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

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

The Root

BY: ANGELA BRONNER HELM

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

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

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

Read more at Theroot.com »

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


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32 of the 125 Ethiopian Children Abducted From Gambela Recovered in South Sudan

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

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By JASON PATINKIN

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Scientists Probe Danakil Depression

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

Science Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Felipe Gomez/Europlanet 2020 R)


(Felipe Gomez/Europlanet 2020 R)

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


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

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Clinton, Trump Pulling Away From Rivals

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

The New York Times

By PATRICK HEALY and JONATHAN MARTIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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

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Ethiopia Charges Opposition Leader Professor Bekele Gerba With Terrorism

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

Addis Standard

By Mahlet Fasil

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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UN: 500 Migrants Drown in Mediterranean

(Image: CNN video)

CNN

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

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

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

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

Disaster came as smugglers transferred people to another boat at sea

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

Read more and watch video at CNN.com »


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

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

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the full text of the resolution »

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Legendary Musician Prince Dies at 57

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

VOA News

Last updated on: April 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who was Prince?

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

When: June 7, 1958

Where: Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

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

Debut album: For You, 1978

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

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

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

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Trump and Clinton Win New York Primary

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

The New York Times

Updated: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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

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

AFP

By Karim Lebhour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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Ethiopia’s Skateboarders ‘Go Legit’

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

BBC News

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


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


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


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

See more photos at BBC.com »


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Selam Productions – Tigist Schmidt Curates Films for African Diaspora

Selam Productions founder Tigist Schmidt. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 15th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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


Poster for Stories Of Our Lives. (Courtesy image)

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

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

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

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Twitter, WhatsApp Down in Oromia Area

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

Bloomberg

April 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

Read more at Bloomberg.com »


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

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

VOA News

By Ken Bredemeier

April 06, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wisconsin turning point?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sanders challenges Clinton

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

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

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


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

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Getatchew Mekurya Passed Away at Age 81

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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


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The Ethio-jazz Revival in Addis Ababa

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

The Guardian

By Oliver Gordon

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

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

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

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


Mulatu Astatke. (Photograph: Alamy)

Read more at The Guardian »


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

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

Reuters

BY AARON MAASHO

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

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

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

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

Representatives of the government were not immediately available for comment.

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

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

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

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

Read more at Reuters.com »


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

US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

BBC on Emperor Tewodros II (Audio)

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

BBC

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

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

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

Listen here to the broadcast from BBC World Service:


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Unrest in Ethiopia: Grumbling & Rumbling

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

The Economist | From the print edition

Months of protests are rattling a fragile federation

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

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

Read more at Economist.com »


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

US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Rolling Stone Endorses Hillary: “It’s hard not to love Bernie, But Anger is not a plan”

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

Rolling Stone

BY JANN S. WENNER

March 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at Rollingstone.com »


Related:
Hillary, Trump in Command of US Election

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President Obama Makes Historic Trip to Cuba: Full Coverage

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

VOA News

By Mary Alice Salinas

Last updated: March 22, 2016

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

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

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

‘Bury the last remnant’

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

WATCH: President Obama addresses Cuban people from Havana

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

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

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

Ryan’s reaction

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

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


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

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

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

Talks with Castro

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

‘Forgotten 51′

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Cuban policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cubans cheer

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

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

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

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

WATCH: Obama, Castro Hold Joint News Conference

By Mary Alice Salinas

Last updated on: March 21, 2016

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

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

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

‘Decided by Cubans’

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

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

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

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

Carson: Lists have been shared

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

New approach irreversible

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

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

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

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

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

Day in Havana

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

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

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

‘America wants to be your partner’

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

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

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

State dinner

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

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

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

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


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

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Hillary, Trump in Command of US Election

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

VOA News

By William Gallo

Last updated on: March 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flamboyant candidate

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

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

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

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

Contentious battle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unpredictable

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH: Related video by VOA’s Jim Malone


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Chickens Come Home to Roost for Trump: His Words Were Destined to Stir Violence


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

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

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

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

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Reuters.com »


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Bloomberg Reporter, Freelancer Detained While Covering Protests in Oromia Region

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

Newsweek

BY CONOR GAFFEY

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

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

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

Read more at Newsweek.com »


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

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

The New York Times

By PATRICK HEALY and JONATHAN MARTIN

Updated: MARCH 8, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at NYTimes.com »


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Trump wins push GOP to breaking point
Hillary Wins in Nevada, Trump Solidifies Lead in South Carolina
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NH primary: Trump Wins, Hillary ‘Feels the Bern’
In Iowa Trump Defeated, Hillary Wins
Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits A Potential White House Run (NY Times)

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UPDATE: ‘Super Saturday’ Vote Results

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

The Associated Press

Last updated on: March 06, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

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Ancient Writings of Ethiopia (CNN)

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

CNN Inside Africa

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

Watch the video at CNN Inside Africa »


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

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

Press Release

U.S. Embassy

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

VOA News

By Cindy Saine

Last updated on: February 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

Clinton jubilant

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Read more »

Watch: Trump, Clinton Big Winners in US Presidential Contests


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

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Meet Minnesota Teen Hordofa Burka, Winner of Horatio Alger Scholarship

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

Twin Cities Pioneer Press

By MAJA BECKSTROM

February 19, 2016

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

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

What makes it more amazing is Burka’s past.

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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Where to Find DC’s New Little Ethiopia

(Bonnie Dain / For The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

By Elizabeth Chang

February 18th, 2016

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

Ethiopian

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

Read the full article at The Washington Post »


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President Obama to travel to Cuba in March

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

VOA News

By William Gallo

Last updated on: February 18, 2016

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Cuba slow to make reforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embargo remains in place

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

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

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

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

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

Photo gallery: US Rapprochement With Cuba

Sticking points remain, but US attitudes changing

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

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

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

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


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

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Election 2016: Year of The Outsiders

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

MSNBC

BY LAWRENCE O’DONNELL

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

How did he become the frontrunner for the Republican nomination?

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

Bernie Sanders’ The ‘outsider’ approach

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

Watch: Bernie Sanders: The ‘outsider’ approach


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

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

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

VOA News

By William Gallo

Last updated on: February 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

Candidates react

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch: Manchester, New Hampshire voters speak out.

Results

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

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

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

Second-tier candidates

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

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

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

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


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

Voters chime in

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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Mulatu Astatke’s Rousing Borderless Jazz

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

The Guardian

By John Fordham

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

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

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

Read more at The Guardian »


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In Iowa Trump Defeated, Hillary Wins

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

VOA News

By William Gallo

Updated on: February 02, 2016

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

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

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

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

Voter sentiment

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


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


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

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

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

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

Subdued

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


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

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

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

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

Democrats

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

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

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

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

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

Watch: Iowa Caucuses Set Stage for New Hampshire Primary

Iowa momentum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next up: New Hampshire

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

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

Kathryn Gypson and Kane Farabaugh contributed to this report.


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

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US Pledges $97M to Fight Ethiopia Drought

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

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Paul Schemm | AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Drought threatens malnourished children in Ethiopia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bloomberg Considering White House Run

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

The New York Times

By ALEXANDER BURNS and MAGGIE HABERMAN

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

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

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

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

Read more at The New York Times »


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

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Women of Africa: Swimwear by Yodit (BBC)

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

BBC News

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the video at BBC.com »


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

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

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

Human Rights Watch

By Felix Horne
Researcher, Horn of Africa

JANUARY 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Addis Ababa Master Plan Canceled

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

The New York Times

By JACEY FORTIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The New York Times »


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


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

The Washington Post

By Paul Schemm

January 14th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Washington Post »


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

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Obama’s Final State of the Union Address

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

VOA News

By William Gallo

January 13, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch highlights of the address:

Economy

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

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

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


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

Foreign policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More work needed

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

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

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

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

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


U.S. President Barack Obama (L) tours the Kotzebue Shore Avenue Project, an effort to protect against rising sea levels in Kotzebue, Alaska Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

No mention of Iran dispute

Obama’s speech did not mention Tuesday’s incident in which 10 U.S. sailors were detained by Iran, after apparently straying into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.

