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Ethiopia, Long Mired In Poverty, Rides an Economic Boom

Construction at a station on a metro line through Addis Ababa, one of a series of infrastructure projects that Ethiopia, once mired in poverty, hopes will help it mimic Asia’s industrial rise. (Photo: Reuters)

The New York Times

By ISMA’IL KUSHKUSH

MARCH 3, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The bulldozers, tractors and cranes are busy day and night, paving new roads, building tall glass buildings and constructing a new light rail system to stitch together the city’s ends.

In less than five years, the city’s skyline has changed drastically. Above the dust, in a seven-story building overlooking Meskel Square, sits Abiy Gebeyehu, a real estate development manager at the Sunshine Construction Company. He is going through files and figures, looking down at the spot where Ethiopia’s former communist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, once smashed to the ground three bottles of what was supposedly blood as a warning to his opponents.

“The government changed its policy,” Mr. Gebeyehu said, explaining how his company became part of Ethiopia’s economic growth. “They are engaging private business.”

Read more at The New York Times »

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Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia’s Image (VOA Video)

Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image. (VOA News)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

March 03, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Not long ago, media reports about Ethiopia focused on war, poverty, famine and drought. Now, the headlines focus more often on the East African nation’s fast-growing economy.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Dina Mufti said the Ethiopian government actively contributed to changing its negative reputation.

“It is a phenomenon that we have had once in the past; it’s something that we have put behind us effectively,” Mufti said. “Everybody works to make sure that that agony won’t recur, won’t come back again.”

And it’s not only the double-digit gross domestic product numbers of the past decade that attract positive headlines. Ethiopia’s role as peace negotiator for regional conflicts, such as in South Sudan, is boosting the country’s diplomatic reputation as well.

And the reputation of being a relatively stable country with an emerging economy and a growing middle class is reaping fruits, bringing back home Ethiopians from the diaspora.

Henock Assefa is one of them, running a consultancy firm called Precise Consult. He said foreign firms still need a bit of convincing to believe Ethiopia is also a place for business:

“Investors that have never been to Ethiopia, it takes a while to convince them, because their mindset is that this is a poor country where you go and help people live a better life,” he said. “They don’t see it as an opportunity so much.”

But not all lives are improving. The U.N. Development Program estimates that a third of Ethiopians still live in poverty. And rights groups frequently criticize the country’s human rights record.

Opposition parties, such as the Blue Party, accuse the government of violating basic democratic principles.

Blue Party spokesman Yonathan Tesfaye said Ethiopia’s new and improved image is an illusion fabricated by the authorities.

“The information comes from the statistics agency, and those guys are not to be trusted,” he said. “The growth that we are having, or the development or the boom or whatever it is, it’s all concentrated in Addis Ababa. If you go to the rural areas, they’re lagging behind. And that’s going to be very problematic in the future.”

Images of poverty have damaged Ethiopia’s reputation for decades. The famine of the early 1980s was made famous through BandAid, a collective of pop music stars raising money by singing “feed the world” while showing images of Ethiopia.



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Dutch Brewer’s Ethiopia Unit to Start Sales

Advertisements for beer brewers Heineken (far left) Brand, owned by Heineken, Bavaria, (center) and Grolsch (far right), are seen in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct. 1, 2007. (AP Photo)

Reuters

March 02, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian greenfield brewer Habesha, majority-owned by Dutch brewer Bavaria NV, said it plans to start selling beer in the second quarter of this year to tap rising domestic demand that has attracted global brands.

Bavaria NV is the latest beer maker lured by Ethiopia’s expanding middle class over the last five years and will compete with breweries owned by Heineken and Diageo.

The world’s leading brewers have turned their focus on emerging markets such as Africa as consumer demand in Europe has stagnated and the United States offers limited expansion opportunities.

“We expect to start selling beer in the second quarter of 2015. Say two or three months from now,” Thijs Kleijwegt, Habesha Breweries’ finance director, told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

Ethiopia’s average annual beer consumption of less than five liters per capita is about half the average for sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, offering scope for expansion among the population of 94 million, more than 60 percent of whom are Christian.

Bavaria NV bought a stake in Habesha Breweries in 2012, and has since increased its holding to 60 percent.

Read more at VOA News »

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New Animation Movie About Bilal the Ethiopian: Islam’s First Muezzin (Video)

Story of a boy who's abducted with his sister. In a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal raises his voice and makes a change. (Image credit: BilalMovie)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 2nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The upcoming animated feature film Bilal is based on the true story of the highly trusted Ethiopian companion of the Prophet Muhammad. Bilal, a freed slave, who rose to power during the early years of Islam, was also known as Bilal al-Habashi and Bilal ibn Rabah. He is best remembered for serving as the religion’s first muezzin (caller to prayer).

In their book History Of Islam In Africa, authors Nehemia Levtzion and Randall L. Pouwels, note that the inspiring story of Bilal, who lived between 580 and 640 AD, is often referred by scholars as proof that Islam was originally established on the basis of universal respect for human life and dignity. Per Wiki: Bilal died on March 2, 640 AD at the age of 57.

As to the film, the website This Is Africa points out “As yet, no official release dates have been given but it’s expected to be screening towards the end of 2015.”

In the meantime here is the trailer:



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Zimna Brahani, the Mossad Operative Who Risked His Life for Ethiopian Jewry

Zimna Brahani, a Mossad agent and driving force to bring the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Brahani was born in Gondar in 1940 and died in Israel in February 2015. (Photo by Menachem Waldman)

Haaretz

By Ofer Aderet

Many honorifics were awarded to Mossad operative Zimna Brahani, who was buried on February 22 in Lod.Thousands of people from Israel’s Ethiopian community came to pay their last respects to the man they called “hero,” “saint,” and “angel..

Senior citizens, adults and robed kessim (priests) holding colorful umbrellas mingled with young people in jeans and trendy shirts, remembering the man who had embraced and extended a hand to them on their difficult and dangerous journey from Ethiopia and who for decades acted on the community’s behalf.

“Nearly the entire Ethiopian immigration passed through his hands. He was a classic example of the real Zionist,” said Micha Feldman, who was head of the Jewish Agency delegation to Ethiopia and the Israeli consul in Addis Ababa.

Among the mourners at the funeral were also a number of Israelis who did not come from Ethiopia but had been working there. Some were Mossad people who bid farewell to their colleague, who took to his grave many stories about the operations to rescue Ethiopian Jews.

Read more at Haaretz.com »


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Video: NED Presents Dr. Negasso Gidada

Dr. Negasso Gidada held a presentation on February 24th, 2015 at National Endowment for Democracy in DC entitled “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia.” (Getty)

NED

Dr. Negaso Gidada Solan is an esteemed statesman and scholar who has served as president of Ethiopia (1995–2001), member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–2010), and most recently, as chair of the United for Democracy and Justice Party, one of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties (2012–2013). A life-long proponent of human rights, ethnic inclusion, and democracy, he participated in the student movement of the 1960s, led the Aira School demonstrations against the Wallaga feudal system in the 1970s, and advocated for the rights of the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. While living in Germany, Dr. Solan worked to unite the Oromo community, both internally and with other Ethiopian groups, in their struggle against military rule. Returning to his homeland in 1991, he helped to draft a new constitution, chaired the 1994 Constitutional Assembly, and signed the constitution in 1995 as first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During his fellowship, Dr. Solan is writing an article addressing the role of democracy in settling controversies around the Ethiopian ethnic federalist system. His primary focus will be recommendations on how to build a democratic, multi-ethnic state in Ethiopia.

Presentations

Georgetown University, “The Role of Democracy Building in a Multi-Ethnic State: The Case of Ethiopia,” February 11, 2015.

University of Maryland School of Public Policy, “CISSM Forum/Development Circle | ‘The Role of Democracy in Building a Multi-Ethnic State: The Case of Ethiopia’,” February 19, 2015.

National Endowment for Democracy, “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia,” February 24, 2015.

Related:
NED Presents Ethiopian Statesman & Scholar Dr. Negasso Gidada

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UK Withdraws Funds Amid Abuse Allegations in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region

An Anuak woman at work in Abobo, a village in Ethiopia’s Gambella region. It has been claimed that UK money has funded abuses against Anuak people in the area. (Photograph: Alamy)

The Guardian

The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme. Hundreds of people have been forced from their land as a result of the scheme, while there have also been reports of torture, rape and beatings.

Until last month, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) was the primary funder of the promotion of basic services (PBS) programme, a $4.9bn (£3.2bn) project run by the World Bank and designed to boost education, health and water services in Ethiopia.

On Thursday, DfID said it had ended its PBS contributions because of Ethiopia’s “growing success”, adding that financial decisions of this nature were routinely made after considering a recipient country’s “commitment to partnership principles”.

It has been alleged that programme funds have been used to bankroll the Ethiopian government’s push to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages across the country.

Read more at The Guardian »


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Human Rights Watch Tells World Bank to Come Clean on Ethiopia Findings

The new village of Bildak in Gambella region that was quickly abandoned by the town's forcibly relocated residents because there was no water source for their cattle. (Photo: © 2011 Human Rights Watch)

HRW

Press Release

Washington, DC – The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for Africa. The bank’s response to the investigation findings attempts to distance the bank from the many problems confirmed by the investigation and should be revised. The World Bank board of directors is to consider the investigation report and management’s response, which includes an Action Plan, on February 26, 2015.

The Inspection Panel, the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, found that the bank violated its own policies in Ethiopia. The investigation was prompted by a formal complaint brought by refugees from Ethiopia’s Gambella region concerning the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) projects funded by the World Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the African Development Bank, and several other donors.

“The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals.”

The report, leaked to the media in January, determined that “there is an operational link” between the World Bank projects in Ethiopia and a government relocation program known as “villagization.” It concluded that the bank had violated its policy that is intended to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. It also found that the bank “did not carry out the required full risk analysis, nor were its mitigation measures adequate to manage the concurrent rollout of the villagisation programme.” These findings should prompt the World Bank and other donors to take all necessary measures to prevent and address links between its programs and abusive government initiatives, Human Rights Watch said.

Read more at hrw.org »

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Ethiopian Duo Endeshaw Negesse & Berhane Dibaba Win 2015 Tokyo Marathon

Endeshaw Negesse and Birhane Dibaba won the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015. (IAAF)

IAAF

Ethiopian runners Endeshaw Negesse and Berhane Dibaba took the honours at the 2015 Tokyo Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, winning in 2:06:00 and 2:23:15 respectively on Sunday (22).

It was the first time that runners from the same nation had won both the men’s and women’s titles in the nine year history of the event.

Negesse broke away from Kenya’s defending champion Dickson Chumba just before 40km to become only the second Ethiopian man, after Hailu Mekonnen in 2011, to win Japan’s most prestigious road race.

It was third fastest time in Tokyo Marathon, but just fell short of the twin goals of beating the Japanese all-comers best of 2:05:18, which belongs to Tsegaye Kebede from the 2009 Fukuoka Marathon and who was also in this year’s Tokyo race, and the course record of 2:05:42, which was set by Chumba in 2014.

“It was a good race, although the condition was little bit tough because it was rainy and cold (with temperatures around 5 degrees Celsius),” reflected Negesse.

“The pacing was little slow. If it had been faster, then I could have run faster,” he added. “I knew that the field is formidable when I saw the start list. However, I did not dwell on it. I have done good training including good speed work. So I knew I could win the race.”

Read more at iaaf.org »

Related:
Genzebe Dibaba Sets World Record in Indoor 5000-Meters in Stockholm

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When Fascists Tried to Remake Ethiopia

Picture of Benito Mussolini and Fascist Blackshirt youth in 1935 in Rome. (The American Conservative)

The American Conservative

By JONATHAN COPPAGE

When Mussolini’s army invaded and ultimately occupied Ethiopia, the Italian fascists did more than expand Italy’s African empire; in their eyes, they obtained an opportunity to build a capital from scratch.

As Rixt Woudstra details at Failed Architecture,

The idea of Ethiopia as a tabula rasa — a blank slate — was omnipresent in the writings of architects and urban planners occupied with the designs of the colonial capital between 1936 and 1939, who considered the country devoid of any structures of architectural significance. Contrary to the fascination of Libyan whitewashed courtyard house – their simplicity, colours and volumes perfectly in tune with modern taste – the round houses of the Ethiopians were regarded by Italian architects as irrational and unhygienic.

Modernist architecture’s obsession with rationality and supreme planning looked askance at a city even as relatively new as Addis Ababa for not proceeding out of the geometries and ideals en vogue in Europe. Within months of the Ethiopian capital’s conquest, no less an architect than Le Corbusier, one of the icons and pioneers of modernism, composed a sketch to accompany a letter he sent to Mussolini instructing “how a city for the modern times is born,” and offering his services as a midwife.

Woudstra writes,

Le Corbusier’s sketch shows Addis Ababa literally as a tabula rasa: the rigorously superimposed plan cleared the land of all signs of humanity and centuries of urban culture. In his letter, Le Corbusier described his drawing perfectly by writing that he was attracted by ‘…models so severe, that one might think the colony was a space without time, and therefore, without history, and without any particular geographical meaning.’ Further in his letter he added: ‘…the city is direct dominion; the city becomes the city of government, in which the Palace of the Governor must stand overall…’

As Robare explained the other week, these grand rational plannings have not died with their blackshirted allies. China’s construction of cities out of whole cloth may sometimes be painted with green sustainability, but they neither have the human appeal nor the natural sustainability of an incrementally grown, walkable city.

Addis Ababa was spared a Corbusier-inspired revamp by a combination of bureaucratic foot-dragging and rapid British troop movements that eventually freed the capital from fascist control. The grand colonialism would proceed apace, however, back in the very Western countries that had previously so frustrated Corbusier and his followers.


Plan Voisin for Paris, 1922-1925. photo: Fondation Le Corbusier

Read more »

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Zon 9 Bloggers Not Forgotten (BBC News)

(Photo via Twitter)

BBC News

In April 2014 BBC Trending covered the arrest of six bloggers and three journalists in Ethiopia. The bloggers are part of a group known as Zone 9, and are well known for campaigning around censorship and human rights issues in Ethiopia. Ten months on from their arrest, the hashtag #FreeZone9Bloggers continues to be used in the country as the trials continue.

That’s not typical – campaigning hashtags often tail off over time. This one is being kept alive by activists both inside and out of Ethiopia who are challenging the government’s decision. The total number of tweets is still only in the tens of thousands, but that is enough to be noticed on the global map (Twitter does not produce an official trending topics list for Ethiopia).

Why are they so focussed on social media? It certainly isn’t the best way to reach the Ethiopian people: the internet is estimated to reach just over 1% of the population there. But it does allow them to network with the global blogging fraternity and the international media. Recently a blog began in support of the nine prisoners, and to report on the hearings. A campaign video has also been released in which complaints are raised over the conditions of Kalinto prison and Kality prison, where the bloggers are being held.

Read more at BBC.com: Ethiopia’s imprisoned bloggers have not been forgotten »

Related:
As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

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How a Trip to Ethiopia Shattered Stereotypes, Spurred Documentary

Amen Gibreab, right, the director of a documentary about Ethiopia, sits next to Fanaye Debalke at Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant in Seattle. (Alex Stonehill/The Seattle Globalist)

The Seattle Times

By Sarah Stuteville

Many Americans think in broad, and often grim, generalizations about Ethiopia specifically and Africa overall. One local Ethiopian-American filmmaker and a small group of college students are hoping to challenge those stereotypes….

Traveling to Ethiopia changed me forever. In the two months I worked there in 2008, I met a proud country that had fought off Italian colonialists, a diverse nation that communicates in more than 80 languages and a complex people who challenged my assumptions and helped shape how I see the world today.

But that wasn’t what I was expecting. I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, decades that saw famine and political unrest in Ethiopia, as well as growth to our region’s significant Ethiopian-American population. For me, Ethiopia was a country that evoked images of starving children, refugees and war.

And I’m not alone. Many Americans think in broad, and often grim, generalizations about Ethiopia specifically and Africa overall. One local Ethiopian-American filmmaker and a small group of college students are hoping to challenge those stereotypes.

“Some students … all they knew of Africa was famine, terrorism, a lion and a tree,” says 25-year-old Amen Gibreab over strong cups of Ethiopian coffee at Gojo — an incense-saturated restaurant tucked into a strip mall in North Seattle.

Two years ago, a group of 15 UW Bothell students met with Gibreab and the founder of the program, professor Panagiotis “Panos” Hatziandreas, in this very spot to discuss the first Seattle-area study-abroad program to Ethiopia. It was a trip that would focus on re-imagining Ethiopia for a new generation, and Gibreab, a media and communication major and aspiring filmmaker, knew he had to document it.

Read more at The Seattle Times »

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Why Immigrant Rights Advocates Aren’t Worried About Texas Judge’s Ruling

(Photo credit: NAM)

New America Media

By Elena Shore

A federal judge this week blocked Obama’s executive actions from going into effect, a move immigration reform advocates are calling only a “temporary setback.”

Texas U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction on Monday, siding with Texas and 25 other states that signed on to a lawsuit against Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The White House announced on Tuesday that the Department of Justice is appealing the decision.

The judge’s ruling was released just two days before the expanded version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was slated to go into effect.

It means that — until the ruling is blocked or overturned by a higher court — individuals will not be able to apply for the new programs announced by President Obama on Nov. 20, 2014. These include the expanded version of DACA, which was slated to start Wednesday, and the new program for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which was expected to start in May.

Together the programs could protect over 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide them with temporary work authorization.

Monday’s ruling does not affect so-called Dreamers, who can still apply for (and renew) DACA under the program that was announced in 2012.

The chess game

The federal lawsuit in Texas is the latest move in a broader political chess match now being played out between Republicans and Democrats over the president’s recent steps on immigration reform.

Since Obama’s announcement in November, Republicans have attempted to block his initiatives in Congress. But the legislation has not gotten passed the Senate (and even if it did, it would be vetoed by the president).

That left one pathway for the GOP to challenge Obama’s executive actions: through the courts…The case is expected to go next to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel known for its conservative bent. After that, the case would go to a full U.S. court of appeals and even potentially all the way to the Supreme Court.

“The wheels of justice are slow,” said Marshall Fitz [vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress], “but at the end of the track, we will have confirmed legality and the program will be implemented.”

Immigration advocates have several reasons to be confident.

Read the full article at newamericamedia.org »

Related:
US Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama Immigration Directives (Video)

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Amharic Hip-hop Finds its Voice in Ethiopia

Mainstream rappers embrace the country’s dominant language while trying not to upset the government.

Aljazeera

By James Jeffrey

February 19, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopian rapper DJ Same took out a smartphone and played a clip of a man proclaiming passionately in a traditional Amharic style called fukera, used during feudal militaristic times to rouse the populace to go to war.

Then he started to beatbox along to the oration before saying, “Sounds like rap, doesn’t it?”

Nowadays, Ethiopia’s rappers aren’t concerned with stirring people to take up arms, but they still want to have an impact as they explore modern forms of music.

It is a complex picture that is emerging. When Ethiopian rappers perform in English, the comparisons with American rap are clear to see and hear. But when voiced in Amharic, the language of the second-largest ethnic and linguistic group in the country and used as Ethiopia’s official language, Ethiopian rap moves out of America’s shadow toward establishing its own unmistakable voice.

Yet there is a limit to how far that voice can go. Like many forms of artistic expression in Ethiopia, most rap artists use self-censorship when it comes to rapping about domestic politics. Amharic rap can, as a result, seem fairly apolitical compared with some Western rap. But that does not mean Ethiopian rap is without passion or lacking a desire to bear a worthwhile message to audiences.

“The government thinks we have a bad message, but they don’t understand what we are trying to do,” said 22-year-old rapper Ella Man. “A lot of foreign rap is about ‘I have this, I got this,” but we want to present a constructive message. We represent Ethiopia.”

Read more at america.aljazeera.com »



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As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

“Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.” (The Guardian Africa network)


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Aurora Delegates Head to Adama, Ethiopia

“A lot of this first trip is to formalize the relationship,” Karlyn Shorb, the executive director of Aurora Sister Cities, said as one of 20 people who left for Ethiopia Feb. 12 for a six-day tour of Adama, Ethiopia. (AS)

Aurora Sentinel

By RACHEL SAPIN

AURORA | The card game is called “Five Tricks.” There is no talking allowed and each team gets a different set of rules to play by. After a few minutes, some members switch to the other team, not even knowing the rules the other team has been told to follow.

Sound impossible? It’s supposed to be, said Karlyn Shorb, the executive director of Aurora Sister Cities.

Shorb was part of a group who took part in the card game as a communication-building exercise at Aurora city hall to prepare for a trip to Adama, Ethiopia — Aurora’s first partner sister city in nearly a decade.

“A lot of this first trip is to formalize the relationship,” Shorb said as one of 20 people who left for Ethiopia Feb. 12 for a six-day tour of Adama. “We’re doing a number of tours so we can get to know the city, their needs, and things we can help them with and work together on.”

Last August, delegates from Adama, which included the city’s mayor, visited Aurora and took part in Global Fest at the Aurora Municipal Center, a celebration of Aurora’s sizable and growing international community.

