuesday morning after Trump seemed to acknowledge on Twitter that he had shared sensitive information during his meeting with the Russians.

    “We want to know what took place in that meeting, and my understanding is there may be recordings or transcripts,” Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday on Capitol Hill. “Obviously, we’d like to see that with appropriate redactions.”

    Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump should release the alleged transcript “if [he] has nothing to hide.”

    “Until the administration fully explains the facts of this case, the American people will rightly doubt if their president can handle our nation’s most closely kept secrets,” Schumer said Tuesday on the Senate floor. And a former Marine intelligence officer now serving in the House said transparency demands the release of the transcript, if it exists.

    Read more »

    Hill Republicans alarmed by Trump disclosure to Russians (Politico)
    Trump Shared Top US Secrets With Russia (The Washington Post)

    Political Chaos in Washington is a Return on Investment for Moscow (The Washington Post)
    Former director of US national intelligence says US institutions under assault by Trump & Russia (CNN)

    Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey (The Washington Post)

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    US Announces Success of USAID-DuPont Partnership in Ethiopia Farm Project

    The Trump administration announced a successful public-private partnership in Ethiopia between USAID and DuPont to advance the agricultural development and food security goals set by Ethiopia. (U.S. Embassy Addis)

    Press release

    U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

    USAID-DuPont Partnership helps hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian farmers transform production and livelihoods

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and DuPont announced that the Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (AMSAP), a public-private partnership between USAID, DuPont and the Government of Ethiopia, exceeded its goal by 150 percent to boost maize productivity among smallholder farmers and increase food production for Ethiopian communities.

    As part of America’s Feed the Future initiative, the program’s objective was to sustainably increase more than 100,000 smallholder farmers’ yields and enhance income potential, while also improving nutrition outcomes in 16 districts over three regions across Ethiopia. The program has already helped 250,000 smallholder farmers in 53 districts to adopt new technology and implement smarter agricultural practices, far surpassing its 2018 target goal.

    This public-private partnership was made possible through a dollar for dollar matching program that runs from 2015 to 2018 and leveraged a $2 million contribution from DuPont. Prior to this program, farmers were harvesting 2.2 metric tons per hectare. In districts where AMSAP was administered, they now harvest 7.5 metric tons per hectare. Since its launch four years ago, participating farmers have achieved an almost 300 percent increase, on average, in their maize yield productivity. They are also more efficiently connected to markets, which has helped boost incomes as much as $1500 per farmer, per year.

    “We’re thrilled to see that we have more than doubled our goal with nearly two years left in our partnership,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, Deputy Coordinator for Feed the Future and USAID Assistant Administrator for Food Security. “It’s these kinds of partnerships that demonstrate the outsized impact we can have when the U.S. development community teams up with America’s leading companies.”

    AMSAP provides increased access to training, improved inputs such as hybrid seeds, and provides other technical support.


    Feed the Future is America’s initiative to combat global hunger and poverty. It brings partners together to help some of the world’s poorest countries harness the power of agriculture and entrepreneurship to jumpstart their economies and create new opportunities. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov

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    Tibeb Girls Children’s Animated Series

    From the creators of the award-winning Ethiopian educational children's series Tsehai Loves Learning comes a new action-drama about three young girls who use their superpowers to tackle big issues. (VOA News)

    VOA News

    ADDIS ABABA — Three young Ethiopian girls use their superpowers to stop harmful practices against girls in rural areas and to promote access to school. That is the story behind “Tibeb Girls,” a new animated series developed in Ethiopia.

    “Tibeb Girls” is the first animated cartoon in which Ethiopian girls play not only the lead characters, but are also portrayed as superheroes. “Tibeb” means wisdom in Amharic.

    “For me, it was very important to have girls who look like me and who look like my child to be on the screen playing very good role models,” said Bruktawit Tigabu, who created “Tibeb Girls.”

    (Screenshot from ‘Tibeb Girls’)

    Representing and empowering girls is a big responsibility. Therefore the writers, such as Mahlet Haileyesus, put a lot of preparation into an episode.

    “We try to include everybody, like the relevant stakeholders, government bureaus, specific target groups,” said Mahlet Haileyesus, one of the show’s writers. “And then once the synopsis is developed, we do prototyping, which means we go to the field and test it.”

    Meaza Takele reads the ‘Tibeb Girls’ comis strip to her young children. (VOA photo)

    “Tibeb Girls” is also published as a comic strip that Meaza Takele reads to her young children each night before they go to bed.

    “When I ask my children why they love the cartoon, they say it’s because now they have a cartoon that is Ethiopian and where their own language is spoken,” she said.

    Creator Bruktawit hopes to raise funds to further develop the TV show, as she tries to sell the first season to broadcasters in Ethiopia and other African countries where young girls face the same issues.

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    McCain Blasts Trump on Human Rights

    Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain published an op-ed for the New York Times on Monday, May 8th 2017 criticizing Trump on lack of human rights focus in his foreign policy. (AP photo)

    VOA News

    Senator McCain Blasts Trump on Lack of Human Rights Focus

    U.S. Senator John McCain is criticizing the foreign policy of the Trump administration, saying it is not focused enough on human rights abuses around the world.

    In an op-ed article for the New York Times, the Republican senator said the United States has an obligation to speak out for human rights as a country that was created from “an ideal that liberty is the inalienable right of mankind.”

    He criticized recent comments made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said conditioning U.S. foreign policy too heavily on values creates obstacles to advance U.S. national interests.

    “With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere: Don’t look to the United States for hope … We make policy to serve our interests, which are not related to our values,” McCain wrote.

    McCain said some will credit Tillerson’s point of view with realism, but he said “if by realism they mean policy that is rooted in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be, they couldn’t be more wrong.” He said it is foolish to view realism and idealism as incompatible. McCain said the demand by people for human rights is reality, and said that by denying them these rights, we “invite their enduring resentment.”

    “To view foreign policy as simply transactional is more dangerous than its proponents realize,” he wrote. “Our values are our greatest strength and treasure.”

    McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, has criticized the Trump administration on a range of issues, including the president’s immigration orders and wish to have better relations with Russia. McCain has also sparred with the president about comments he made on the possible legality of torture and gave only a lukewarm endorsement of Tillerson during his confirmation process.

    John McCain: Why We Must Support Human Rights (NYT)
    Donald Trump’s dangerous flattery of foreign dictators shows how little he cares about human rights
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    George W. Bush: PEPFAR Saves Millions of Lives in Africa. Keep it Fully Funded.
    Ethiopia: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Misses Annual Human Rights Presentation
    Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
    Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
    Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
    U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
    Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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    U.N. Human Rights Chief Pushes for Inquiry into Ethiopia Unrest

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein requested that UN officials be given access to affected regions: "We may then perhaps provide a list for specific releases," he said. (UN)

    Reuters | ADDIS ABABA

    The United Nations human rights chief said on Thursday he would push Ethiopia to allow his agency to investigate rights abuses during months of unrest in 2015 and 2016 in which hundreds of people were killed.

    The Horn of Africa country declared six months of emergency rule in October after more than a year of violent protests in its Oromiya and Amhara regions. Demonstrators in the areas say the government has trampled on their political rights. The state of emergency has since been extended by four months.

    Last month, a government-sanctioned investigation said 669 people had been killed in the violence.

    Speaking to journalists during a three-day visit, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said there was a “clear need for a much wider and freer civic space” in Ethiopia.

    “Although I benefited greatly from the briefings provided to me by the Attorney General’s office, the extremely large number of arrests – over 26,000 – suggests it is unlikely rule of law guarantees have been observed in every case,” he said.

    “I believe my staff ought to be given access to the affected areas, and I renew my request, so we can assess the situation and ascertain what further support can be given to the authorities, including justice officials.”

    Read more »

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    US Budget Pays for Security in Ethiopia

    The $1 trillion U.S. spending package for the rest of 2017 that was approved this week by the U.S. congress includes money to cover "border security and counterterrorism programs" in Ethiopia. (Photo: Townhall)


    Bill Funds Border Security — in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Egypt…

    The 1,665-page spending bill the Republican-controlled Congress is planning to pass this week includes multiple measures that seemingly demonstrate a commitment to securing the border — in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

    It does not include the $1.4 billion President Donald Trump requested to begin building the wall he promised to build along the U.S.-Mexico border…

    Under the terms of the funding bill, U.S. taxpayer money will also go to Ethiopia “for border security and counterterrorism programs.”

    Read the full article at Townhall.com »

    Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia
    Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

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    UN Human Rights Chief to Visit Ethiopia

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. (UN Photo)

    By Associated Press

    UN rights chief to visit Ethiopia after deadly protests

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The United Nations says the U.N. human rights chief will visit Ethiopia next month at the invitation of the government, which has rejected U.N. and other outside offers to investigate months of deadly protests.

    Ethiopia remains under a state of emergency declared in October after hundreds were killed amid anti-government protests demanding wider political freedoms.

    A U.N. statement Friday says Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein will visit the East African nation on May 2-4 and meet the prime minister and other officials along with civil society groups.

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn this month rejected U.N. and European Union requests to investigate the protests in which the government says at least 669 people died.

    Zeid also will meet with officials from the African Union continental body, which is based in Ethiopia’s capital.

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    Controversy Brews Over British Designer’s Velvet Jacket Almost Identical to ‘Kaba’

    British fashion designer Alexander McQueen's £4,895 black velvet jacket looks very similar to Kaba. (DM)

    Daily Mail

    Alexander McQueen has been accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ for designing a jacket that looks remarkably similar to a ceremonial gown from the Horn of Africa.

    Hundreds of people from the Habesha community – who come from Eritrea and northern Ethiopia – have reacted in fury on social media after the fashion house posted a picture of a £4,895 black velvet jacket covered in gold embroidery on Instagram.

    An Ethiopian priests wearing the ceremonial kaba gown. (Flickr)

    Read more at the Daily Mail »

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    Eskinder Nega: 2017 Press Freedom Hero

    IPI, which is a global network of journalists, editors and media executives, has named Ethiopia’s Eskinder Nega the 2017 World Press Freedom Hero. (Image: IPI)

    International Press Institute

    Eskinder Nega named IPI Press Freedom Hero

    Ethiopian journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, who has been imprisoned since 2011 after criticising his country’s abuse of anti-terror laws to silence the press, has been named the International Press Institute (IPI)’s 69th World Press Freedom Hero.

    IPI also announced today the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee as the recipient of the 2017 Free Media Pioneer Award in recognition of the group’s courageous and trailblazing work to prevent, combat and monitor attacks on journalists in one of the world’s most dangerous media environments.

    Both awards, which for the past three years have been given in partnership with Copenhagen-based International Media Support (IMS), will be presented during a special ceremony on May 18 in Hamburg, Germany during IPI’s annual World Congress and General Assembly.

    Press Freedom Hero

    IPI’s World Press Freedom Hero Award honours journalists who have made significant contributions to the promotion of press freedom, particularly in the face of great personal risk.

    Nega has spent over 2,000 days behind bars since his arrest on Sept. 14, 2011, when Ethiopian authorities accused him of “leading a plan to throw the country into serious political chaos through a series of terrorist acts” and linked him to a banned opposition group. His jailing came shortly after Nega, a persistent critic of Ethiopia’s former long-time ruler and then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, published a column questioning the government’s abuse of anti-terror laws to punish journalistic scrutiny.

    Nega’s comments were preceded by a wave of detentions under Ethiopia’s broad 2009 anti-terror law, including those of journalists Woubshet Taye and Reeyot Alemu – the 2013 recipient of the UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize – as well as Swedish correspondents Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson.

    An Ethiopian court convicted Nega in June 2012 of “participation in a terrorist organization” and “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of (a) terrorist act”. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison the following month, a decision the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention later said violated international law.

    IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said the award was a recognition of Nega’s “unflinching dedication to the free exchange of ideas and information and his determination – at the expense of his freedom and separation from his family – not to remain silent in the face of the Ethiopian government’s cynical attempt to use the fight against terrorism to crush legitimate dissent”.

    She continued: “This award sends the message that Eskinder Nega’s bravery in relentlessly scrutinising power despite years of intense retaliation has not been forgotten. We renew our call on Ethiopia to free Eskinder and all journalists jailed for doing their jobs or expressing their opinions, and we urge the international community not to ignore Ethiopia’s continued flouting of its international human rights obligations”.

    Nega faced frequent official pressure and harassment due to his writing beginning in the early 1990s. In 2005, he and his wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil, were jailed on treason charges for their coverage of a mass government crackdown on popular protests following disputed parliamentary elections won by Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Fasil would later give birth to a son behind bars. Authorities released the couple in April 2007 but shuttered their publishing company and banned Nega from practicing journalism.

    Fasil, who now lives in exile in the United States with their son, said of IPI and IMS’ recognition of her husband that it was “absolutely heart-warming to know that all his sacrifices and valuable contribution to press freedom are not wasted in vain, but continue to shine a spotlight [on his plight] on the global stage”.

    She added: ”Although, it remains a bittersweet moment for me (knowing where he is now), it is important to uphold such recognition for the tremendous impact it’s having to those who aspire to follow in his footsteps. … I truly hope it also expedites his release from imprisonment and brings an end to his suffering.”

    IPI and its members have previously called for Nega’s release, including during a November 2013 joint mission to Ethiopia with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). The Ethiopian government on that occasion denied IPI and WAN-IFRA’s requests to visit Nega and other jailed journalists.

    The following year, WAN-IFRA honoured Nega with its Golden Pen of Freedom Award. In 2012, he also received the PEN American Center/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

    In early September 2011, commenting on the arrests of Taye and Alemu, and just days before his own detention, Nega wrote to IPI: “Their arrest has more to do with calculated cultivation of fear. Fear is what dictatorships ultimately rely on to survive.”

    Free Media Pioneer

    The annual Free Media Pioneer Award was established by IPI in 1996 to recognise news or media organisations that have made innovations that have promoted news access or quality, or benefitted journalists and the media community, thereby ensuring freer and more independent media in their country or region.