Other U.S. officials have attempted to play down the incident, saying Iran has agreed to “promptly” release the sailors.

The incident threatened to become an awkward distraction for Obama, coming hours before the address during which he was to present his Iran policy as a major achievement.

Partisan divide ‘has gotten worse’

The president’s speech was introspective, and at times even apologetic. One of Obama’s biggest regrets, he said, is that he failed to fulfill his campaign promises to help heal the country’s massive political divide.

“The rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he lamented.

Obama acknowledged that the expectations are low for his final year in office, but vowed he will not stop working to achieve his policy goals.

“Fixing a broken immigration system, protecting our kids from gun violence, equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage – all these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done,” he said.


Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan listen as President Obama gives his State of the Union address, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP photo)

GOP response

The Republican response to Obama’s speech was delivered by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who has been rumored as a possible vice presidential choice for the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

Governor Haley accused the president of not living up to his “soaring words.”

“As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We’re feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities,” Haley said.

“Even worse, we are facing the most dangerous terrorist threat our nation has seen since September 11th, and this president appears either unwilling or unable to deal with it. Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction. That direction is what I want to talk about tonight,” she added.


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The Gambella Farmer Who Took on UK

Employees of Saudi Star rice farm work in a paddy in Gambella, Ethiopia. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)

The Guardian

By Ben Rawlence

Tuesday 12 January 2016

One day in late 2010, a farmer – I will call him Opik – woke up in his village in the remote Ethiopian province of Gambella. In this lush lowland area of savanna bordering South Sudan, the semi-nomadic Anuak people have lived for centuries, cultivating sorghum and maize, swimming in the river and gathering nuts, berries and fruits from the trees and wild honey from the forest. “It was paradise,” Opik recalled.

The Anuak have an intimate relationship with their landscape. Their highest traditional authority is a spiritual leader called the wat-ngomi, who must sanction any human intervention in nature. Some trees are deemed sacred and cannot be cut down. Spirits live in certain sites and even the boundaries of their territory are inscribed with religious meaning. Everyone knows where the land of one community ends and that of another begins. This intimacy is reflected in their language: “How are you?” in the Anuak language is piny bede nidi, which literally translates as “how is the earth?” The reply is piny ber jak (“the earth is fine”) or piny rac (“the earth is bad”).

That morning, the earth was bad. Officials from the regional government in Gambella, accompanied by soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) had come to tell Opik and the other inhabitants of the village to leave. It was not the first time they had come. Earlier in the year there had been several meetings. The government had arrived with police and militias and informed the residents that they were to be moved to a new location. There was a national plan called “villagisation” and Gambella was in the first phase.

The officials had explained that the purpose of the relocations was to cluster communities together in places where the government promised to provide a new school, a clinic, a borehole and a grinding mill. In time, the new settlements would be better-connected to the rest of the country via new roads, they said. The officials also promised to provide a grader to clear the land at the new site and make it ready for planting.

Read more at The Guardian »


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Insider’s Guide to Shopping in Addis (CNN)

Hamere Eleni Demissie is the founder of Actuel Urban Living which makes contemporary furniture in Ethiopia.

CNN

BY Eliza Anyangwe

January 12, 2016

With the headquarters of the African Union located in Ethiopia’s capital city, as well as an award-winning airline and a rapidly-growing economy, Addis Ababa is increasingly recognized as a political and economic hub in Africa.

Now, with its rich cultural and artistic heritage, a new generation of Ethiopians are trying to put Addis on the world’s retail map.

Luxury brands and boutiques

Abai Schulze is one of these entrepreneurs. Her brand, Zaaf, sells a delectable range of handmade leather handbags and accessories. With an online store and stockists in Europe and the US, it’s hard to believe that the business was started just over two years ago, or that Schulze — who is 27– grew up in an orphanage.

Born in remote Gishen in northeastern Ethiopia, Schulze’s life took a very different turn when she was adopted by an American family at age 11. That hard start would give her the desire to make change happen in her native Ethiopia. “I grew up in Texas but always had the desire to come back and start a business,” Schulze says. “I knew I wanted to be in the creative space and create jobs in Ethiopia so Zaaf was a combination of passion and opportunity.”

Today, Zaaf which means tree in Amharic, employs 17 people — 10 of which are artisans — but the team often swells to many times its size. “We outsource when we have large orders,” Schulze explains.


Abai Shculze, founder of Ethiopian accessories brand Zaaf (Photo: CNN)


Amelsa Yazew, (L) founder of baby boutique Little Gabies poses with Tensae who works in the shop. (CNN)

Read more and view photos at CNN.com »


Related:
Meet Abai Schulze: Owner of Zaaf Collection, a Luxury Handbag Brand from Ethiopia (TADIAS)

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Ethiopia Skate Photo Journal

The following article is written by Metasebia Yoseph, Founder of Design Week Addis Ababa, for NATAAL.com. (Photos: Rudi Geyser)

NATAAL

Photography Rudi Geyser
Words by Metasebia Yoseph

The skateboarding crew inspiring the country’s youth to conquer Addis Ababa’s streets

Ethiopia Skate is one of the key organisations responsible for bolstering this fresh scene taking hold of the country’s youth. Although primarily based in Addis Ababa, on an open pocket of concrete originally intended as parking for taxicabs in the Old Airport Sar Bet area, the group also activates skate spots around Ethiopia. Since its inception in 2014, Ethiopia Skate has worked to provide access to skateboarding equipment and spaces where members from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds can “just skate.” Like Nike’s iconic motto, this minimalist ethos fuels their urban conquests. With each new push, kickflip and ollie, founders and skateboarding enthusiasts Addisu Hailemichael, Sean Stromsoe, and Abenezer Temesgen, hope to build not only confidence and creativity within their followers, but also a deep sense of community.

Read the full article and view the photos at NATAAL.com »


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Ethiopia’s Ongoing Protests & Crackdown

(Photo: Radio France International)

RFI

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

At least 150 people have been killed in an ongoing deadly crackdown against protests in Ethiopia, according to rights activists and opposition groups. Demonstrators in the Oromia region have been protesting for the past six weeks against the government’s plans to extend the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa.

“I am worried,” says Eyasped Tesfaye, a member of the opposition Blue Party, saying it is taboo to talk about the reported 150 people allegedly killed by Ethiopian security forces in the capital. “The people in the Oromia region are under martial law,” he adds.

Tesfaye is referring to the ongoing protests that have been attributed to Qeerroo, the national youth movement for freedom and democracy, which is protesting against the alleged land-grabbing underway around Addis Ababa.

Oromia, the largest region in Ethiopia with some 27 million people, includes the capital.

Although the government has imposed a near total media blackout in the capital, including confiscating satellite dishes, those protesting have been able to send videos, photos and messages to the diaspora about the alleged brutality. Many of the photos show Ethiopians with their hands raised, their wrists crossed, a sign which has become a symbol of the protests.

Read more at Radio France International (RFI) English »


Related:
White House: US Wants Journalists Detained in Ethiopia Set Free (VOA)
US urges Ethiopia to free jailed journalists (Daily Mail)
White House says concerned by arrest of journalists in Ethiopia (Reuters)
In Ethiopia a Second Journalist is Arrested in a Week, Zone 9 Bloggers Summoned (BSN)
Professor Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests in Ethiopia
Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: What If People Were Really Free?

(Photo: Reuters)

The Economist | From the print edition

Ethiopia is poised to take off. But to fly, the government must set the people free

ADDIS ABABA AND LALIBELA — THE Ben Abeba restaurant is a spiral-shaped concrete confection perched on a mountain ridge near Lalibela, an Ethiopian town known for its labyrinth of 12th-century churches hewn out of solid rock. The view is breathtaking: as the sun goes down, a spur of the Great Rift Valley stretches out seemingly miles below in subtly changing hues of green and brown, rolling away, fold after fold, as far as the eye can see. An immense lammergeyer, or bearded vulture, floats past, showing off its russet trousers.