Read more »

Related:
Pictures: At Global Fest 2014 Aurora, Colorado Welcomes Adama (Nazret) as Sister City

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Djibouti, Ethiopia Accuse Eritrea of Sabotaging Stability

All three neighbors have been involved in armed conflict in the region. (Photo: Ethiopian peacekeepers/MG)

Bloomberg

By Paul Richardson

Ethiopia and Djibouti accused Eritrea of sabotaging regional stability, a charge denied by the Horn of Africa nation which has fought with both neighbors.

Eritrea’s government has a “continuous destabilization policy” and the international community should tighten sanctions, the leaders of Ethiopia and Djibouti said in a statement following a week of talks that ended on Feb. 9. They didn’t give further details on the accusations. The United Nations in 2009 imposed sanctions on Eritrea after allegations it supported insurgents in Somalia.

The UN Security Council in December 2009 voted to ban the travel and freeze the assets of selected Eritrean government and army leaders accused of being allied with al-Qaeda-linked militants attempting to topple the government in Somalia. The measure imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea and authorized inspection of cargo going to or from the country on the Red Sea.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said in a report submitted to the Security Council in October that it had found no evidence of Eritrean support for al-Shabaab.

Read more at Bloomberg News »

Related:
Siblings spat as Djibouti, Ethiopia accuse Eritrea of sabotaging Horn of Africa

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Friends of Selamneh Techane Raising Money to Send Body Back to Ethiopia

Selamneh Techane, of Ethiopia, disappeared about five years ago, according to his friend, Jennifer Zilliac. Selamneh's body was found last Sunday in an apartment in Fredericton, Canada. (Photo: Facebook)

Global News

By Richard Dooley and Emily Baron Cadloff

FREDERICTON – A body discovered in the attic of a Fredericton apartment building by firefighters Sunday night may have been in the crawlspace for nearly five years.

Friends of the dead man have identified him as Selamneh Techane, a former Ethiopian taxi driver who sometimes worked with families adopting Ethiopian orphans.

He came to New Brunswick in 2008 and his friends say he lived in the province for two years.

“He was the kindest, hardest working man, for sure. He was a sweet man, and we’re obviously sad to hear that news,” said Louise Reid.

Read more »

Related:
Canada: Body Found in Fredericton Fire IDed as Ethiopian Man (CBC News)

By Shaun Waters

The body discovered in a suspicious house fire in Fredericton over the weekend has been identified as a man from Ethiopia, who seemed to disappear about five years ago, according to a friend.

Jennifer Zilliac, of Oakland, Calif., says she was shocked and heartbroken to learn the body found in the attic of a house on Aberdeen Street on Sunday evening was that of Selamneh Techane.

Zilliac says she received a call from the New Brunswick coroner’s office on Monday after identification was discovered on the body. Officials are still using DNA and medical records to confirm the identity, she said.

Fredericton Police Cpl. Sean Clark has said the body was unrelated to the fire and that foul play was not suspected in the person’s death.

Zilliac had put up a Facebook site dedicated to finding Techane after he seemed to disappear five years ago. She says he was instrumental in helping her adopt a daughter from Ethiopia in 2005.

‘He was loved by so many’

“He was a taxi driver in [Ethiopia's capital city] Addis Ababa and he was connected with people who were adopting children from Ethiopia and connected to everybody,” she told CBC News in a telephone interview from her home in Oakland.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to a foreign country and not spoken the language and not known the culture and needed to rely on somebody to help you with that. Selamneh was that person for me and for a lot of people.”

Zilliac says Techane would translate for people and help them find family members in Ethiopia. She spent two months with him as he took her from home to home and to the embassy, helping pave the way for the adoption of her daughter.

Read more at CBC News »

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Worku Abiy: Ethiopian Israeli Orphan Fulfills Dream of Becoming IDF Officer

Worku Abiy, 23, from Ethiopia in his Israel Defense Forces uniform. (Photo: IDF Spokesman's Unit)

Ynetnews

By Omri Efraim

Among hundreds of excited cadets at an officer training course graduation ceremony on Wednesday stood one soldier who felt that his presence there was a victory against all odds. Worku Abiy, 23, a lone soldier and orphan from Ethiopia who arrived in Israel at the age of 15, never imagined he would one day wear an IDF uniform.

“If someone would have told me a decade ago, when I was a lonely orphan in Ethiopia, that I would stand here one day with this uniform and these ranks, I would not believe it,” says Abiy

Abiy underwent a long journey to get to where he is today. When he was 3 years-old, his mother died and he lived with his father until the age of 14 – when his father passed away too. Without any parents, Abiy wandered between the houses of various distant family members until 2007. At the time, Abiy was living with his cousin and his family who decided that they were moving to Israel and took Abiy with them.

When they arrived in Israel, Abiy and his relatives were transferred to an absorption center in Afula in northern Israel. Two years later, when Abiy’s relatives left the absorption center, Abiy began to study at the Yemin Orde boarding school near Zikhron Ya’akov.

Read more at Ynetnews »

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Ethiopia Launches Mobile Money

The Ethiopian government has approved mobile money for banks. (Photo: Africa Telecom & IT)

Reuters

By Edmund Blair

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian banks and microfinance firms are launching mobile money services, helping reach swathes of the population that now have little access to branches or services, the mobile technology providers and banks said.

The launch of the services, which allow customers to make payments or receive money via a mobile that is linked to a bank account, mirrors technology used in other African nations that has drawn millions of people into the financial system.

Netherlands-based BelCash is offering a technology called helloCash, while MOSS ICT, mainly owned by an Ireland-based firm, is rolling out M-Birr in the nation of 96 million people.

In both cases, Ethiopian banks and institutions will offer the service to customers and hold the cash deposited, in line with government policy that bars foreign firms or banks from investing in the financial sector or the telecoms industry.

“One of the things that the government wants to do is ensure there is financial inclusion,” said MOSS ICT deputy general manager Kidist Negeye, adding M-Birr would help reach rural areas. “Another aspect is the mobilization of domestic savings. The government wants to increase the number of deposits.”

Read more at Reuters.com »

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Ethiopian Wins Entrepreneur of Year Prize

Zelalem Gemmeda. (Buffalo News)

Buffalo News

By Emma Sapong

Zelalem Gemmeda arrived in Buffalo in 2005 as a refugee from Ethiopia. The mother of two had to slowly rebuild her life, eventually opening Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine in the West Side Bazaar two years ago.

That business, its growth and Gemmeda’s overall resilience have earned her the inaugural entrepreneur of the year award from the Westminster Economic Development Initiative. She will be honored Friday during the organization’s annual Winterfest fundraiser at Foundry Hotel and Banquet on Elmwood Avenue.

The award, sponsored by Rich Products, includes a certificate and a $500 prize.

“I’m very excited to be honored for my hard work and success,” said Gemmeda, who is receiving assistance from WEDI to open her own restaurant.

Rich Products and WEDI selected Gemmeda because of her business that adds diversity to the community’s food choices, her drive to succeed and overcome obstacles and improve her condition. Gemmeda has emerged as a leader among vendors in the West Side Bazaar on Grant Street, WEDI’s international incubator, which houses food and retail booths. She’s also advocating for the bazaar to open seven days a week, instead of five, and incorporating more of the business owners’ culture into the incubator’s decor.

Read more »

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Email Raises Questions About UK ’s Involvement in Andargachew Tsige’s Case

Andargachew 'Andy' Tsige. (BBC)

BBC News

Emails raise query over Islington ‘terrorist’ held by Ethiopia

1 February 2015

The Ethiopian authorities have broadcast a video of a man from Islington in London, who they have been holding in secret since he was kidnapped in Yemen in June.

Ethiopia claims Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsige is a terrorist and sentenced him to death in absentia.

But a series of internal emails from the UK’s Foreign Office has now raised questions about the British government’s involvement in the case, according to his family and legal representatives.

BBC London’s Ayshea Buksh spoke to Mr Tisge’s partner Yemi Hailemariam, the strategic director of Reprieve, Maya Foa. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, also appears.

Read more and watch the video at BBC News »


Related:
UK Diplomats Clash Over Andargachew Tsege
British MPs to Visit Ethiopia in Bid to Secure Release of Andy Tsege

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At AU Meeting in Ethiopia, UN Chief Urges African Leaders Not Cling to Power

UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, center-right, walks past a wall of photos, at the annual African Union (AU) summit, held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. (AP photo)

Associated Press

BY ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — The U.N. secretary-general Friday urged African leaders not to cling to power.

Ban Ki-moon said undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes should never be used by leaders to stay in power.

Speaking at the summit of the 54-nation African Union, Ban urged African leaders to listen to their people saying that modern leaders cannot ignore the wishes of those they represent.

Some African leaders have been in power for decades after altering their countries’ constitutions to extend their tenures in office. Recently Congo passed a law that requiring a national census before elections could be held. The law sparked off violent protests in which dozens were killed as critics accused President Joseph Kabila, who has been president since 2001, of attempting to prolong his stay in office.

Burkina Faso’s president of 27 years, Blaise Compaore, stepped down in October amid mounting opposition to his bid to seek yet another term in office.

Other African countries where leaders are suspected to be planning changes to their constitutions to extend their times in power include Congo Brazzaville, Benin, Uganda and Rwanda.

The African Union’s new chairman, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, 90, has been in power since 1980 and has altered the country’s constitution and has been re-elected in polls widely criticized for rigging and violence.

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Egypt’s Sisi Cuts Short Ethiopia Visit

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (CREDIT: REUTERS/PHILIPPE WOJAZER)

Reuters

BY MAGGIE FICK AND YUSRI MOHAMED

Fri Jan 30, 2015

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cut short a visit to Ethiopia for an African Union summit on Friday after Islamic State’s Egyptian wing claimed the killing of at least 30 soldiers and police officers in the Sinai Peninsula.

The four separate attacks on security forces in North Sinai on Thursday night were among the bloodiest in years and the first significant assault in the region since the most active Sinai militant group swore allegiance to IS in November.

Militant attacks in Sinai, while far from Cairo and tourist attractions, has crimped government efforts to project an image of stability to woo back foreign investors and tourists driven away by frequent political violence since a popular uprising four years ago that overthrew veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Sisi left Addis Ababa after meeting with the Ethiopian premier following the AU summit’s opening session, an Egyptian official there told Reuters.

Read more at Reuters.com »

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If You Have a Meeting in Ethiopia, You Better Double Check the Time

People walk through the streets of a shopping area in Addis Ababa. (Credit: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

PRI

By Reporter Dalia Mortada

January 30, 2015

Things always get lost in translation. Sometimes, words or phrases just cannot be converted word-for-word from one language to the next. But in most places, the date and the time works pretty much the same all over the world.

Not in Ethiopia. There, it’s currently the end of the fifth month of 2007. It isn’t so strange for countries to have different calendars — Israel officially works according to the Jewish calendar and Saudi Arabia has an Isalmic calendar. But, what about having your own time? That’s the case in Ethiopia.

In the back of a cab in Addis Ababa, a colleague and I ask our driver for the time. The time on my phone, which is set to the correct time zone, reads 8:30 p.m. But that’s not what the cabbie tells us. “It’s two o’clock, 30 minutes,” he replies. He chuckles and adds, “In Ethiopia.”

That’s because in Ethiopia, there are two ways to tell the time.

Because Ethiopia is close to the Equator, daylight is pretty consistent throughout the year. So many Ethiopians use a 12-hour clock, with one cycle of 1 to 12 — from dawn to dusk — and the other cycle from dusk to dawn.

Most countries start the day at midnight. So 7:00 a.m. in East Africa Time, Ethiopia’s time zone, is 1:00 in daylight hours in local Ethiopian time. At 7:00 p.m., East Africa Time, Ethiopians start over again, so it’s 1:00 on their 12-hour clock.

If you think this is confusing to read about, imagine trying to do business in In Ethiopia.

Kemal Oznoyan was baffled.

He helped open a factory in Addis Ababa for the Turkish textile company, Ayka, seven years ago. He laughs remembering the headaches Ethiopian time caused. “When we organize meeting, they were talking about Ethiopian time, but we were talking about European time,” he recalls.

Once, for example, he and his colleagues set up a meeting for 6 o’clock. Oznoyan thought, “6 p.m., no problem.” But a bit after noon he got a call from the guy he was meeting. “He calls, ‘Where are you? I’m waiting in the downstairs.’” Oznayan says. “[I ask him] ‘Why?’”

It turns out, Oznayan’s colleague meant 6:00 in Ethiopian time, which is noon by Oznoyan’s clock.

It’s not a problem for him anymore. In fact, he finds it pretty impressive that Ethiopians have stuck to it. As Addis Ababa booms, welcoming international businesses and organizations from all over the world, one would think that international standards would take over and locals would start telling time the way the rest of the world does.

But Oznoyan says, not so fast. “I’m also feeling that, why they have to do it?” In fact, he says, Ethiopians should be proud of their unique ways. For one thing, they’re one of only two African nations never to be colonized.

Also, Professor Wudu Tafete says, the Ethiopian way of telling time is practical. He explains that because Ethiopia’s daylight hours stay consistent throughout the year, it makes sense to start the day at 1, when the sun comes up. “The day is 12 hours, because Ethiopia is three degrees north of the Equator,” he explains.

In Europe, he goes on, winter days are really short and the nights are really long, and in the summer it’s the opposite: days are long and nights are short. In Ethiopia, people have chosen to stick with what’s simple — 12 and 12. He says it only makes sense.

Sure, he says, it can be confusing for foreigners at first. But he says they all get it eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

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Bloomberg: Ethiopia Bloggers to Enter Pleas in Terrorism Case Next Week

Edom Kassaye, jailed journalist & member of Zone 9 group. (Drawing by @melodysundberg via Twitter)

Bloomberg

By William Davison

Addis Ababa — Ethiopian bloggers accused of plotting acts of terrorism will probably enter pleas next week after a court accepted amended charges from the prosecution.

The Federal High Court accepted most of the charges against 10 bloggers and journalists, Ameha Mekonnen, a defense lawyer for the writers, said on Wednesday from Addis Ababa, the capital. The defendants will enter pleas on Feb. 3, he said by phone.

Nine of the accused were detained in April and charged under a 2009 anti-terrorism law that the U.S. and United Nations said criminalizes legitimate dissent. The prosecution has said that the group participated in the planning of a plot with the U.S.-based Ginbot 7, which is classified as a terrorist organization in Ethiopia.

In November, the court rejected earlier charges and asked prosecutors to present more specific and clear accusations.

“They’ve said now it’s sufficiently clear but for us it’s not yet clear at all,” Mekonnen said.

Related:
Zone 9 Trial Resumes in Ethiopia: Court Accepts Most Charges Against Bloggers

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Police Attack Protesters in Addis Ababa

Police brutally attacked and dispersed peaceful demonstrators in Addis Ababa last Sunday. (Photo: TDJ)

The Daily Journalist

By Betre Yacob

Police brutally attacked and dispersed peaceful demonstrators in the capital Addis Ababa on Sunday as they try to protest against the ongoing government repression on opposition political parties and dissents in run-up to the countries general election..

Political activists say the Sunday’s attack against the peaceful demonstrators is further evidence of the authorities’ determination to clamp down the activities of opposition political parties ahead the election.

In this latest brutal attack against peaceful protesters, dozens of members and supporters of Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) were seriously injured. The incident is the most blatant and massive case of lethal police brutality in Ethiopia.

According to reports, demonstrators were brutally beaten with baton, stick and iron rod in the head, face, hands, and legs. One of the victims is said to have been a pregnant woman. Reports show the victims were taken to hospital right away, and some of them are still receiving medical treatment.

Among seriously injured was Sileshi Hagose, the member of the general assembly of the party and editor in chief of a weekly newspaper. Recently released photographs show that he was wounded in the face and head, and his both hands were seriously broken.

UDJ is the main opposition political party struggling in the narrowing political landscape in Ethiopia and is one of the few parties working at national level with an inclusive structure by bringing different ethnic groups all together.

Read more »

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Ethiopia’s Women Vow to Turn Tide of Violence, Rape and Murder

Justice for Hanna was launched after the murder of 16-year-old Hanna Lalango, who was repeatedly raped after being abducted in Addis Ababa. (Photograph: JusticeForHannah)

The Guardian

William Davison in Addis Ababa

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Tejnesh Leweg’neh, a 15-year-old from Ethiopia’s mountainous northern Shoa region, was abducted by three men on her way to market in October. They tried to force her to agree to marry one of them. She refused, and, a day later, they pushed her off a cliff. Now Tejnesh is paralysed from the waist down.

That same month, 16-year-old Hanna Lalango, from Ethiopia’s cosmopolitan capital, Addis Ababa, was abducted by a group of men from a minibus on the outskirts of the city. She was raped over several days and died in hospital about a month later from her injuries. Five men have been convicted and are awaiting sentence for the attack. Hanna reportedly identified her assailants before she died.

Both these crimes were brought to light by an energised network of mostly female Ethiopian activists trying to advance women’s rights and reduce sexual harassment in the Horn of Africa country.

“What united us is we believe this is our problem, it’s our responsibility to change this,” says one of them, Selam Mussie. “We all are Hannas – this could have been any of us.”

ussie, an administrator at the International Community School in Addis Ababa, is part of the Justice for Hanna campaign.

Activists view these violent attacks as a consequence of a culture that places women in subordinate positions to men, which often manifests itself in the form of the frequent petty harassment they endure on the capital’s streets.

“There are certain places that most of us are terrified of passing through because there are tens of men sitting around to purposely make a woman passerby uncomfortable,” says Mussie, 24. “It starts from common catcalls, to dissing, to a physical level where they could follow to grab or touch private parts.”

We believe this is our problem, it’s our responsibility to change it. We all are Hannas – this could have been any of us
Selam Mussie, Justice for Hanna campaign

Liya Hailemariam, a 24-year-old activist who works in PR, says she frequently suffers attention on public transport. “And it’s not just words – people somehow just slide in their hands,” she says. “We sort of consider it normal, we pass it off as this stupid guy, this pervert.”

Read more »

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Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

Pedestrians walk bundled against the blowing snow during a winter snowstorm in Boston, Massachusetts, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

January 27, 2015

A massive winter storm dropped up to 60 centimeters of snow in some parts of the northeastern U.S. Monday and Tuesday, but fell short of forecasters’ worst predictions.

Massachusetts and Connecticut saw some of the heaviest snow. Blizzard warnings remained in effect in Massachusetts Tuesday afternoon, as well as coastal areas of Maine and Rhode Island.

High winds, snow

Snow was not the only danger from the storm, which also carried powerful winds. The highest reported winds reached 126 kilometers per hour on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket. Power outages and flooding were also reported in the state.

In New York and New Jersey, it was a different story, as officials and forecasters were forced to defend their strong warnings after the storm produced less snow than anticipated.

The governors of New York and New Jersey began lifting travel bans after dawn Tuesday, while the National Weather Service canceled its blizzard warning for New York City.

“This is nothing like we feared it would be,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN. De Blasio had earlier warned the storm could be one of the worst the city has ever faced.

The New York Stock Exchange was operating normally Tuesday, and subways, trains and buses began moving again. But United Nations headquarters and many schools and businesses across the northeast were closed.

Travel across the region also remained crippled Tuesday, with more than 4,500 flights canceled, according to FlightAware.com.

The only reported death in the storm occurred on New York’s Long Island, which was hit much harder than Manhattan. The victim was a teenager who crashed into a light post while snow tubing.

Washington escapes blizzard

The brunt of the storm missed the nation’s capital, which saw only light snow mixed with rain, but federal offices and public schools in the city opened two hours late Tuesday to give people extra travel time.

On social media, Americans waiting out the snowstorm posted photos and videos of their cities blanketed in white. Hashtags such as #blizzardof2015 and #Snowmageddon2015 quickly gained traction.

As officials and residents prepared for the worst, Broadway theater productions in Manhattan went dark Monday night, New York-area NBA (National Basketball Association) teams postponed games and store shelves cleared out quickly as people scrambled to pick up supplies. Drivers largely heeded orders to stay off the streets in both New York and Boston overnight.

Originally, up to 90 centimeters of snow was expected to fall in some regions of the Northeast, accompanied by near hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding.

Related:
New York City Is Spared Worst Effects of Snowstorm (The New York Times)

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UK Diplomats Clash Over Andargachew Tsege

Family torn apart: Andargachew Tsege with wife Yemi and their children. (The Daily Mail)

The Daily Mail

By Ian Birrell

An explosive row has erupted between diplomats and Ministers over their reluctance to help a British man on death row in Ethiopia.

A series of extraordinary emails, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, reveal officials’ increasing frustration at political inaction over Andargachew Tsege.

Tsege, 59, a father-of-three from London, was snatched at an airport in Yemen last June and illegally rendered to Ethiopia. There are concerns he may have been tortured.

Yet Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he could not ‘find time’ for a phone call to raise the issue and did not want to send a ‘negative’ letter.

In one email, an exasperated official asks: ‘Don’t we need to do more than give them a stern talking to?’

Read more at The Daily Mail »

Related:
British MPs to Visit Ethiopia in Bid to Secure Release of Andy Tsege

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‘Ethiopia’s Media Crackdown is Bad News for Africa’ (The Guardian)

“Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.” (The Guardian)

The Guardian

By Simon Allison

It’s not easy being a journalist in Ethiopia. In fact, it’s nearly impossible, according to a new 76-page Human Rights Watch report that documents the scale of the state’s censorship apparatus. As a journalist, it makes for highly disturbing reading.