    Read more »

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    Africa’s House of Cards: Ethiopia Enters Its Seventh Month of Emergency Rule

    (Getty Images)

    The Economist

    The old model persists: development now, democracy later

    AMBO — THE three-hour bus-ride to Ambo from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, offers a glimpse into the country’s future. The road is well paved; irrigation ditches and polytunnels criss-cross commercial farmland; electricity lines leap over forested hills. The signal granting access to mobile internet is clear and constant. As the bus pulls into Ambo, a trading centre in Oromia, the largest and most populous of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based regions, the street is bustling.

    But there are signs, too, that not all is well. An army truck rolls down the main road. Federal police surround the entrance to the local university. Unemployed young men playing snooker in bar point at a building across the road: it used to be a bank, but it was burnt down. Three years ago 17 local boys were shot dead by security guards as they protested on the doorstep, the young men say.

    Ambo has a reputation for dissent. It was on these streets that protests against authoritarian rule started in 2014 before sweeping across the country. They culminated in the declaration of a six-month state of emergency on October 9th last year.

    Students from Ambo University led the charge in opposing a since-shelved plan to expand the capital city into surrounding farmland. Oromo identity is especially powerful here: locals speak angrily about being pushed aside by ethnic Tigrayans, who they say dominate the government despite making up less than 6% of the population.

    The country’s leading opposition politician, Merera Gudina—who was charged with inciting terrorism in February and was scheduled to appear in the dock on April 24th—comes from this area. When the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) extended the emergency law for another four months (albeit after watering down its most draconian provisions) on March 30th, it was because of places like Ambo. Hundreds of its citizens have been arrested and subjected to months of “re-education” in military camps. Although stability has more or less returned to Ethiopia there are still young men across Oromia and Amhara, the second-largest region, who talk of protesting once more when the state of emergency is eventually lifted.

    Not everyone feels this way. There may have been plenty of raised eyebrows when the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, told Parliament on March 15th that 82% of Ethiopians wanted the state of emergency extended.

    Read more »

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    ‘So, What’s Been Going On?’ Jokes Obama at 1st Public Event as Former President

    In his first public event since leaving the White House former President Barack Obama held a conversation with young leaders at the University of Chicago on Monday, April 24th, 2017. (Photo: CNN video)

    The Hill

    Former President Barack Obama on Monday kicked off his first public appearance since leaving office by jokingly asking if he’s missed anything important.

    “So uh, what’s been going on while I’ve been gone?” Obama asked with a smile.

    “It is wonderful to be home, it is wonderful to be at the University of Chicago, it is wonderful to be on the South Side of Chicago and it is wonderful to be with these young people here.”

    Obama has kept a low profile since leaving office earlier this year. His appearance Monday comes as President Trump approaches his 100th day in office.

    On Sunday, the former president met with at-risk youth in Chicago ahead of his first post-presidency speech.

    He joined a group of young men and boys for a discussion sponsored by the Cred program in the same South Side Chicago neighborhood where he started as a community organizer.

    Obama “listened to the young men’s stories and shared some of the challenges that he faced growing up,” spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a release.

    “He expressed that he was optimistic about their potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families because of the services provided in the program.”

    Watch: Obama ‘What’s been going on while I’ve been gone’

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    Ethiopia Unrest Killed 669: Report

    (Photo: Reuters)


    ADDIS ABABA — A total of 669 people were killed in unrest that gripped Ethiopia for several months until authorities imposed a state of emergency last October, according to an investigation report presented to parliament on Tuesday.

    The Horn of Africa country declared six months of emergency rule after more than a year of violent protests in its Oromiya, Amhara and SNNP regions. Demonstrators in the three areas say the government has trampled on their political rights.

    Ethiopia has faced criticism from abroad as well as at home over its authoritarian approach to economic development, though the government has also presided over stellar rates of growth.

    The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission – a body mandated by parliament to investigate the violence – presented its findings on Tuesday and acknowledged that security forces had taken disproportionate measures in some areas.

    The report said 462 protesters and 33 security personnel had been killed in the unrest that engulfed 91 towns in the Oromiya region alone. The protesters opposed having their land incorporated into the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa.

    Commission head Addisu Gebregziabher told parliament that security forces had been “negligent” when firing teargas at protesters during a religious festival, triggering a stampede that killed scores.

    In the Amhara region, 110 demonstrators and 30 security officials were killed in clashes sparked by the arrest of activists campaigning over disputed territory, the report said.

    Tensions there have simmered for around 25 years over the status of Wolkayt district, which the protesters say was illegally incorporated into the neighboring Tigray region to the north.

    That dispute is particularly sensitive because it runs counter to a division of Ethiopia along ethnic and linguistic lines, imposed by the core of the current ruling EPRDF coalition when it came to power in 1991.

    The report said another 34 people died in the SNNP region which lies to the south of Addis Ababa.

    Ethiopia is an important Western ally against Islamist militants in neighboring Somalia as well as an increasingly important economic player in a fragile region.

    In October Ethiopia accused “elements” in neighboring Eritrea, in Egypt and elsewhere of being behind the wave of disturbances. It has since extended the nationwide state of emergency by four months.

    Ethiopia rejects UN investigation over protest deaths (BBC)

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    Instead of a Wall, an Open Door: Why Ethiopia Welcomes an Enemy’s Refugees

    Cultural similarities have helped Ethiopia absorb more than 160,000 refugees from Eritrea, despite a still-bitter border dispute. But it's also a strategy at a time when other countries are doing the opposite. (CSM)

    CS Monitor

    BADME, ALONG THE ERITREAN-ETHIOPIAN BORDER —When Yordanos and her two young children slipped safely across the Mereb riverbed between Eritrea and Ethiopia late one recent night, they thought the worst of their journey into exile was over. The smuggler had done his job, and they were safely over the border.

    Then they heard the hyenas.

    Yordanos and her children began to yell for help, their panicked calls fading into the solid darkness. Suddenly, she saw a group of Ethiopian soldiers coming towards them. The men comforted the young families, and then escorted them to the nearby town of Badme. “They were like brothers to us,” says Yordanos, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of reprisals from the Eritrean government against her relatives at home.

    In some regards, Ethiopia – and in particular this sliver of Ethiopia’s arid north – is the last place you might expect an Eritrean refugee like Yordanos to receive a warm welcome. In 1998, after all, an Eritrean invasion of this sleepy border town touched off a two-year war between the two countries that cost tens of thousands of lives and more than $4.5 billion, along with destroying most of the then-flourishing network of trade between the two countries. And before that conflict, Eritreans fought a 30-year civil war for independence from Ethiopia, which ended only in 1991.

    Even today, the ashes of those conflicts still smolder. The internationally-brokered peace settlement ending the 1998-2000 war decreed that Ethiopia should give this region of the country back to Eritrea, which claims it as historical land. But Ethiopia never did, and border clashes between the two countries’ militaries continue into the present.

    Still, Yordanos’ story is not uncommon. Fleeing enforced, indefinite military service, illegal imprisonment, and torture, about 165,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers currently live in Ethiopia, according to the United Nations. Upon arrival and registration, they are automatically granted refugee status, and the country continues to welcome more. In February of this year alone, 3,367 new Eritrean refugees arrived in the country, according to Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA).

    Read more »

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    He Took Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Photos, Now Awol Erizku Takes on Trump Era

    Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Awol Erizku grew up in the South Bronx, New York. (The New York Times)

    The New York Times

    Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Photographer Is Opening an ‘Anti-Trump’ Art Show

    LOS ANGELES — By one measure of success, the 28-year-old artist Awol Erizku has possibly already peaked. In February he was revealed to be the photographer behind Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement, which quickly became the most popular Instagram post ever with over 10 million likes.

    The image shows her kneeling in front of a floral wreath so large it looks like a throne.

    But Mr. Erizku, who landed his first New York gallery show before he earned his M.F.A. from Yale, said that sort of record-breaking is not the attention he craves.

    “It would have meant so much more if I had gotten recognition from the Whitney this year,” he said, speaking of the Whitney Biennial — “this thing that every great artist I admire has had.”

    This is just one sign of how thoroughly the artist operates within the traditional biennial-obsessed art world, even as he manages through social media and other platforms to reach a much broader public. He D.J.s here and there and makes mixtapes to play during gallery shows to “make my peers feel welcome.” At his Los Angeles studio recently, Mr. Erizku showed his new artwork while listening to Jim James, Future and Kodak Black.

    That new work is heading to Europe for his first gallery exhibitions there: His defiantly anti-Trump show “Make America Great Again,” at Ben Brown Fine Arts in London, opens on April 20, and his more playful “Purple Reign,” at Stems in Brussels, opens a day later…

    You can also see a Trump-era development: the image of a black panther, which he has lifted straight from the logo of the Black Panther Party, now roams throughout his work, climbing an American flag or clawing a bed of roses. It also appears atop the slogan “Make America Great Again” on a red baseball cap that the artist is selling “to have something affordable in the show.”

    Works for Awol Erizku’s coming exhibitions in his studio. (The New York Times)

    As for the use of the panther image, “I don’t want to take something so powerful and cheapen it by using it too much, like wallpaper. I want to give it more power,” said Mr. Erizku, who speaks rapidly, enthusiastically. “I’m putting it out there because I’m black and I’m Muslim and this is everything Trump has tried to stand against.”

    “I don’t think this show is anti-American, but it is definitely anti-Trump,” he added. “All the people he’s hating on do make America great.”

    Read more at NYTimes.com »

    Shaken & Stirred by Beauty: Review of Awol Erizku’s New Flower (Addis Ababa) Exhibit (TADIAS)

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    Spotlight on Ethiopia’s Jano Band

    The Jano band -- a rare rock band in Ethiopia -- has been playing locally and touring in Europe for the past five years. (Photo: AFP)


    Ethiopian band wins fans by melding rock with African sounds

    At a hotel in Addis Ababa well-known for hosting jazz greats, thousands of fans lined up on a Saturday night to headbang along with what is still a rarity in Ethiopia’s diverse music scene — a rock band.

    Jano, named after a popular item of traditional clothing, has made a name for itself in Africa’s second most populous country, as well as abroad, by blending local styles of music with Western rock and roll.

    “We’re trying to make something very, very different,” said Hailu Amerga, one of four vocalists in the eight-piece, mixed ensemble, that also features a drummer, keyboard player, guitarist and bassist.

    Read more »

    Watch: JANO Band performing at Howard Theatre in DC on July 4th, 2013 (TADIAS Interview)

    Watch: The Ethiopian Rock Band Jano – Interview with Producer Bill Laswell (TADIAS)

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    Ethiopia: Do the Right Thing, Drop All Prosecution of Zone 9 Bloggers (CPJ)

    (Photo: Zoneniners.com)


    Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges

    New York — Ethiopia’s Supreme Court today ruled that two bloggers from the Zone 9 collective, previously acquitted of terrorism charges, should be tried instead on charges of inciting violence through their writing. If convicted of the charge, Atnaf Berhane and Natnail Feleke would face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, according to the Addis Standard newspaper.

    The court upheld the lower court’s acquittal of two other Zone 9 bloggers, Soleyana S Gebremichael and Abel Wabella. Today’s actions by the Supreme Court were a response to prosecutors’ appeal of the October 2015 acquittal of all four.

    “We urge Ethiopian authorities to do the right thing and drop any further prosecution of Atnaf Behane and Natnail Feleke on charges relating to their work,” said Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “Today’s acquittal of two Zone 9 bloggers is a positive step, but there can be no celebration until this exhibition of legal harassment ends once and for all.”

    Ethiopia ranked fourth on CPJ’s 2015 list of the 10 Most Censored Countries and is the fifth worst jailer of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ’s 2016 prison census. CPJ awarded Zone 9 an International Press Freedom Award in 2015.

    For more data and analysis on Ethiopia, visit CPJ’s Ethiopia page.

    Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards

    Audio: Interview With Zone 9 Bloggers Soleyana S. Gebremichael & Endalk Chala

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    Is it Worth the Money? The Economist Looks at Ethiopia’s Space Program

    Reaching for the sky: Why Ethiopia is building a space program and why critics think it an odd use of scarce resources. (Getty Images)

    The Economist

    THE ancient holy town of Lalibela, perched some 2,500 metres above sea-level in Ethiopia’s northern highlands, boasts some of the clearest night skies imaginable. Ethiopian stargazers dream that the mountains around Lalibela may one day host a world-class observatory to rival the big ones in Chile and Hawaii. And in time Ethiopia hopes to do more than just gaze at the stars. It would like to launch its own satellites, too.

    In January the government said it would launch a Chinese-built civilian satellite from an overseas rocket pad within the next five years. It would be designed to Ethiopian specifications and used to monitor crops and the weather, and doubtless to spy on neighbours, too. The government also wants to reduce reliance on foreign telecoms by launching its own communications satellite.

    In putting its own satellites into orbit Ethiopia would join the select club of African nations that have already done so. Nigeria has paid for the launch of five since 2003, some of which it says have helped fight terrorism. South Africa has also put several home-built satellites into space. Egypt launched two earth-observation ones, both of which have since failed; a private company, Nilesat, successfully operates communications ones. Kenya, Angola and Ghana are eager to join them.

    Being able to beam communications or take photos from space offers some economic benefits. Ethiopia’s government hopes that mapping the country to help resolve land disputes, for instance, could boost agricultural productivity. And it could help with planning cities better. Investment in space science might also help speed up industrialisation, the government hopes.

    Read more at Economist.com »

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    BBC Radio on Haile Selassie’s Life & Legacy With Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate

    BBC interviews political analyst and author Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate about the life and legacy of his great-uncle Haile Selassie, the last Emperor of Ethiopia. (Getty Images)


    Sun 2 Apr 2017

    Emperor Haile Selassie was the last in the line of Ethiopia’s ancient monarchy. During his long rule he was revered as an international statesman and reformer, demonised as a dictator, and even worshipped as a God incarnate by the Rastafarians of Jamaica. He was without doubt a controversial figure, but achieved a status in the global arena previously unheard of for an African ruler.