The staff, chivvied jovially along by an intrepid retired Scottish schoolmarm who created the restaurant a few years ago with an Ethiopian business partner, wrap yellow and white shawls around the guests against the sudden evening chill. The most popular dish is a spicy Ethiopian version of that old British staple, shepherd’s pie, with minced goat’s meat sometimes replacing lamb. Ben Abeba, whose name is a fusion of Scots and Amharic, Ethiopia’s main language, is widely considered the best eatery in the highlands surrounding Lalibela, nearly 700km (435 miles) north of Addis Ababa, the capital, by bumpy road.

Yet the obstacles faced by its owners illustrate what go-ahead locals and foreign investors must overcome if Ethiopia is to take off. Electricity is sporadic. Refrigeration is ropey, so fish is off the menu. So are butter and cheese; Susan Aitchison, the restaurant’s resilient co-owner, won’t use the local milk, as it is unpasteurised. Honey, mangoes, guava, papaya and avocados, grown on farmland leased to the enterprising pair, who have planted 30,000 trees, are delicious. All land belongs to the state, so it cannot be used as collateral for borrowing, which is one reason why commercial farming has yet to reach Lalibela. Consequently supplies of culinary basics are spotty. Local chickens are too scrawny. The government will not yet allow retailers such as South Africa’s Shoprite or Kenya’s Nakumatt to set up in Ethiopia, let alone in Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Read more at The Economist »


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US Stops Flying Drones From Ethiopia

The U.S. Air Force has ended flying armed drones on counterterrorism missions from its remote base in Arba Minch, Ethi­o­pia, a U.S. Embassy official in Addis Ababa told the Associated Press. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Associated Press

By Elias Meseret

The U.S. government has shut down its drone operation base in southern Ethiopia, an embassy official announced.

A decision has been reached that the base in Arba Minch, 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Addis Ababa, is no longer necessary, embassy spokesman David Kennedy told The Associated Press by email.

“U.S. military personnel are no longer in Arba Minch,” Kennedy said. “In our ongoing bilateral discussions on defense cooperation, we reached a mutual decision that our presence in Arba Minch is not required at this time.”

Read more »


Related:
White House Confirms Existence of U.S. Military Drones in Ethiopia

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White House: US Wants Journalists Detained in Ethiopia Set Free

The White House on Wednesday voiced concern about the arrest of journalists in Ethiopia and urged that country's government to release people imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression - Reuters.

VOA News

The United States has urged Ethiopia to free all journalists detained by the state and stop using its controversial anti-terror law to silence dissent.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday the U.S. is “deeply concerned by the recent arrests of other journalists in Ethiopia.” He urged “the Ethiopian government to release journalists and all others imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression.”

In October, Washington welcomed the release of a group of dissident bloggers and journalists, but on Wednesday the White House warned Ethiopia against new arrests.

Price said Washington “has consistently applauded Ethiopia for being a model and a voice for development in Africa.” But he cautioned Addis Ababa that “such gains must rest on a foundation of democratic governance and respect for human rights if they are to be sustainable.”

Price did not name the reporters the United States is concerned about, but he spoke amid a harsh Ethiopian crackdown on dissent.

On Saturday, Human Rights Watch reported that Ethiopian security forces had killed at least 75 demonstrators during weeks of regional anti-government protests.


Related:
US urges Ethiopia to free jailed journalists (Daily Mail)
White House says concerned by arrest of journalists in Ethiopia (Reuters)
In Ethiopia a Second Journalist is Arrested in a Week, Zone 9 Bloggers Summoned (BSN)
Professor Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests in Ethiopia
Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan

President of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum Beyene Petros during press conference in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopian government forces have killed more than 80 people in the past four weeks in protests in the country’s Oromia region, an Ethiopian opposition party charged Wednesday.

“Trigger-happy government forces have killed more than 80 peaceful protesters in Ethiopia during the past four weeks,” Beyene Petros, president of the party told reporters, adding that hundreds of others were wounded and arrested. “We are still discovering disfigured bodies in various locations. The government has continued its brutal killings so we call on the international community and donors to step in and force the government to stop these inhumane actions.”

Party officials provided names of the alleged victims to The Associated Press.

The government has rejected, for the second time, the opposition party’s request to hold a public demonstration on Dec. 27 to protest the controversial Addis Ababa Master Plan, the opposition leader said.

The opposition party’s charge comes after a report last week by Human Rights Watch that said government forces killed at least 75 people protesting the government plan to incorporate some rural areas into the capital city, Addis Ababa.

An Ethiopian opposition party said more than 80 people have been killed by government forces during massive protests in the past four weeks in the country’s Oromia region, the biggest of the country’s federal states. The Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum, a coalition of four opposition parties, has blamed the government on Sunday for the killings and has called for a criminal investigation.

Read more »


Related:

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

News Anchor Arrested After TV Station Covers Ethiopia Protests (CPJ)

In Wolenkomi, Ethiopia some 60km west of Addis Ababa on December 15, 2015 after protesters were shot dead by security forces (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

CPJ

December 22, 2015

Nairobi -The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in Ethiopia to release news anchor Fikadu Mirkana. Fikadu, who works for the state-run broadcaster Oromia Radio and TV, was arrested at his Addis Ababa home on Saturday morning, according to news reports.

CPJ could not determine the reason for Fikadu’s arrest. It comes as Oromia Radio and TV has, in recent weeks, covered protests against a plan to expand the Ethiopian capital, in a move that campaigners say would displace hundreds of thousands of farmers, according to news reports. Dozens of protesters have been killed during clashes with police during the unrest in the regional state of Oromia, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

“Journalists have a vital role to play in ensuring the flow of information, both from the Ethiopian government and also, critically, from those who will be affected by its decisions,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine in New York. “We call on authorities to release Fikadu Mirkana immediately.”

It is not clear where Fikadu is being held and neither his family nor his lawyers have been allowed access to him, an Addis Ababa-based journalist, who has spoken with Fikadu’s family and who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, told CPJ.

The Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for details about Fikadu’s arrest.

Read more at CPJ.org »


Related:

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias to Launch Mobile App

(Image: Tadias logo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Tadias Magazine is proud to announce the upcoming launch of our mobile app in early 2016, which allows our audience to access original Tadias content in audio format. Through the Tadias Audio App you will be able to access interviews, highlights of arts, business and sports-related news, event announcements, as well as breaking news from major international news outlets. Our new audio app provides radio-like experience to our audience as well as make our content more accessible and in line with universal design principles.

In the meantime, you can listen to a few clips on-air by calling 605.475.4444 or on Soundcloud.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

2016 Grammy Awards: The Weeknd

Abel Tesfaye (the Weeknd) performs on NBC's "Today" show on May 7, 2015, in New York. (AP photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) is one of top three music stars who has been nominated in multiple categories for the 2016 Grammy Awards.

The Ethiopian-Canadian artist received seven nominations including the categories of Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance.

The Los Angeles Times reports: “This all comes from artists today who are emboldened, who are fearless and who are not willing, or wanting to be, sort of put in a nice little box with a bow on it,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told The Times. “Artists today have the ability to be exposed to multiple kinds of genres in music, and we’ll give credit to the world of technology we live in that gives easy access to whatever direction you want to head in.”

“With more than 400 nominations across 83 categories for 2016, there is plenty more recognition spread out among the music community” says the LA Times.

Last month The Weeknd won the 2015 American Music Awards for favorite album in Soul and R&B.