“Ethiopia’s government has systematically assaulted the country’s independent voices, treating the media as a threat rather than a valued source of information and analysis,” says Leslie Lefkow, the organisation’s deputy Africa director.

“Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.”

The authors of the report spoke to 70 Ethiopian journalists, many in exile, who painted a dismal picture of the state of Ethiopian media. The government exerts control in many different ways – some subtle, some quite the opposite.

Read more »



Related:
HRW Accuses Ethiopia of Journalist Crackdown Ahead of Elections (VOA News)
Ethiopia Media Being Decimated: Reforms Crucial Prior to May Elections (HRW)
African Elections in 2015: A Year of Promise and Peril (U.S. Congress)

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Double Delight for Ethiopia in Dubai Marathon

Lemi Berhanu set a world-leading 2:05:28 to defeat a distinguished field in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon but Kenenisa Bekele dropped out at the 30km mark with injury. (IAAF)

World Running

Jan. 23, 2015

Lemi Berhanu was the unexpected winner of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, which produced another slew of super-fast times on Friday (23).

With former three-time champion and ex-world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie on duty as part of the commentary team for international TV coverage, Berhanu – the winner of the Zurich Marathon last year in 2:10:40 – left some of the biggest names in marathon-running trailing in his wake.

In fine but relatively warm conditions, the 20-year-old clocked a world-leading time of 2:05:28. Lelisa Desisa, who won this race on his debut two years ago, took second in 2:05:52 while Deribe Robi completed an all-Ethiopian podium with a time of 2:06:06.

In contrast, Bekele lost contact with the leading group around the 28km mark and dropped out a few kilometres later. The world 5000m and 10,000m record-holder was hoping to improve his lifetime best of 2:05:04 which he set on his marathon debut in Paris last April.

“Kenenisa suffered hamstring problems in both legs,” explained his coach Renato Canova. “But I think the real problem is in his right Achilles tendon. At the end of November he had to reduce training because of this. But then it got better and actually his final training sessions looked encouraging. A world record was never a realistic target, but a 2:04 time seemed realistic.

“However when I saw him running today he did not look relaxed; he looked tight. And I think this is the reason why he developed hamstring problems. Something must have happened in the final few days before the race. We now have to solve this tendon problem. But for his future marathon career I remain very confident. I think he will do really well,” added Canova, whose charge is due to run in the London Marathon on 26 April.

With Bekele out of contention, Desisa and Berhanu duelled for the title and with one kilometre remaining, the relatively inexperienced marathon exponent Berhanu forged a decisive gap on the former winner of the Boston and Dubai Marathons.

“I would never have thought that I could win this race. It was my dream to do this in Dubai one day, but not this year! With around one kilometre to go I sensed that I could succeed,” said Berhanu, who won some $200,000 for his efforts.

“I never thought about the money,” said Berhanu, who is hoping to represent Ethiopia at the IAAF World Championships in August. “I really don’t know what I will do with it.”


Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia. (IAAF)

Aselefech Mergia secures hat-trick on marathon return

Contesting her first marathon in nearly three years, Aselefech Mergia returned to the top-table of women’s marathon-running with her third victory in the Dubai Marathon.

Mergia, who represented Ethiopia at the 2012 Olympics, has largely been absent from the international circuit since then through injury and childbirth but the Ethiopian looked back to her best as she became the first woman to win three titles in the Dubai Marathon.

Read more »

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In Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, The ‘Hipsters’ Have A Unique Style All Their Own (Video)

(Photo credit: Alex Franco)

Aplus.com

By ISAAC SAUL

In the Omo Valley of Ethiopia, a community of stylish men and women caught the attention of a photographer.

Alex Franco was struck by the Hamer, Mursi, Banna and Bodi ethnic groups, all of which have what the BBC World Service described as a “hipster cool” kind of style. They dress in elaborate colors, stand in graceful poses, and alter their hair.

“Resilient local traditions are combined with Western fashion in an original, quirky way,” the BBC told A+ in an email.

Check out Franco’s pictures and hear him talk about his experience in the short video.

Alex Franco is a Spanish-born fashion photographer and filmmaker.



Related:
People of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley Inspire Dolce & Gabbana 2015 Collection

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Ethiopia Media Being Decimated (HRW)

Human Rights Watch says "Legal, policy reforms crucial prior to May elections." (Getty Images and HRW)

Human Rights Watch

JANUARY 22, 2015

(Nairobi) – The Ethiopian government’s systematic repression of independent media has created a bleak landscape for free expression ahead of the May 2015 general elections, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. In the past year, six privately owned publications closed after government harassment; at least 22 journalists, bloggers, and publishers were criminally charged, and more than 30 journalists fled the country in fear of being arrested under repressive laws.

The 76-page report, “‘Journalism is Not a Crime’: Violations of Media Freedom in Ethiopia,” details how the Ethiopian government has curtailed independent reporting since 2010. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 70 current and exiled journalists between May 2013 and December 2014, and found patterns of government abuses against journalists that resulted in 19 being imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression, and that have forced at least 60 others into exile since 2010.

“Ethiopia’s government has systematically assaulted the country’s independent voices, treating the media as a threat rather than a valued source of information and analysis,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.”

Most of Ethiopia’s print, television, and radio outlets are state-controlled, and the few private print media often self-censor their coverage of politically sensitive issues for fear of being shut down.

The six independent print publications that closed in 2014 did so after a lengthy campaign of intimidation that included documentaries on state-run television that alleged the publications were linked to terrorist groups. The intimidation also included harassment and threats against staff, pressure on printers and distributors, regulatory delays, and eventually criminal charges against the editors. Dozens of staff members went into exile. Three of the owners were convicted under the criminal code and sentenced in absentia to more than three years in prison. The evidence the prosecution presented against them consisted of articles that criticized government policies.

Read more at HRW »



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Obama’s Biggest State of the Union Zinger

At the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama had one especially memorable moment when he said to applause and laughter: “I have no more campaigns to run. I know because I won both of them."

NBC News

By Aliyah Frumin

In front of the new, Republican-controlled Congress, a forceful and determined President Obama used his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night to push for a program of “middle class economics.” With his pitch, also came a slew of zingers – some scripted and some ad-libbed – that received applause, laughter and some GOP scowls. Here’s a look at his five best lines.

1. “I know because I won both of them.” Towards the end of his speech, Obama called for Republicans and Democrats to work together, acknowledging “I have no more campaigns to run.” But when Republicans began to clap, the commander-in-chief shot back, off-the-cuff: “I know because I won both of them” he said, to applause and laughter from Democrats.

Read more at MSNBC »

Video: Obama’s biggest zinger of the 2015 State of the Union (USA Today)


Related:
Gloom Lifts And Obama Goes All Out (The New York Times)
Why History Will Be Very Kind to President Obama (New York Magazine)

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Ethiopia’s Coffee Rank Among Best (Video)

(Photo: voanews.com)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

January 21, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride.

International coffee experts travel the world to find the best tasting cup. They keep coming back to Ethiopia, where importers like Morton Wennersgaard say the climate produces quality coffee beans.

“You have different ancient varieties referred to as Ethiopian heirdom. They are grown in places with perfect soil, perfect altitude, and micro climates that are really suitable for coffee processing, such as drying and things like that,” he explains.

Finding the best beans is a matter of taste, literally. The intense process is known as cupping – tasting and comparing coffee from different roasted beans, grading and then pricing them.

Coffee labs

But before international experts come to taste, coffee beans go through analysis in small coffee labs, where Helen Assefa describes the process.

“When the coffee comes to the lab, we assess the coffee quality first by recording the details. Then we weigh the moisture level and we screen the beans for analysis. After that we grind the coffee beans and taste the samples. At the end we check for defective beans,” Assefa explains.

And that screening is a very difficult and lengthy process, says lab worker Mubarik Abaoli.

“We sort out the defects manually, by hand. And we sort out the defect according to the defect types. The types are immature, paste damage, foxy, black – all has to be sorted out according to the severity of the defects,” Mubarik Abaoli says.

Cashing in abroad

Nevertheless, Ethiopia is cashing in on its coffee reputation with consumers in more than 120 countries and a yearly export revenue of more than $840 million.

But not all the best coffee leaves Ethiopia. With 40 percent of the coffee production consumed at home, it remains an important part of everyday life at work, at home and at ceremonies just to celebrate that special cup.

Video: How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee


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Leaked Report Says World Bank Violated Its Own Rules In Ethiopia

This article was reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a Washington DC-based global network of 185 reporters in 65 countries who collaborate on transnational investigations.

The Huffington Post

By Sasha Chavkin

01/20/2015

The World Bank repeatedly violated its own rules while funding a development initiative in Ethiopia that has been dogged by complaints that it sponsored forced evictions of thousands of indigenous people, according to a leaked report by a watchdog panel at the bank.

The report, which was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, examines a health and education initiative that was buoyed by nearly $2 billion in World Bank funding over the last decade. Members of the indigenous Anuak people in Ethiopia’s Gambella province charged that Ethiopian authorities used some of the bank’s money to support a massive forced relocation program and that soldiers beat, raped and killed Anuak who refused to abandon their homes. The bank continued funding the health and education initiative for years after the allegations emerged.

The report by the World Bank’s internal Inspection Panel found that there was an “operational link” between the World Bank-funded program and the Ethiopian government’s relocation push, which was known as “villagization.” By failing to acknowledge this link and take action to protect affected communities, the bank violated its own policies on project appraisal, risk assessment, financial analysis and protection of indigenous peoples, the panel’s report concludes.

“The bank has enabled the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of indigenous people from their ancestral lands,” said David Pred, director of Inclusive Development International, a nonprofit that filed the complaint on behalf of 26 Anuak refugees.

Read more at The Huffington Post »

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World Bank: Poverty in Ethiopia Down 33 Percent Since 2000

More than three-quarters of Ethiopia's population derive their income from agriculture. (Photo: USAID)

PRESS RELEASE

The world bank

January 20, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Agricultural growth was the main driver of poverty reduction in Ethiopia since 2000, according to the World Bank Group’s latest Poverty Assessment. Poverty in Ethiopia fell from 44 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2011, which translated to a 33 percent reduction in the share of people living in poverty. This decline was underpinned by high and consistent economic growth.

Since 2005, agricultural growth has been responsible for a reduction in poverty of 4 percent a year, suggesting that the agricultural growth strategy pursued by the Government of Ethiopia has paid off. High food prices and good weather ensured that increased use of fertilizer was translated into higher incomes for poor farmers with access to markets. Government spending on basic services and effective rural safety nets has also helped the least well-off in Ethiopia. The Productive Safety Net Program alone has pushed 1.5 million people out of poverty.

“Although Ethiopia started from a low base, its investment in pro-poor sectors and agriculture has paid-off and led to tremendous achievements in economic growth and poverty reduction, which in turn have helped improve the economic prospects of its citizens,” says Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Group Country Director for Ethiopia.

The pace of poverty reduction in Ethiopia has been impressive, especially when compared with other African countries; only Uganda has had higher annual poverty reduction during the same period. Health, education, and living standards have also improved, with undernourishment down from 75 percent to 35 percent since 1990 and infant and child mortality rates falling considerably since 2000. Ethiopia is one of the most equal countries in the world, and has remained so during this period of economic development and poverty reduction.

A number of challenges remain, and 37 million Ethiopians remain either poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty in the wake of a shock. In addition, the very poorest in Ethiopia have become even poorer. The high food prices that improve incomes for many poor farmers make buying food more challenging for the poorest. Moreover, the majority of Ethiopians still live in rural areas and work in agriculture; enabling mobility across sectors and locations needs to be one of the main areas of focus going forward to continue the country’s movement toward ending poverty. As urban centers grow, policies to address poverty in these areas will become increasingly important.

“Ethiopia is often unfairly seen as emblematic of poverty and deprivation—but the progress it has seen over the past decade should help change that,” says Ana Revenga, Senior Director for Poverty at the World Bank Group. “If this progress continues over the next decade, Ethiopia can propel itself and most importantly, its people into a new era of prosperity.”

The report indicates that while Ethiopia should continue focusing on agricultural growth and investments in basic services, the potential of migration and non-agricultural growth has been largely missed. Alongside ongoing efforts to support self-employment, encouraging the entry and growth of firms and helping households overcome constraints to urban migration could also further help Ethiopia to reduce poverty and promote prosperity for all of is people. Poverty reduction has been fastest in the regions where poverty was highest a decade and a half ago, and the remaining poor live in every district across the country. Safety net programs, which have been effective, will need to adapt to the changing landscape of poverty in Ethiopia.

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Israeli Company to Construct Solar-Hybrid Power Plants in Ethiopia

Israeli company AORA to provide solar-biogas hybrid power solutions for rural communities in Ethiopia. (Photo: ynetnews)

Homestrings.com

The hybrid plant adjusts itself to a variety of weather conditions, utilizing both solar energy and biofuels.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy had entered an agreement with an Israeli solar-hybrid power company to provide “power solutions” in rural Ethiopia.

The Israeli developers, AORA, promise “significant social and economic impact on off-grid communities, helping to provide power to schools and medical facilities, refrigeration for food processing and post-harvest storage, groundwater pumping, and much more,” according to Tazpit News Agency.

Ethiopia often suffers from blackouts; two-thirds of the country’s citizens do not have electricity.

Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, said the deal transforms “the Green Economy Strategy into action”, referring to a 2011 initiative that aims to turn Ethiopia into a middle-income, green economy nation by 2025. “AORA’s unique solar-hybrid technology is… well suited to provide both energy and heat to support local economic development in Ethiopia,” Tegenu added.

AORA’s technology combines solar radiation, gaseous and liquid fuels including biodiesel and natural gas, enabling a flexible variety of operational modes which adjust themselves to all weather conditions, 24 hours a day.

Construction of the first plant is expected to begin by mid-2015.

Related:
Israeli solar power technology to light up Ethiopia (Ynet News)

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Ethiopians Win 2015 Houston Marathon

Marathoners go past the starting line during the beginning of the Houston Marathon, Sunday, January 18, 2015 in Houston. (Photo By Eric Christian Smith/For the Houston Chronicle)

Houston Chronicle

By Dale Robertson

Yebrgual Arage’s personal-best time a year ago in the Chevron Houston Marathon gained her a second-place finish. This time, another personal best won her the race and later – pay attention, breaking news! – Arage credited her affinity for fast times on the city’s streets to the delightfully temperate climate.

The air in Ethiopia, she said through a translator, “is very heavy. It’s much nicer here.”

The nearly 25,000 local runners, a vast majority of whom were still huffing and puffing on the course when she donned her new champion’s cowboy hat and met with the media, would have all fainted hearing that. We only thought Houston was the king of humidity. Maybe if Arage returned in July…

It was indeed a perfect Sunday morning, at least for the world-class athletes in the field. None were still running when the temperature finally nudged above 50 degrees and the finishing times showed it. Although no records fell, Arage missed by a mere nine seconds and Birhanu Gedefa, claiming victory in the men’s race, shaved nearly 3½ minutes off his previous fastest time.

Gedefa, 30, crossed in 2:08:03 and Arage, 24, in 2:08:03 to extend Ethiopia’s reign for another year. From 1972 through 2007, no Houston runner had cracked 2:10, but four did it this day alone. The runner-up, Gebo Burka (2:08:12), and third-place finisher Debebe Tolossa (2:09:07) also established personal bests.

Also, going back to 2007, only one athlete of another nationality – David Cheruiyot of neighboring Kenya in 2008 – has triumphed in either the men’s or women’s race. With Arage and Gedefa now in the winner’s circle as well a seventh woman and a sixth man will be declaring Stetsons when they go through customs back in the Horn of Africa.

Read more »


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US Observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

FILE - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaks to residents at the Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago's South Side, July 24, 1965. (AP photo)

VOA News

January 19, 2015

Americans across the country are pausing Monday to observe the federal holiday marking the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

King first rose to prominence in 1955 when he led a successful boycott of the public buses in the southern city of Montgomery, Alabama, forcing the city to end its practice of segregating black passengers. He became the central figure of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s, inspiring millions with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the same year a landmark civil rights bill was signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had traveled to assist striking black garbage workers who were seeking equal pay.

The holiday was created in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed a bill designating the third Monday in January to honor King, who was born on January 15, 1929. Congress designated the King holiday as a national day of service in 1994, a move aimed at encouraging Americans to take part in community projects.

In honor of Dr. King, cable television’s MTV is airing its programming Monday in black and white for twelve hours to encourage viewers to have conversations with their friends and family about race. The monochrome broadcast is a first in the youth-oriented channel’s 34-year history.

MTV programming on Monday will include reflections on race from entertainers and public officials.


Editors of the root are featuring a quote from the iconic civil rights leader in honor of today’s MLK
Day. Read about an effort to portray Martin Luther King Jr. authentically on-screen here.


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Ethiopia: Two Britons Jailed for Terrorism

Pedestrians walk past the Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa. (AP file photo)

Associated Press

Jan 15, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian radio station says a court has sentenced two British nationals and a Somali man to between four and seven years imprisonment for terrorism related charges.

Fana Broadcasting Corporate, a state affiliated media house, reported Thursday the three were charged with attempting to establish an Islamic state in Ethiopia and were found recruiting, taking part in military trainings and conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in the country.

According to the broadcaster the three men who were convicted are Ali Adros Mohammad, Mohammad Sharif Ahmed, and Mohammad Ahmed. The first two reportedly have lived in London and the third is from Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.


Related:
Ethiopia jails Britons and Somali in ‘terror plot’ (BBC News)

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Paris Attack: African Newspapers Apologise for Publishing Cartoon Cover

A sign at a newsstand says the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine has sold out on 14 January 2015 in Paris. The first run of copies of the magazine were sold out within hours. (Getty Images)

BBC News

15 January 2015

Two African newspapers have apologised for publishing Charlie Hebdo’s cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad, after an outcry from Muslim readers.

Kenya’s The Star and South Africa’s The Citizen said they regretted any offence caused to Muslims.

Kenya’s media regulator has summoned The Star’s owner after accusing it of breaching decency. It did not single out the cartoon.

In Senegal, the government has banned Charlie Hebdo’s distribution.

A second Kenyan newspaper, Business Daily, has also published the French satirical magazine’s cover.

In its Thursday morning edition, the Star said many Muslim readers had complained over a “small reproduction” of Charlie Hebdo’s cover on Wednesday.

Apologising, the paper, Kenya’s third biggest, said it “sincerely regrets any offence and pain caused by the picture”.


Apology published by Kenya’s The Star on 15 January 2015

Read more at BBC News »


Buyers Rush to Snag New ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Issue (VOA News)

By Al Pessin, Lisa Bryant

January 14, 2015

PARIS— There were long lines at Paris newsstands that had copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which lost eight staff members in a militant Islamist attack on its offices last week.

The latest edition, published Wednesday, features a caricature of a weeping Muslim Prophet Muhammed holding a sign that reads “I am Charlie” under a headline reading “All is forgiven.”

All across the city, copies of the magazine sold out within minutes.

One kiosk near the Champs Elysees, open at 6 a.m. (0500 UTC), was sold out by 6:05. Another, near Saint-Lazar, reported fisticuffs among customers.

“Distributing Charlie Hebdo, it warms my heart because we say to ourselves that he is still here, he’s never left,” said Jean-Baptiste Saidi, a van driver delivering copies well before dawn on Wednesday.

Additional copies ordered

The printers promised an initial run 3 million copies, compared to their normal print run of about 60,000, but they’re only delivering half a million a day. According to a spokesman for Charlie Hebdo’s distributor, high demand Wednesday, prompted an additional 2 million copy print order.

“It’s essential to buy it, to support them. And it’s of interest to me what’s in the paper,” a retired psychotherapist told VOA.

“It’s a great gesture, but we expect much more. Most important is that Charlie continues to exist,” said Philippe, a train driver.

David Sullo, standing at the end of a queue of two dozen people at a kiosk in central Paris, said, “I’ve never bought it before, it’s not quite my political stripes, but it’s important for me to buy it today and support freedom of expression.”

Emilienne, an administrative secretary, had the future in mind as she stood in line to buy the magazine.

“To keep it for my grandchildren,” she explained. “One day I will be able to say to them ‘See, this happened when you were young. I tell you so that it never happens again.’ ”

Inside the station, as travelers poured off the morning trains, they found signs telling them “Charlie Hebdo is sold out.”

Bookstore manager Magalie saved one copy for herself.

“We opened at 6 a.m. There were already people in line outside. In less than an hour, all 125 copies we had were gone,” she said.

Simon, a kiosk owner in Paris, said he wrote down names of at least 100 people who are expected to line up outside his kiosk early on Thursday to purchase what some are calling the “survivors issue.”

All proceeds from the sale of this week’s edition will go directly to Charlie Hebdo, after distributors decided to waive their fee. The cover price was three euros ($4).

At a news briefing on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “We absolutely support the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish things like this. Again, that’s what happens in a democracy. Period.”

History of lampooning religions

Charlie Hebdo had angered Muslims in the past by printing cartoons lampooning the prophet and Islam.