    Bridget Kendall discusses Haile Selassie’s life and legacy with Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate, political analyst and author of ‘King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia’, who is also the great-nephew of Haile Selassie; Gerard Prunier, Independent Consultant on Eastern and Central African affairs, and former Director of the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies in Addis-Ababa; and Laura Hammond, an anthropologist specialising in Ethiopia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

    Read more and listen to the program at BBC.com »

    New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie
    Interview With Prince Ermias S. Selassie
    In Pictures: 50th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Historic Visit to Jamaica
    Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch

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    In US African Summit Held Without Africans is Baffling Everyone

    Organizers said participants from Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola and Sierra Leone were denied visa to the U.S. to attend the summit at the University of Southern California.


    The African Global Economic and Development Summit took place at the University of Southern California from March 16th to 18th.

    None of the approximately 60 invited guests from Africa were able to attend.

    The problem was that none of the African delegates were able to get U.S. visas…

    The conference was first held in 2013 and seeks to strengthen business ties between U.S. investors and African companies, says summit chairwoman Mary Flowers.

    Visa problems have been an issue before, she says. In the past, she says roughly 40 percent of African invitees are unable to get the papers they need to attend, mainly due to a combination of red tape and bureaucracy.

    “This year we were thinking there are going to be some rejections but some will still come,” she says. “But it was 100 percent blocked across the board.”

    It’s hard to find out exactly why…A State Department official on background tells NPR that they can’t comment on any individual visa applications but says all applications are screened on a case-by-case basis. And the eligibility requirements for getting a visa haven’t changed.

    Some of the African delegates to the summit say their visa applications were denied because they didn’t show a compelling reason why they would return home after the event.

    Audio: What If You Held An African Summit And No Africans Could Come? (NPR)

    Read the full article at NPR.org »

    Highly Cited – No African citizens granted visas for African trade summit in California (The Guardian)

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    The Unlikely Winner of the Trump Presidency? Art Supply Stores

    Protesters outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Washington, DC, Women’s March. (Artnet)

    News Artnet

    Depending on how you see it, there is one silver lining that comes with Donald Trump’s still-nascent presidency: “Setting political views aside, the women’s movement has positively influenced the sales of office supplies,” wrote the market research firm NPD Group in a recent blog post.

    Of the estimated 3.3 to 4.6 million protesters who took to the streets around the country on the Women’s March on January 21, many carried handmade signs denouncing the new administration and its policies. But just how much have sales for poster board and other related art supplies gone up since Trump took office?

    According to NPD Group, 2.7 million poster and foam boards were sold in the US in the week leading up to the post-Inauguration march. That’s 33 percent more poster board that was sold during the same time period in 2016!

    For foam board, sales were up 42 percent.

    Altogether, a total of $4.1 million in poster and foam board sales were logged in that week alone. For the entire month of January, more than 6.5 million poster boards were sold. Poster-hungry protests continued on International Women’s Day on March 8.

    There were also considerable increases in sales of various types of markers and glue/adhesives, as well as scissors and fabric paint, used to personalize t-shirts for the march.

    Read more »

    Trump Proposes to End All Arts Funding

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    Update: Friends in Nashville Mourn Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant Owner’s Death

    Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot about midnight last Saturday as he was preparing to close his business. (Photo: News Channel5)


    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Members of Nashville’s Ethiopian community remain puzzled as to why someone would kill a beloved restaurant owner who was shot to death last weekend.

    The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/2nLCR5B ) that friends of Gitem Demissie were still grappling with his violent death. Those who knew him described him as a good man and a hardworking immigrant.

    Demissie was the owner of Ibex Ethiopian Bar & Restaurant in south Nashville.

    Authorities have said that the 41-year-old was preparing to close his restaurant about midnight Saturday night when he was shot. Police say a masked gunman wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and black jeans approached Demissie and shot him multiple times. Investigators have called it a targeted killing but are still searching for a motive as well as the gunman.

    In Nashville, Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed In Targeted Shooting

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    Addis Trash Disaster: Survivors Ask Why

    A funeral service last week for victims of a garbage landslide in Addis Ababa. At least 113 people were killed in the March 11 collapse, according to the government. (Photo: Associated Press)

    The New York Times

    As Trash Avalanche Toll Rises in Ethiopia, Survivors Ask Why

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — At the moment when she lost her home and family, Hanna Tsegaye was spending her Saturday night with a neighborhood friend.

    Around 8 p.m. on March 11, Ms. Hanna, 16, heard a strange sound, like rushing wind, and felt the ground shake beneath her feet. She rushed outside and saw that an enormous pile of garbage at a nearby landfill had collapsed.

    Her home, which had been a couple of hundred yards from the trash heap, was buried. So were her parents and two siblings.

    At least 113 people, according to the latest government estimate, were killed when part of the Repi landfill, in the southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, collapsed. In the days since, grieving survivors have been tormented by a pressing question: Could this tragedy have been prevented?

    “We don’t know how such a thing could happen,” a weeping Ms. Hanna said. “Hopefully, someone can tell us and find a solution for the future. I hope this can be a lesson for the government, and that they remember us.”

    Read more »

    Desperate Choice of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor: Run or Die
    What’s Wrong in Ethiopia? It’s Land, Stupid
    In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

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    Tale of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor

    A garbage dump landslide on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa killed hundreds of people last week. (Photo: AFP)


    Desperate Choice of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor: Run or Die

    Addis Ababa – One minute, Zemed Derib stood negotiating with her precocious siblings who had locked themselves inside their uncle’s home as a prank.

    The next, the playful scene gave way to horror as the hillside of the rubbish dump above them collapsed.

    With terrified screams of neighbours filling the air, Zemed abandoned her doomed sisters and took to her heels, outrunning the torrent of fetid dirt that swallowed homes and killed at least 113 people in Africa’s second most-populous country, Ethiopia.

    “I ran away, but finally, when I turn my face, nothing was there. Everything changed into black,” Zemed said as she sat clutching a portrait of her mother Yeshi Beyene, one of the victims of the disaster at Koshe, the country’s largest rubbish dump situated on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa.

    On Saturday, a week after the tragedy, men in face masks and rubber aprons waited for excavators to move aside the waste to carry out their search for the dead.

    Zemed, wearing all black, is mourning the loss of seven relatives, including her three younger sisters and a baby girl born days earlier who had not yet been named.

    Zemed’s family lived among a community of hundreds who had built homes on the side of Koshe’s main slope and spent their days scavenging for valuable rubbish trucked in from neighbourhoods around this city of about four million people.

    - Accident waiting to happen? -

    The settlement is now buried under a wall of black muck and the landslide left a jagged, crescent-shaped cut in the side of the landfill’s rise.

    Read more »

    What’s Wrong in Ethiopia? It’s Land, Stupid
    In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

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    FBI Debunks Trump’s Fake Claims Against Obama, Confirms Russia-Trump Probe

    The Director of the FBI James B. Comey told the U.S. Congress on Monday that his agency is investigating possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 US election. (Photo: Reuters)

    The Associated Press

    Comey Says FBI probing Trump-Russia links, wiretap claims bogus

    WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating whether Donald Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election, Director James Comey said Monday in an extraordinary public confirmation of a probe the president has refused to acknowledge, dismissed as fake news and blamed on Democrats.

    In a bruising five-hour session, the FBI director also knocked down Trump’s claim that his predecessor had wiretapped his New York skyscraper, an assertion that has distracted White House officials and frustrated fellow Republicans who acknowledge they’ve seen no evidence to support it.

    Read more »

    WATCH: FBI says no evidence to backup Trump’s wiretapping tweets

    (Photo: Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    FBI Director confirms probe of Russian meddling in election, possible links to Trump associates

    FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged on Monday the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.

    Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said the investigation is also exploring whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin, and “whether any crimes were committed.”

    The acknowledgment was an unusual move, given that the FBI’s practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. “But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest,” Comey said, “it may be appropriate to do so.”

    Comey said he had been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the wide-ranging probe’s existence.

    He spoke at the first intelligence committee public hearing on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with National Security Agency head Michael S. Rogers.

    Read more at The Washington Post »

    FBI Sees No Evidence of Trump Wiretap, Director Confirms Inquiry Into Russian Election Meddling (NY Times)
    FBI Says Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found (CNN)

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    US: Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed

    Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot this past weekend as he was preparing to close his business. (Photo: News Channel5)

    News Channel5

    In Nashville, Ethiopian Restaurant Owner Killed In Targeted Shooting

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Family and friends gathered to mourn the loss of their loved one after he was killed in a targeted shooting inside a business he owned.

    South Nashville restaurant owner Gitem Demissie, age 41, was fatally shot overnight as he was preparing to close his business.

    Metro Police responded to Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant in the 2500 block of Murfreesboro Pike after midnight, early Sunday morning, where they discovered Demissie who had been shot multiple times.

    First responders transported him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

    “We were really broken,” said Father Mesfin Tesemma, who leads the Ethiopian church where Demissie was an active member. “We didn’t expect this to happen to him. He doesn’t deserve to die like this. He is a very nice person.”

    Tesemma said Demissie was a hard-working businessman who was well-known in the area. Tesemma said he sometimes put in 16 or 17 hours a day at his businesses.

    Demissie had lived in Nashville for more than ten years. He first opened Ibex Mart on Bell Road, selling Ethiopian groceries, including spices, fresh meat, and vegetables.

    According to Tesemma, Ibex Mart was the only Ethiopian grocery store in Nashville, meaning a lot of people knew Demissie and relied on his business.

    In January 2015, Demissie opened a second business, the restaurant and bar, where he was shot and killed early Sunday morning.

    Friends said Demissie had been working hard to sell his bar in hopes of taking time to travel home to Ethiopia to see his parents. His death has left many in the Ethiopian community fearing for their safety.

    “What happened to him means a lot for everybody. So are we safe here?” Tesemma said. “Those are the kinds of questions it raises in the minds of a lot of Ethiopians.”

    Detectives remained on scene until sunrise collecting interviews and evidence.

    The shooter was described as a masked gunman wearing a black long sleeve shirt and black jeans. A witness said the suspect went up to Demissie, shot him multiple times, and fled from the building. The witness added the man had light skin and a thin build, and he stood around 5’7’’ tall.

    Anyone with information on this fatal shooting has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.

    Read more and watch video at News Channel5 »

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    Ethiopia: Time to End Mass Detentions

    President Mulatu Teshome addresses Parliament about the declaration of the state of emergency, in Addis Ababa, October 10, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)


    Ethiopia Lifts Some State of Emergency Restrictions: Time to End Mass Arbitrary Detentions

    Ethiopia announced this week that some of the restrictions around its five-month-old state of emergency have been lifted. The government announced that the command post, charged with enforcing the country’s state of emergency in the wake of unprecedented mass protests against government policies, would no longer be able to arbitrarily arrest people or conduct property searches without warrants. Further, curfews and some restrictions on media reporting will end.

    The government says that it has detained more than 20,000 people in “rehabilitation camps” – one of its long-standing approaches to obstructing protests and expressions of dissent – during the state of emergency. Detaining tens of thousands of people without charge in horrible conditions in order to indoctrinate them on government polices is not only unlawful, but unlikely to deter future protests. Human Rights Watch has interviewed many people who were detained in these camps, and they all say the experience only served to increase their anger and frustration with the government.

    The announcement that arbitrary detentions – long a significant and underreported problem in rural Ethiopia – are no longer permissible under the state of emergency is welcome news. The government hasn’t permitted the United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to investigate allegations despite requests from the UN body in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2015.

    Human Rights Watch and other groups have documented the Ethiopian government’s use of arbitrary detention, especially outside of Addis Ababa, over many years – in police stations, prisons, military camps, and unknown places of detention. There is a lack of due process, mistreatment and torture are common, and most detainees never face trial. A Human Rights Watch report last year detailing the brutal crackdown against protesters in Oromia region highlighted the problem of mass arbitrary detention. Just two of the 46 people we interviewed who had been detained outside of Addis Ababa had been brought to court.

    As part of Ethiopia’s “deep reform” process, it should send a clear message to its security forces that they cannot arrest people for lawfully protesting government policies, for being members of legal opposition parties, or for other peaceful forms of dissent. Now is the time for Ethiopia to give the UN Working Group access, and stop hiding its rights record from scrutiny.

    Ethiopia Lifts Some Restrictions Imposed During State of Emergency (Reuters)
    Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

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    Trump Proposes to End All Arts Funding

    (Image: National Endowment for the Arts website)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    March 16th, 2017

    New York (TADIAS) — It’s unfortunate that the Trump administration’s budget proposal for 2018, submitted for approval to the U.S. Congress this week, eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from the entire US federal spending. The Washington Post points out, however that “many of Trump’s budget proposals are likely to run into stiff resistance from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, whose support is crucial because they must vote to authorize government appropriations.”

    The Post adds: “Trump’s first budget proposal, which he named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” would increase defense spending by $54 billion and then offset that by stripping money from more than 18 other agencies. The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs since the drawdown after World War II.”

    The arts news site, Artnet, likewise notes that Trump’s budget cuts would “have a serious impact on cultural production, and the artists, musicians, writers, and scholars who rely on it.”

    Trump’s budget proposal, which was presented to Capitol Hill on Thursday (March 16th), is part of the White House expenditure goals for next year that seeks large cutback in spending for science, culture, diplomacy, and much more. Budget cuts can also affect the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds national public radio stations.

    Ethiopia: US Top Diplomat Misses Annual Human Rights Presentation
    Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
    Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
    Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
    U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
    Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Reuters: Ethiopia Lifts Some Restrictions Imposed During State of Emergency

    Demonstrators during a march in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, October 2016. (Photo: REUTERS)


    ADDIS ABABA — The Ethiopian government has lifted some restrictions imposed during a state of emergency declared last year following deadly protests, state-run media quoted the defence minister as saying on Wednesday.

    Minister Siraj Fegessa ended powers granted to security services to stop and search suspects and to search homes without court authorisation.

    Siraj, who chairs the government’s body overseeing the state of emergency, also revoked a dusk-to-dawn curfew on access to economic installations, some infrastructure and factories for unauthorised people.