The 2016 Grammy Awards ceremony will be held on Monday, February 15, 2016 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. ‘


Related:
The Weeknd First Winner at 2015 American Music Awards
The Unstoppable Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd): Rebel with Harmony
The Weeknd Interview: Abel Says Grew Up Listening to Aster Aweke & Mulatu Astatke
The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) to Guest Star in TV’s Hottest Hip-Hop Drama ‘Empire’
Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World? (NY Times)
Inspired by Michael Jackson, The Weeknd Goes from Rebellious Songwriter to Chorus Lover
The reclusive artist talks ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ (Radio.com)

With dark tales of sex and drugs, is the Weeknd the next face of R&B? (The Guardian)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: Drought Conditions Worsening

This soil moisture map by Gro-Intelligence shows that the ground is getting drier in many parts of Ethiopia.

VOA News

By Anita Powell

JOHANNESBURG — Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in 50 years. Save the Children has launched an urgent call for food aid but says that is only a temporary fix and world leaders meeting in Paris must act on climate change.

Ethiopia’s government says a staggering 10.1 million people will face critical food shortages in 2016 — and that more than half of those are children. Adding to that, an estimated 400,000 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition — a condition that can lead to stunting and physical and mental problems.

John Graham, Save the Children’s Country Director in Ethiopia, says this year’s crisis is the result of a cascade of meteorological dominoes — a severe drought related to the El Nino weather phenomenon ruined two major expected rainfalls this year. As a result, the next harvest is not expected to come until June of next year.

Spoking to VOA News from Addis Ababa, Graham said: “So we’re seeing one thing piling on top of another and it’s really affecting the rural population very badly.”

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that around 80 percent of Ethiopians work in the agriculture sector — and most of those are subsistence farmers who rely on rain-fed farming. That is part of the reason that this nation sees food crises time and time again — farmers lack the means and the knowledge to work around weather challenges.

Save the Children is appealing for about $100 million in donor aid from the international community — but he says this year is the slowest response he’s seen to such a crisis in his 18 years in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government has already committed a record sum — $192 million.

Graham says he also wants to see bigger, more meaningful, change coming from world leaders who are currently meeting in Paris for climate change talks.

“I’d say that we should be spending a lot more effort on adaptation of people who are badly affected by climate change, and helping them to transition to new livelihoods, to be able to cope with the impact of climate change,” he said. “Because so much of the focus doesn’t seem to be on that area at all. It’s on other things that are worthwhile, like making sure that there is a reduction in the carbon emissions and so on. But we should also care about those people, especially the poorest people, who are dramatically impacted by these climate changes, and why aren’t we investing more in helping them to adapt?”

This is one of many questions that climate change negotiators are asking this week. Developing countries are pushing to have funding for them to adapt to climate change included in any binding international agreement that comes out of the Paris summit.


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Human Rights Watch: Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia

Federal police clash with student protesters at Haramaya University, Ethiopia, Dec 1, 2015. (Photo: Twitter)

HRW

By Felix Horne

Student protests are spreading throughout Ethiopia’s Oromia region, as people demonstrate against the possibility that Oromo farmers and residents living near the capital, Addis Ababa, could be evicted from their lands without appropriate – or possibly any – compensation. Social media is filled with images of bloodied protesters; there are credible reports of injuries and arrests in a number of towns; and local police have publicly acknowledged that three students have died so far.

The current protests echo the bloody events of April and May 2014, when federal forces fired into groups of largely peaceful Oromo protesters, killing dozens. At least hundreds more students were arrested, and many remain behind bars. Both then and today, the demonstrators are ostensibly protesting the expansion of Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary into the surrounding Oromia region, which protesters fear will displace Oromo farmers from their land. But these protests are about much more: Many Oromos have felt marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments and have often felt unable to voice their concerns over government policies.

Of the student protesters detained in 2014, some have been released. Those I spoke with told me about the torture they endured as part of interrogations. But countless others remain in detention. Some have been charged under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law for their role in the protests; others languish without charge in unknown detention centers and military camps throughout Oromia. This week, five students were convicted of terrorism-related offenses for their role in the protests.

There has been no government investigation into the use of live ammunition and excessive force by security personnel last year.

Ethiopia’s tight restrictions on civil society and media make it difficult to corroborate the current, mounting allegations and the exact details of the ongoing protests emerging from towns like Haramaya, Jarso, Walliso, and Robe. The government may think this strategy of silencing bad news is succeeding. But while the fear of threats and harassment means it is often months before victims and witnesses come forward to reveal what happened in their communities, they eventually do, and the truth will emerge.

The government should ensure that the use of excessive force by its security personnel stops immediately. It should then support an independent and impartial inquiry into the conduct of security forces in the current protests – and last year’s as well. Those responsible for serious abuses should be fairly prosecuted. This would be the best way for the Ethiopian government to show its concern about the deaths and injuries inflicted on the students, that it does not condone the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters, and that those who break the law are appropriately punished.


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

AU to Introduce an African Passport

Stamps in an African passport. (Photo: Jon Rawlinson/Wikimedia)

This Is Africa

By Arthur Chatora

The African Union has said the continent could soon become borderless with the introduction of an African passport as part of the bloc’s 2063 Agenda. So far, two countries – Rwanda and Mauritius are implementing the plan

The African Union has said the free movement of citizens could be improved with the introduction of an African passport as part of its 2063 Agenda for “a continent with seamless borders”.

AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Dr. Aisha Abdullahi said on Sunday that Africa could soon become borderless and the plan for a single African passport is in progress and so far, two countries – Rwanda and Mauritius – have implemented it, Zegabi reported.

“This would also ensure the free movement of people on the continent,”

“Our people will not have to carry a visa to gain access to other African states. There will be free trade of goods” Dr. Abdullahi said at the #Africities summit.

“We have identified flagship projects, for example, [the introduction] of an African passport to ensure that Africans can move freely to every African state,” Dr. Abdullahi reportedly said.

Read more »


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Science Behind Current Ethiopia Drought & El Niño Explained (Gro-Intel)

"Ethiopia’s ongoing drought has been widely reported as simply being the result of a severe El Niño. And while that appears to be partly true, the reality is a bit more complex," says a report by Gro-Intelligence.

Gro-Intelligence

For several months now, Ethiopia has been creeping towards a slow-onset natural disaster. Grain prices have slinked upward, news reports have grown ominous, aid agencies have quietly sounded their internal alarms, and the Ethiopian government has been buying up cereals on the international market.

Now, finally, the severity of the drought has become clear: the United Nations predicts that a staggering 15 million Ethiopians will be in need of food assistance by early 2016.

And as this drought continues to take shape and wreak havoc on the region, it becomes increasingly important to build a complex and comprehensive understanding of what is happening in the country.

El Niño in Ethiopia

For many, the words “drought” and “famine” are unfortunately still closely associated with “Ethiopia”—an association shaped by the 1983-1985 devastation made famous by the likes of Bob Geldof. And while that catastrophe was rooted in natural disaster, it was exacerbated by man-made disasters as well, with conflict and authoritarianism playing significant roles in the severity and longevity of the drought and famine.

Since 1983-1985, Ethiopia has experienced a number of other drought events, most notably in 1988, 2000, again in 2002- 2003, 2006, 2011, and, of course, 2015.

Read more at gro-intelligence.com »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Story of Walatta Petros: Earliest Known Biography of African Woman

An illustration of Walatta Petros as she “[made spring forth] water while on her way to the wilderness of Waldeba”. (Photograph: MS A, f. 148v c SLUB Mscr.Dresd.Eb.415.e,2)

The Guardian

By Alison Flood

The earliest known book-length biography of an African woman, a 17th-century text detailing the life of the Ethiopian saint Walatta Petros, has been translated into English for the first time.

Walatta Petros was an Ethiopian religious leader who lived from 1592 to 1642. A noblewoman, she left her husband to lead the struggle against the Jesuits’ mission to convert Ethiopian Christians to Roman Catholicism. It was for this that the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwaḥədo Church elevated her to sainthood.