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo has maintained the intentionally offensive tone that made the newspaper famous in France, although global news organizations have differed in their decisions to run images of the cover.

For Wednesday’s issue, staff members defiantly put a caricature of the Prophet Muhammed on the front page. Inside, they published some of the last editorial cartoons drawn by their colleagues who were killed.

The new issue has already caused controversy within the Islamic world, raising fears of a repeat of the violent 2006 protests over the cartoons of Mohammed printed in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.

The drawings “stir up hatred” and “do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples and hinders the integration of Muslims into European and Western societies,” the Cairo-based Al-Azhar’s Islamic research center said in a statement, reported by the French news agency AFP.

In Turkey, police guarded the offices of secular newspaper Cumhuriyet Wednesday, after it included a four-page pullout section featuring some of the cartoons and editorials featured in the new Charlie Hebdo edition.

According to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, police on Wednesday raided the Cumhuriyet printing press as it prepared to release the excerpts. Authorities allowed distribution of an abbreviated edition after verifying no cartoons of Mohammad were included.

Iran reaction

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif said on Wednesday serious dialogue with the West would be easier if it respected Muslim sensitivities, ruffled by the latest Charlie Hebdo cartoons, as he began nuclear talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva.

In explaining why Iranians are dismayed by the cover of magazine’s latest issue, Zarif said, “We believe that sanctities need to be respected and unless we learn to respect one another, it will be very difficult.

“In a world of different views and differing cultures and civilizations we won’t be able to engage in a serious dialogue if we start disrespecting each other’s values and sanctities. I think we would have a much safer, much more prudent world if we were to engage in serious dialogues, serious debate about our differences and then we will find out that what binds us together is far greater than what divides us,” he said shortly before meeting with Kerry.

“We are now faced with very serious problems of extremism, not only in the Middle East but unfortunately in Europe. You’ve seen demonstrations here in Europe which are extremely dangerous and we need to be able to deal with that,” Zarif added.

Conviction vs fundamentalism

Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard said the magazine has not only spoofed Islam, but all kinds of religious fundamentalism.

Biard said the newspaper respects personal religious convictions, but not religion that becomes politicized. “That’s what revolts us,” he said, “that’s what we’re mocking.”

Turkish journalist Defne Gursoy is a regular Charlie Hebdo reader. She said she loves what she calls its “out of limits humor.” And Gursoy approves of the new Mohammed cover.

“It’s probably the best cover to do … continuing this anarchic kind of disturbance of everything that’s taboo. There’s no other way out. You can’t be complacent,” Gursoy said.

But the cover has angered some Muslims, both overseas and in France.

M’hammed Henniche, secretary general of UAM93, a Muslim association in the Saint Denis region outside Paris, said leaders like himself have told Muslims to stay calm and not to react.

Henniche described the Muhammed cartoons as an irresponsible act by Charlie Hebdo, given the tense national climate. It’s not considered free expression in France to mock the Holocaust, he said, nor should it be to mock the Muslim prophet.

People looking to buy the magazine Wednesday didn’t necessarily agree with Charlie Hebdo’s views, but said buying this issue was a form of protest.

“A magazine like Charlie Hebdo belongs to a tradition of laughter, derision and seeing the truth in things,” noted Christian Delporte, a history professor and expert on political cartoons at the University of Versailles.

“Everyone also recognizes that these cartoonists are deeply attached to freedom,” Delporte added.

Vow to press on

And the attack survivors have made clear they will continue with their brand of satire, whose overriding message of freedom of expression is close to the hearts of millions of French people.

“In the end, it’s a matter of tolerance. If you don’t want to read Charlie Hebdo, don’t buy it,” Delporte said.

If Wednesday was any indication, millions of people will be buying it, at least for a while.

Pamela Dockins contributed to this report from Geneva. Some information for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.

Video:French Magazine Charlie Hebdo’s New Prophet Muhammad Cartoon Reignites Debate


Related:
In France Citizens Flock to Buy Charlie Hebdo in Support of Free Speech
French Police Kill 3 Gunmen to End Hostage Crises

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In France Citizens Flock to Buy Charlie Hebdo in Support of Free Speech

The new issue of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo being prepared for delivery. French distributors said the initial printing of three million copies had been increased. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By David Carr

For people who are supporters of not just free speech but newspapers, too, the images of Parisians queued up at dawn Wednesday to get their hands on a printed artifact was heartening. The French distributors of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo said the latest issue’s initial printing of three million copies had been increased to perhaps five million, and there were reports that the now-precious editions were being auctioned on eBay for hundreds of dollars.

The image on the cover was of a weeping Prophet Muhammad, framed by two thoughts: “I am Charlie” and “All is forgiven.” But the sentiment that drove the sales probably had less to do with those messages and more to do with the impulse to preserve a world in which the speech of the many cannot be held hostage by a few.

The overwhelming response to the special issue of the newspaper, which normally has a print run of 60,000, is a sign that the citizens buying it wanted more than just a totem memorializing the fallen journalists; they were making an affirmative, political act, a vote in support of free speech. Just last month, consumers had responded in large numbers to the opportunity to stream “The Interview,” the Sony film that had been withdrawn from theaters after the studio was hacked by forces supported by the government of North Korea.

Read more at NYT »

Buyers Rush to Snag New ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Issue (VOA News)

By Al Pessin, Lisa Bryant

January 14, 2015

PARIS— There were long lines at Paris newsstands that had copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which lost eight staff members in a militant Islamist attack on its offices last week.

The latest edition, published Wednesday, features a caricature of a weeping Muslim Prophet Muhammed holding a sign that reads “I am Charlie” under a headline reading “All is forgiven.”

All across the city, copies of the magazine sold out within minutes.

One kiosk near the Champs Elysees, open at 6 a.m. (0500 UTC), was sold out by 6:05. Another, near Saint-Lazar, reported fisticuffs among customers.

“Distributing Charlie Hebdo, it warms my heart because we say to ourselves that he is still here, he’s never left,” said Jean-Baptiste Saidi, a van driver delivering copies well before dawn on Wednesday.

Additional copies ordered

The printers promised an initial run 3 million copies, compared to their normal print run of about 60,000, but they’re only delivering half a million a day. According to a spokesman for Charlie Hebdo’s distributor, high demand Wednesday, prompted an additional 2 million copy print order.

“It’s essential to buy it, to support them. And it’s of interest to me what’s in the paper,” a retired psychotherapist told VOA.

“It’s a great gesture, but we expect much more. Most important is that Charlie continues to exist,” said Philippe, a train driver.

David Sullo, standing at the end of a queue of two dozen people at a kiosk in central Paris, said, “I’ve never bought it before, it’s not quite my political stripes, but it’s important for me to buy it today and support freedom of expression.”

Emilienne, an administrative secretary, had the future in mind as she stood in line to buy the magazine.

“To keep it for my grandchildren,” she explained. “One day I will be able to say to them ‘See, this happened when you were young. I tell you so that it never happens again.’ ”

Inside the station, as travelers poured off the morning trains, they found signs telling them “Charlie Hebdo is sold out.”

Bookstore manager Magalie saved one copy for herself.

“We opened at 6 a.m. There were already people in line outside. In less than an hour, all 125 copies we had were gone,” she said.

Simon, a kiosk owner in Paris, said he wrote down names of at least 100 people who are expected to line up outside his kiosk early on Thursday to purchase what some are calling the “survivors issue.”

All proceeds from the sale of this week’s edition will go directly to Charlie Hebdo, after distributors decided to waive their fee. The cover price was three euros ($4).

At a news briefing on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “We absolutely support the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish things like this. Again, that’s what happens in a democracy. Period.”

History of lampooning religions

Charlie Hebdo had angered Muslims in the past by printing cartoons lampooning the prophet and Islam.

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo has maintained the intentionally offensive tone that made the newspaper famous in France, although global news organizations have differed in their decisions to run images of the cover.

For Wednesday’s issue, staff members defiantly put a caricature of the Prophet Muhammed on the front page. Inside, they published some of the last editorial cartoons drawn by their colleagues who were killed.

The new issue has already caused controversy within the Islamic world, raising fears of a repeat of the violent 2006 protests over the cartoons of Mohammed printed in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.

The drawings “stir up hatred” and “do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples and hinders the integration of Muslims into European and Western societies,” the Cairo-based Al-Azhar’s Islamic research center said in a statement, reported by the French news agency AFP.

In Turkey, police guarded the offices of secular newspaper Cumhuriyet Wednesday, after it included a four-page pullout section featuring some of the cartoons and editorials featured in the new Charlie Hebdo edition.

According to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, police on Wednesday raided the Cumhuriyet printing press as it prepared to release the excerpts. Authorities allowed distribution of an abbreviated edition after verifying no cartoons of Mohammad were included.

Iran reaction

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif said on Wednesday serious dialogue with the West would be easier if it respected Muslim sensitivities, ruffled by the latest Charlie Hebdo cartoons, as he began nuclear talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva.

In explaining why Iranians are dismayed by the cover of magazine’s latest issue, Zarif said, “We believe that sanctities need to be respected and unless we learn to respect one another, it will be very difficult.

“In a world of different views and differing cultures and civilizations we won’t be able to engage in a serious dialogue if we start disrespecting each other’s values and sanctities. I think we would have a much safer, much more prudent world if we were to engage in serious dialogues, serious debate about our differences and then we will find out that what binds us together is far greater than what divides us,” he said shortly before meeting with Kerry.

“We are now faced with very serious problems of extremism, not only in the Middle East but unfortunately in Europe. You’ve seen demonstrations here in Europe which are extremely dangerous and we need to be able to deal with that,” Zarif added.

Conviction vs fundamentalism

Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard said the magazine has not only spoofed Islam, but all kinds of religious fundamentalism.

Biard said the newspaper respects personal religious convictions, but not religion that becomes politicized. “That’s what revolts us,” he said, “that’s what we’re mocking.”

Turkish journalist Defne Gursoy is a regular Charlie Hebdo reader. She said she loves what she calls its “out of limits humor.” And Gursoy approves of the new Mohammed cover.

“It’s probably the best cover to do … continuing this anarchic kind of disturbance of everything that’s taboo. There’s no other way out. You can’t be complacent,” Gursoy said.

But the cover has angered some Muslims, both overseas and in France.

M’hammed Henniche, secretary general of UAM93, a Muslim association in the Saint Denis region outside Paris, said leaders like himself have told Muslims to stay calm and not to react.

Henniche described the Muhammed cartoons as an irresponsible act by Charlie Hebdo, given the tense national climate. It’s not considered free expression in France to mock the Holocaust, he said, nor should it be to mock the Muslim prophet.

People looking to buy the magazine Wednesday didn’t necessarily agree with Charlie Hebdo’s views, but said buying this issue was a form of protest.

“A magazine like Charlie Hebdo belongs to a tradition of laughter, derision and seeing the truth in things,” noted Christian Delporte, a history professor and expert on political cartoons at the University of Versailles.

“Everyone also recognizes that these cartoonists are deeply attached to freedom,” Delporte added.

Vow to press on

And the attack survivors have made clear they will continue with their brand of satire, whose overriding message of freedom of expression is close to the hearts of millions of French people.

“In the end, it’s a matter of tolerance. If you don’t want to read Charlie Hebdo, don’t buy it,” Delporte said.

If Wednesday was any indication, millions of people will be buying it, at least for a while.

Pamela Dockins contributed to this report from Geneva. Some information for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.

Video:French Magazine Charlie Hebdo’s New Prophet Muhammad Cartoon Reignites Debate


Related:
French Police Kill 3 Gunmen to End Hostage Crises

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Cuba Releases Political Prisoners

Military guards at the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, Cuba in 2013. (AP photo)

VOA News

January 12, 2015

The U.S. government said Cuba has released 53 of its political prisoners, complying with a promise made last month as the two countries announced efforts to normalize diplomatic ties.

A senior administration official said the Cuban government held some of the detainees for promoting political and social reform in Cuba. The United States shared the names of those prisoners with Cuban authorities after consulting with human rights groups and dissident activists in Cuba.

“We welcome this very positive development and are pleased that the Cuban government followed through on this commitment. Our Interests Section in Havana was able to verify these releases,” the U.S. official said.

Senior U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the release over the weekend of detainees was a milestone, but the officials said the United States would continue to press Havana to free more people it considers political prisoners.

Names kept secret

Intense secrecy surrounds the 53, whose names have been withheld by both countries.

Leading Cuban dissidents told Reuters that as of Sunday they had not received word that the prisoner release was complete and only knew of up to 35 people freed since Dec. 17, including a popular hip-hop artist.

“We have heard nothing new today,” said Elizardo Sanchez, president of the dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which monitors detentions. “We’ll see in the next few days if they complete the list.”

Washington and Havana simultaneously revealed in late 2014 that they were taking concrete actions to resume a diplomatic relationship after a decades-long political stand-off.

President Barack Obama could exercise executive powers “in a matter of days and weeks” to begin easing some business and travel restrictions, one U.S. official also told Reuters.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson begins high-level negotiations on issues ranging from investments to immigration in Havana Jan. 21-22.

Mutually beneficial relationship

U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio said in an appearance Monday on CBS This Morning that while he supports improving ties with Cuba, he said he’s worried that the Cubans are getting virtually everything they want from the United States for “these minimal changes.”

Rubio represents the state of Florida, which has the largest Cuban population in the country.

He said he wants to be certain that improved relations between Washington and Havana provides equal benefits to the U.S.

VOA’s Pamela Dockins contributed to this report. Some material for this report came from Reuters, AP and AFP.



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Think Africa’s New Coffee Culture? Ethiopia Has Been Doing That for Centuries

(Photo: Steve Evans)

Mail & Guardian Africa

By SAMANTHA SPOONER

KALDI was an Ethiopian goat herder from Kaffa who is said to have “discovered” coffee after he noticed his goats dancing, unable to sleep at night and acting strange after they had eaten red berries from a certain tree.

Many believe the legend, thought to have taken place around 850AD, has elements of truth to it. After all, there is now a consensus amongst historians and botanists that coffee is indigenous to Ethiopia where it still continues to grow wild in the highlands where Kaldi lived. Having tried the beans himself, and feeling a novel elation, Kaldi shared his findings with a nearby monastery, believing it to have been a gift from the heavens. Slowly the discovery of the magic beans spread – but not inland, it spread across seas and oceans.

Trendy chain

Coffee culture is considered to be a novel phenomenon in Africa, recently brought back by Africans that have studied and worked abroad. The demand in coffee-producing countries and emerging markets is now expanding significantly and coffee consumption within households is on the rise, as are the number of cafes in major cities.

Cafe Neo, a trendy Nigerian chain, recently hit headlines as it hopes to conquer Africa’s major cities with 100% African coffee before the giants of the international coffee industry do.

Read more »

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Accra: Ethiopian Cargo Plane Crash-Lands

An Ethiopian Airlines cargo plane traveling from Lome, Togo to neighboring Accra, Ghana is said to have crash-landed at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra. (Photo credit: Lodestar)

Sahara Reporter

JAN 10, 2015

Eyewitness accounts say the plane skidded off the runway in the process of landing at about 10:00 am local time on Saturday.

All three crew members said to have been on board cargo plane flight no. ETEQV survived the incident and are currently receiving treatment at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra.

Bad weather is thought to have contributed to the crash landing incident although Ghanaian authorities have not confirmed this.

Ethiopian Airlines is top rated in Africa and has one of the continent’s best airline accident records. As of January 2014, the Aviation Safety Network has recorded 60 accidents/incidents totalling 322 fatalities since 1965.

This incident has prompted members of the public to begin asking questions on safety standards at the Kotoka International Airport. In 2012, a Nigerian Cargo plane skidded off the tarmac and run into a passenger vehicle killing about ten passengers.

Read more »

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Missing Teen in Canada Back With Family

As friends and family gather outside their apartment, Bethelihem Zeleke Eliso (second from right) recently immigrated from Ethiopia with her mother to join her father, Zeleke Tuloro, in Winnipeg, Canada. (WFP)

Winnipeg Free Press

By: Carol Sanders

An Ethiopian girl who went missing on her first day of school in Canada Monday was found safe and sound Tuesday after she took shelter from the deadly cold overnight in a vacant house in Elmwood.

Police took 17-year-old Bethelihem Zeleke Eliso home to her distraught parents early Tuesday evening to whoops of joy from her family and church members, who’d been holding a vigil at the family’s apartment on Talbot Avenue since she was reported missing Monday.

“She’s lucky to be alive,” said her exhausted, emotional and relieved father, Zeleke Tuloro.

It was the second tearful reunion for the family in less than a month. In December, he was reunited with his wife and three children for the first time in 12 years after having fled Ethiopia in 2002.

Monday morning, Tuloro drove Bethelihem and her 15-year-old brother, Nathanael, to school from their home in the 200 block of Talbot Avenue. Bethelihem was last seen Monday around 11:45 a.m. leaving Elmwood High School alone, her dad said. Later, she was spotted on a surveillance camera walking along Union Avenue several blocks away, he said. The petite 5-5 teen was wearing a red coat.

“I think she went to go home, and she missed the way,” said Tuloro, who’d been up all night and was driving around the area looking for his daughter Tuesday.

At the time she went missing, Environment Canada reported it was -33 with the wind chill.

Police on Tuesday asked Elmwood-area residents and businesses to check outdoor storage sheds, garages, vehicles, behind buildings and along any fence lines and treed areas where she might have sought shelter. Her mother, Zenebach, and older sister, Kalkidan, 22, were distraught and in tears. Her father calmly said he had faith Bethelihem was OK — that she’d found shelter or someone had taken her in out of the bitter cold.

He was right.

She found a vacant home without any furniture and spent the night inside, her dad said. The homeowner showed up Tuesday and found the Ethiopian girl, who spoke little English.

“The owner of the house said ‘What are you doing here?’ ” said Tuloro, recalling what the police told him.

Read more »

Related:
Teen From Ethiopia Goes Missing During First Day of School In Winnipeg, Canada

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Folio Prize Longlist: Dinaw Mengestu

Three African writers are among the nominees for the 2015 Folio Prize: Damon Galgut, Kenyan Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Ethiopian-American Dinaw Mengestu. (Books Live)

Books Live

The £40,000 prize was initiated last year, unofficially as a more literary alternative to the Man Booker Prize.

Galgut has been nominated for Arctic Summer, Adhiambo Owuor for Dust and Mengestu for All Our Names.

In contrast, the longlist for the 2014 Booker Prize, although much shorter at 13 books, featured a complete absence of African authors.

The Folio Prize longlist comprises 80 books, and is open to any work of fiction published in the UK. The books are selected by the Folio Prize Academy’s 235 members, which include JM Coetzee, Teju Cole, NoViolet Bulawayo and Helon Habila. Bulawayo and Galgut are also Academy members, but are recused from this year’s prize.

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Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku & Fatuma Sado Head Houston Marathon Field

Ethiopia's Bazu Worku and Fatuma Sado are among the expected headliners at the 43rd Houston Marathon on Sunday, January 18th, 2015 (Photo credit: African Athletics and gbtimes)

Houston Chronicle

By Dale Robertson

Bazu Worku will return to attempt a rare three-peat in the 43rd Chevron Houston Marathon, and Meb Keflezighi, the reigning Boston Marathon champion, will be seeking his third U.S. Half Marathon championship in the Aramco Half Marathon on Sunday, Jan. 18.

Keflezighi, a naturalized American citizen born in the East African country of Eritrea, won the Aramco this year and used the victory as a steppingstone to become the first U.S. runner to conquer Boston in 31 years…Worku, who is from Ethiopia, won a year ago with a time of 2:07:32, significantly faster than his first-place time of 2:10:17 in 2013. The only other runner to triumph in three consecutive races was Worku’s countryman, Stephen Ndungu, from 1998-2000.

The top woman in the field will be Ethiopia’s Fatuma Sado, who is making her Houston debut. Sado ran a personal-best 2:25:39 in winning the 2012 L.A. Marathon. Biruktait Degefa, last year’s fourth-place finisher with a personal-best 2:26:33, figures to contend as well. Defending women’s half marathon champion Serena Burla will be the fastest American in this year’s marathon field.

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French Police Kill 3 Gunmen to End Hostage Crises

A security officer directs freed hostages to safety after police stormed a kosher market to end the situation in Paris, Jan. 9, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

By Lisa Bryant

January 09, 2015

PARIS—French authorities say the two armed suspects in this week’s Charlie Hebdo attack have been killed and their hostage freed during a police raid northeast of Paris. A separate raid in the capital killed another gunman holding multiple hostages at a kosher supermarket in the capital, but police said three hostages died in that operation.

Explosions and gunfire sounded as police moved in Friday afternoon, almost simultaneously, on the supermarket in Paris and on the industrial town of Dammartin-en-Goele, near Charles DeGaulle international airport. Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, named as the principal suspects in Wednesday’s bloody attack on the satirical magazine in Paris, came out of hiding in a warehouse and began firing as police moved in. They were cut down in return gunfire from a large force of police on the scene.

In the Paris shootout, security forces stormed the supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood. They killed gunman Amedy Coulibaly, who had stormed into the market hours earlier and held customers and staff hostage. Authorities said that there had been “at least five” hostages and that three were killed, but it was not clear who killed them and when.