    “These measures were lifted because it is our belief that the ordinary security arrangements are sufficient enough to maintain calm,” the state-run Ethiopian News Agency quoted Siraj as saying in a news conference for local journalists.

    Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in October following months of deadly protests that killed around 500 people. Anger over a development scheme for the capital sparked broader anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses.

    Read more »

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    Father Imprisoned for Genital Cutting Is Deported to Ethiopia

    Khalid Adem in 2006. (Photo: GWINNETT DAILY POST via The Associated Press)

    The New York Times

    A man who in 2006 became the first person in the United States to be convicted of female genital cutting was deported on Monday to his home country, Ethiopia, after serving 10 years in prison, federal authorities said.

    The man, Khalid Adem, 41, used scissors to remove the clitoris of his 2-year-old daughter in his family’s Atlanta-area apartment in 2001, prosecutors in Gwinnett County, Ga., said. He was convicted of aggravated battery and cruelty to children.

    The case led to a state law prohibiting the practice, which was already prohibited by a federal law and is a common social ritual in parts of the world but is broadly condemned.

    “A young girl’s life has been forever scarred by this horrible crime,” Sean W. Gallagher, a field office director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement on Tuesday.

    “The elimination of female genital mutilation/cutting has broad implications for the health and human rights of women and girls, as well as societies at large.”

    The World Health Organization has estimated that more than 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The procedure, which involves the removal of parts of the genitalia, is typically performed on girls before they turn 15 and leads to a wide range of lifelong health consequences, including chronic infection, childbirth complications, psychological trauma and pain during urination, menstruation and intercourse.

    The practice is far from unheard-of in the United States. Though it is illegal under federal law, about half a million women have undergone the procedure or are likely to be subjected to it, according to a 2012 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia: Journalist Anania Sorri Freed

    Journalist Anania Sorri. (Image: Fana TV via Youtube)


    March 13, 2017

    New York — Authorities responsible for overseeing implementation of Ethiopian’s state of emergency today released Ethiopian commentator Anania Sorri.

    Anania told CPJ he was released unconditionally today, four months after his November 17, 2016, detention without charge under a state of emergency the government declared the month prior. He told CPJ that he planned to continue writing. Anania posts critical commentary on a public Facebook page followed by some 11,000 people.

    “Today’s release of Anania Sorri is welcome news,” CPJ Africa Coordinator Angela Quintal said. “We urge Ethiopian authorities to free all other journalists and bloggers still imprisoned simply for doing their jobs.”

    After Seyoum Teshome and Befekadu Hailu, Anania was the third Ethiopian journalist to be released since December 1, 2016, when CPJ last conducted its annual census of journalists jailed around the world.

    Wife of Ethio Reporter Anania Sorri Says US & UK Could Help Free Her Husband
    Audio: NPR on the brave Ethiopian reporter Anania Sorri

    NPR’s East Africa correspondent, tells the story of a brave Ethiopian reporter, Anania Sorri,
    who asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry one very serious question that was seriously misunderstood.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In Ethiopia, Landslide at Garbage Dump Near Addis Ababa Kills at Least 46

    Police officers secured the perimeter around a garbage dump landslide on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday as excavators helped the rescue efforts. (Photo: Elias Meseret/AP)

    Associated Press


    46 killed, dozens missing in Ethiopia garbage dump landslide

    ADDIS ABABA — A mountain of trash gave way in a massive garbage dump on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, killing at least 46 people and leaving several dozen missing, residents said, as officials vowed to relocate those who called the landfill home.

    Addis Ababa city spokeswoman Dagmawit Moges said most of the 46 dead were women and children, and more bodies were expected to be found in the coming hours.

    It was not immediately clear what caused Saturday night’s collapse at the Koshe Garbage Landfill, which buried several makeshift homes and concrete buildings. The landfill has been a dumping ground for the capital’s garbage for more than 50 years.

    About 150 people were there when the landslide occurred, resident Assefa Teklemahimanot told The Associated Press. Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma said 37 people had been rescued and were receiving medical treatment. Dagmawit said two had serious injuries.

    Many people at the landfill had been scavenging items to make a living, but others live there because renting homes, largely built of mud and sticks, is relatively inexpensive.

    An AP reporter saw four bodies taken away by ambulances after being pulled from the debris. Elderly women cried, and others stood anxiously waiting for news of loved ones. Six excavators dug through the ruins.

    “My house was right inside there,” said a shaken Tebeju Asres, pointing to where one of the excavators was digging in deep, black mud. “My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don’t know the fate of all of them.”

    The resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months likely caused the landslide, Assefa said. The dumping had stopped in recent years, but it resumed after farmers in a nearby restive region where a new garbage landfill complex was being built blocked dumping in their area.

    Smaller collapses have occurred at Koshe — or “dirty” in the local Amharic language — in the past two years but only two or three people were killed, Assefa said.

    “In the long run, we will conduct a resettling program to relocate people who live in and around the landfill,” the Addis Ababa mayor said.

    Around 500 waste-pickers are believed to work at the landfill every day, sorting through the debris from the capital’s estimated 4 million residents. City officials say close to 300,000 tons of waste are collected each year from the capital, most of it dumped at the landfill.

    Since 2010, city officials have warned that the landfill was running out of room and was being closed in by nearby housing and schools.

    City officials in recent years have been trying to turn the garbage into a source of clean energy with a $120 million investment. The Koshe waste-to-energy facility, which has been under construction since 2013, is expected to generate 50 megawatts of electricity upon completion.

    Ethiopia, which has one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, is under a state of emergency imposed in October after several months of sometimes deadly protests demanding wider political freedoms.

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    Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

    On Thursday March 9, 2017, in front of a large crowd of Ethiopians, US congressman Chris Smith convened a hearing on the current situation in Ethiopia entitled 'Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia.' (AP file photo)

    US House Foreign Affairs Committee

    Excerpts from Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04)

    Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations

    March 9, 2017

    As we begin today’s hearing to examine the troubling conditions for democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, let us stipulate that this East Africa government is a prime U.S. ally on the continent. Ethiopia is the primary troop contributor to peacekeeping operations such as UNISFA along the Sudan-South Sudan border, UNMISS in South Sudan and AMISOM in Somalia. Ethiopia joined the UN Security Council in January and is one of three African members on the Council, along with Senegal and Egypt.

    During a series of private negotiations in the last months of the previous Administration, Ethiopian officials acknowledged that the tense situation in their country is at least partly their government’s fault. There have been discussions with opposition parties and consideration of changing the electoral system to use proportional representation, which could increase the chances of opposition parties winning Parliamentary and local races. Late last year, the government released an estimated 10,000 prisoners despite maintaining a state of emergency.

    However, there are at least 10,000 more people held in jail who are considered political prisoners, and the government continues to arrest and imprison critics of its actions. In January, two journalists from the faith-based station Radio Bilal, Khalid Mohamed and Darsema Sori, were sentenced to 5 and 4 year prison terms respectively for inciting extremist ideology and planning to overthrow the government through their coverage of Muslim protests about government interference in religious affairs. The journalists were arrested in February 2015 and convicted in December under the 2009 anti-terrorism law alongside 18 other defendants.

    In late February, Ethiopian prosecutors charged Dr. Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (a registered opposition party) with rendering support to terrorism and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order.” Merera had been arrested upon his return to Ethiopia after testifying in November at a European parliament hearing about the crisis in his country, Dr. Merera had testified alongside exiled opposition leader Prof. Berhanu Nega (sentenced to death on terrorism charges in 2009) and Olympic medal winner Feyisa Lilesa. Other senior OFC leaders, including OFC deputy chairman Bekele Gerba, have been imprisoned on terrorism charges for more than a year. Both are viewed by many as moderate voices among Ethiopia’s opposition.

    According to the State Department’s newly released Human Rights Report on Ethiopia, security forces killed “hundreds” in the context of using excessive force against protestors in 2016. “At year’s end more than 10,000 persons were believed still to be detained,” according to the report. Many have not been provided due process. The government has denied the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights access to the Oromia and Amhara regions.

    The lack of due process in Ethiopian courts also affects foreigners. Israeli businessman Menasche Levy has been in jail for nearly a year and a half on financial crimes charges. The government officials accused of being involved with Levy in illegal activities have had their charges dropped and have been released from jail. Yet Levy’s next court proceeding won’t be for several more months. We cannot determine his guilt or innocence of the charges, but it is clear that he has been denied a trial in a reasonable time frame and has been beaten in jail by other prisoners and denied proper medical care. These circumstances unfortunately apply to all-too-many people who come in contact with the Ethiopian court system.

    My staff and I have discussed with the Government of Ethiopia the possibility of working cooperatively to find ways to end the repression without creating a chaotic transition. Officials in Addis and Ambassador to the U.S. Girma Birru have been very positive in their response. The previous Administration found the Ethiopian government similarly willing to be cooperative.

    Unfortunately, there is a significant variance in how that government sees its actions and how the rest of the world sees them. That is why I and several of my colleagues have introduced House Resolution 128 – to present as true a picture of the situation in Ethiopia as possible. It is also why we have convened today’s hearing.

    In our first panel, we have witnesses who will provide an overview of the current state of democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. They will present the facts as the rest of the world sees them. Our second panel consists of four Ethiopians representing various ethnic groups and organizations created to help the Ethiopian people. We have no opposition parties appearing before us today, despite the tendency of the government and its supporters to see anyone who disagrees with them and their actions as supporting terrorists seeking to overthrow the government.

    It is my belief that, until the Government of Ethiopia can squarely face the consequences of its actions, there will not be the genuine reform it has promised. Forexample, government officials say we are mistaken to state that the ruling coalition holds 100 percent of the legislative seats. We have said the coalition holds all the seats, whether in the name of the coalition itself or as affiliate parties. If the government cannot be honest with us or itself in such an obvious matter, it is unlikely that the conditions for reform can exist.

    The government does appear to realize its precarious position. We have discussed the frustrations it creates by not fully allowing its citizens to exercise their rights of speech, assembly and association. In a June 20, 2013, hearing of this subcommittee, Berhanu Nega said the government has created a situation in which there is no legitimate means of redress of grievances. Although the government jailed him after he won the 2005 race to become Mayor of Addis Ababa, he was not known to have begun his campaign of armed resistance until after that time.

    The recent increased protests in Oromo and Amhara regions have alarmed the government, but if it can’t find a way to relent in its refusal to allow genuine competition for political power and to respond to the cries of its people for the services they deserve, there will be more Berhanu Negas.

    But this is preventable. Rather than spend hundreds of thousands on consultants to try to mislead Members of Congress on the facts and inciting e-mail form letter campaigns by supporters, the Government of Ethiopia can acknowledge their challenges and work with the U.S. government and others in the international community to seek reasonable solutions. We are prepared to help once they are ready to face the ugly truth of what has happened and what continues to happen in Ethiopia today.

    Chairman Smith on the hearing: “Ethiopia has long been an important ally, providing effective peacekeepers and collaborating in the War on Terror. However, increasingly repressive policies have diminished political space and threaten to radicalize not only the political opposition but also civil society by frustrating their ability to exercise their rights under law. This hearing will examine the current situation in Ethiopia with an eye toward developing policies to help this nation to reverse an increasingly tense situation in the troubled Horn of Africa.”

    Panel I
    Terrence Lyons, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
    George Mason University
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Mr. Felix Horne
    Senior Researcher
    Horn of Africa
    Human Rights Watch
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Panel II
    Ms. Seenaa Jimjimo
    Coalition of Oromo Advocates for Human Rights and Democracy
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Mr. Tewodrose Tirfe
    Amhara Association of America
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Mr. Guya Abaguya Deki
    Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Mr. Yoseph Tafari
    Ethiopian Drought Relief Aid of Colorado
    [full text of statement]
    [truth in testimony form]

    Ethiopia: US Top Diplomat Misses Human Rights Presentation
    Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
    Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
    Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
    U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
    Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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    Here We Go Again: Ethiopia & Eritrea Blame Each Other Over Alleged Attack

    Construction workers are seen in a section of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, Ethiopia, March 31, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)



    Eritrea has denied any involvement in an alleged plan to attack an under-construction Ethiopian dam, which is set to become the biggest hydropower dam in Africa.

    Ethiopia’s deputy government spokesman, Zadig Abrha, told the state-run Fana Broadcasting Corporation that 20 members of an Eritrean rebel movement—known as the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement—had been apprehended while attempting to attack the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

    Abrha said that Ethiopian security forces killed 13 of the rebels, while seven fled into neighboring Sudan. But the Ethiopian government spokesman said that Sudan had handed the rebels over and they were now in Ethiopian custody.

    Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel told Bloomberg News that the accusation that his country sponsored the group “is preposterous and peddled for some sinister reason.” Gebremeskel added that he had “never heard of this group.”

    Ethiopia and Eritrea have a history of tense relations. Eritrea only seceded from Ethiopia in 1991 after a 30-year independence war, and the two countries have regularly clashed on the boundaries of their borders. Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed in a border war focused on the town of Badme between 1998 and 2000.

    Ethiopia has also accused Eritrea of sponsoring anti-government protests, led by the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups, which have been occurring regularly since November 2015. Eritrea has denied the allegation.

    Read more at Newsweek.com »

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    Will Oprah Run Against Trump in 2020?

    In an interview with Bloomberg TV, American media mogul Oprah Winfrey discussed the possibility of her running for US President, which at this point is not totally out of the question. (Photo: Bloomberg News video)


    Oprah 2020? Winfrey Hints at Presidential Run Against Trump

    Oprah Winfrey discusses whether she would run for president and reveals her surprise at the election of President Donald Trump with David Rubenstein in the season two premiere of “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations”

    Watch: Oprah Realizes You Don’t Need Experience to Be US President:

    Oprah 2020? Winfrey Hints at Presidential Run Against Trump (NBC)
    The Serious Case for Oprah 2020 (Politico)
    WATCH: President Trump’s worst nightmare? Oprah plots 2020 presidential run (Salon)
    Oprah Winfrey considers 2020 Presidential run in wake of Donald Trump’s win (Independent UK)

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    Ethiopia: Free Dr. Merera Gudina

    Dr. Merera Gudina briefing the European parliament about the crisis in Ethiopia on November 9, 2016. (Photo: Facebook)


    Politically Motivated Charges Against Ethiopian Opposition Leader

    Three months after Ethiopian security forces arrested opposition leader Dr. Merera Gudina upon his return to Ethiopia, following his participation in a hearing at the European parliament about the crisis in his home country, prosecutors on Thursday charged the prominent 60-year-old politician with rendering support to terrorism and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order.” Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lelisa and the head of the banned opposition group Ginbot 7, Dr. Berhanu Nega, had also participated in the hearing that had been hosted by Member of the European Parliament Ana Gomes, and which was to inform delegates about the protests that have swept through Ethiopia since November 2015. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands detained since these protests began. Merera is now at Maekelawi, a prison where mistreatment and torture are commonplace.