Walatta Petros’s story was written by her disciples in the Gəˁəz language in 1672, after her death. Translator and editor Wendy Laura Belcher, an associate professor at Princeton University, came across the biography while she was studying Samuel Johnson’s translation, A Voyage to Abyssinia. “I saw that Johnson was fascinated by the powerful noble Ethiopian women in the text,” said Belcher. “I was speaking with an Ethiopian priest about this admiration and he told me that the women were admired in Ethiopia as well, where some of them had become saints in the Ethiopian church and had had hagiographies written about them.”

Ten years later, Belcher still remembers how “thrilling” this revelation was. “What? Biographies of powerful African women written by Africans in an African language? And to be able to pair European and African texts about the same encounter? I knew then I wouldn’t rest until I had translated this priceless work into English.”

Read more at The Guardian »


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Drought Dries Ethiopia Dams (Bloomberg)

Ethiopia sees nationwide power cuts while drought dries dams, Bloomberg News reports. (Google Map)

Bloomberg

By William Davison

December 1, 2015

Ethiopia may face further power shortages because of low water levels at dams after a poor rainy season, an official said, following two days of sporadic cuts caused by technical faults at hydropower plants.

Unspecified issues at a substation serving Oromia region’s Gibe 1 and 2 plants, which together can produce as much as 604 megawatts, and a shutdown at the 320-megawatt Tana Beles installation in Amhara state, caused the outages on Nov. 28-29, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy spokesman Bezuneh Tolcha said Monday by phone.

The drought affecting the east of the country that’s left 8.2 million Ethiopians in need of food aid wasn’t related to the outages, though that may change in the coming months unless there’s non-seasonal rainfall, he said.

“There has been a shortage of rain all over country,” he said from the capital, Addis Ababa. “The dams have not collected as much water as they can collect.”

Read more at Bloomberg.com »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

New Album ‘Out Of Addis’ Celebrates Ethiopia’s Diverse Musical Traditions

Album cover for "Out of Addis." (Image: Sheba Sound and Paradise Bangkok)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In complement to the more famous “Ethio-Funk” and “Swinging-Addis” sounds of an earlier era, popularized by the Éthiopiques CD series, a new album called Out Of Addis was released last week by the Ethiopian label Sheba Sound in collaboration with Anglo-Thai company Paradise Bangkok bringing forth an eclectic collection of traditional Ethiopian recordings hailing from the country’s vast rural areas.

“This album is the product of more than six years of music digging, road trips, recordings and events, from the northern rocky expanses of Tigray to the central forested highlands of Oromia to the western sweltering grasslands of Gambella,” Paradise Bangkok said in a press release.

“Ethiopia has over 80 ethnic groups, each with its own deep-rooted language and culture. Contemporary musicians living outside Addis Abeba, the capital, have had few opportunities to record or play their mesmerising sounds for visitors,” the press release stated. “Sheba Sound, a label and sound system collective based in Addis, wanted to redress this by recording and releasing little-known classics to Ethiopian and foreign audiences.”

According to the label: “This album showcases northern-based rhythms such as the Tigray, Amhara and Gurage beat. The song ‘Mal Ameni’ distinguishes itself by coming from the Oromo people.”

“This music touches the tip of the iceberg,” the Thai record company said. “There are so many more unique, intoxicating sounds to be shared, testifying to the diversity that lives on.”

Video: Out Of Addis (Official Teaser)


Learn more at Paradise Bangkok’s website.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Soleyana S. Gebremichael and Endalk Chala of Zone 9 bloggers at CPJ's 25th International Press Freedom Awards ceremony in New York City on Tuesday, November 24th, 2015. (Photo credit: Jeffrey Phipps/Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, November 27th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Zone 9 bloggers Soleyana S. Gebremichael and Endalk Chala were in New York City recently to accept the 2015 International Press Freedom Awards on behalf of their colleagues in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian bloggers were recognized with the prestigious media award last Tuesday along with other journalists from Malaysia, Paraguay and Syria.

Below is an audio excerpt from an interview that Soleyana and Endalk gave to Tadias Magazine during the award ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City on November 24th:


Related:
Ethiopia’s Zone 9 Bloggers Honored with International Press Freedom Awards

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Audio: Filmmaker Mel Tewahade on His ‘Point Four’ Documentary

Mel Tewahade, producer of the Point Four documentary series, pictured at Oklahoma State University's Point Four Room. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur Mel Tewahade was in Washington, D.C. this week for a private screening of his documentary series, Point Four.

The U.S. government program Point Four, which was eventually replaced by the current United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was a foreign policy initiative launched during the era of President Truman. Mel points out that in the 1950′s and 60′s the program helped establish Ethiopia’s first agricultural high school in Jimma, known as the Jimma Agricultural and Technical School (JATS), and later the Harar and Debre Brehan Teacher Training Institutes as well as the Alemaya Agricultural College (now Haramaya University).

Point Four also assisted in setting up the Ethiopian Highway Authority and Malaria Control Agency. USAID still funds many programs there, including projects related to population control, tuberculosis prevention, family planning, reproductive health, newborn care, water sanitation, primary education, teacher training, scholarship for young girls, and strengthening good governance.

In the following interview with Tadias conducted over the phone on Monday morning Mel, who resides in Denver, Colorado, discusses the screening of his Point Four documentary.


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Ethiopia Seeks Help to Survive Drought

FILE - An unidentified government official sits on sacks of wheat donated by the U.S. at a food distribution point near Jijiga, eastern Ethiopia, Dec. 1, 2009. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Drought has ruined this year’s harvest for many Ethiopian farmers. In a country where 85 percent of the people are farmers, millions are in need of aid.

The government has purchased nearly 1 million metric tons of wheat at a cost of about $280 million to get through the next three to four months.

Government spokesman Getachew Redda said the government is in control of the crisis, but is also focused on measures that will reduce the impact of future droughts.

“From a strategic point of view,” Redda said, “the government will continue to further enhance its efforts to develop underground water resources and develop irrigation mechanisms which do not have to depend on the varieties of weather.”

Experts believe the reduction in rainfall is due to the El Nino weather phenomenon. While cycles of drought are expected every 10 to 12 years, the frequency of droughts and erratic rainfalls is expected to increase because of global climate change.

Wagayehu Bekele, climate director at Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency, said getting better information to farmers so they can adjust their schedules is a priority.

“Farmers have traditional wisdom,” Bekele said. “They know when to sow, they know when to harvest, when to cultivate. But the problem now is that traditional wisdom is not working anymore. The problem is, even if the rain starts early, they don’t start sowing or planting. Why? They say it’s not the normal time to plant.”

Modernizing traditional practices is part of a short-term solution. Wagayehu thinks that focusing on sustainable ways of farming is just as important.

Agriculture makes up almost half of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product. The lack of rain has severely affected the lowlands and livestock.

Araya Asfaw, director of the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center and Network, said not enough information about the effect of climate change on Africa is available.

“The model for Africa is not as good because we don’t have enough data, meteorological data, to predict what will happen,” Asfaw said. “We need to have more meteorological stations all over the place.”

Drought and hunger have been sensitive topics in Ethiopia since the infamous famine in the early 1980s that killed over 400,000 people. The government says that the current drought has not killed anyone yet, but that about 8 million people need assistance. The United Nations estimates that number will nearly double in the coming months.


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia?

Satellite meteorological data for Ethiopia in the above set of maps and graphics from FEWS NET shows that localised areas in eastern and northern parts of the country are as dry as they have been for 30 years. (IRIN)

IRIN NEWS

November 19th, 2015

Alarm bells are ringing for a food emergency in Ethiopia. The UN says 15 million people will need help over the coming months. The government, wary of stigma and therefore hesitant to ask for help, has nevertheless said more than eight million Ethiopians need food assistance. Extra imports to stem the crisis are already pegged at more than a million tonnes of grain, beyond the government’s means. Inevitably, comment and media coverage compare the current situation with 1984 – the year Ethiopia’s notorious famine hit the headlines. Reports suggest this is the worst drought in 30 years. One declares it a “code red” drought. So how bad actually is it?