Brothers Chérif Kouachi, left, and Said Kouachi, right, appear in photos released by police in Paris..


French police released these images of suspects Hayat Boumeddiene, left, and Amedy Coulibaly, on Jan. 9, 2015.

French President Francois Hollande called Friday’s violence a “horrible anti-Semitic attack.” He said France will not give in to any pressure or fears.

Hollande thanked the security personnel who ended the standoffs and neutralized the terrorists. He urged the French people to show vigilance and unity, which he called the country’s best weapon to fight against terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism.

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking from Knoxville, Tennessee, said the United States stands with France in supporting liberty and subverting extremism.

He congratulated French law enforcement for ending the standoffs and said the spirit of solidarity “will endure forever, long after the scourge of terrorism has vanished from this world.”

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve thanked police for their efforts to end the standoffs. He did not offer specifics about the police raids, but he vowed that France will remain mobilized to ensure security.

A police official said the gunman in the supermarket attack, 32-year-old Coulabaly, is believed to be the same man who shot and killed a policewoman south of Paris on Thursday.

Authorities also are seeking a woman described as his accomplice, Hayet Boumeddiene. Initial reports from teh scene said she may have escaped in the confusion as other shoppers fled the store.

Police sources have linked Coulibaly to the Kouachi brothers, who were shown in a video of the Charlie Hebdo attack carrying high-powered weapons. They killed a dozen people – 10 members of the magazine’s staff and two policemen – in what the French news agency AFP described as “the bloodiest attack on French soil in half a century.”

The brothers and Coulibaly apparently knew each other through a common network to recruit jihadists.

Ready for martyrdom

Before gunshots and explosions erupted Friday afternoon in Dammartin-en-Goele, French security forces said they were in contact with the Kouachis. The brothers reportedly told police negotiators they were prepared to die as martyrs.

A third suspect, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, surrendered to police on Wednesday. His relationship to the Kouachis remains unclear.

Before Friday’s events, nine people had been taken into custody for questioning about their possible knowledge of the Charlie Hebdo attack. The satirical magazine, known for making fun of all religions, including Islam, has announced it will resume publication Wednesday, despite the loss of its director and leading cartoonists.

Massive manhunt

More than 88,000 police and security forces had been searching for the brothers.

In Thursday’s shooting, a policewoman was gunned down while responding to a traffic accident in the Montrouge area just south of the capital.

As a precaution, police on Friday also ordered the closing of all shops in central Paris’ famed Jewish Marais neighborhood. It’s about a kilometer from the Charlie Hedbo offices and farther from the now-resolved hostage situations. As The Associated Press reported, the district’s Rosiers Street usually teems with tourists and with French Jews in the hours before the Sabbath.

Radical Islamist ties

Both Kouachi brothers had links with radical Islam. Said, 34, received terrorist training in Yemen in 2011, The New York Times reported. Cherif, 32, was a former rapper who served prison time for his involvement in a Paris terrorist cell.

Hundreds of French nationals have headed to Iraq and Syria to join jihadist fighters.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the ultra-right National Front party, on Friday insisted the country must fight Islamic fundamentalism.

According to The Associated Press, she said Hollande had “assured me that a profound debate on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in our country will take place and that all the political parties will be listened to” regarding steps “to ensure the security of the country and our people.”

The brothers appear to have been radicalized for some time, unlike other recent French jihadists, according to Franck Fregosi, a political scientist and expert on Islam.

Fregosi said the brothers’ radicalization reflects a new trend, a sort of family event in which brothers and sisters may jointly turn to radical Islam.

Charlie Hebdo continues

Also Friday, the French newspaper Liberation made room for the surviving Charlie Hebdo journalists to prepare the satirical weekly’s next edition. The newspaper plans to print 1 million copies, 30 times its regular run.

Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists have returned under heavy police protection, Reuters said.

“Since a long time, Charlie Hebdo and Liberation are seen, are like brothers. It’s like a fraternity,” Liberation editor Pierre Fraidenraich said. His paper had welcomed Charlie Hebdo staff after the newspaper was fire-bombed in 2011.

Fraidenraich said his newspaper would host the Charlie Hebdo team for “all the time they want.”

Grieving for victims

Meanwhile, mourning continues for those killed at the satirical magazine known for making fun of all religions, including Islam – and for two policemen who were among the dead.

Parisians stood in silence in a chilly rain Thursday, holding up pens and pencils as a sign of the right to free speech. The lights of the Eiffel Tower dimmed Thursday night to honor the victims.

The U.N. Security Council held a moment of silence before Thursday’s meeting.

President Barack Obama signed a book of condolence at the French embassy in Washington. He called the killings cowardly and evil.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, AFP and Reuters. VOA’s Peter Vaselopulos contributed to this report from near Dammartin-en-Goële.

Video: American Satirists Speak Out Against Terror Shooting at French Publication


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Teen From Ethiopia Goes Missing During First Day of School In Winnipeg, Canada

Bethelihem Zeleke Eliso. (Police Handout photo)

Sun News Network

By KRISTIN ANNABLE | QMI AGENCY

WINNIPEG – Police are looking for a 17-year-old girl, newly arrived to Canada from Ethiopia, who failed to return home from her first day at a new school.

Police say Bethelihem Zeleke Eliso moved to Winnipeg last month and was last seen leaving school for the lunch hour Monday.

Const. Eric Hofley said police are concerned for her well-being because she’s new to the city and doesn’t know many people.

Hofley said teen runaways often leave to be with friends or other family members.

But in this case, Eliso didn’t seem to have those options, he said.

“Sometimes it is just miscommunication, but in this case, with being so new to the country, that is less likely.”

Eliso is 5-foot-5, with a thin build and medium-length black hair.

She was wearing a pink jacket, red pants, and pink gloves.

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The Zone9 Trial Adjourned for 15th Time

The Zone9 bloggers trial has been adjourned until January 14th, 2015. (Photo: trialtrackerblog)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Monday, January 5th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The trial of the Zone 9 Bloggers and journalists in Ethiopia has been adjourned for the 15th time. The next court date is set for January 14th, 2015.

The trialtrackerblog.org, which publishes an up-to-date information on the legal status of the Zone9ers, reports that there were more people in the courtroom on Monday than at previous hearings. “Families and friends of the detained stood in line waiting to get inside of the court room,” the blog states. “Today, it was more crowded than usual outside of the court. Many people had gathered to follow the rape case of Hanna, which was held in the same place.”

The website adds: “Having several court hearings in the same court room and on the same day makes the court too crowded. Also, the session was delayed with the result that detainees, loved ones and people following the case online needed to wait for a long time for the session to begin. Furthermore, the space for families and friends in the court room was (as always) very limited. Just a few of them could attend.”

The report notes that “during earlier sessions an amendment of the terrorism charges were ordered (read more below). The amended charges were presented today, but according to the judges some details had not been amended. However, the court accepted the amended charge regarding planning of terrorism acts. The court ordered further amendment on other details. The situation in the court room became intense after the attendants were asked not to make eye contact with the bloggers.”



Related:
Court Adjourns Ethiopian Bloggers’ Trial for 15th Time (VOA News)

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Pope Francis Names 20 New Cardinals, Including Head of Ethiopian Catholic Church

Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, the leader of the Ethiopian Catholic church, is one of the new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis on Sunday January 4th, 2015. (Photo: The Catholic Herald )

BBC News

Pope Francis has named 20 new cardinals, including churchmen from Tonga, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

Fifteen of the new appointees are under 80, making them eligible to enter a conclave to elect the Pope’s successor.

Pope Francis said the appointment of cardinals from 14 countries from every continent in the world showed the Vatican’s “inseparable link” with Catholic Churches around the world.

They will be formally installed on 14 February.

Pope Francis also announced on Sunday that he would lead of meeting of all cardinals to discuss reform of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s administrative body, on 12 and 13 February.


The College of Cardinals is made up of the Church’s most senior officials who are usually ordained bishops.

Read more at BBC News »

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From Ethiopia to Sweden and New York: A Chef’s Three-Country Odyssey to Stardom

Chef Marcus Samuelsson shares an omelet with his wife, Maya Haile, at their home in Harlem (WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal

Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson , 44, owns four New York restaurants, with a fifth—Streetbird Rotisserie—opening in the spring. He is author of “Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home” ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ), which features 150 dishes inspired by his travels and background. He spoke with Marc Myers.

I was born in Ethiopia but grew up in Sweden, which wasn’t as big a culture shock as you’d imagine. I was 3 when my older sister and I were adopted by a couple from Göteborg who taught me to fish, cook and prioritize my life—lessons that remain with me today.

I don’t recall much from my earliest years in Meki, Ethiopia. I was too young. My mother had died from tuberculosis during an epidemic and my father was a priest and couldn’t take care of us. The hospital where my mother had died was affiliated with Sweden, which is how my sister and I came to be adopted by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson.

Marcus Samuelsson and his sister Anna, in undated photo, make Christmas cookies in their childhood home in Sweden.

Göteborg is a major city on the southwestern coast of Sweden, but we lived in a residential area with many two-story homes. My father was a geologist and my mother was a homemaker. When they brought my sister and me home, they already had another daughter who was 8 and also adopted, but we all got along perfectly from the start.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal »

Video: Tadias Interview With Marcus Samuelsson About His Latest Book “Marcus Off Duty”


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Who is Gedion Zelalem and Why Do Soccer Fans Care that He’s a U.S. Citizen?

Gedion Zelalem. (Getty Images)

USA Today

By NATE SCOTT

On Tuesday morning American soccer fans got very excited indeed when the Washington Post’s Steve Goff broke that Gedion Zelalem had gotten his United States citizenship and would be declaring his intent to play international soccer for America. President of U.S. Soccer Sunil Gulati then sent out a tweet confirming it, and USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann welcomed him as well.

Let us now answer your questions.

So who is Gedion Zelalem?

Zelalem is a 17-year-old midfielder who currently plays for Arsenal’s reserve team. Arsenal has a pretty decent track record of developing young talent, so if they think that Zelalem is worthy of a spot on their reserve team, he’s someone that soccer fans are understandably going to be excited about.

And he’s going to play his international soccer for the U.S., which is a good thing.

How did he become a United States citizen?

Zelalem was born in Germany, and his father is from Ethiopia, so he could have potentially played for either of those countries. As a child, though, Zelalem moved with his family to Maryland and started playing soccer for club teams in the area. At a Dallas Cup match, an Arsenal scout spotted Zelalem and the club flew him over to London for a trial, and he’s been there more-or-less since.

With his family having a strong base in the States, he was able to apply for and receive citizenship. He received his passport this week.

Read more at USA Today »



Related:
Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem is a U.S. citizen (The Washington Post)

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Ethiopia Denies Pilots’ Defection to Kenya

File photo. (worldbulletin.net)

World Bulletin / Turkey

The Ethiopian government on Friday denied reports about the defection of four Air Force pilots to neighboring Kenya.

“This report is a baseless fabrication,” Ewnetu Blata, State Minister of Government Communication Affairs Office, told The Anadolu Agency.

“I can confirm that the report is untrue,” Ewnetu said.

Media reports alleged that four pilots in an airbase in eastern Ethiopia had defected to Kenya.

Read more »

Related:
Foreign Ministry Denies 70 Ethiopian Migrants Died in Yemen Boating Accident
Ethiopian Pilot Hijacks Military Helicopter, Lands in Eritrea (AP)

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In US New Minimum Wage Laws Take Effect

FILE - U.S. workers participates in a rally in support of raising the minimum wage University City, Missouri.

VOA News

About 2.4 million low-paid workers in the United States are getting a pay raise on New Year’s Day as new minimum wage laws take effect.

In the United States, the minimum pay is $7.25 an hour, which translates to a yearly salary of $15,080.

But 20 of the country’s 50 states and the national capital of Washington passed new laws in recent months or had already imposed requirements that now will boost wages above the national level, to an average of $8 an hour, or $16,640 annually.

The wage increases are expected to pump about $1.5 billion annually into the accelerating U.S. economy, the world’s largest, because low-wage workers tend to spend most of their paychecks.

President Barack Obama last year called for a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, but encountered stiff opposition from Republican opponents in Congress and the proposal failed.

Numerous new state laws also took effect Thursday in the United States, including one in California that requires college students to give affirmative consent to their partners before engaging in sex. In Michigan, the sale of cough and cold medicines for the purpose of making the drug methamphetamine is now banned, while New York is requiring its residents to recycle old computers and televisions rather than throwing them in the trash.

Some information for this report came from AP.

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Local Ethiopians Miss Out as Big Agriculture Firms Struggle in Gambella

Guards near Saudi Star’s farm in Gambella, which was attacked by gunmen two years ago. (Photograph: William Davison)

The Guardian

By William Davison

Gambella, Ethiopia — As dusk envelops the grasslands of Gambella in western Ethiopia, a weary Jakob Pouch sits on a jerry can, resting his chest against a wooden staff. The 45-year-old evangelical preacher from the Nuer community has just made the three-hour walk from the banks of the Baro river, where he tends to his large family’s small plot of corn. His daughters are preparing cabbage and cobs to be cooked on an open fire.

In the opposite direction, across the asphalt road that leads to South Sudan, lies the farm of BHO Bioproducts, an Anglo-Indian company growing rice and cotton on the 27,000 hectares (67,000 acres) it has leased.

Pouch says the company doesn’t care about the people of his village, Wath-Gach. Grazing land has been lost, and BHO has built a wooden cage around a water pump to prevent locals using it. “From the beginning we did not have a good relationship,” he says. “It was given without consultation. There has been lots of negative impact.” The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.


Jakob Pouch says his community in Gambella hasn’t benefited from a nearby commercial farm. (Photograph: William Davison)

Read more at theguardian.com »

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Foreign Ministry Denies 70 Ethiopian Migrants Died in Yemen Boating Accident

The Spokesperson for Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is denying that seventy migrants drowned in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, as claimed by the Yemeni Interior Ministry in December. (Photo: Reuters)

World Bulletin / Turkey

Ethiopian authorities have denied media reports about the drowning of around 70 Ethiopian migrants off Yemen’s coast.

“Media reports that 70 people died, mostly Ethiopians, while being ferried to Yemen is baseless,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told The Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Media reports earlier said that around 70 Ethiopian migrants had drowned off southwest Yemen’s coast earlier this month.

Mufti said that the Ethiopian embassy in Yemen mustered support from the Yemeni 17th Brigade and “conducted extensive search on a perimeter of 250– 300-km at coastal areas such as Bab-el Mendab, Dubab and Muha”

“[It] proved that no boat capsized or sunk and no life lost,” he said.

Read more »

Related:
Seventy Ethiopian migrants drown off Red Sea coast of Yemen (Reuters)

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US Foreign Policy Battles Loom Between Obama, Republican-led Congress (Video)

The Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama. (Photo: EPA & Reuters)

VOA News

Updated: December 30, 2014

Some of President Barack Obama’s loudest critics on foreign policy will have new powers as chairmen of various Senate committees when Republicans assume control of both houses of Congress in January. VOA Senate correspondent Michael Bowman reports, from Ukraine to the Middle East, the Obama administration can expect enhanced scrutiny of its outreach to the world.

Video: Foreign Policy Battles Loom Between Obama, Republican-led Congress


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CPJ: Ethiopian Journalists Must Choose Between Being Locked up or Locked Out

One of the exiled Ethiopian journalists that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) met in Nairobi holds up a newspaper report on a study criticizing independent publications. (Photo: CPJ/Nicole Schilit)

CPJ

By Nicole Schilit/Journalist Assistance Associate

A sharp increase in the number of Ethiopian journalists fleeing into exile has been recorded by the Committee to Protect Journalists in the past 12 months. More than 30–twice the number of exiles CPJ documented in 2012 and 2013 combined–were forced to leave after the government began a campaign of arrests. In October, Nicole Schilit of CPJ’s Journalist Assistance program and Martial Tourneur of partner group Reporters Without Borders traveled to Nairobi in Kenya to meet some of those forced to flee.

The group of reporters, photographers, and editors we met had all been forced to make a tough decision that has affected them and their families–a life in exile or prison. All of the journalists spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, out of concern for their safety. During meetings to discuss their cases, one of them told us: “I hope one day I can bring my family. Maybe in the future. I want to secure myself first. Now is not secure.”

Since July, a large number of Ethiopian journalists have left behind their families, homes, and a steady income to seek safety. The reason for this sharp increase is a government crackdown on the independent media. In January, the state-controlled Ethiopian Press Agency and Ethiopian News Agency carried out a study to “assess the role of [seven] magazines in the nation’s peace, democracy and development.” The results were illustrated in two charts that claimed the magazines were promoting terrorism and damaging the economy.

Read more at cpj.org »

Related:
2014 Census: Ethiopia Again Ranks Among the Worst Jailers of Journalists in the World

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Ethiopia: Booming Business, Underpaid Workers

Low wages have attracted foreign players to Ethiopia, but labourers are hoping for better salaries. (Photo: Within a few years foreign companies have helped build up Ethiopia's nascent industry/Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera

By Simona Foltyn

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Lunch break is over at the Huajian shoe factory and workers assemble in perfectly aligned two-row formations, march, salute, and return back to their work stations.

“Our factory is a bit like a military organisation. The labour here is not highly educated so we have to use a very simple way to communicate and organise them,” said Nara Zhou, Huajian’s spokeswoman, as she walks through the aisles of the large factory hall.

Red banners with writing in Chinese, Amharic and English hang from the ceiling, bearing lofty slogans such as “China-Africa friendly and harmonious enterprise, to win honour for the country”, and “High level of democracy”.

They are excerpts of speeches given by the company’s president, Zhang Hua Rong, a former military officer who established Huajian’s operation in Ethiopia in 2012, Zhou explained.

Within a few years, foreign companies such as Huajian have helped build up Ethiopia’s nascent footwear industry from scratch.

Today, the company employs about 3,000 workers in Ethiopia and generates $20m worth of exports by producing shoes for international brands such as Guess, Naturalizer and Toms destined for US and European markets.

With a growing number of brands such as H&M starting to source from Ethiopia and existing companies ramping up production capacity, the three percent of Ethiopia’s exports that came from textiles and leather in 2013 may well double in the next couple of years, according to government estimates.

Read more »

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Briton killed in Ethiopian Shooting ‘Accident’

Briton killed in Bahir Dar after man accidentally fires a gun, government spokesman says. (Photo: Alamy)

The Telegraph

A 47-year-old British tourist was killed in a church in a northwestern Ethiopia after a man accidentally fired a gun, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

The incident occurred on Wednesday morning in Bahir Dar, a leading tourist destination about 300 miles from the capital Addis Ababa and famed for the nearby Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile.

“It appears that a resident of Bahir Dar, who was licensed to carry a gun, accidentally discharged his gun while changing the gun position from one shoulder to the other,” government spokesman Shimeles Kema said.

“The gun is an old rifle,” he said, adding that the man did not know it was loaded.

“He is a civilian. He has been arrested and the investigation is ongoing. The accident happened in a church,” he said.

The British embassy confirmed that a national had died but gave no details.

Related:
Briton shot dead in Ethiopia (The Guardian)

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Ethiopian Pilot Hijacks Military Helicopter, Lands in Eritrea

Facilities of the Asmara International Airport in Eritrea. (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Associated Press

Dec 23, 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian Defense Ministry charges that a pilot hijacked to Eritrea an attack helicopter which went missing a few days ago.

In a statement issued late Monday the ministry said the pilot of the Ethiopian attack helicopter forced his co-pilot and technician to land in Eritrean territory.

The helicopter was conducting a routine training flight when it disappeared on Friday morning, prompting a massive military search across northern Ethiopia.

It’s unusual for Ethiopian army personnel to flee to Eritrea though Eritrean troops often across the border into Ethiopia, citing harsh conditions and forced conscription into the military.

Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have been consistently strained since Eritrea gained its independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993 following a 30-year guerrilla war.

Read more »

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Former US Diplomat Calls for Free, Fair Elections in Ethiopia (VOA Interview)

Herman Jay Cohen is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. (Photo: YouTube)

VOA News

By James Butty

Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen said Ethiopia should not be afraid to have free and fair elections or a free press.

Cohen said the government is doing good things that it can win an election on, such as creating jobs, carrying on infrastructure development and boosting trade. But he cautioned that the government has made no move to implement his suggestions.

“Ethiopia, I believe, should open up more toward multiparty democracy. Right now, you have opposition parties that exist, but they really do not have much access to the public. The press really does not give them much voice, and journalists have been imprisoned for saying things that the government doesn’t like. So, I think it’s time for the government to loosen up because they are doing good things in Ethiopia,” he said.

But Berhanu Nega, professor of economics at Bucknell University and former leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy in Ethiopia, said the government can never have free and fair elections.

“The reason why there’s so much repression, the reason why there’s so much muzzling of the press, the reason why the Ethiopian government is arresting opposition figures inside the country is precisely because they know that this is a despised government. It cannot last a day in an environment of freedom. This is a government that will lose catastrophically if there were [a] free and fair election,” Nega said.

Cohen also said he wanted to set the record straight about his recommendation during a London Conference on Ethiopia and Eritrea and Port Assab.