    Merera is the chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a legally registered political opposition party. He joins many other senior OFC leaders facing terrorism charges over the last 18 months. Among those presently standing trial is OFC deputy chairman Bekele Gerba. Prosecutors included as evidence of his crimes a video of Bekele at an August 2016 conference in Washington, DC, where he spoke of the importance of nonviolence and commitment to the electoral process. Like Merera, he has been a moderate voice of dissent in a highly polarized political landscape.

    Merera and Bekele join a long list of opposition politicians, journalists, and protesters charged under the 2009 anti-terrorism law, regularly used to stifle critical views of governance in Ethiopia. Acquittals are rare, credible evidence is often not presented, and trials are marred by numerous due process concerns.

    Read more »

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    Wife of Ethio Reporter Anania Sorri Says US & UK Could Help Free Her Husband

    Bezawit Hailegiorgis, wife of the detained blogger and journalist Anania Sorri. (Photo: The Guardian)

    The Guardian

    Ethiopian journalist’s wife urges UK and US to call for his release

    The wife of a blogger and journalist detained in Ethiopia has called on the international community to pressure local authorities to release her husband, who is among tens of thousands held since a state of emergency was declared in the emerging east African power last year.

    Anania Sorri, a 34-year-old writer and intellectual, was arrested in November on his way to a meeting at the US embassy in Addis Ababa. He is being held in a high security prison in the Ethiopian capital and has not yet been formally charged with any offence.

    Bezawit Hailegiorgis, 29, his wife, said his sole crime had been “to express his thoughts honestly”.

    “His crime is his determination to speak out. He is a brilliant political journalist. He was critical but always constructive … but being imprisoned is part of the job description of being a journalist here. It’s a zero-sum game, where someone has to lose, and at the moment they are not losing,” she told the Guardian.

    Read more »

    Audio: NPR on the brave Ethiopian reporter Anania Sorri

    NPR’s East Africa correspondent, tells the story of a brave Ethiopian reporter, Anania Sorri,
    who asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry one very serious question that was seriously misunderstood.

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    UCLA Archaeologists Enlist Community to Preserve Cultural Heritage in Ethiopia

    UCLA professor Willeke Wendrich talks to school children in northern Ethiopia. (Photo: UCLA)

    UCLA Newsroom

    Near the small village of Mai Adrasha in Ethiopia, UCLA archaeologists found themselves digging into more than dirt. They were also diving into another role, serving as ambassadors of history to help the local community understand that there is wealth not only in the natural gold-rich soil that encloses long-buried ancient ruins, but also in preservation of cultural heritage.

    “We decided it was really worthwhile to keep this site so we spent a lot of time this season talking to people who live around Mai Adrasha,” said Willeke Wendrich, director of the Cotsen Institute and professor of Egyptian archaeology and digital humanities, who has led digs in the area for the last two years.

    The results of their efforts were heartening — for archaeology as a whole and for the UCLA team in particular.

    Wendrich, her co-director and graduate student Rachel Moy and their team recently returned from their second excavation near Mai Adrasha, in the region of northern Ethiopia called Shire. With several active trenches, they are looking for evidence from the pre-Aksumite era (before 300 B.C.), a period that remains something of an archaeological mystery, partially because the remains of it are disappearing as a result of humans hunting for gold.

    Read more »

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    How Should the US React to Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia?

    The US capitol building. (Photo: Shutterstock)


    One member of Congress is hoping for a “serious policy review” by the Trump administration of the United States’ relationship with Ethiopia, citing human rights abuses by the government there.

    “To truly stop violence abroad, Ethiopia must stop violence at home,” Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the House subcommittee on Africa and global human rights, stated at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.

    “Since 2005, untold thousands of students have been jailed, have been shot during demonstrations or have simply disappeared in the last 11 years,” Smith stated Feb. 15. “Ethiopia’s next generation is being taught that the rights that democracy normally bestows on a country’s citizens don’t apply in their country.”

    Smith and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced a House resolution (H. Res. 128) Wednesday “highlighting the crisis in Ethiopia due to government violations of the human rights of its citizens,” Smith stated.

    “With this resolution, we are showing that the United States remains committed to universal respect for human rights, and that we will not tolerate continued abuse of those human rights by Ethiopian security forces,” Coffman said.

    There has been a “steady erosion” of democracy in Ethiopia since 2005, the congressmen maintained.

    Government dissidents have been jailed, citizens have been tortured and killed by the government’s security forces, and freedom of the press has been infringed upon. Ethnic groups have been the victims of violence perpetrated by the government.

    Peaceful protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions of the country were met with hundreds of killings and tens of thousands of arrests by security forces in 2016, Human Rights Watch said in its recent report on the country. Citizens released from jail claimed they were tortured while in custody.

    “Instead of addressing the numerous calls for reform in 2016, the Ethiopian government used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to suppress largely peaceful protests,” Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, stated in the report released in January.

    One protest in the Oromia region resulted in the police using tear gas, rubber bullets, and rounds fired into the air to break it up, claiming that the crowd was getting out of hand. An ensuing stampede killed 50. The Inter-religious Council of Ethiopia, on which Catholic leaders sit, called for prayer and peace amid the protests and asked government leaders to listen to the people.

    The recent protests in the Amhara region of the country have showed a sense of “identity” on the part of embattled citizens, and their “need to survive,” Tewodrose Tirfe of the Amhara Association of America, a refugee who came to the U.S. in 1982, noted.

    “The U.S. and the West cannot sympathize with a government that kills people,” Seenaa Jimjimo, a human rights advocate who was born and grew up in Ethiopia, insisted in her statement at Wednesday’s press conference.

    Amidst protests, a state of emergency was declared by the state in October and is “being used as a method to crack down even further on basic human freedoms,” Coffman said.

    Thus, the resolution is the “first step by our representatives to let the Ethiopian government know that the U.S. policy is changing, that their continued human rights violations on innocent civilians will not be tolerated,” Tirfe stated.

    “We invoke the Global Magnitsky Act,” Gregory Simpkins, staff director of the House subcommittee on Africa, said on Wednesday of the law which enables sanctions against specific “entities and persons who violate the human rights of people.”

    Ethiopia has acted as a key ally in fighting international terrorism, Smith noted, but if it fails to protect human rights at home then extremism could fester within its own borders.

    “What Congressman Smith and I are asking is for the Congress of the United States to join together and pass this resolution condemning the Ethopian government for its human rights abuses,” Coffman stated.

    “And I think it’s important for all Americans to care about human rights to encourage their member of Congress to co-sponsor this resolution so that we can pass it in the Congress.”

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    US Federal Appeals Court Rules 3 to 0 Against Trump on Travel Ban

    A federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling suspending President Trump’s controversial immigration order barring refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. on Feb. 9.

    The Washington Post

    A federal appeals panel has maintained the freeze on President Trump’s controversial immigration order, meaning previously barred refugees and citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries can continue entering the United States.

    In a unanimous 29-page opinion, three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons, and they forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.

    The judges wrote that any suggestion that they could not “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

    The judges did not declare outright that the ban was meant to disfavor Muslims — essentially saying it was too early for them to render a judgment on that question. But their ruling is undeniably a blow to the government and means the travel ban will remain off for the foreseeable future.

    Read more »

    Former Peace Corps Director in Ethiopia One of US Judges Reviewing Trump’s Ban
    In Divided America, US History Has Become Weapon for Trump Fans & Critics
    To the World Trump’s Immigration Ban is Contrary to the Idea of America
    State Dept. Dissent Cable on Trump’s Ban Draws 1,000 Signatures


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Former Peace Corps Director in Ethiopia One of US Judges Reviewing Trump’s Ban

    Judge William Canby Jr., who is one of the three US federal appeals court judges reviewing President Donald Trump’s travel ban, was an Associate Director of the Peace Corps for Ethiopia from 1962 to 1963. (ASU)


    William Canby Jr. is one of three judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who on Tuesday [heard] oral arguments in the challenge to President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

    Here’s what you need to know about William Canby Jr.

    According to the Arizona State University College of Law, William Canby in 1962 helped establish the Peace Corps in Africa with his wife, Jane.

    Canby joined the Peace Corps that year after spending some time working in private practice. He would go on to serve as associate director of the Peace Corps for Ethiopia, and then deputy director for the Peace Corps for Ethiopia. After that, he became the director of the Peace Corps for Uganda for two years.

    He returned to the United States in the late ’60s to teach law at Arizona State University, but he returned to Ethiopia in 1999 to help achieve peace in the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

    Here’s an early look at how questioning went in the appeals court review of Trump’s immigration ban

    From left: Judge Richard R. Clifton, shown in 2002; Judge William Canby, shown in 2015; and Judge Michelle T. Friedland, shown in 2014. (Associated Press)

    LA Times

    A federal appeals court panel reviewing President Trump’s controversial limits on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries appeared skeptical Tuesday of the administration’s arguments seeking to reinstate his order.

    In a hearing that lasted more than an hour, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals appeared to dismiss the administration’s arguments that neither the states nor the courts have the authority to challenge the executive order, which seeks to bar travelers from seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa to protect the United States from terrorists.

    The fight over the travel moratorium is being viewed as a test of whether the new and unconventional president, who has never before held public office, will be reined in by the courts as he tries to implement his controversial campaign promises.

    Read more »

    Audio: State of Washington v. Donald J. Trump

    In Divided America, US History Has Become Weapon for Trump Fans & Critics
    To the World Trump’s Immigration Ban is Contrary to the Idea of America
    State Dept. Dissent Cable on Trump’s Ban Draws 1,000 Signatures


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    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Judge Stops Trump’s Ban Nationwide

    A passenger is greeted by friends in Boston on Friday after he cleared U.S. customs. (Photo: Reuters)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Saturday, February 4th, 2017

    New York (TADIAS) — A U.S. federal judge in Seattle, Washington has ruled to put a nationwide temporary hold on President Donald Trump’s immigration order and allowing stranded passengers at several airports across the country entry into the United States.

    A State Department official confirmed on Saturday that individuals with valid visas are once again being welcomed into the US. “We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under Executive Order 13769. Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid,” the official told VOA. “We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and our legal teams.”

    In announcing his decision on Friday U.S. District Judge James L. Robart declared that the judicial branch “must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripart government.” And Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson added that the ruling “the first of its kind..shuts down the executive order immediately.”

    The Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, Omar Jadwat, said: “This ruling is another stinging rejection of President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban. We will keep fighting to permanently dismantle this un-American executive order.”

    Watch: U.S. borders reopen to valid visa holders; Trump files appeal

    On Friday, Judge James Robart of Federal District Court in Seattle stopped the ban.

    Meanwhile, prior to the new court decision, Reuters reports that nine Yemeni nationals were sent to Ethiopia and eventually to Djibouti. Ethiopian government spokesman Negeri Lencho told the news agency that “The only reason they came to Addis Ababa was because Ethiopian Airlines has flights from Addis Ababa to Washington.”

    State Dept. reverses visa revocations, allows banned travelers to enter U.S.
    To the World Trump’s Immigration Ban is Contrary to the Idea of America
    A Jarring New Level of Confrontation Hits Washington
    State Dept. Dissent Cable on Trump’s Ban Draws 1,000 Signatures


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    How British Tabloids Helped Kill a Women’s Aid Program in Ethiopia

    Members of the Yegna band greet fans in the capital Addis Ababa. (Photo: Noni Rossini/Girl Effect)

    The Washington Post

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The headline in Britain’s Daily Mail couldn’t have been more triumphant: “Aid: Now they’re listening,” it shouted in huge letters.

    The conservative paper was celebrating the withdrawal of British funding for an aid project in Ethiopia it has dubbed “the Ethiopian Spice Girls.” These “girls” are a five-member all-female band known as Yegna, or “Ours.” It was founded three years ago and produces a radio drama and music videos aimed at helping girls through the perils of adolescence in Ethiopia.

    The Daily Mail attacked the project for years with a string of vitriolic articles, calling Yegna “the most wasteful, ludicrous and patronizing” aid project in Africa. That coverage apparently convinced Britain’s Department for International Development to withdraw its funding on Jan. 6.

    Yet the aid agency had previously given the program high marks, presenting it as an innovative way to empower Ethiopia’s young women. And while Ethiopia is the second largest recipient of British aid, getting $470 million a year, Yegna received only $6.4 million in total from the British government from 2015 to 2018.

    Aid workers and activists say the rush to scapegoat Britain’s aid policy not only hurt a program that is helping adolescent girls but unfairly attacks the idea of using media for social change, a method development workers say is getting good results around the world.

    Read more at The Washington Post »

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    Trump Sworn in as US President

    President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama talk, as they pause on the steps of the East Front of the U.S. Capitol as the Obama's depart, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo)

    The New York Times

    Jan. 20, 2017

    WASHINGTON — Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, ushering in a new and more unpredictable era in which he vowed to shatter the established order and restore American greatness.

    From the West Front of the Capitol, overlooking a crowd of hundreds of thousands as rain began to fall, Mr. Trump presented a dark vision of a nation afflicted by division and dislocation, exploited and forgotten by a group of Washington elites and diminished around the world. His arrival, he promised, would finally turn it around.

    “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he declared in a forceful 16-minute Inaugural Address.

    “The time for empty talk is over,” he added later. “Now arrives the hour for action. Do not allow anyone to tell you it cannot be done.”