The country of close to 100 million people is huge, spread over an area of more than a million square kilometres that ranges from semi-desert to swamp to mountain ranges and fertile farmland. The weather systems and agricultural patterns are diverse and complex. Even within the higher-altitude areas of the country, the most densely populated, the typical rainy seasons vary and crops are grown at different times of the year. This year, the weather has been prone to even greater variation due to the global climate phenomenon El Niño, last seen in 1997-1998.

The weather is only one part of the equation in whether people go hungry. Politics, economics, the availability of seeds and fertiliser, conflict, trade and labour markets, population pressure, social habits, and a host of other factors matter too.

Read more at IRIN NEWS »


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Zone9 Blogger Zelalem Kibret Prevented From Leaving Ethiopia to Accept Award

Zelalem Kibret was one of the six Zone9 bloggers who were released in July 2015 after being held for 15 months. He has been banned from traveling to France to accept the 2015 RSF Press Freedom Prize. (RSF)

RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is worried about a travel ban imposed on the blogger Zelalem Kibret, which prevented him from flying to France to receive this year’s RSF Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category on behalf of the Zone9 blogger collective.

As Zelalem Kibret was about to set off for Paris on 16 November, the Ethiopian authorities confiscated his passport and prevented him from boarding his plane. Immigration officials said he could not leave Ethiopia because he and other Zone9 members had previously been arrested.

RSF has repeatedly tried to obtain more information about the travel ban from the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and Paris, but without success.

“We are surprised and disturbed by the travel ban imposed on Zelalem Kibret,” said Clea Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.

“No restriction was placed on his movements when he was released in July, and the rest of the collective was cleared of all terrorism charges in October. We do not understand why his passport has been confiscated and we urge the relevant authorities to quickly restore his rights.”

When Kibret complied with instructions to go to the police the next day, he was told that an investigation was under way and that his passport would not be returned until it was completed.

Read more »

—-
Related:
Zone 9 Bloggers Recognized With International Press Freedom Awards
International Press Freedom Awards Goes to Zone 9 Bloggers from Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Watch: Ethiopian Uber Driver Attacked by Passenger Who Mistook Him for a Muslim

Samson Woldemichael, an Uber driver from Ethiopia, was attacked by a passenger in North Carolina on Sunday, apparently because the attacker thought Samson was a Muslim, reports WBTV. (Video: WBTV News)

The Grio

North Carolina Uber driver from Ethiopia was attacked by a passenger on Sunday morning when the passenger claimed the driver was Muslim.

“He asked me if I was a Muslim. I said I was not a Muslim,” said the victim, Samson Woldemichael. “I was driving and he hit me while I was driving.”

Woldemichael explained that the drive itself had been peaceful but that when they arrived at the drop-off point, the passenger became belligerent.

He said he’s gonna shoot me right in the face. He’s gonna strangle me,” Woldemichael told WBTV. “I asked him why. He was calling me too many bad word names… insulting me. He told me I was a Muslim.”

“I told him in the first place I was not a Muslim. It’s not right to generalize people and do that,” he said.

After the passenger threatened to kill him, Woldemichael asked the passenger to leave the car, but the man refused. Woldemichael then began to drive around.

Watch: Ethiopian Uber driver attacked by passenger who mistook him for a Muslim (WBTV 3 News)
WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Read more at The Grio »


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Ethiopian Airlines to Fly All-Female Operated Flight on Addis-Bangkok Route

Ethiopian Airlines will operate an all-women crew flight on November 19, 2015 from Addis to Bangkok. (ET)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Airlines says it will fly an all-female operated flight to Asia this week to publicize its diverse workforce, which the company states is made up of 30% women employees.

The airline’s flight scheduled for November 19th on the Addis Ababa – Bangkok route “is aimed at crystalizing Ethiopian corporate conviction of ‘Women Empowerment for a Sustainable Growth’ and it is the first of its kind in Ethiopian 70 years of service,” the press release said.

“This historical flight will be operated by an all-female crew led by female flight deck, crew members and senior female executives onboard that flight.”

The on-ground flight preparations will also be conducted by an all-female crew including in “Cabin Operations, Airport Operations, Ramp Operations, On-board Logistics, Aviation Safety & Security, Ticket Offices, Catering, and Global Call Center” as well as those working as “Flight Dispatcher, Load Controller, and Air Traffic Controllers.”

Read more at ethiopianairlines.com »


Related:
Zimbabwe’s Airlines Starts All-Female Operated Flight

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Selam Bekele, an Oakland Afrofuturist

Selam Bekele, an Ethiopian painter, musician, filmmaker and Afrofuturist. (Video by Benjamin Michel/KQED)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, November 16th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Last year we highlighted Ethiopian multimedia artist and experimental filmmaker Selam Bekele who was awarded a creative grant by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to create a collection of work that deals with belonging and migration for the East African Diaspora in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For the project Selam — who had recently graduated from the University of California in Davis with degrees in Visual Communications and Film Production — made her first short film entitled Prince of Nowhere, based on her personal reflections about the exiled life and death of Prince Alemayehu Tewodros, the son of Emperor Tewodros who was taken to England after the death of his father.

Since then the artist, who now lives in Brooklyn, has exhibited her work in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.

“Now I am working on a whole new series incorporating many Ethiopian folktales and concepts,” Selam tells Tadias.

Her new body of work, which was featured on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Art Beat program last week, is called “Afrofuturism.”

“Bekele described Afrofuturism, a growing artistic movement, as a mix of science fiction and social justice,” PBS notes. “The movement uses elements of fantasy and magical realism to examine narratives from the African Diaspora and construct stories of the future.”

“I’m seeking to break through definition and break through time.. to find stories that go beyond that and speak to the human spirit,” Selam told PBS.

“Afrofuturism is especially prevalent in the Bay Area, and I think that it’s a response to lack of place and lack of belonging for the Black community,” Selam said. “I think what I’m trying to do creatively is to create platforms of home and remove the stigma of not necessarily being in one place in one time, and not necessarily having one place to call home.”

Watch: Selam Bekele, an Oakland Afrofuturist | KQED Arts


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This is no ordinary year in Ethiopia, The Drought is a ‘Code Red’

Evidence of the severity of this year’s drought is the unusual presence of camel carcasses, which are normally an extremely hardy animal well-suited to this environment. (Photo: Kyle Degraw)

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Author: John Graham, Save the Children’s Ethiopia Country Director

This is no ordinary year in Ethiopia; this is a ‘code red’ and it needs to be treated like one

On the dusty plains outside Erer in Ethiopia’s east, the rotting carcasses of cows, goats, donkeys and camels bake under the hot African sun, fodder for hungry vultures and stealthy hyenas.

Until recently 40-year-old Jama and his family called these lands home, and had done for generations.

But about a month ago Jama, his wife, mother and their 10 children made the difficult choice to sell their possessions and abandon these lands and their pastoral life. They were forced out when all but 10 of their 450 goats and cattle died from the drought.

Now they live in a small shack in one of the newly-minted informal settlements in town and rely on support from the government and Save the Children to survive.

“This is the worst drought in my life, my father’s life, even my grandfather’s life,” Jama said. “No one can remember anything like this before, we weren’t prepared for it.”

Livestock are the lifeblood of these arid low-lands, their milk providing a vital source of nutrition, while the animals themselves are a commodity for trade. Here wealth is defined by the number of cows and goats one owns rather than money.

So far this year, hundreds of thousands of livestock have perished from the drought in Ethiopia according to local government officials, with many more expected to die before year’s end.

Jama and his family couldn’t have seen this coming. At the beginning of 2015 rainfall forecasts showed a relatively normal year ahead. It was only in May after the smaller Belg rains failed that an El Nino weather pattern was declared, which is now predicted to be the strongest on record.

This failure of the Belg meant the planting season was limited, and when the typically strong Kiremt rains between July and September were poor too, in some areas for the first time since 1984, the alarm bells well and truly sounded.