He said he did not say the port belongs to Ethiopia, contrary to what some in Ethiopia had attributed to him, and that he only recommended Ethiopia and Eritrea maintain a common economic union after Eritrea’s independence allowing Ethiopia to use the port.

“There are some people in Ethiopia who said that during the London Conference of 1991 I recommended that the Port of Assab belonged to Ethiopia. This is not correct. What I recommended was Ethiopia and Eritrea maintain a common economic union after Eritrea’s independence and, in that way, Ethiopia could use the Port of Assab,” he said.

Cohen said that before the war of 1998, Ethiopia used a section of the port for their imports and exports, which means that Assab did not belong to Ethiopia, but it had access to an exclusive zone.

He said the port should be the sovereign territory of Eritrea, but that Ethiopia should have the right to use it.

Audio: VOA interview with Amb Herman Cohen


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Poll: President Obama Ends 2014 with Highest Approval Ratings of the Year

President Obama greets students at Glencliff High School in Nashville where he spoke earlier this month. (Photo: The Associated Press)

The Los Angeles Times

By DAVID LAUTER

Perhaps it’s just holiday cheer, but a few weeks after his party suffered painful losses in the midterm election, President Obama is ending 2014 with his highest approval ratings of the year.

The evidence comes from new polls that show not only rising approval of Obama’s performance in office, but also a warming trend in Americans’ perception of the economy.

It’s way too soon to claim a major shift. The evidence for more than a year has shown that the vast majority of Americans have strongly held views about Obama and that, as a result, changes in his approval ratings don’t last. His ratings have been stuck at a tepid level through most of 2014.

But there are a couple of reasons to think that the latest upswing might prove to be the beginning of something lasting.

First, the numbers: A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday showed 48% of Americans approved of Obama’s job performance. Although that still leaves him somewhat underwater, it’s a 20-month high and up 4 percentage points from the previous month.

Similarly, Gallup’s weekly tracking poll put Obama’s approval at 45% through Sunday, the highest since May. Gallup’s more volatile three-day average had Obama at 47% over the weekend, the highest level of the year.

Three factors seem to be bolstering Obama’s ratings and could carry over into the new year.

Read more »

Watch: CNN/ORC Poll: Obama ends year on an upswing (CNN)


Related:
President Obama’s Best 2014 Moments (The Root)

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President Obama’s Best 2014 Moments

If the end of 2014 was any indication, we may be finding out that this supposedly lame-duck president has no intention of going gently into that good night. (Getty Images)

The Root

BY: DIANA OZEMEBHOYA EROMOSELE

This is by no means an exhaustive list. And I’m not suggesting that there’s consensus about the positives and negatives of President Barack Obama’s various initiatives—although I’m guessing that folks on both sides of the aisle were tickled by his exchange with that overzealous boyfriend in the Chicago voting station—but here are a few notable moments from the president’s past year that pleased a lot of people.

1. The Reconciliation with Cuba

Wednesday, Obama announced restoration of “full diplomatic relations” with Cuba, a plan that includes opening a U.S. embassy in Havana, easing restrictions on financial transactions such as remittances and banking, and encouraging Congress to start a legitimate conversation about lifting the embargo against Cuba, since that would require congressional action.

When asked to explain his decision, the president stressed that the status quo had not worked over the past 50 years, and it was that realization that inspired him to seek a change. That approach—when something isn’t working, try a something else—made sense even to some of the president’s political adversaries.

2. Support for #BringBackOurGirls and Fighting the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

Obama understood that a crisis for one country could reach the doorstep of the United States in no time. In May, he sent about 80 military personnel to West Africa to help Nigerian officials in the search for the nearly 300 schoolgirls who were abducted by the Islamist group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria.


President Obama visited the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health on Dec. 2, 2014, in Bethesda, Md., to discuss the ongoing fight against Ebola. (ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES)

And in September, the United States spent more than $100 million to help curb the spread of Ebola in three West African countries.

3. Addressing African Americans’ Distrust of Law Enforcement

When the nation learned that a Ferguson, Mo., grand jury would not indict police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Obama spoke from the White House minutes later to reassure Americans who were angered by the outcome.

Read more at theroot.com »

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Addis Ababa Metro Set for Completion in January (Reuters)

The Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) overseas the Addis Ababa Light Railway project (LRT) backed and to be operated by Chinese firms. (Photo: Addis Fortune)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

December 18th, 2014

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia expects to complete the Chinese-backed construction of a $475 million metro rail system in the capital Addis Ababa next month, the head of the project said.

The project, built by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and mostly financed through a loan from China’s Exim Bank, is a rarity on a continent plagued by poor transport links.

Beijing is a major partner in Ethiopia’s bid to expand its infrastructure, with cumulative investments by Chinese firms reaching well over $1 billion, official figures show.

The Horn of Africa country is building a new rail link to neighbouring Djibouti and wants to complete 5,000 km of railway lines by 2020. It will also aims to almost treble the size of the road network by next year, from less than 50,000 km in 2010.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, expanding by about 9 percent a year and attracting overseas investment with its with rock-bottom wages, cheap and stable electricity and transport projects such as the metro.

A country where many still rely on subsistence agriculture, Ethiopia is nonetheless developing a reputation for producing clothes, shoes and other basic goods that have attracted firms from China, as well as India and the Gulf.

The metro system will transform the lives of the more than 5 million people in the capital, where commuters currently wait in long queues before they are crammed onto buses and minivans.

Project manager Behailu Sintayehu told Reuters nearly 80 percent of the tracks had been laid and he expected it to be completed by the end of January 2015, three years after the plan was launched in January 2012.

“We believe that it will have a great impact in alleviating the problem of transportation in the city,” Behailu said.

Stretching for a combined 32 km, two lines dividing Addis Ababa north-south and east-west will serve 39 stations, in underground and overground sections.

The state-run Ethiopian Railways Corporation signed an agreement this month that will see Shenzhen Metro – the enterprise managing the Chinese city’s subway system – operate the lines for a period of 41 months alongside CREC.

CREC will carry out a trial phase of up to three months and then the teams will decide when to start operating the system, Ethiopian Railway Corporation’s spokesman Dereje Tefera said.

Other African capitals with either subway systems or light rail networks are Cairo, Algiers and Tunis. South Africa has an extensive system linking several cities.

(Editing by James Macharia and Alison Williams)

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Pictures: Chester Higgins’ Stunning Photos of Ethiopia & His New Project ‘Apparitions’

Retired New York Times photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. (left) took the above photos of the St. George church in Lalibela & the Sof Omar Cave in Bale region (bottom right), two of Ethiopia's iconic religious sites.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – From the spectacular images of Lalibela to the beautiful portraits of people in the Omo region, from the profile of the late Poet Laureate of Ethiopia Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin to Nelson Mandela, you may have seen some of the timeless photos captured by international photographer Chester Higgins, who retired this year from The New York Times after nearly four decades with the prominent U.S. newspaper.

Higgins is already busy with new photography projects — his latest is entitled Apparitions. “My new imagery comes from a decade of falling in love with dead plant leaves,” Higgins says. “I’ve experimented with different leaves and settled on the Elephant Leaf because it’s bigger and tends to dry down in a much more interesting way than others.” He adds: “Each year, I’ve planted the bulbs, tended them and when they die, harvest them and hang them inside the house to dry out for a few months before I start making photos. I make the photos in a most unique way, without the use of the camera but using the computer scanner. I cut the leaves, position them so and use a software to produce a more abstract look.”

“You see, like the people who believe in nature, I believe in the equality of the complexity of nature. To me, the dried plant leaves represent the remains of a once fuller spirit that possessed the plant. Like all living things, we cannot stay forever, but in our departure the spirit that occupied the vessel is the only thing that has the ability to transit time and space. So, when I make images of this leaf that makes my heart smile, I name them after some ancestor. Right now, I name them after ancient Egyptian mummies.”

You can view images from Apparitions at chesterhiggins.com. Below is a slideshow of photos by Higgins previously featured in Tadias Magazine:



Related:
A Dance of Rivers – By Chester Higgins (NYTimes.com)

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2014 Census: Ethiopia Again Ranks Among the Worst Jailers of Journalists in the World

Zone9 bloggers and Reeyot Alemu. (Photos: International Women's Media Foundation and Zone 9 Tumblr)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopia has once again earned the unflattering distinction of being one of the worst jailers of journalists in the world along with Eritrea, Iran, Egypt, Burma and China. The 2014 Census of Imprisoned Journalists released today by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found that the number of journalists imprisoned in Ethiopia more than doubled since the previous year.

Overall CPJ said it identified 220 incarcerated journalists globally in 2014. “Worldwide, 132 journalists, or 60 percent, were jailed on anti-state charges such as subversion or terrorism,” the report said. “Online journalists accounted for more than half, or 119, of the imprisoned journalists. Eighty three worked in print, 15 in radio, and 14 in television.” The annual census shows “roughly one-third, or 67, of the journalists in jail around the world were freelancers, around the same proportion as in 2013.”

In Ethiopia, the survey points out that “a state crackdown on independent publications and bloggers this year more than doubled the number of journalists imprisoned to 17 from seven the previous year, and prompted several journalists to flee into exile.”

Next to China, with 44 journalists in prison, “the list of the top 10 worst jailers of journalists was rounded out by Eritrea, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Syria, Egypt, Burma, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. CPJ notes that the tally marks the second highest number of journalists in jail since the independent free-press advocacy organization began taking a yearly census of imprisoned journalists in the early 1990s.

You can read the full report at CPJ.org.

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From NYC to DC Tens Of Thousands Demand an End to Police Violence (Video)

Some youth activists say they were excluded from speaking at ‘Justice for All’ demonstration in Washington, D.C. (Crowds gathered Saturday in downtown Washington, D.C./TWITTER)

The Root

BY: JAMAL WATSON

‘A Movement, Not Just a Moment’: Thousands March to Call for an End to Police Violence

Armed with posters and a camera, Delores and Shannon King made the three-hour trek from Portsmouth, Va., to the nation’s capital on Saturday to join thousands of people gathered for the “Justice for All” demonstration protesting the recent deaths of several unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.

“We are here to support the cause,” said Delores King, who has an 18-year-old son. “This has to become a movement and not just a moment.”

The Kings and a sea of protesters marched east on Pennsylvania Avenue chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” After the march, the Rev. Al Sharpton called on Congress and the U.S. Justice Department to intervene on behalf of protecting black men from law enforcement.

“State grand juries have suspended the right of due process,” said Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network, the civil rights organization he founded in 1991. “We need national intervention.”

Protesters came from across the globe to demand an end to police violence and a change in the justice system. Interracial and intergenerational crowds gathered on a brisk winter afternoon—soccer moms next to union members, who were sandwiched between activists and such celebrities as filmmaker Spike Lee and television judge Greg Mathis, all connected through the tragic deaths of unarmed black men.

Read more at theroot.com »

Video: Thousands March Across U.S. to Protest Police Killings (NBC News)


The New York Times

By BENJAMIN MUELLER and ASHLEY SOUTHALL

More than 25,000 people marched through Manhattan on Saturday, police officials said, in the largest protest in the city since a grand jury declined this month to indict an officer in the death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island.

Just before 2 p.m. they began spilling out of Washington Square Park, and after an hour and a half, the park still had not emptied. Walking north toward 34th Street, the protesters filled the cold air by chanting “I can’t breathe,” the last words of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man, who died from a chokehold after an officer dragged him to the ground on a hot day in July.

The protest, which at times stretched for over a mile, highlighted growing anger nationwide over recent police deaths, including that of Mr. Garner, 43, who officers accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.


More than 25,000 people marched through Manhattan in New York on Saturday, police officials said. Protesters held up 8 panels depicting Eric Garner’s eyes, created by an artist known as JR. (Getty Images)

Read more at NYT »

Related:
Tens Of Thousands March On NYPD Headquarters To Protest Police Killings
In DC, Congressional Staffers Walk Out Protesting Garner & Brown Decisions

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The Oscar Chances of Difret & Timbuktu

Hirut (Tizita Hagare) sits in a halfway house in "Difret." (Haile Addis Pictures / Cineart)

Variety

By Adam Dawtrey

‘Difret’ May Raise Profile of Ethiopia’s Filmmakers During Oscar Race

Only one film from sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) has ever won an Academy Award for foreign-language film. That is “Black and White in Color” back in 1976, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, a French production flying under the flag of the Ivory Coast. Before this year, this vast region of 900 million people had only ever submitted nine films, and Annaud remains the only nominee.

So could 2014 see a breakthrough for authentically African cinema at the Oscars? For the first time, there are two entries, and both are real contenders: “Timbuktu” by Abderrahmane Sissako from Mauritania, which premiered to glowing reviews at Cannes, and “Difret” by Ethiopia’s Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, which won audience awards at Sundance and Berlin.

Sissako, 53, is the more established name, one of a handful of African filmmakers to achieve international recognition. But Mehari, a 38-year-old USC grad making his feature debut, brings the kind of Hollywood experience and trans-Atlantic smarts that could just catch the eye of Oscar voters.

“Difret,” which boasts the endorsement of Angelina Jolie as exec producer, tells the true story of the 1996 trial of a 13-year-old girl for killing a man who abducted and raped her. The problem is that “abduction for marriage” was a tradition in large parts of Ethiopia. Most of the girl’s village didn’t think her rapist did anything wrong, and the government didn’t want to go against tribal tradition. A young woman lawyer from the country’s capital city, Addis Ababa, took up the girl’s cause, and sued the minister of Justice. The case led to the practice of bride abduction being outlawed in Ethiopia.

It’s easy to understand why Jolie, in her role as Special Envoy for the U.N., lent her support. She screened the film in June at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Mehari — known as “Z” — was born and raised in Ethiopia, but came to the U.S. when he was 19 for college. His father expected him to study medicine, law or engineering, but Mehari enrolled instead at the USC film school. His father didn’t talk to him for a year. “I explained to him that I want to tell stories about engineers, doctors, lawyers,” Mehari recalls. “I told him we need storytellers as well.”

For a decade, Mehari worked back and forth between the U.S. and Ethiopia, picking up production experience in America, which he applied to developing his career back home, and to training local crews. He cut his teeth on musicvideos, while Ethiopia’s film industry went from virtually nothing in the mid-1990s to producing around 100-120 films a year today. Most of these cost just a few thousand dollars and are aimed exclusively at the local market, but Mehari had bigger ambitions.

He pitched his script to Mehret Mandefro, an Ethiopian-American physician based in Washington, D.C., whose research on HIV in the South Bronx was the subject of the 2008 feature doc “All of Us.” That led her to set up her own production company, Truth Aid.

Read more »

Related:
Review Effective ‘Difret’ Looks at Abhorrent Practice in Ethiopia – The Los Angeles Times
Difret Los Angeles Premiere at Laemmle Music Hall Theater – Friday, December 12th
‘Difret’ Submitted for Oscar Consideration for Best Foreign Language Film

Video: Audience Reaction at 2014 New African Films Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland

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Sexual Violence Against Women in Ethiopia

A social media campaign was started in Ethiopia after 16-year-old Hanna Lalango died after being sexually attacked on the streets. (Photograph: Facebook)

The Guardian

By Rediet Wegayehu

Kidnapped, Raped and Left for Dead: Who Will Protect Ethiopia’s Girls?

One day in early October, Hanna Lalango, 16, did not return from school to her home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at the usual time. Her father Lalongo Hayesso was worried about his youngest daughter.

“We waited for her at her usual time … but we had to wait for 11 days to hear that she had been abandoned on the street. She was incapacitated and couldn’t even get up,” said Hayesso. His daughter had been abducted, gang-raped and left for dead. Hanna was not able to get to hospital until 12 days after her attack, where she was treated for traumatic gynaecological fistula and other injuries. She died on 1 November.

Sexual violence against women in Ethiopia is relatively common. Research from 2012 found that “rape is undoubtedly one of the rampant crimes in Ethiopia”, and linked its prevalence to male chauvinist culture, legal loopholes, the inefficiency of different agencies in the criminal justice system, and “a deep-seated culture of silence”. In October 2011, an Ethiopian Airlines flight attendant named Aberash Hailay lost her eyesight after her ex-husband, Fisseha, stabbed her in both eyes with a sharp knife. And there’s the story of Frehiwot Tadesse, a mother of two, who was shot several times by her ex-husband in a broad daylight in Addis. Since the first reported case involving Kamilat Mehdi and her ex-boyfriend, acid attacks against women have also shown a disturbing increase.

Read more at The Guardian »

Teen’s Death After Kidnapping and Gang Rape Causes Scrutiny of Ethiopia’s Anti-NGO Law


16-year-old student Hanna Lalango died last month after being abducted and gang-raped by five men in Addis Abeba. (Photo: Ethiopian TV)

Vice News

By Johnny Magdaleno

December 7, 2014

The brutal kidnapping and gang rape of a teenage student in Addis Ababa has spurred a movement against gender-based violence in Ethiopia and throughout the country’s diaspora communities.

Sixteen-year-old Hanna Lalango was abducted by a taxi driver and a group of passengers in Ethiopia’s capital on October 1 after she boarded the driver’s vehicle on her way home from school, according to local media reports, activists, and other sources who spoke with VICE News about the incident. A few days later, Lalango’s sisters received a call from the kidnappers, who offered to arrange a meeting to negotiate the release of their hostage.

When the sisters arrived at the meeting, they were asked to board the same taxi used for Hanna’s kidnapping in order to be taken to the house where she was held. The sisters refused, and the assailants drove off, shouting that Lalango would not be released. On October 11, Lalango called her father and directed him to the Kolfe Keraneo district in western Addis Ababa, where the kidnappers had abandoned her. She revealed that multiple men raped her repeatedly over a period of at least five days, and was reportedly able to identify three out of five suspects from her hospital bed. She received treatment at several hospitals in Addis Ababa, but died November 1 from wounds sustained during the attacks.

The incident galvanized activists on social media, and the hashtag #JusticeForHanna became a top trending topic on Twitter in Ethiopia. A “Justice for Hanna” page on Facebook has received more than 20,000 likes. Activists are now demanding that national press outlets in Ethiopia devote extensive coverage to Lalango’s case and the issues that surround it. The UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was observed Tuesday, November 25, has also helped raise awareness of Lalango’s case.

Read more at news.vice.com »

Related:
The Yellow Movement at A.A. University Update on Abduction of Hanna Lalango

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Ericsson to Take Part of Ethio Telecom Deal

Ericsson is a Swedish multinational provider of communications technology and services based in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Reuters

Dec 11, 2014

Addis Ababa — Swedish telecom group Ericsson is set to sign a contract with Ethiopia to expand telecom infrastructure, taking a slice of an $800 million contract from Chinese firm ZTE Corp because of a row over terms, a senior official told Reuters on Thursday.

ZTE Corp’s deal with state-run operator Ethio Telecom was signed in 2013. The other half of the overall a $1.6 billion package to help double mobile subscribers was shared with another Chinese firm, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

But Ethiopian and ZTE differed over the cost of upgrading an existing network. Ethiopian officials said the firms were expected to carry out the upgrade at no extra charge, while ZTE said it would cost an additional $150 million to $200 million.

Ethiopian officials had said Nokia and Ericsson could take some work if agreement was not reached.

Ethio Telecom Chief Executive Andualem Admassie told Reuters that discussions with Ericsson were nearing completion.

“Ericsson will start working on that share of expansion work,” he said, without giving a value for the deal. “We are only waiting for confirmation from the (Ethio Telecom) board.

Read more at Reuters.com »

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In DC, Congressional Staffers Walk Out Protesting Garner & Brown Decisions

U.S. Congressional staffers staged a Walk Out in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, December 11th, 2014 to protest the recent grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. (Photo: Twitter)

NBC News

The protests over the lack of indictments in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases have expanded to Congress. Congressional staffers walked out of their jobs Thursday afternoon in a symbol of solidarity with protests taking place in the streets, on the basketball court and on football fields across the country.

The walk out was led by Senate chaplain Barry Black. Staffers stood on the steps of the Capitol holding their hands up.

“Democrats and Republicans across the country are incredibly frustrated by what happened in Ferguson, Staten Island, and elsewhere, and this protest reflects the mistrust they have in the integrity of the criminal justice system,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said in a statement. “These congressional staffers put in incredibly long hours, nights, and weekends working to pass legislation to help people live better lives, so I fully support them taking a few moments today to pray with the Senate chaplain for Congress to take action to ensure that all Americans are treated equally before the law.”

Cummings is one of several members of Congress who requested hearings on the issues raised by Garner’s and Brown’s deaths.

Read more at NBC News »

Watch: Congressional Staffers Protest Garner, Brown Cases on Capitol Steps


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Ethiopian Opposition Activists Bailed After Poll-Protest Arrests

File image of protest in Addis Ababa, June 2, 2013. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg News

By William Davison December 11, 2014

Ethiopian authorities released on bail about 80 activists, including the head of an opposition group, arrested while protesting for fair campaigning in 2015 elections, a Blue Party spokesman said.

Security forces made arrests on Dec. 5 when members of the Blue Party and eight other opposition groups took to the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, to call for greater freedom to hold meetings and rallies, Yonatan Tesfaye Regassa, the party’s head of public relations, said by phone.

Organization leader Yilkal Getnet was among those freed, while four other opposition members are still detained, possibly because they refused to co-operate with investigators, according to Yonatan. Investigations into the activists continue, he said.