    He said the inauguration represented not just the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another. “We are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you the people,” he said.

    Read more at NYTimes.com »

    Promises, pomp and protests as Trump sworn in (AP)

    The Associated Press

    Jan. 20, 2017

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Pledging to empower America’s “forgotten men and women,” Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking command of a deeply divided nation and ushering in an unpredictable era in Washington. His victory gives Republicans control of the White House for the first time in eight years.

    Looking out over the crowd sprawled across the National Mall, Trump painted a bleak picture of the nation he now leads, lamenting “American carnage,” shuttered factories and depleted U.S. leadership. President Barack Obama, the man he replaced, sat behind him stoically.

    Trump’s address lasted just 16 minutes. While his inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.

    President Donald Trump waves after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo)

    Demonstrations unfolded at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through. After the swearing-in, more protesters registered their rage in the streets of Washington. Police in riot gear deployed pepper spray and made numerous arrests after protesters smashed the windows of downtown businesses, denouncing capitalism and Trump.

    The new president’s first words as commander in chief were an unapologetic reprisal of the economic populism and nationalism that fueled his improbable campaign. He vowed to stir “new national pride,” bring jobs back to the United States, and “eradicate completely” Islamic terrorism.

    “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only, ‘America First,’” Trump said.

    His address lasted just 16 minutes. While Trump’s inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.

    In a remarkable scene, Trump ripped into Washington’s longtime leaders as he stood among them at the U.S. Capitol. For too long, he said, “a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”

    For Republicans eager to be back in the White House, there was little mention of the party’s bedrock principles: small government, social conservativism and robust American leadership around the world. Trump, who is taking office as one of the most unpopular incoming presidents in modern history, made only oblique references to those who may be infuriated and fearful of his presidency.

    “To all Americans in every city near and far, small and large from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again,” he said.

    The new president was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, reciting the 35-word oath with his hand placed upon two Bibles, one used by his family and another during President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.

    Trump and wife, Melania, bid Obama and outgoing first lady Michelle Obama farewell as they departed the Capitol grounds in a government helicopter. Trump and Obama’s political paths have been linked in remarkable ways. Before running for the White House, the billionaire businessman led efforts to promote falsehoods about the 44th president’s citizenship and claim on the office.

    Obama addressed a staff gathering at Joint Base Andrews before departing for a vacation in California. “You proved the power of hope,” he said.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
    U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
    Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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    A Boom in Qat in Ethiopia and Kenya

    (Getty Images)

    The Economist

    Will this burgeoning green business turn to bust?

    “THIS is qat,” explains Teklu Kaimo, gesturing to the wooded field behind him. He started growing it in 1976, and over the years its soft, green leaves have brought him a measure of prosperity. He has a modest plot of land, 11 children and money to pay their way through school.

    A short walk down the hill, the central marketplace of this part of southern Ethiopia comes alive with farmers, merchants and salesmen as the sun sets. Young men sprint down streets with bundles of fresh qat leaves on their shoulders, as traders call out prices and haul the bags aboard lorries. They are bound for Addis Ababa, the capital, where the following morning they will be sold to qat-chewers in the city, or packed onto planes bound for neighbouring Djibouti and Somaliland.

    Ethiopia’s trade in qat, a mild stimulant native to this part of Africa, is booming. Where once cultivation and consumption were restricted to the Muslim lowlands towards the country’s east, today it is grown and masticated throughout the country. Nearly half a million hectares of land are thought to be devoted to it, some two-and-half times more than was grown 15 years ago. Many of those cultivating it have switched from coffee, Ethiopia’s biggest export, to one that offers juicier and more stable returns. Qat is now the country’s second-largest source of foreign currency, and, with prices rising, a handy source of government revenue.

    The industry’s growth is partly due to increased consumption. Qat kiosks are dotted around all main towns; young men chewing on street corners or in university libraries have become a ubiquitous feature of Ethiopian life. For many, its spread is a symbol of national decline. “It is getting worse by the day,” says Fitsum Zeab, a businessmen in Addis Ababa.

    Read more at Economist.com »

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    Ethio-American Friend Rep. Mike Coffman in Trouble Over Obamacare Repeal Vote

    U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman speaks at St. Mary's Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Denver, Colorado during Meskel celebration on October 1, 2016. (Photo: Flickr/Mike Coffman)

    The Colorado Independent

    The scene could not have been more damaging for a public official: A TV camera rolling as Congressman Mike Coffman ducks out a side door of his own public event, fleeing around 100 members of the public— many of them there to grill him about what will happen if he successfully repeals Obamacare.

    “He snuck out, and he snuck out early,” two women are heard saying in a video for a broadcast on Denver’s 9News that captured a crowd of frustrated Coloradans wanting to talk to the Congressman but left without access, nor answers to their concerns. Some shouted “open the door,” and “This is what democracy looks like,” when Coffman declined to meet with everyone at once.

    Since the story about Saturday’s event in Aurora, the news of a Republican congressman from Colorado being confronted loudly at a public event by people concerned about Obamacare repeal has spread into national media.

    Read more »

    Watch: Congressman Coffman leaves frustrated crowd

    9News Denver

    AURORA – When Berthie Ruoff arrived at the Aurora Central Library to meet with Congressman Mike Coffman, she was hopeful to find encouraging answers about the impending changes to the Affordable Care Act.

    “My husband passed away and the only way I was able to get insurance was through the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare,” Ruoff said.

    When she walked in, she saw a crowd she didn’t expect.

    “There were hundreds of people here,” Ruoff said.

    Kronda Seibert just wanted Coffman to hear her concerns. But, she ended up trying to organize the crowd that gathered outside the large community room.

    “The representative didn’t have a plan. They expected just a small handful of people to show up,” Seibert said. “We were under the understanding it was a town hall meeting and they were only allowing four people in at a time.”

    Coffman’s chief of staff, Ben Stein, sent a statement addressing what happened Saturday afternoon. The statement says the Congressman’s community event was not a town hall.

    Read more »

    Watch: Congressman Mike Coffman at Denver’s 2017 MLK Parade Asked About the Incident:

    In Colorado, GOP Congressman Mike Coffman Enjoys Ethiopian Support

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    Ethiopia: HD Says He Wants to Keep Merara in Jail for Meeting EU Lawmakers

    Merera Gudina is the chairman of Ethiopia's opposition party OFC. The prominent political leader has been detained since he returned home from a working trip to the European Parliament last month. (Photo: Reuters)


    By Elias Meseret 

    January 9, 2017

    Ethiopia targets opposition who met with European lawmakers

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia said Monday it will not release a leading opposition figure detained under the country’s state of emergency after meeting with European lawmakers in Belgium.

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters that Merara Gudina of the Oromo Federalist Congress party instead will face justice.

    “Individuals in the European Parliament who are harboring anti-peace elements cannot save those who trespass the law of the country,” the prime minister said.

    Merara is one of 22,000 people the prime minister said were detained under the state of emergency declared in October after widespread, sometimes deadly anti-government protests. The government has said several thousand have since been released.

    Merara was arrested immediately after he returned from Belgium, where he met with the lawmakers about the state of emergency. He was accused of meeting with members of an armed Ethiopian opposition group in Brussels, an act banned under the emergency law.

    Photos posted on social media show him sitting next to Birhanu Nega, leader of the armed opposition group called Ginbot 7 that mainly operates from Eritrea, and Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian marathon runner who crossed his wrists in a sign of protest while crossing the finish line at the Rio Olympic Games.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power Says Free Bekele Gerba

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    Like In Ethiopia, CPJ Worried for US Press

    (AP photo)


    January 9, 2017

    Transition to Trump: Like In Ethiopia, CPJ Worried About Press Freedom in USA

    Journalists in the U.S. experience a threatening climate covering the election and its conclusion, with President-elect Donald Trump obstructing major news organizations, attacking reporters by name, and proposing to “open up” libel laws. As the new presidential administration prepares to take over, CPJ examines the status of press freedom, including the challenges journalists face from surveillance, harassment, limited transparency, the questioning of libel laws, and other factors.

    Watch Meryl Streep calls for CPJ support

    American actress Meryl Streep giving her now famous speech at the 2017 Golden Globes when receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement on Sunday, January 8th in Beverly Hills, California. She championed press freedoms, criticized Donald Trump and advocated support for CPJ. (Golden Globes 2017)

    As Meryl Streep accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2017 Golden Globes ceremony on January 8, 2017, she called on the audience and the broader community to join her in supporting CPJ. You can #StandWithStreep and click here to make a donation.

    In her speech, Streep said, “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. … We need the principled press to hold power to account. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution.”

    So, Streep continued, “I only ask … all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re going to need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

    Read more »

    Letter: CPJ seeks meeting with Vice President-elect Pence

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    How ‘Idir’ is Helping the Elderly in Ethiopia

    As Ethiopia has begun to age, the 'idir' has started to serve a new purpose: helping elderly residents live their daily lives when they no longer have family members nearby. (CS Monitor)

    CS Monitor

    In Ethiopia, the elderly get new help from an old tool

    ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Established around 100 years ago, the Ethiopian idir is a kind of grassroots life insurance. Idir collectives help Ethiopian neighbors organize funerals for their closest relatives and provide solace in grieving.

    But as Ethiopia has begun to age, the idir has started to serve a new purpose beyond end-of-life services: helping elderly residents live their daily lives when they no longer have family members nearby.

    “The number of older people left alone has increased, because their children have left for other cities or countries and don’t visit or support them anymore,” says Etalemaha Mekbib, the treasurer of a 700-member idir on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa. Her association, whose main purpose was once to fund all the arrangements of the funeral, now also pays calls to the elderly in their homes, accompanies them to hospitals, and helps them pay their monthly idir fees or buy basics such as soap or coffee.

    Watch: As Ethiopia modernizes, its elderly find new ways to get by

    For the vast majority of elderly in Ethiopia, says Gebre Yntiso Deko, an anthropologist from Addis Ababa University, “their pension systems are their children.” He says governments should act now to prepare, by funding adequate nursing care and creating pension schemes.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia: US Ambassador to UN Says Free Bekele Gerba

    Ethiopia's Oromo Federalist Congress Deputy Chair Bekele Gerba. (Picture: Twitter/‏@AmbassadorPower)


    By: Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

    Launch of #FreeToBeHome Political Prisoner Campaign

    This holiday season, as families in the United States gather, we are reminded of all the missed holidays, bittersweet birthdays, and family occasions where a mother, brother, friend, or neighbor was missing because a government chose to muzzle their voices and lock them up.

    So throughout this holiday season, the United States government will be profiling the cases of prisoners unjustly held around the world and the families they leave behind. The stories of these individuals will highlight the broader struggle faced by so many families of political prisoners, who have to commemorate countless family occasions with loved ones behind bars.

    These prisoners represent thousands of other prisoners unjustly detained around the world. (Medium.com)

    Authorities detained Oromo Federalist Congress Deputy Chairman Bekele Gerba on December 23, 2015 and later charged him along with more than 20 others under Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. There were reports that authorities mistreated Bekele and others, including denying them adequate medical care and access to visitors including legal counsel. Bekele Gerba is one of thousands detained following the start of protests in November 2015.

    We call on the Government of Ethiopia to release all political prisoners and ensure all Ethiopians enjoy the protections of their constitutional rights.

    Ethiopia govt spokesman says 9,800 detained under state of emergency released (AP)
    Leader of Ethiopia’s OFC Oppostion Party, Merera Gudina, arrested after trip to Europe (BBC)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Where is Journalist Temesgen Desalegn?

    Jailed Ethiopian journalist Temesghen Desalegn. (Photo by Araya Getachew via © UntoldStories.com)

    The Associated Press

    December 14, 2016

    Human rights groups to Ethiopia: Where is jailed journalist?

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Human rights groups are asking Ethiopia’s government to immediately disclose the whereabouts of a popular local journalist who has been behind bars since October 2014.

    The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia and DefendDefenders on Wednesday called it “unacceptable” that the government was unwilling or unable to provide Temesgen Desalegn’s relatives with information after two years of detention.

    The groups say Temesgen was jailed on “spurious charges.” The journalist is serving a three-year sentence on charges of defamation, incitement and false publication.

    The public relations head of the Ethiopian Federal Prison Administration, Gizachew Mengiste, tells The Associated Press he has no information about Temesgen’s whereabouts.

    Read more »

    New Report Says Ethiopia Blocked Social Media, News Sites (AP)
    U.S. Deeply Concerned by Sentence of Ethiopian Journalist Temesghen Desalegn

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    Report: Ethiopia Blocked News Sites

    (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press


    Dec. 13, 2016

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s government illegally blocked social media and news websites during the months of turmoil that led to the country’s ongoing state of emergency, a new report says.

    The report by Amnesty International and the Open Observatory of Network Interference also found “systematic interference” with access to political opposition sites and ones supporting freedom of expression and gay rights.

    “This raises serious concerns that overly broad censorship will become institutionalized under the state of emergency,” said Michelle Kagari, an Amnesty International deputy regional director. The report says access to WhatsApp and at least 16 news sites was blocked.

    Human rights groups and opposition activists have said hundreds have been killed in waves of anti-government protests that began in November 2015, demanding wider freedoms in one of Africa’s best-performing economies and a close U.S. security ally.

    Ethiopia’s government declared a state of emergency in October after dozens were killed in a stampede when police tried to disperse protesters at a religious festival. It set to end in April.

    The government dismissed the new report as “one-sided, not credible and baseless.”

    “There is no internet blackout in Ethiopia,” deputy spokesman Mohammed Seid told The Associated Press, though internet services have been widely affected since early October. “What we have is a certain obstruction on mobile data services. It will be resolved very soon.”

    However, a former government spokesman, Getachew Reda, acknowledged the existence of a blackout and said it will be restored “as soon as it no more threatens the proper implementation of the state of emergency.”