As a result, the rate of severe malnutrition is increasing rapidly, particularly among children, with more than 350,000 children expecting to need life-saving therapeutic treatment this year alone.

By January the United Nations (UN) have predicted that 15 million Ethiopians will need food aid.

Such is the magnitude of this emergency, the Ethiopian government has revised up its emergency funding appeal from US$237m in August to US$600m to the end of 2015.

Time is running out to procure enough food to meet these needs, let alone actually putting hand in pocket and paying for it.

And this is before fully measuring the humanitarian impact of the poor Kiremt rains – the worst in 30 years for much of the Ethiopian highlands, which produce 90 percent of the nation’s crops.

In these fertile lands, which stretch north from just outside Addis Ababa and cover an area roughly the size of New Zealand, farmers are staring at empty fields instead of harvesting crops like teff, wheat, barley and sorghum.

Ethiopia’s global request for help couldn’t come at a worse time, as other large scale humanitarian crises unfold in places like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Nepal and South Sudan. But we cannot turn our backs on Ethiopia – we must learn from the region’s history books.

You need only look back to the Horn of Africa drought in 2011, which affected 13 million people and saw more than 250,000 die from hunger in Somalia.

Back then the early warning signs began to emerge a full year before, yet the international community took till the peak of the crisis to act at scale.

But it was too late, much of the damage had been done.

In the years that followed this scandalous failure of the international system, a range of preventative measures were put in place to ensure history did not repeat, including the implementation of large-scale drought resilience programs and strong policy commitments from donor countries.

But here we are again. This drought is now forecast to be the strongest in Ethiopia in 30 years, yet funding commitments from international donors are worryingly low.

The Ethiopian government has responded resoundingly, unlocking US$192 million in funding and showing real leadership. They expect to be able to handle most of the impact of the emergency themselves.

Aid agencies are helping too. Save the Children is on the ground in 101 out of 142 of the worst-affected districts providing support including food, water, medicine and nutrition supplements for children suffering from malnutrition.

The international community must heed the warning and act urgently.

This is no ordinary year in Ethiopia; this is a ‘code red’ and it needs to be treated like one.


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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Over 9,000 Ethiopians Waiting for Years in Gondar and Addis Ababa to Move to Israel

Israel has granted permission to over 9000 members of the last remaining Bete Israel community in Ethiopia to migrate to the Jewish State. (Photo: Ethiopians arriving in Israel in 2008/Photograph via Haaretz)

THE JERUSALEM POST

By SAM SOKOL

Updated: 11/16/2015

The cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved an Interior Ministry proposal to resume aliya from Ethiopia, which was suspended in 2013.

Around 9,000 people have been waiting in Addis Ababa and Gondar transit camps for the past several years in the hopes of making their way to the Jewish state. However, Jerusalem closed its doors in 2013 following a ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport at which officials declared the “end” of Ethiopian aliya.

The fate of the prospective immigrants has been a matter of some debate, with Ethiopian-Israeli activists protesting what they saw as the breaking up of families.

Read more at JPost.com »


Related:
Israel okays immigration for last group of Ethiopian Falash Mura (Reuters)
Israel Set to Greenlight Final Aliyah of Ethiopia’s Falashmura Community (Haaretz)

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Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas

The government in Ethiopia has begun supplying emergency food assistance to drought affected populations in the northern and northeastern regions of the country, the Associated Press reports. (Photo: BBC video still)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s government has started distributing rations of wheat and cooking oil to people facing hunger in the northern and northeastern parts of the country.

The government is now supplying 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of wheat and a half liter (1.3 gallons) of cooking oil per adult in the areas hit by drought conditions, Mitiku Kassa, secretary of the Ethiopian Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate Wednesday.

More than 8 million people require urgent food assistance and the Ethiopian government says there is enough food aid to feed them through December. The government recently appealed to the international community for $596 million in food assistance.

The food insecurity is fueled by the failure of Ethiopia’s spring rains that resulted in poor crop yields.

The U.N. says the scale of the developing emergency exceeds resources available so far.

Read more »

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

When Will Ethiopia Lose Its Famine Image?

This week’s BBC report has been described as “sensational” by the Ethiopian Embassy in London, but the UN says Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in decades impacting more than fifteen million people. (BBC)

BBC

By Amelia Butterly

“There will not be famine of any sort, let alone anything remotely like the magnitude of that of 1984,” says the Ethiopian Embassy in London.

For people aged over 30, that sentence, coming from Ethiopian officials, holds a special kind of meaning.

Because those people saw the TV reports in the 1980s showing thousands of children and adults starving to death.

Now, three decades on, the United Nations is warning that 15 million Ethiopians will need food aid by 2016.

This week’s BBC report has been described as “sensational” by the Ethiopian Embassy.

In it, one man who lived through the famines of the 1980s says he expects the same thing will happen to Ethiopia again in the coming months.

Read more at BBC News »

Related:
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia’s Diaspora Remittances Growing

A new World Bank data shows remittances to Ethiopia from its Diaspora has increased in the past couple of years and expected to grow by over 50 per cent in the next three years. (Getty Images)

TVC NEWS

The World Bank says remittance flows to Kenya and Ethiopia from the diaspora has significantly increased compared to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Central Bank of Kenya says the 12-month cumulative inflows from the diaspora to August increased by more than 9 % to 1.5 million dollars, from the 1 million dollars it recorded in the same period last year.

The National Bank of Ethiopia says the official receipt of remittances hit one and half billion dollars about 88 % jump over its value in the previous year.

Global remittances sent home from some 250 million migrants are projected to grow by about one percent to $ 588 billion.

Read more »


Related:
Kenya and Ethiopia Buck the Trend for Africa’s Drop in Inflows

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Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine

The government says that 8.2m people (around 8% of Ethiopia’s population) have been affected by drought.

The Economist

Nov 2nd 2015

NORTH WOLLO — JUMPING a fence of prickly pears, Gumat Hussain, a local chief in the driest district of North Wollo, Ethiopia’s most drought-prone province, walks gloomily through his sorghum. “The crops have not produced grain. They are useless even for the animals,” he sighs. “My oxen and goats will soon die. Our people will wait only for the government to respond.”

In many lowland parts of North Wollo, a day’s drive north of Addis Ababa, the capital, the annual midsummer rains lasted for under a week. This was because of a particularly strong El Niño effect, which this year made swathes of Africa drier than usual, along with a longer-term drying of Ethiopia’s climate, especially in the north and east. Now it is harvest time and the tall, green crops belie their fruitlessness.

Ethiopian officials say that this failed harvest is as bad as the catastrophic droughts that befell Ethiopia in 1965-66, 1972-73 and 1984-85, killing more than 1m people in all. But a sophisticated food-security system means that poor Ethiopians these days can cope much better with drought than before.

“Many, many people died in the past. But we now have early-warning systems and programmes to mobilise grain from areas of surplus to areas of scarcity,” says Mohammed Yasin, head of Disaster Prevention and Food Security in North Wollo, a province whose name was once synonymous with famine. “We will avoid this problem without evacuating areas.”

Read more at The Economist »


Related:
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

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Photos: Addis Ababa’s Skate Community

Addis Ababa's growing skateboarding scene is documented by photographer Daniel Reiter. (Courtesy photo)

Okay Africa

In January, Berlin-based photographer Daniel Reiter fell in love with the growing skate community in Addis Ababa. It was there that he teamed up with the grassroots youth skateboard movement known as Ethiopia Skate. Soon, Reiter found himself documenting the city’s skatelife and collecting skateboards and streetwear for donations.

Reiter’s pictures–over thirty of which were featured in his debut art exhibition this month in Vienna–encapsulate the hopes and dreams of young skaters in Addis Ababa. Now, with a crowdfunding campaign recently launched and a trip back to Ethiopia on the horizon, the photographer looks to take his Ethiopiaskate series worldwide.