Read more at Bloomberg News »

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New Documentary by Dan Rather Looks at “The Shameful Side of International Adoption”

A documentary by Dan Rather focuses on Ethiopian adoptions, and children who have been “re-homed,” moved to new adoptive families with little oversight and assistance. (Photo of Hanna Williams/KOMO)

Light of Days Stories Blog

By Maureen McCauley Evans

Dan Rather hosted an in-depth show on AXS TV called “Unwanted Children–The Shameful Side of International Adoption.” (Use the password danrather to view the show, which is available here).

It’s a tough and important 2 hours to watch and ingest. Much of the focus is on Ethiopian adoptions, and children who have been “re-homed,” moved to new adoptive families with little oversight, assistance, or regulation. Reuters did a series on re-homing about a hard ago; information is available here.

“Unwanted Children” sheds light on some terrible child welfare practices in adoption. The idea that children can be internationally adopted to the United States, and then moved to new adoptive homes with less oversight than occurs with dogs, is deplorable.

Kathryn Joyce wrote powerfully in Slate in November 2013 about some of these adoptees as well. Her detailed, insightful article “Hana’s Story: An Adoptee’s Tragic Fate and How It Could Happen Again” was part of the impetus for the Dan Rather show.

This show, on the heels of “E.J. Graff’s incisive report They Steal Babies, Don’t They?“, is an explicit call to action for change in Ethiopian adoptions. I have spoken out about this; many, many people are deeply concerned around the globe. I hope to see a response soon from organizations such as the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, the National Council for Adoption, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, and Both Ends Burning to demand changes in oversight and regulations, as well as solid improvement in services provided to adoptive and first/birth families.

Read more »

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Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam 42% Complete

Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam (African Globe)

African Globe

AFRICANGLOBE – Engineer Simegnew Bekele, Project Manager of the GERD, told reporters on Saturday that the project is progressing well in all its activities.

All the activities on the project “are progressing healthily in order to realize the project.

“We are mobilizing all the people, nations and nationalities of Ethiopia, including the Ethiopian Diaspora,” said Simegnew.

Ethiopia is now harnessing its potential for renewable energy to fight against poverty and improve the lives and livelihoods of its people, said Simegnew.

“This is a green energy; and this supports other renewable energy; and Ethiopia is the power hub; we have tremendous natural resources.

“So, we are now exploiting; we are now harnessing this potential to improve lives and livelihoods of individuals,” he noted.

“This is our primary agenda, number one agenda for our country; this is a project which is equipping us to fight poverty, our common enemy.

“The government has devised a strategy to improve the lives and livelihoods of individuals, the citizens.”And we have already started developing such kind of infrastructures that allow us to fight poverty,” he said.

He said, “On Nov. 28, 2014 we already booked world record with a daily average of 16,949 m3 roller compacted concrete.

Read more »



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Energy Gap: Africa’s Hydropower Future

In the face of rampant energy poverty, African governments are increasingly turning to renewable sources to spur development. And a cornerstone of this move towards renewables is hydropower. (m.scidev.net)

Sci Dev Net

From Côte d’Ivoire in the west to Ethiopia in the east, Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Debates often proclaim a new era of economic boom, innovation and social opportunity for the continent. But beyond the hype, millions of people remain affected by severe poverty, and at the root of this lies a perennial problem: energy poverty. Could hydropower hold the key to energy access in Africa?

Energy poverty is rife in Africa. Of the more than one billion people living in its 54 countries, over half lack access to electricity.

Rapid population growth looks set to further strain energy services, with some estimating that the continent’s population will surpass four billion by the end of the century.

Access to electricity is both limited and uneven. Economic powerhouses such as Egypt have almost total electricity coverage, but it remains scarce in countries such as Chad and Liberia, as well as South Sudan, where only 1.5 per cent of people have access to such energy. Similarly, step outside the continent’s cities and the picture is also bleak: the electrification rate for rural settlements is just 27.8 per cent.

Read more »

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Could Kenya Learn From Ethiopia’s Anti-Terror Strategy?

FILE - Kenyan security forces and others gather at the scene of a bus attack about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the northeastern town of Mandera, near the Somali border, Nov. 22, 2014. (AP Photo)

VOA News

By Gabe Joselow

December 09, 2014

NAIROBI, KENYA — Kenya has a security problem.

Fighters from the militant group al-Shabab, driven from their strongholds across Somalia, have claimed responsibility for gruesome attacks targeting non-Muslims in northeastern Kenya: hijacking a bus full of passengers in one recent incident and attacking quarry workers as they slept in their tents in another.

Both attacks took place in Kenya’s Mandera County, near the border with Somalia.

“Most of the al-Shabab forces seem to be largely in control of the area bordering Mandera – this Gedo region – so we have a situation where we have large numbers of people there and we don’t have a border that is really properly secured,” said Billow Kerrow, a senator from the county.

Kerrow has noticed that Kenya’s neighbor to the north, Ethiopia, has had much more success preventing terrorism on its own soil – despite having a much longer border with Somalia and a longer history of military involvement in the country.

And he thinks Kenya should look to Ethiopia as a model.

“What I know is on most of its border they have created a buffer, almost 50 to 100 kilometers, and any activity by these groups in that region will be met by an incursion directly that will immediately eliminate the threat,” Kerrow said.

Smaller impact in Ethiopia

There have been some terrorist incidents in Ethiopia, but not nearly on the same scale as Kenya.

In 2013, a bomb exploded in the capital, Addis Ababa, allegedly killing two militant operatives.

The U.S. Embassy warned this October of another al-Shabab threat in the Ethiopian capital, though nothing apparently came of it.

Cedric Barnes, Horn of Africa project director at the nonprofit International Crisis Group, attributes much of Ethiopia’s anti-terror success to its work developing a police force from local communities in the ethnically Somali east.

“Over the last few years, you’ve seen Ethiopia devolve a lot of security to a locally recruited police force called Liyu police, who are basically local Somalis who are police, but they are also counter-insurgency,” Barnes said.

System may not translate

But Ethiopia’s system is not necessarily translatable to Kenya, he said. For one thing, Ethiopia has been security-minded for years, he said, and has “radically devolved” power to local authorities – a process Kenya is just beginning to implement.

Barnes said imposing an Ethiopian-style security mechanism in Kenya could mean rolling back some of the political liberalization that has taken place, particularly in the Somali-dominated northeast.

“There are so many gains that have been made,” he said. “It would be a real pity to reverse some of those in the interest of a security threat which could be dealt with fairly easily by better intelligence, a more devolved police force especially.”

There are also serious rights concerns. Ethiopian security forces often round up al-Shabab suspects under a controversial 2009 anti-terrorism law that has also been used to prosecute journalists and political opponents.

Tough security tactics criticized

Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said such strong-arm security tactics come at a cost.

“There is absolutely no space in Ethiopia today for citizens to express themselves peacefully, whether in print or in protests,” Lefkow said. “And I think one of the concerns that we have is that this kind of iron grip is not a recipe for long-term stability.”

The Ethiopian government has repeatedly denied using anti-terror laws for anything other than the country’s security.

Kenya, too, is considering revamping its laws to give police more power to detain terror suspects. As with Ethiopia’s law, that’s likely to raise questions about whether the country is trading rights for security.

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70 Ethiopian Migrants Drown in Shipwreck

Seventy Ethiopian migrants have drowned after their boat sank near the entrance to the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, the Yemeni Interior Ministry said. (Reuters)

Reuters

SANAA – At least 70 Ethiopians drowned when a boat used by smugglers to transport illegal migrants to Yemen sank in the Red Sea in rough weather, security authorities in the western part of the country said on Sunday.

Human traffickers often use unseaworthy boats to smuggle African migrants to Yemen, seen as a gateway to wealthier parts of the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Oman, and the West.

Security authorities in Taiz province said the small boat sank on Saturday due to high winds and rough seas off the country’s al-Makha port.

They said the boat was carrying 70 people, all of them Ethiopians.

Read more at Rreuters.com »

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Update: New York Attorney General Seeks Powers to Investigate Police Killings

The New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is asking to be granted immediate powers to investigate and prosecute killings of unarmed civilians by police. (Photo: NYT)

The New York Times

By JESSE McKINLEY and J. DAVID GOODMAN

ALBANY — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York asked Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday to immediately grant his office the power to investigate and prosecute killings of unarmed civilians by law enforcement officials.

Mr. Schneiderman also challenged state legislators to pass new laws to repair public confidence in the criminal justice system, which he said was badly damaged after grand juries in Missouri and on Staten Island declined to bring criminal charges against officers in fatal encounters with unarmed black men.

But he seemed unwilling to wait for new powers to investigate the police in the event that another killing occurred before new laws were passed. “When the trust between the police and the communities they serve and protect breaks down, everyone is at risk,” he said.

The grand jury’s decision not to indict in the case of Eric Garner, who died after a police chokehold during an arrest on Staten Island in July, has renewed and strengthened calls for special prosecutors to handle such cases.

While Mr. Schneiderman was joined by local and state political leaders during his announcement in Manhattan, the prospects for quick legislative or executive action seem murky at best.

Continue reading at The New York Times »

US Protests Escalate Over Police Killings


Protests in the U.S. escalated on Sunday over grand jury decisions declining to charge white police officers in the deaths of black males in New York and Missouri. (VOA News)

VOA News

By Michael Bowman

WASHINGTON — In the United States, protests have escalated over grand jury decisions declining to charge white police officers in the deaths of black males in New York and Missouri.

The demonstrations – the most widespread and persistent pertaining to race and justice seen in the country in decades – are forcing officials to respond and putting law enforcement under a powerful microscope.

In Berkeley, California, protests turned violent when rocks and bricks were thrown and windows smashed. Police responded with tear gas as unrest continued for hours.

More peaceful, but no less fervent demonstrations continued in New York, Washington, Chicago, and other major cities.

Talk bluntly of race

“We bluntly have to talk about the historic racial dynamics that underlie this,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We have to have an honest conversation in this country about a history of racism. An honest conversation about the problem that has caused parents to feel that their children may be in danger in their dynamic ((interactions)) with police, when in fact the police are there to protect them. We have to transcend that,” de Blasio said.

The mayor said the city’s police force, one of America’s largest, will be retrained to improve its dealings with minority communities and, it is hoped, avoid deadly confrontations like the one between officers and unarmed illegal cigarette vendor Eric Garner, who died earlier this year after being wrestled to the ground and forcibly restrained.

De Blasio has spoken publicly of difficult conversations with his biracial son, telling him to be extra cautious if approached by police.

“ ‘Do not move suddenly, do not reach for your cell phone’ – because we know, sadly, there is a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color,” he said.

Those comments have drawn the ire of police representatives, who accused the mayor of scape-goating, rather than defending, those who risk their lives to ensure public safety.

‘Confrontation leads to tragedy’

“You cannot resist arrest, because resisting arrest leads to confrontation. Confrontation leads to tragedy,” said New York Police union chief Patrick Lynch.

Grand jury decisions declining criminal prosecution of police officers have grabbed the world’s attention in recent weeks but have been the norm for decades, said James Jacobs, a criminal law professor at New York University.

“Police officers have a certain, I think, presumption of legitimacy in the community. It is recognized that they have a very hard job to do,” Jacobs said.

Last week, President Barack Obama said public confidence in U.S. law enforcement must be restored, along with faith that laws will be applied equally to all Americans.



Related:
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The 3 Worst Conservative Arguments in the Eric Garner Case (Opinion)
Protests Against Police Continue After Funeral of NY Man Shot by Officer
UN Experts Urge Review of US Police Practices (Video: Day 3 of NYC Protests)
New York to Retrain Police in Wake of Chokehold Death Case (VOA News)
Protesters flood New York City in second night of demonstrations (NY Daily News)
New Inquiry Needed on Eric Garner’s Death (NYT)

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U.S. Embassy Ethiopia Security Message

U.S. Embassy Compound - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo: B. L. Harbert International)

Press Release

U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that political rallies or demonstrations may occur without significant notice throughout Ethiopia, particularly in the lead up to Ethiopian national elections in May 2015. Such rallies and demonstrations may be organized by any party or group and can occur in any open space throughout the country. In Addis Ababa, applications for permits to conduct rallies are often requested for Meskel Square or Bel Air Field. Please remember that even public rallies or demonstrations intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should, therefore, stay alert and avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the on-going threat of terrorist attacks in Ethiopia. U.S. citizens are reminded and encouraged to maintain heightened personal security awareness. Be especially vigilant in areas that are potential targets for attacks, particularly areas where U.S. and western citizens congregate, including restaurants, hotels, bars, places of worship, supermarkets, and shopping malls. Al-Shabaab may have plans for a potential attack targeting Westerners and the Ethiopian government, particularly in Jijiga and Dolo Odo in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, and Addis Ababa. Attacks may occur without warning.

Due to serious safety and security concerns, U.S. government personnel and their families are presently restricted from traveling to the following areas except as permitted on a case-by-case basis:

Read more »

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Teen’s Death Spotlights Ethiopia’s NGO Law

16-year-old student Hanna Lalango died last month after being abducted and gang-raped by five men in Addis Abeba. (Photo: Ethiopian TV)

Vice News

By Johnny Magdaleno

December 7, 2014

The brutal kidnapping and gang rape of a teenage student in Addis Ababa has spurred a movement against gender-based violence in Ethiopia and throughout the country’s diaspora communities.

Sixteen-year-old Hanna Lalango was abducted by a taxi driver and a group of passengers in Ethiopia’s capital on October 1 after she boarded the driver’s vehicle on her way home from school, according to local media reports, activists, and other sources who spoke with VICE News about the incident. A few days later, Lalango’s sisters received a call from the kidnappers, who offered to arrange a meeting to negotiate the release of their hostage.

When the sisters arrived at the meeting, they were asked to board the same taxi used for Hanna’s kidnapping in order to be taken to the house where she was held. The sisters refused, and the assailants drove off, shouting that Lalango would not be released. On October 11, Lalango called her father and directed him to the Kolfe Keraneo district in western Addis Ababa, where the kidnappers had abandoned her. She revealed that multiple men raped her repeatedly over a period of at least five days, and was reportedly able to identify three out of five suspects from her hospital bed. She received treatment at several hospitals in Addis Ababa, but died November 1 from wounds sustained during the attacks.

The incident galvanized activists on social media, and the hashtag #JusticeForHanna became a top trending topic on Twitter in Ethiopia. A “Justice for Hanna” page on Facebook has received more than 20,000 likes. Activists are now demanding that national press outlets in Ethiopia devote extensive coverage to Lalango’s case and the issues that surround it. The UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was observed Tuesday, November 25, has also helped raise awareness of Lalango’s case.

Read more at news.vice.com »

Related:
The Yellow Movement at A.A. University Update on Abduction of Hanna Lalango

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Photo of the Week: Ethiopia From Space

Ethiopia as seen from the the International Space Station. (Photo: Samantha Cristoforetti via Twitter)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, December 6th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The first Italian woman in space, Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency who currently resides in the International Space Station, tweeted the following image on Friday, December 5th while flying over the eastern Coast of Africa.

“I could watch the entire Eastern African coast unfold beneath me all the way to Ethiopia,” Cristoforetti shared with her fans.



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A Year in the World Without Mandela

A resident in Soweto, South Africa, in front of a mural of former President Nelson Mandela on Thursday, a day before the first anniversary of his death. (Photo: Credit Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

The New York Times

By ALAN COWELL

It was a death long foretold that drew mourners from his own nation and across the globe. But on Friday, one year after Nelson Mandela died, it almost seemed as if those he inspired were questing to rediscover his message of probity and reconciliation in a society with new troubles.

After a long illness, Mr. Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, died at age 95 on Dec. 5, 2013, and President Jacob G. Zuma declared, “Our nation has lost its greatest son.” Mr. Mandela remains the country’s moral touchstone.

The superlatives returned on Friday as South Africa planned a day of anniversary events that included prayers and speeches as well as a star-studded cricket match and the blaring of the monotone vuvuzela horns that distinguish the nation’s soccer crowds.

In the year since his death, South Africa has sometimes seemed to cling to his memory as an antidote to the apparently intractable challenges of a land whose leaders stand accused of corruption and failure to provide jobs and basic services for millions of impoverished people.

Read more at NYT »

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Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela

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Zone9 Defense: Limits of International Law

Zone9 members together in Addis Ababa, 2012. (Photo: Zone9 Tumblr)

World Policy Journal blog

The international human rights system is broken – or perhaps it never worked at all.

In case after case, citizens’ human rights are violated under the national laws of their respective countries, despite the existence of international human rights commitments in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration, and by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization of American States, the African Commission, and others. The International Criminal Court has little say concerning any but the most egregious of international human rights violations, and member states have wide latitude to dispense justice as they see fit.

For those who live in countries that fail to provide or enforce their own laws protecting freedom of expression, international principles have rarely provided actual recourse. Today, this is the case with the independent Ethiopian blogger collective known as Zone9.

In April of this year, the government of Ethiopia arrested six members of Zone9 along with three affiliated journalists in Addis Ababa. They were held for months without a formal charge and were denied the ability to communicate. Testimony from Befeqadu Hailu, one of the accused bloggers who was smuggled out of prison in August, as well as statements in court, allege mistreatment and frequent beatings. Informally, the nine were held on accusations of “working with foreign organizations that claim to be human rights activists and…receiving finance to incite public violence through social media.”

In July, the Zone9 prisoners were charged under Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 for receiving support from political opposition organizations, defined formally by the government as terrorists, and receiving training from international activists in email encryption and data security from the Tactical Technology Collective, a group that helps journalists and activists protect themselves from digital surveillance.

The Zone9 bloggers joined other media outlets targeted under similar laws, including Eskinder Nega, who had reported on recent Arab uprisings and the possibility of similar uprisings taking place in Ethiopia. He was arrested and charged with the “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt” of terrorism and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

International appeals from human rights advocacy organizations have had little effect on the case. In May, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a statement explaining,

The fight against terrorism cannot serve as an excuse to intimidate and silence journalists, bloggers, human rights activists and members of civil society organizations. And working with foreign human rights organizations cannot be considered a crime.

Additionally, seven international human rights and press freedom organizations pressed the African Commission and the United Nations in an urgent appeal to intervene in the case against Zone9. The appeal focused on the lack of clear charges and failure to allow the defendants adequate legal representation

Nani Jansen, a lawyer for the Media Legal Defence Initiative and the lead signatory in the appeal, writes in an email that both the African Commission and the UN “operate under the cover of confidentiality in the early stages of these matters.” She continues:

When they follow up with a Government, this is done without informing the outside world. Only months and months (often over a year) later, these exchanges with a Government get published in the mechanism’s report to its supervisory body.

Thus any intervention joins the rest of those in the cone of silence that is Zone9—hidden from public scrutiny or participation.

Even if these bodies do follow up with the Ethiopian government, their recourse is limited. In an article on the urgent appeal, Jansen notes that the African Commission can condemn the arrests in a resolution, that both organizations’ rapporteurs can request official visits to Ethiopia to investigate, and that Ethiopia, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, would be obligated to honor such a request. But even should such requests be made, and investigations conducted, there is little chance of enforcement of hypothetical findings on the Ethiopian government.

Since the appeal, the Ethiopian government has proceeded with charges against the accused. The latest details on the trial can be found on the Trial Tracker Blog, a site run by people close to the defendants.

Public attempts to highlight the Ethiopian government’s transgressions against human rights such as the #Freezone9bloggers social media campaign have an indirect effect. They seek to shame the Ethiopian government to ensure better treatment for the prisoners. They also seek to pressure international organizations and Ethiopia’s allies such as the United States, for whom Ethiopia is a critical military and security partner. The hope is that those organizations will in turn apply political pressure on Ethiopia to free the Zone9 defendants.

The implementation of international commitments seems to rest primarily upon a negotiated process of politics, not a functioning and enforceable system of law. Considering the ease with which national law in Ethiopia is employed or ignored for political ends, it is a grim irony that only political pressure can hope to resolve the case in their favor.

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US, Ethiopia Partner to Empower Women

VOA File photo: Women and children holding their pink tickets queue for the evening meal at the Dollo Ado transit center in Ethiopia, October 26, 2011. (VOA P. Heinlein)

VOA News

By Pamela Dockins

STATE DEPARTMENT— The U.S. is awarding $15,000 grants to five U.S. universities that are partnering with Ethiopian schools on research and development projects.

The initiative by the State Department and the Department of Education is designed to strengthen the skills of faculty and administrators in both countries. One grant, awarded to the University of Maryland and Ethiopia’s Debre Birhan University, will be used to train Ethiopian women on how to grow crops, as part of an effort to address food insecurity.

Through classroom instruction and work on “demonstration farms,” the University of Maryland will provide training on how to grow food throughout the year, with the goal of improving food security.

University technical advisor Becky Ramsing says they hope to help women in Ethiopia who may have had limited access to training opportunities.

“If you give the woman the resources, those resources will go directly to the family. When women are given added income or are able to raise more food, that directly relates to the children and the education and nutrition of the child,” said Ramsing.

She says the goal is to train staff members at Debre Birhan University who will then teach women in useful techniques such as growing food in small spaces.