    Many in Ethiopia are using virtual private networks, or VPNs, to access social media after mobile data was partially restored 10 days ago.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    CIA Believes Russia Helped Trump Win

    U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia hacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win. President Obama has ordered full review. (Photo: NYT)

    VOA News

    CIA Believes Russia Helped Trump Win White House

    Updated: December 10, 2016

    CAPITOL HILL — President Barack Obama has ordered the intelligence community to conduct a full review of “hacking-related activity aimed at disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

    After his announcement Friday, two leading U.S. newspapers — The New York Times and The Washington Post — reported Russia intervened in the recent U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win.

    The Times reported Russians hacked the computers of both the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee, but only released damaging material from the DNC.

    The Democrats were plagued with leaked DNC emails as the presidential election drew near. The Times says intelligence agencies “have concluded that the Russians gave the Democrats’ documents to WikiLeaks.”

    “We now have high confidence that they hacked the DNC and the RNC and conspicuously released no documents” from the RNC, an unnamed senior Obama administration official speaking about the Russians, told The Times.

    The Times reports that individual Russians whom U.S. intelligence officials say are responsible for the cyberattacks have been identified, but none has been punished.

    The Washington Post reported the CIA believes Russia intervened in the election to help Trump win. In a story posted on the newspaper’s website Friday evening, The Post quotes an anonymous official who says the goal of the interference “was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected.”

    CIA briefers told senators in a closed-door briefing it was now “quite clear” that
    electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to officials. (The Washington Post)

    Role of Congress

    Pressure is mounting from Democratic and Republican members of Congress, who are calling for a thorough and public investigation into Russian interference in the election.

    The Post article says the White House had known about Russia’s interference for months, but could not decide how to best respond before the presidential election without “escalating tensions with Moscow and being accused of trying to boost Clinton’s campaign.”

    The Post said, “The reluctance of the Obama White House to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions before Election Day upset Democrats on the Hill as well as members of the Clinton campaign.”

    The newspaper says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, doubted “the veracity of the intelligence” gathered about Russia’s interference and told the Obama administration that if it challenged the Russians publicly, he would see that act as partisan politics.

    Months later, President-elect Trump chose McConnell’s wife as his nominee for transportation secretary.

    Inquiry back to 2008

    Eric Schultz, White House principal deputy press secretary, told reporters Friday there has been a pattern of malicious cyberactivity timed to coincide with U.S. elections. He said the investigation will be a “deep dive,” going back to the 2008 presidential elections, when cyber meddling was attributed to China.

    Schultz said the investigation would look at any and all foreign interference, and investigators would go wherever the evidence leads them.

    Asked about Russia’s role, Schultz said this type of activity is “nothing new for Moscow,” adding that the U.S. has seen Russia do this type of thing for years in Asia and across Europe.

    Results of investigation

    Schultz said the president has ordered that he be given the results of the investigation before he leaves office January 20. He said the White House would make public as much of the report as it can.

    Schultz also explained this is not an effort to change the outcome of the U.S. elections, but to preserve the integrity of future U.S. elections by revealing the scope of what happened.

    Trump team responds

    President-elect Trump’s transition team released a statement late Friday that said, “These are the same people (the CIA) that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’”

    Earlier Friday, White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco broke the news of the probe at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

    “We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned,” Monaco said.

    Some U.S. Congress members welcomed the announcement.

    Democratic Representative Adam Schiff said in a statement, “The administration should work to declassify as much of it as possible, while protecting our sources and methods, and make it available to the public.”

    In October, the Obama administration formally blamed Russia for a cyberattack into the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations. Wikileaks published excerpts from the hacked emails that were potentially damaging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    Trump repeatedly has downplayed any Russian interference in the U.S. election. During one debate, he said the cyberattacks could have been carried out by a “400-pound man sitting on his bed.”

    Trump’s campaign said voters should focus on what was in the emails.

    Congressional issue

    Since Obama has only a few weeks left in office, the report may serve only to establish some facts for Congress to grapple with next year.

    Several leading Senate Republicans, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, say they are preparing to launch a widespread investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and its cyber threats to the U.S. military. Both senators have been critical of Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Graham told CNN, “I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia. I think they’re one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage. I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay the price.”

    Putin has dismissed what he called U.S. hysteria over the hacking into Democratic Party organizations, saying it does not matter who hacked into the emails, and Americans instead should focus on their content.

    Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says (The New York Times)
    Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House (The Washington Post)

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    Marcus Samuelsson’s 1st DC Restaurant

    Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant at MGM National Harbor in Washington, D.C. is open 24-hours a day. Marcus is also designing the in-room dining option at the hotel. (Photo WTOP)


    Sneak peek: Inside MGM National Harbor

    WASHINGTON — After two years of construction and $1.4 billion, MGM National Harbor is ready to open its doors in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 11 p.m.

    The 24-story destination includes 15 dining options, 308 hotel rooms, a 3,000-seat theater, a 125,000-square-foot casino and 18,000 square feet of retail.

    Here’s a breakdown of what to expect when the doors finally open:

    Food and Drink

    There are 15 dining options at MGM National Harbor, including several restaurants headed by celebrity chefs. Here are some of the highlights:

    Marcus Samuelsson — who is famous for his Harlem, New York, restaurant Red Rooster — will operate the only 24-hour restaurant at MGM National Harbor. Guests can expect live music and an outdoor dining area. Samuelsson is also in charge of in-room dining for the resort’s hotel.

    Read more »


    Marcus Samuelsson Dishes on His First DC Restaurant, in the MGM Casino

    Marcus Samuelsson (Facebook)

    Eater Washington DC

    Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson plans to “celebrate comfort food” at his new restaurant Marcus, debuting inside the MGM National Harbor this Thursday.

    The Ethiopian-born and Swedish-raised chef and restaurateur operates several Harlem eateries. Shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and mac and cheese will be served up to resort guests in a laid-back homey setting designed by New York-based Parts and Labor Design.

    The restaurant sits at the base of MGM’s central glass-enclosed atrium, which rises 85 feet and is bigger than the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In true casino fashion, Marcus’ huge exposed grill is meant to be a “theatrical” experience, he says, and African prints are present as an ode to his Ethiopian roots and D.C.’s large demographic of the same descent.

    The family-friendly restaurant caters more to the adult crowd with its back bar called Sammy’s. The speakeasy will pay homage to D.C.’s go-go music scene, with DJs, Gospel brunches, flowing cocktails, and a Las Vegas Rat Pack vibe (the bar’s named after Sammy Davis Jr.). The setup is similar to his Red Rooster Harlem’s downstairs supper club, Ginny’s, he said. Another commonality is The Rooster Burger, which also appears on Marcus’ menu.

    Read more »

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    Watch: Ethiopians in DC Building Community Through Food

    (Photo: State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

    Eater Washington DC

    Why Ethiopian Cuisine In Washington, D.C. Will One Day Be As Popular As Pizza – MOFAD

    Washington, D.C. is home to the largest Ethiopian community in the U.S. Seeking educational opportunities, as well as refuge from political upheaval, three successive waves of Ethiopian immigrants settled in the nation’s capital in the second half of the 20th century. As the community grew, Ethiopian restaurants, markets, and cafes became fixtures of the Shaw and Adams Morgan neighborhoods, and later of Silver Spring, MD and Falls Church, VA.

    In this guide, we’ll take you to some of the businesses keeping Ethiopian food traditions alive in the nation’s capital, and share some of the staples of Ethiopian cuisine to try along the way — including tangy fermented breads, vegan vegetable platters, and spicy meat stews.

    Watch the video, read the local history, listen to the voices of business owners and community leaders, and taste the distinctive dishes of one of D.C.’s biggest cultural enclaves.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    History: US- Ethiopia Complicated Alliance

    Emperor Haile Selassie chatting with President Franklin Roosevelt, February 20, 1945. (Photo: Seeker video)


    The U.S. supports Ethiopia with military aid, monetary assistance and bilateral trade. So what makes their relationship so complicated?

    In October, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Ethiopia. The State Department website says this warning is due to “ongoing unrest that has led to hundreds of deaths, thousands of arrests, as well as injuries and extensive property damage.”

    Formal relations between the U.S. and Ethiopia stem back to 1903, and in spite of Ethiopia’s instability, the U.S. has maintained relations with them. What are the details of the relationship between these two countries?

    Watch today’s Seeker Daily video to find out more.

    Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era
    A Memoir of First US Diplomat’s Meetings With Emperor Menelik
    African American and Ethiopian Relations
    First Ethiopian Delegation to the U.S. in 1919 Made Headlines
    President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia

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    Opposition Leader Merera Gudina Detained in Ethiopia After Trip to Europe

    Merera Gudina, who addressed the European parliament on 9 November, was arrested on Wednesday upon his return to Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    BBC News

    A prominent opposition leader in Ethiopia has been detained after he returned from Europe.

    Merera Gudina had violated Ethiopia’s state of emergency by having contact with “terrorist” and “anti-peace” groups, state-linked media reported.

    Mr Merera criticised the state of emergency in an address to the European parliament on 9 November.

    The government imposed it in October to end an unprecedented wave of protests against its 25-year rule.
    More than 11,000 people have since been arrested.

    Mr Merera, who is the leader of the Oromo Federalist Conference, was arrested on Wednesday at the airport in the capital, Addis Ababa, after he flew in from Brussels, reports BBC Ethiopia correspondent Emmanuel Igunza.

    Several of his relatives who were with him were also detained, local media report.

    European parliament member Ana Maria Gomes, who invited Mr Merera, told the BBC she was “extremely shocked” about the arrests.

    She said she would push for the European Union take a tougher line against the Ethiopian government.

    Read more »

    European Parliament Holds Hearing on Ethiopia Protests

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    Ethiopia: Govt Claims 15 Ginbot 7 Members Killed in Foiled Attack

    A prayer session in Bishoftu for protesters who died during Irreecha, October 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

    International Business Times

    Ethiopian security forces claim to have killed dozens of “Eritrean mercenaries” as they foiled a planned terror attack allegedly backed by neighbouring Eritrea. The Ethiopian Ministry of Defense said members of the Ginbot 7 opposition movement – which Ethiopia classified as a terrorist organisation – tried to deploy dozens of its armed fighters into Ethiopia.

    It is believed a total of 113 alleged terrorists managed to infiltrate from Eritrea via the Tigray region, in northern Ethiopia. However, Ethiopian forces killed 15 of them, while 73 were captured, officials told the Sudan Tribune. Weapons and military equipment were also seized.

    The ministry added the “terrorist plot by Eritrea and the other destructive forces” aimed to destabilise development in Ethiopia.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia says foiled Eritrea-backed terror attack, kill 15 (Sudan Tribune‎)

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    In Ethiopia, Authorities Charge Prisoners for Recent Deadly Fire at Kaliti Prison

    At least twenty-three people died when a fire broke out and a gunfire ensued at Qilinto (Kaliti) maximum security prison near Addis Abeba on September 3rd, 2016. (Photo: Addis Fortune)


    An Ethiopian court has charged 38 inmates with starting a fire at a prison on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa in September in which 23 people were killed.

    The charges against the inmates including beating their fellow inmates and causing damages worth 10 million Ethiopian birr ($450,000). The court also charged them with attempting to incite violence and recruit for banned organizations, including Somali militant group al-Shabab and dissident Ethiopian group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the state-run Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported on Wednesday.

    The fire broke out on September 3 at the Kilinto prison, a high-security facility holding anti-government dissidents. The government said that 21 inmates had died during a stampede and from suffocation caused by the fire, while two others were killed when trying to escape the prison.

    Local Ethiopian media reported that gunfire was heard in the prison following the outbreak of the fire. An independent NGO, the Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP), claimed the death toll was actually 67 and that the majority died of gunshot wounds, according to Ethiopian English-language magazine the Addis Standard.

    There have been mass protests in Ethiopia over the past year, particularly in the Oromia and Amhara regions, which were sparked in November 2015 by government plans to extend the territory of Addis Ababa, potentially resulting in forced evictions. The demonstrations morphed into general anti-government discontent and have been exacerbated by the response of the security forces. At least 500 protesters have been killed during the protests, largely as a result of clashes with security forces.

    Read more »

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    Why Trump Win is Fueling Divisions in US

    Voters cast their votes during the U.S. presidential election in Elyria, Ohio, November 8, 2016. (REUTERS)


    USA: Trump Won With Lowest Minority Vote in Decades, Fueling Divisions

    Wed Nov 23, 2016

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency with less support from black and Hispanic voters than any president in at least 40 years, a Reuters review of polling data shows, highlighting deep national divisions that have fueled incidents of racial and political confrontation.

    Trump was elected with 8 percent of the black vote, 28 percent of the Hispanic vote and 27 percent of the Asian-American vote, according to the Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll.

    Among black voters, his showing was comparable to the 9 percent captured by George W. Bush in 2000 and Ronald Reagan in 1984. But Bush and Reagan both did far better with Hispanic voters, capturing 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively, according to exit polling data compiled by the non-partisan Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.

    And Trump’s performance among Asian-Americans was the worst of any winning presidential candidate since tracking of that demographic began in 1992.

    The racial polarization behind Trump’s victory has helped set the stage for tensions that have surfaced repeatedly since the election, in white supremacist victory celebrations, in anti-Trump protests and civil rights rallies, and in hundreds of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic hate crimes documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks extremist movements. The SPLC reports there were 701 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation” between the day following the Nov. 8 election and Nov. 16, with a spike in such incidents in the immediate wake of the vote.

    Signs point to an ongoing atmosphere of confrontation.

    The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a white separatist group that vilifies African-Americans, Jews and other minorities, plans an unusual Dec. 3 rally in North Carolina to celebrate Trump’s victory. Left-wing and anarchist groups have called for organized protests to disrupt the president-elect’s Jan. 20 inauguration. And a “Women’s March on Washington,” scheduled for the following day, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to protest Trump’s presidency.

    American politics became increasingly racialized through President Barack Obama’s two terms, “but there was an attempt across the board, across the parties, to keep those tensions under the surface,” says Jamila Michener, an assistant professor of government at Cornell University.

    Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric “brought those divisions to the fore; it activated people on the right, who felt empowered, and it activated people on the left, who saw it as a threat,” she added.

    That dynamic was evident last week.

    When Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended the Broadway musical “Hamilton” in New York on Friday, the multi-ethnic cast closed with a statement expressing fears of a Trump presidency. A far different view was on display the next day as a crowd of about 275 people cheered Trump’s election at a Washington conference of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist group with a strong anti-Semitic beliefs.

    “We willed Donald Trump into office; we made this dream our reality,” NPI President Richard Spencer said. After outlining a vision of America as “a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” he closed with, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!”


    Though Trump’s election victory was driven by white voters, his performance even among that group was not as strong as some of his predecessors. Reagan and George H.W. Bush both won the presidency with higher shares of the white vote than the 55 percent that Trump achieved.

    The historical voting patterns reflect decades of polarization in American politics, but the division surrounding Trump appears more profound, says Cas Mudde, an associate professor specializing in political extremism at the University of Georgia. These days, he adds, “people say they don’t want their children even to date someone from the other party.”

    Indeed, voters’ opinions of those on the opposite side of the partisan divide have reached historic lows. Surveys by the Pew Research Center showed this year that majorities of both parties held “very unfavorable” views of the other party – a first since the center first measured such sentiment in 1992.

    And the lion’s share of those people believe the opposing party’s policies “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being,” the center found.

    That level of division has spurred activists on both sides of the political divide to take their activism in a more confrontational direction.

    In the wake of Trump’s victory, protesters on the left took to the streets by the thousands in cities across the country, in some cases causing property damage.

    Much of the agitation was motivated by a belief that Trump’s administration will foster racism and push the courts and other political institutions to disenfranchise minority voters, says James Anderson, editor of ItsGoingDown.Org, an anarchist website that has promoted mass demonstrations against Trump’s presidency, including a call to disrupt his inauguration.

    Many on the left have come to distrust government institutions, embracing a breed of activism aimed at directly confronting what they see as condemnable political forces, Anderson says. “The answer now is to organize, build power and autonomy and fight back.”

    On the opposite end of the political spectrum, Trump’s election is bringing new hope for right-wing activists who felt abandoned by the major parties.

    John Roberts, a top officer in the Ku Klux Klan affiliate planning the December rally to celebrate Trump’s election, says the group is committed to non-violent demonstrations, but he sees Trump’s election as likely to bring a new era of political conflict. And much of the strife, he says, will be centered around racial divisions.

    “Once Trump officially takes office, there is going to be a boiling over at some point in time,” Roberts says. “Who knows when that’s going to be, but it’s not going to be pretty.”

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    After Ethiopia Drama, Aviators Continue Vintage Plane Flights Across Africa

    Aviators detained in Ethiopia while retracing a historic flight route along the length of Africa in 24 vintage planes and support aircraft have been freed, organisers announced via social media on Thursday. (Getty)


    Updated: 25 November 2016

    Vintage plane rally moves on from Ethiopia

    Addis Ababa – Aviators who were detained in Ethiopia while retracing a historic flight route along the length of Africa in 24 vintage planes and support aircraft are now free to continue their journey, organisers said on Thursday.

    The Vintage Air Rally crew, flying aircraft that include biplanes built in the 1920s and 1930s, were held at the airport in Gambela, western Ethiopia, after they landed following their arrival from neighbouring Sudan.

    They have already flown from Europe and through Egypt and plan to end the tour in South Africa. The oldest plane taking part dates to 1928; the oldest pilot is 72.

    “Just been resolved now,” rally organiser Sam Rutherford told Reuters in a brief text message when asked for an update on their situation. “In hotel, Kenya tomorrow!”

    The group of 47 people had been held in a building at the airport and had not been allowed to stay at a hotel they were booked at, the group had said in an earlier Facebook statement.

    Wesenyeleh Hunegnaw, director-general of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA), had told a news conference in Addis Ababa that the group lacked proper authorisation for their trip and had made an unauthorised stop in Gambela.

    There was no immediate official comment about a resolution.

    The aviators’ aim is cross 10 countries, making 37 stops in a little more than a month. Kenya is their next planned stop.

    Vintage air rally pilots released from detention in Ethiopia (AP)
    Freed Africa vintage air rally pilots fly to Kenya (BBC News)

    Missing British Pilot Found in Ethiopia

    British pilot Maurice Kirk, 72, who was reported missing Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 while flying his 1943 Piper Cub plane, has arrived at his expected destination in Gambella, Ethiopia. (AP Photo)


    UPDATE: Missing pilot confirmed ‘safe and well’ in Ethiopia

    A 71-year-old British pilot attempting to fly a 1940s plane the length of Africa has been found “safe and well” after being reported missing.

    Maurice Kirk, who has links with the Vale of Glamorgan, was part of a vintage air rally flying from Crete to Cape Town.

    Vintage Air Rally, which was organising the event, said Mr Kirk had continued to fly despite being asked to withdraw due to a “mismatch in expectations”.

    Organisers had said Mr Kirk was missing somewhere between Sudan and Ethiopia with his 1943 Piper Cub plane.

    But on Facebook on Wednesday night they confirmed he was now with the rest of the competitors at the airport in Gambela.

    All Vintage Air Rally crews are currently in Gambela where the Ethiopian authorities have elected to allocate them accommodation at the airport rather than permit them to proceed to their pre-booked hotel. The reasons for this are at this time not 100% clear. There is no possibility to communicate with them but all participants, including the hitherto ‘missing’ Maurice Kirk, are safe and accounted for.

    The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is aware and is negotiating on their behalf.


    Mr Kirk, from Bristol, went missing on a three-hour leg of the cross-African flight from southern Sudan into western Ethiopia.

    Photo: ITV News

    British pilot in Africa air rally is missing in Ethiopia

    Associated Press

    Published November 23, 2016

    The organizers of a rally of vintage planes flying across Africa say a British pilot has gone missing while flying a 1943 Piper Cub plane.

    Vintage Air Rally said in a statement on Facebook that Maurice Kirk, 72, had not arrived at his expected destination in Gambella, Ethiopia, on Tuesday.

    The group said that before Kirk disappeared he had been advised to return to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, after departing Ad-Damazin, Sudan, heading to Gambella. Kirk had withdrawn from the rally before he went missing, it said.

    It said Kirk is believed to have made a precautionary landing somewhere in Ethiopia, where a search is on to find him.

    The Vintage Air Rally describes itself as a “flying rally across Africa, from Crete to Cape Town,” for early aircraft.

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    CPJ: Ethiopian Newspaper Editor, Bloggers Caught in Worsening Crackdown

    Digital drawing of Befekadu Hailu, co-founder of Ethiopia's Zone9 bloggers collective, which CPJ honored with its 2015 International Press Freedom Award, was again arrested on November 11, 2016. (CPJ)


    Ethiopian newspaper editor, bloggers caught in worsening crackdown

    Nairobi, November 17, 2016-Ethiopia should immediately release all journalists detained amid an intensifying crackdown on the media, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. In recent weeks, Ethiopian authorities have jailed a newspaper editor, as well as two members of the award-winning Zone 9 bloggers’ collective, which has faced continuous legal harassment on terrorism and incitement charges. A fourth journalist has been missing for a week; his family fears he is in state custody.

    The crackdown on the media comes amid mass arrests following large protests that led the government to declare a state of emergency on October 9. Security forces have detained more than 11,000 people since the state of emergency was declared, Taddesse Hordofa, of Ethiopian government’s State of Emergency Inquiry Board, said in a televised statement on November 12.

    “Silencing those who criticize the government’s handling of protests will not bring stability,” CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal said from New York. “The constant pressure on Zone 9 bloggers with repeated arrests and court appearances is clearly designed to intimidate the remaining independent journalists in Ethiopia.”

    Ethiopia’s Supreme Court on November 15 continued hearing prosecutors’ appeal of a lower court’s October 2015 acquittal of four bloggers from the Zone 9 collective-Befekadu Hailu, Natnail Feleke, Abel Wabella, and Atnaf Berhane-on terrorism charges, campaigners reported on social media.

    Security forces again detained Befekadu-a co-founder of the collective, which CPJ honored with its 2015 International Press Freedom Award-from his home on November 11, according to news reports. Authorities have not yet announced any new charge against the blogger. The Africa News Agency quoted Befekadu’s friends saying that they believed he may have been arrested following an interview he gave to the U.S.-government-funded broadcaster Voice of America’s Amharic service, in which he criticized the government’s handling of the protests.

    Members of the Zone 9 blogging group. (Photo: Endalkachew H/Michael)

    An Ethiopian journalist in exile in Kenya, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, told CPJ that Befekadu’s criticism of the government’s handling of protests in the Oromo and Amhara regions of Ethiopia on his blog may have also led to his detention.

    When the terrorism charge against the bloggers was dismissed by the judge in October last year, Befekadu was informed that he would still face incitement charges, according to media reports. That case is still before the courts.

    Ethiopian Information Minister Negeri Lencho did not respond to CPJ’s calls and text messages seeking more information.

    Read more »

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    Photos: Great CNN Feature on Lalibela

    In Lalibela life feels largely untouched by the centuries. (Photo: CNN)


    From all corners of a nation they come, often walking for hundreds of miles barefoot: Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

    Their destination is Lalibela in the north of Ethiopia. A town of approximately 20,000 people, Lalibela’s population swells five-fold in the first days of January, pilgrims converging to celebrate Genna (or Ledet) — Christmas according to the Ethiopian calendar.

    What they’re here for is to take a path from darkness into the light; through 800 years of history and enter a “New Jerusalem” — tangible, permanent and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    But most of all, they’re here for God.

    The House of St George, Lalibela. (CNN photo)

    Pilgrims waiting to emerge from inside a tunnel at the House of St George, Lalibela. (CNN)

    A group of pilgrims pray and read their bibles by candlelight around the churches of Lalibela. (CNN)

    Read more and see photos at CNN.com »

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    Obama Bids Farewell to World, Hails US Democracy in Landmark Speech

    President Barack Obama delivered his last foreign policy speech in Athens, Greece on Nov. 16, 2016. (AP)

    VOA News

    Last Updated: November 16, 2016

    Obama Hails Democracy in Landmark Speech

    LONDON — U.S. President Barack Obama chose, Athens, the cradle of Western-style democracy to deliver his likely final, landmark foreign policy speech on what is his last overseas trip in office, saying the democracy that America upholds and promotes in the world is imperfect, but “better than the alternatives.”

    Reflecting on his eight-year presidency, the U.S. leader said his travels around the globe have shown him that while “every country travels its own path,” there is “fundamental desire” for dignity and self-determination. “These flames are universal. They burn in every heart,” Obama said.

    The outgoing American leader bids farewell to Washington’s foreign partners at a time when there are big questions on the future of U.S. relations with Europe, its new role in the world, and the image the United States, forever seen as a symbol of Western liberalism, is projecting.

    The bitterness and anger displayed by candidates and demonstrators during the U.S. presidential campaign and in the days since have shocked many in Europe.

    In his speech Wednesday, Obama sought to reassure the world that American-style democracy is alive, and he emphasized the importance of a peaceful transition.

    “We compete hard in campaigns. But even after elections, democracy depends on a peaceful transition of power,” Obama said, without mentioning President-elect Donald Trump by name. “The next American president and I could not be more different … But American democracy is bigger than any one person.”

    ‘American Democracy Is Bigger Than Any One Person,’ Obama Says

    President Barack Obama talked about the United States election results and the
    importance of democracy during his last international tour as president. (Reuters)

    Topping every conversation of the U.S. leader on this trip are his efforts to reassure Europe the United States has no choice but to remain engaged with the region and committed to its longstanding security partnerships. He said the history of the last two centuries shows democracies are less likely to fight wars among themselves, “Our closest friends are democracies.” NATO, he said, is “an alliance of democracy.”

    Obama is using his last foreign tour to reassure U.S. NATO partners who are nervous after President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign remarks in which he called the alliance “obsolete” and suggested the United States might not automatically defend members who are not making their minimum contributions to the alliance and spend the required two percent of their GDP on defense.

    “I believe it is practical for the United States to support democracy,” Obama said as he was interrupted by applause. History, he said, shows countries with democratic governance tend to be “more just and more stable, and more successful” and “deliver more prosperity.”

    Obama gave the speech after touring Athens’ ancient Acropolis, a symbol of the origins of democracy, which the president described as “the most precious of gifts” for which America is indebted to Greece.

    President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP photo)

    Close eye on Obama

    Observers across Europe are following the visit closely, as E.U. governments await clarification on what the state of the U.S.-partnership will be after Inauguration Day. While President Obama has said on this trip that he is neither defending Donald Trump’s campaign statements nor taking responsibility for what the President-elect says or does, he hopes to reassure partners that core American principles remain unchanged.

    “In Athens, the American president poses himself as the defender of the Union,” said a commentary in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. “Obama wants to reassure Europe on the future of its relations with the United States … It was therefore appropriate to travel to Greece, the birthplace of democracy, for his farewell tour,” it said.

    Obama’s next stop is Germany.

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    Trump’s USA: President Obama Warns Against Rise of Nationalistic Tribalism

    President Obama, apparently referring to Trump’s decision to appoint a hard-right nationalist to a top post, spoke in Greece during his final overseas trip as president on Tuesday, November 15, 2016. (Times Video)

    The New York Times

    Visiting Europe, Obama Warns Against Rise of ‘Crude Sort of Nationalism’

    ATHENS — President Obama, in some of his strongest language since Donald J. Trump’s election last week, on Tuesday warned against the rise of nationalistic tribalism, apparently a reference to Mr. Trump’s decision to appoint Stephen K. Bannon, a hard-right nationalist, to a top position.

    “I do believe, separate and apart from any particular election or movement, that we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an ‘us’ and a ‘them,’” Mr. Obama said.

    Mr. Obama’s remarks came in an hourlong news conference in Athens on his final trip overseas as president. He had come to Greece partly to bolster Greek hopes of further debt relief from its European partners, which will meet on Dec. 5 to consider giving this ailing nation another pass on its mountain of debt.

    But Mr. Trump’s election last week subverted Mr. Obama’s top foreign policy priorities, and he seemed to have arrived in Athens in a reflective mood.

    Read more at NYTimes.com »

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