“Some of these women do not have access to land. How can we do container gardening and vertical gardening, livestocks like small poultry,” she asked.

Tsigemariam Bashe, a program facilitator and dean at Debre Birhan, says an overall goal is empowerment.

“Empowering women is empowering the whole population or empowering the society,” said Bashe.

Debre Birham facilitator Hailu Terefe says only men are traditionally taught farming in some parts of the country.

“There is cultural differences in Ethiopia. All of the regions do not have the same culture. There are regions that women are not allowed to go for the agricultural practices,” said Terefe.

Tsigemariam Bashe hopes the women who are trained will in turn assist other women.

“I hope that in the near future the women in the project will become the community educator,” said Bashe.

The other U.S. university grant recipients are Brown, Bowling Green State, Ball State and the University of North Texas Libraries.

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Ethiopia Starts Marketing Debut Eurobond

(Image credit: Citi FM Online)

Bloomberg News

By Robert Brand, Paul Wallace and Lyubov Pronina

Ethiopia raised $1 billion in a debut international bond issue today, taking advantage of record demand for high-yielding African debt to fund electricity, railway and sugar-industry projects.

The 10-year bonds priced to yield 6.625 percent, at the lower end of the 6.625 to 6.75 percent price guidance, according to a person familiar with the matter, who isn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. Kenya’s $2 billion of bonds due June 2024 yielded 5.89 percent at 5:21 p.m. in London.

Africa’s fastest-growing economy and biggest coffee producer is joining issuers, including Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and Ivory Coast, who sold what Standard Bank Group Ltd. says is a record $15 billion of Eurobonds this year. Government and corporate issuers are seeking to benefit from investor appetite for higher returns before the Federal Reserve raises interest rates as soon as next year.

Ethiopia’s bond yield is “decent value for the deal given the limited knowledge and different nature of the Ethiopian economy and the challenges it faces compared to peers in the region,” Kevin Daly, a senior portfolio manager at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, said by e-mail.

The country made a strong case for infrastructure development and financing needs at investor meetings, “which suggests they will be looking to come back to the market in near term,” Daly said.

Read more at Bloomberg News »

Related:
Market Watch: Ethiopia to complete debut dollar bond sale (The Wall Street Journal)

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White House Urges Congress to Approve $6.2 Billion Emergency Ebola Funding

President Barack Obama speaks at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland about the fight against Ebola on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014. (Photograph: The Associated Press)

VOA News

By Aru Pande

WHITE HOUSE— President Barack Obama is urging U.S. lawmakers, before they leave for the holiday recess in a few weeks, to pass $6.2 billion in emergency funding to fight the Ebola virus and prepare U.S. hospitals to handle future cases.

Speaking Tuesday at the National Institutes of Health near Washington, Obama said money to battle the disease is running out and that Congress could give a Christmas present to the American people and the world by passing a spending bill.

The president toured NIH laboratories and congratulated researchers on completion of phase 1 clinical trials of a potential vaccine to treat Ebola, which clears the way for it to go to clinical trials in West Africa. He called it “exciting news” that a potential vaccine produced no serious side effects during first-phase testing, noting that no other potential Ebola drug had progressed this far to date.

However, Obama stressed that there was no guarantee the vaccine would work and that the fight was not close to being over, even if media attention had shifted to other issues. He noted the outbreak has gotten worse in countries like Sierra Leone, where infections and the death toll have risen in recent weeks.

“Every hotspot is an ember that, if not contained, can become a new fire. So we cannot let down our guard even for a minute,” he said.

“If we are going to actually solve it for ourselves, we have to solve it in West Africa as well,” he added.

Contingency funds

Most of Obama’s request is aimed at the immediate response to the disease at home and abroad. But the package also includes $1.5 billion in contingency funds — money that could become a target if lawmakers decided to trim the bill.

“That is the part of the package that is most at risk,” said Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, an alliance of U.S. nongovernmental aid groups.

While lawmakers recognize that the United States has to take action to arrest the deadly disease, some are wary of giving the administration leeway in investing money in public health systems in West Africa.

“I think there is less understanding of the need to stay in it for the long run and to build the capacity of countries to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future,” Worthington said.

In its overseas response, the United States has scaled up deployment of American personnel in West Africa — with 200 civilians and 3,000 service members on the ground.

At the NIH, Obama said efforts to battle Ebola at its source are showing results, particularly in Liberia, where the U.S. has built three of 10 planned Ebola treatment units, and the number of beds for Ebola patients is expected to reach 2,000 by early next year.

“We’ve ramped up the capacity to train hundreds of new health workers per week,” Obama said. “We have improved burial practices across Liberia. And as a consequence, we have seen some encouraging news — a decline in infection rates in Liberia.”

Ebola has killed about 6,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, along with a handful of people in other countries.

The Obama administration came under fire in September after a series of protocol missteps involving an Ebola patient who traveled to Dallas from Liberia and later died. Two nurses contracted the disease while caring for the man.

The president also touted progress in the U.S. fight against the disease, saying the number of American hospitals prepared to deal with Ebola has increased from just three facilities to 35 nationwide in the last two months, and the number of laboratories testing for Ebola has increased from 13 to 42 since August.

Screening and treatment procedures have since been tightened, and there are no current U.S. cases.

“My hope is that we’re not getting Ebola fatigue setting in,” said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, a Christian missionary group that helps treat Ebola patients in Liberia. “There continues to be a huge need for this funding.”

Some information for this report came from Reuters.



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U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
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Ethiopia Issues Unfamiliar Investor Warning Over War and Famine (The Financial Times)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo credit: Africa.com)

The Financial Times

By Javier Blas, Africa Editor

Every country tapping the global sovereign bond market details the dangers investors face in its prospectus, often in a boilerplate section enumerating possible problems – such as fiscal deficits or taxation issues – that is largely ignored.

But the document sent by Ethiopia to international investors ahead of its foray into the global sovereign bond market is somewhat different. Far from a boilerplate, it includes a list of unfamiliar hazards, such as famine, political tension and war.

In the 108-page prospectus, issued ahead of its expected $1bn bond, Ethiopia tells investors they need to consider the potential resumption of the Eritrea-Ethiopia war, which ended in 2000, although it “does not anticipate future conflict”.

There is also the risk of famine, the “high level of poverty” and strained public finances, as well as the possible, if unlikely, blocking of the country’s only access to the sea through neighbouring Djibouti should relations between the two countries sour.

Read more at ft.com »

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Saudi Billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi to Invest $100 Million in Ethiopian Rice Farm

Employees of Saudi Star rice farm work in a paddy in Gambella. (Photo: Jenny Vaughan/Getty Images)

Bloomberg News

By William Davison

Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc, an Ethiopian company owned by billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi, said it plans to invest $100 million in a rice farm in western Ethiopia next year to kick-start its stalled project.

The company leased 10,000 hectares (24,711 acres) in the Abobo district in the Gambella region, where it’s based, in 2008 and bought the 4,000-hectare Abobo Agricultural Development Enterprise from the government 18 months ago for 80 million birr ($4 million). After delays caused by unsuitable irrigation design and contractor performance issues, Saudi Star wants to accelerate work in 2015 after a change of management, a redesign of the farm and a successful trial of rain-fed rice on 2,000 hectares at the formerly government-owned, Chief Executive Officer Jemal Ahmed said in a phone interview.

“We have a very aggressive plan,” he said on Nov. 26 from Jimma, about 260 kilometers (162 miles) southwest of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. “If we’re able to do that we’ll be able to produce more.”

Read more at Bloomberg News »

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Ferguson: Obama Calls for Honest Conversation on Police-Race-Relations

Police and Missouri National Guardsmen stand guard as protesters gather in front of Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Nov. 28, 2014. (AP Photo)

VOA News

U.S. President Barack Obama is calling for millions of dollars more in federal spending to improve police forces around the country, in response to the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman during a street confrontation in the central town of Ferguson, Missouri.

After meeting at the White House Monday with his Cabinet, civil rights leaders and law enforcement officials, Obama announced spending proposals of more than $260 million for police forces across the U.S. He also said the country needs an honest conversation about the state of law enforcement.

The president said Americans of color do not feel they are being treated fairly by police, creating what he called a “simmering distrust” in communities and weakening the country.

Protests have continued in Ferguson and elsewhere since a grand jury’s decision last week not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Obama said the additional money would pay for 50,000 body cameras for police to wear to record their interactions with civilians, as well as to fund more training for police.

The president also announced he will set up a task force to study how to improve policing.

Obama said federal programs that provide military-style equipment to local police departments must be more accountable, but he did not say whether the programs would be pulled back.

Since August, roughly 300 people have been arrested in Ferguson-related protests, which have been marred by looting and arson attacks. Those arrested face charges of unlawful assembly and trespassing, interfering with police activity and resisting arrest, as well as felonies, including second degree burglary, arson, unlawful firearm possession and assault.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Plan to Target Racial Profiling

NBC News

In the wake of clashes at protests in Ferguson, Missouri, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says new Justice Department guidance will aim to end racial profiling and ensure fair and effective policing.

Holder said in a speech Monday at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor — that he will unveil details of the plan soon.

“In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement. This will institute rigorous new standards — and robust safeguards — to help end racial profiling, once and for all,” Holder said. “This new guidance will codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing.”

The president instructed Holder to hold regional meetings on building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve after the conflicts in Ferguson. Monday’s meeting in Atlanta was the first.

Tensions between police and the community in Ferguson boiled over after a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager in August. Protests turned violent again last week, after a grand jury declined to indict officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown’s death.

During Holder’s speech, he was interrupted by about a dozen or so protesters holding signs and chanting “No justice, no peace.” Holder let them continue for about two minutes before they were escorted out by security, but then later said, “Let me make one thing clear, I ain’t mad at cha,” referencing the song by the late rapper Tupac.

Read more »

Related:
In Ferguson, ‘Nothing Has Changed From 1853. This Is the City of Dred Scott’

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The Great Ethiopian Run is the Most Incredible Experience

The start line of the Great Ethiopia Run. (Chronicle Live)

ChronicleLive

By Mark Douglas

Haile Gebrselassie has a problem.

You wouldn’t know it from a quick glance at his famous face, which is fixed with the beguiling smile that has accompanied him on a career that has touched heights that no other athlete has managed.

This is a man who broke 23 separate world records, collected two Olympic gold medals and earned four world titles.

He bestrode the track and the streets of famous marathons in Berlin, New York and Chicago and has now carried that success into the world of business, where he is one of the chief drivers of a resurgent Ethiopian economy that is creating millionaires faster than any other country in Africa.

But as he explains over delicious, jet-black coffee strong enough to wipe out the hazy affects of altitude, he can’t answer his phone right now. To prove the point, when his iPhone trills, he takes a quick look and sets it back down on the table in the small office that overlooks one of the busiest roads in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s bustling, frenetic and endearingly chaotic capital city.

“If I don’t know the number, I won’t answer. You know why?” he asks. “Because government ministers will ring me up and say ‘Haile – I need a ticket for the big run on Sunday!’”

Hearing this story is the perfect introduction to the Great Ethiopian Run – the colourful, barmy and brilliant little brother of our own beloved Great North Run.

Read more »

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Ethiopia: $1.6 Million Grant to Fund EduCare

The grant will fund programs targeting children and their families in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

VOA News

By Kim Lewis

An education program geared towards reducing the school drop out rate for youths in Ethiopia has received a $1.6 million dollar boost to help keep it going.

SOS Children’s Villages, the world’s largest organization dedicated to orphaned and abandoned children, announced that it received the grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

SOS Children’s Villages says the grant will fund EduCare, a program that provides services to raise grade-level completion rates for vulnerable children and their families in the city of Bahir Dar.

“Children in Ethiopia, as well as their families are still experiencing a large amount of poverty,” says Lynn Croneberger, chief executive officer of SOS Children’s Villages USA. “And when families are put in stressful situations, a lot of times the older children need to quit school and go to work and support their families,” she said.

The result is a large population of sibling or youth heads of households who take care of families.

“The families of vulnerable children and youth often times live in such extreme poverty that paying for school, uniforms and supplies is a luxury they cannot afford,” said Sahlemariam Abebe, acting national director of SOS Children’s Villages – Ethiopia.

Education instead of a Exploitation

This financial strain forces children to forgo schooling in order to work and financially help their families,” said Sahlemariam. “Child labor – at its worst – can lead to prostitution and other forms of exploitation.”

Croneberger hopes their EduCare program will provide more resources to children at risk of dropping out of school as well as their parents and the community, so the children can stay in school.

SOS Children’s Villages USA says Educare targets a thousand boys and girls, an estimated 400 caregivers and four partner schools. The funds will provide a stipend, and money for school supplies and food.

Most of the youths are between 13 and 16 years of age “so they’ve hopefully been through early education,” said Croneberger. “But now is the real risky time when they’re being looked at to provide an income for their families.”

Community schools will also receive support.

“A lot of these schools are also struggling so they don’t have a lot of money for the materials that they need for homework, for making it easier for kids to be able to study,” said Croneberger. “So we’ll be supporting the schools themselves as well. That obviously will benefit the community and be a resource for the community.”

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In Ferguson, U.S.A, It’s Still Like 1853

Lesley McSpadden (left), the mother of Michael Brown, reacts to hearing a grand jury decision Nov. 24th, 2014 in the fatal shooting case of her 18-year-old son by police officer Darren Wilson. (Getty Images)

The Root

BY: SHAREE SILERIO

Ferguson, Mo.: – Monday night, a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson on Aug. 9.

In advance of the announcement of the grand jury decision, media, protesters, members of the clergy and organizations in support of the Justice for Mike Brown movement waited anxiously outside the Ferguson Police Department building for the ruling. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, who had been informed of the verdict, arrived a few minutes before St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch made the announcement.

In tears, frustration and anger, McSpadden addressed the crowd and said, “Everybody wants me to be calm. Do you know how [those] bullets hit my son? What they did to his body as they entered his body?” She added, “I have been living here my whole life; I have never had to go through anything like this.”

She was surrounded by several people who held and hugged her. When McCulloch concluded his conference, protesters immediately responded, chanting, “No justice, no peace!” Some shouted, “Burn it down!”

And many expressed that they were not surprised by the outcome, including Anthony Merri, 38. “Nothing has changed from 1853. This is the city of Dred Scott,” he told The Root. “African Americans, Latinos and others who do not fit the status quo cannot get [their] rights, and that was definitely displayed today.”

Read more at theroot.com

Related:
UPDATE: Ferguson Sees Second Night of Unrest, Protests Staged Across the US

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UPDATE: Ferguson Sees Second Night of Unrest, Protests Staged Across the US

Violence broke out in the streets of Ferguson Monday evening following news that a grand jury did not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. (AP)

VOA News

By William Gallo

The midwestern U.S. town of Ferguson faced a second night of unrest and solidarity demonstrations were held nationwide to protest a grand jury’s decision to not indict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.

More than 2,000 National Guard soldiers have been deployed in Ferguson, Missouri to guard against fresh racially charged riots, which broke out late Monday after it was announced that charges would not be filed against officer Darren Wilson.

VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem, who is in Ferguson, said there has been no repeat of the widespread looting that was seen on the first night of protests, when over a dozen buildings were set on fire and at least 61 people arrested.

“One reason is that the National Guard is spread out in multiple locations. We saw them outside the police department. They were behind the police lines. They were not in front, but they were in riot gear and in riot formation and in front of them was a united command riot formation. But they are scattered all over and guarding key areas in Ferguson and surrounding counties,” said Tanzeem.

A tense moment occurred late Tuesday, when a group of protesters began smashing the windows of and setting fire to a police vehicle in front of Ferguson City Hall.

Tanzeem said a large number of riot police and National Guard troops approached the area in armored vehicles and ordered the protesters to disperse.

“They started announcing that everyone needs to leave the area right now. At that moment somebody, we don’t even know if it was the police, somebody in the crowd threw pepper spray on a whole bunch of people, including on our own VOA colleague, who got pepper sprayed pretty badly. We had to immediately find medics and evacuate him and move him to safety,” said Tanzeem.

The St. Louis County Police Department said via Twitter that the area was declared an “unlawful assembly” and that those refusing to leave would be arrested. The department also said there were reports of bottles and fireworks being thrown at officers.

The shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown has inflamed tensions and brought to the surface concerns over police violence and racial discrimination in the predominantly black suburb of St. Louis and across the nation.

On Tuesday, demonstrators marched and disrupted traffic in cities including St. Louis, Cleveland, and Seattle. In Washington D.C., demonstrators laid on the ground in a so-called “die-in” protest in front of a police station. Protesters in New York also disrupted traffic on bridges and the Lincoln Tunnel, leading to a number of arrests.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he deplored the destructive acts, saying they are criminal and those responsible should be prosecuted. But America’s first black president also said he understands that many people are upset by the grand jury decision.

He said the frustrations of the protesters have “deep roots in many communities of color who have a sense that our laws are not always being enforced uniformly or fairly.”

Earlier Tuesday, Brown’s parents appeared at a news conference in a Ferguson church, alongside their lawyers and civil rights leader Al Sharpton. They described the grand jury decision announced Monday as “completely unfair.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said a federal investigation into the shooting continues. The Justice Department has been looking into whether the Ferguson Police Department is engaging in unconstitutional practices.

Officer Wilson made his first public comments about the incident Tuesday. In a television interview with ABC, Wilson said he feared for his life during the confrontation with Brown, saying the teenager was trying to take his gun.

The officer, who has been placed on leave, said he has a clean conscience “because I know I did my job right.”

Several eyewitnesses said Brown was putting his hands in the air to surrender as Wilson opened fire.

But St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Monday that testimony is not supported by evidence and that many of the witnesses contradicted themselves.



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Exiled Ethiopian Journalist Betre Yacob

Ethiopian Journalist Betre Yacob. (Credit: The Huffington Post)

The Huffington Post

By Maura Kelly

It was in Bahir Dar where I first meet Betre Yacob. He was working as an Information, Education and Communication Coordinator with an international NGO on HIV/AIDs programs, and for the rights of women and children. Betre, a graduate of Bahir Dar University and I connected instantly when he told me he also worked as a journalist and had just started a new blog. His focus was poor people and the government’s views on human rights in Ethiopia. We stayed in touch and every few months I’d receive an article and share it with HOPe and other media colleagues. At times the articles would be in English and other times they’d be in Amharic. I’m not sure when it started but sometime in 2012 the links would arrive blocked or the stories blacked out. Then Betre told me he decided to leave the NGO because his articles were drawing unwarranted government attention and he did not want the organization to suffer any negative effects. He had decided to become a journalist full time.

Life as a journalist

Working as an independent journalist in Ethiopia is a particularly difficult undertaking and Betre is one of hundreds of media workers who has been harassed and threatened to the point that he is now in self-imposed exile outside the country.

In 2012, Betre got assignments with various media outlets and covered local human rights violations and the state of Ethiopian media for the Italian website, AssamanInfo, the Ethiopian magazine, Ebony (both have since closed down) and The Daily Journalist. He also co-authored a book entitled “Nipo nipo tu” a collection of short stories illustrating socio-economic problems in Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia is a dangerous place to be a journalist” reported Betre. To garner support he helped launch and later became president of the Ethiopian Journalists Forum (EJF), an independent journalist association working for freedom of the press with over 30 journalists as members. “However, since its beginning EJF has been seen as an enemy by the Ethiopian government and has faced many accusations, ” he stated.

Read more at The Huffington Post »

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‘Gracias (Thank you) President Obama!’

Immigrants react to the president's executive action Speech on immigration: Some chanted, "Obama, Amigo, El Pueblo esta contigo!", which means, "Obama, Friend, The Community Is With You! (NBC News)

NBC News

BY SUZANNE GAMBOA

WASHINGTON — Bundled in winter coats, dozens of immigrants stood in front of the White House [on Thursday, November 20th] to watch and hear President Barack Obama via livestream on tablets and cell phones explain why he is taking executive action on immigration.

Huddling tightly around their mobile devices, those gathered let out occasional cheers and whoops as the president’s speech unfolded.

Some held battery-operated tea lights while some held American flags and signs that said “Gracias, Presidente Obama” with outlines of hand-holding families along the bottom.

Some chanted, “Obama, Amigo, El Pueblo esta contigo!”, which means, “Obama, Friend, The Community Is With You!

When his speech ended, some shouted, “Si se pudo!” which means, “Yes, we could!”

“Oh my God, this is good!” shouted Miguel Correa, an immigrant who has been in the U.S. illegally for 14 years. “Thanks, Obama!”


A demonstrator holds a sign reading “Thank you President Obama” outside the White House after Obama announced executive action on immigration on Thursday evening. (NBC News)


People watch President Barack Obama give a speech on executive action on immigration outside the White House on Thursday, Nov. 20. (NBC News)

In a brief, 10-minute speech, Obama laid out a case for issuing executive actions that would spare about 5 million immigrants from deportation. The president outlined a 3-part plan which included more resources for the border, as well as relief from deportation for parents who have been illegally in the U.S. for more than 5 years but whose children are citizens or lawful permanent residents. The president emphasized this is not a path to citizenship or legalization, but those who qualify will be granted relief from deportation for three years and get work permits.

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Watch: Obama Immigration Reform 2014 Speech Announcing Executive Action (FULL/NYT)


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