Okayafrica caught up with Reiter to learn more about his work photographing Addis Ababa’s skate community and the wider impact of skateboarding in Ethiopia.

Read Okayafrica’s Q&A with photographer Daniel Reiter at Okayafrica.com »


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How Marcus Samuelsson Prepared for the New York City Marathon

Marcus Samuelsson shares what he’s gleaned from training with Nike+ Run Club coach Knox Robinson for this weekend’s New York run. (Credit: Regina Kokoszka)

The New York Times

By JEANINE CELESTE PANG

This Sunday, some 50,000 international runners will cross the finish line at the New York City Marathon. Marcus Samuelsson, the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised New Yorker who has cooked for everyone from Cindy Crawford to Barack Obama, plans to be one of them. For the past two months, the Michelin-starred chef has been training with Nike+ Run Club coach Knox Robinson, running the 6.1-mile Central Park loop. He uses the northernmost tip of the park as home base — just a quick sprint from his lauded restaurant Red Rooster and closer yet to the $3 million Harlem townhouse he shares with his model-slash-philanthropist wife, Maya Haile.

“Here’s some real history,” Samuelsson, 45, told Robinson on a sunny afternoon earlier this week, gesturing towards two towers looming above Malcolm X Boulevard. “The Central Park Five lived right there in the late ’80s. And now, when I run in here and see families — that’s progress. It’s not just some la la.”

Robinson laughed. “I came in here, I was just trying to talk about running and make sure his shoes were tied the right way, and he just goes off. We kind of have a vibe of our own —”

Read more at The New York Times »


Related:
Photos: Advanced Screening of CNN’s “Parts Unknown: Ethiopia” with Marcus Samuelsson
Advanced Screening of “Parts Unknown: Ethiopia” with Marcus Samuelsson
Marcus & Maya Samuelsson Join Chef Bourdain’s Ethiopia Feature on CNN

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UN Raises Eyebrows in Electing Ethiopia to Its Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly elected 18 States including Ethiopia to serve on the UN Human Rights Council for three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2016. (Photo: During the vote on October 28, 2015/UN)

Newsweek

BY LUCY WESTCOTT

A number of countries criticized by rights groups for serious human rights abuses against their citizens were elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, weeks after a Saudi Arabian representative was elected head of a key human rights panel amid international outcry.

Eighteen countries—Belgium, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Panama, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela—were elected by the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday for three-year terms on the council, which begin on January 1, 2016. The Human Rights Council is “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing the situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them,” the U.N. said in a statement released Wednesday.

U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based group that monitors the U.N, said it considers only nine of the 21 countries that were candidates for election to the council as eligible, based on their human rights record. A number of the countries elected, including Burundi, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates, have authoritarian regimes. Human rights records of other elected countries include violence against women, human trafficking and limits on freedom of expression and assembly, U.N. Watch said in a report published ahead of the elections on Wednesday.

Read more at Newsweek.com »


Related:
General Assembly elects 18 members to UN Human Rights Council (UN News)

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The Stunning Sites That Made Ethiopia ‘The World’s Best Tourist Destination’

Ethiopia is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage sites. (Photographs via CNN)

CNN

By Sophie Eastaugh

Ethiopia has been named as the world’s best destination for tourists in 2015 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade. What makes the country unique?

The country is home to 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Semien National Park. Massive erosions over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks , deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 meters.

Read more and see the photos at CNN.com »


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The International Fashion Industry Starts to Look Towards Ethiopia for Inspiration

Mahlet Afework is one designer that has successfully incorporated Ethiopian fabrics into her designs. (CNN)

CNN

By Pete Kowalczyk

Chencha, Ethiopia — At first glance, Chencha, Ethiopia — an isolated hamlet of bamboo houses situated 300 miles south of the capital of Addis Ababa — doesn’t look like it’s the center of anything. It certainly doesn’t look like a major player on the world’s fashion stage. But then, looks can be deceiving.

The town is home to the Dorze people — an ancient community of weaving specialists whose designs have reached catwalks as far afield as New York and Tokyo.

When Tsehynesh Tara, a weaver who originally hails from Chencha, sees pictures of her fabrics on the backs of supermodels, she gets giddy.

“When I first saw the photos I was so excited. I said: ‘Did I really make that? Did I make that fabric!?’” she recalls.

Tara is one of several weavers employed by Addis-based fashion designer Mahlet Afework. The 27-year-old designer employs female weavers from Ethiopia’s rural areas. In return, weavers teach her about the history of her country and the meaning behind its fabrics.

“Every season I try to tell these stories with my collections — I try to learn more about Ethiopia and its beautiful culture,” says Afework.

“It’s where we come from, it’s in our blood.”

Mahlet Afework started her career as a model and rap artist before shifting to fashion. Self-taught via Google and YouTube videos, she’s gone on to collaborate with cult UK designer Markus Lupfer and has exhibited at London college of fashion. In a TED talk last year she told a global audience that Ethiopian fashion is not just about paying homage to its ancestors — it can actually lift women out of poverty. “In Ethiopia we have more than 500 underemployed female weavers in each village. We have a responsibility to give them a job — and then show their work to the world.”

Read more at CNN.com »


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CNN on Islam’s Early Days in Ethiopia

The tiny village of Negash in Northern Ethiopia is home to the country's first Muslim community and one of the most important sites in Islam. Currently the town is being considered for UNESCO World Heritage status.

CNN

By Colin Hancock and Daisy Carrington,

Tigray, Ethiopia - Ethiopia is often overlooked as a top destination for spiritual pilgrimage. This is an unfortunate oversight.

The country is not just the cradle of civilization, it has played a significant role in the formation of many of the world’s top religions. It is not only the location of the biblical kingdom of Sheba, it is currently believed by some to house the Ark of the Covenant. Scroll through the gallery above for a list of the country’s top religious sites.

Other religions can trace their origins to Ethiopia. Watch the video below to uncover some of Islam’s earliest artifacts.

Read more and watch the video at CNN.com »


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Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought

Carcasses of cattle litter the landscape in northeastern Ethiopia. (Photo Credit: Jacey Fortin for The NY Times)

The New York Times

By JACEY FORTIN

MIESO, Ethiopia — Every day, Yasin Mohammed Aliye stakes out a spot on his small farm to chew khat leaves, a stimulant, and guard against intruders.

The khat, he explains, helps to dull the hunger.

“We got just one day of rain each month during the rainy season,” Mr. Yasin said, referring to the days from July through September. “It should have been raining every other day. Now my harvest has failed.”

The green hills and full fields around here belie an alarming fact: This is the worst drought Ethiopia has experienced in more than a decade.

The stream bordering Mr. Yasin’s farm has run dry, and the trenches he dug to irrigate his land never filled. He has sown seeds three times this year, each time anticipating rains that never came. His corn and sorghum stalks are stunted and will yield no harvest. He has sold four of his eight cows at a steep discount in order to buy corn at nearly double last year’s market prices.

Mr. Yasin, 50, now regularly skips meals. He worries that the animals he has left to sell will not be enough to sustain his family until the next harvest season. If all else fails, he will move west, where the rains have been more reliable.

Read more at The New York Times »


Related:
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (The New York Times Editorial)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

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Julie Mehretu on Helping to Make the Powerful Ethiopian Film Difret (Vogue)

Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Mark Hanauer / Corbis Outline)

Vogue Magazine

By DODIE KAZANJIAN

A number of internationally acclaimed visual artists these days are deeply engaged with social issues. Julie Mehretu, who was born in Ethiopia and lives in New York City, is one of them. She was so struck by the true story of a 14-year-old Ethiopian victim of the ancient and cruel tradition of marriage-by-abduction that she sold a major painting to finance and produce Difret, a powerful and moving film based on the girl’s experience. Mehretu, who is currently working to make the issue of abduction a U.S. foreign policy priority, spoke with Vogue.com about helping to make the film, which premieres in New York City on October 23.

Read the Q&A at Vogue.com »


Related:
Julie Mehretu: An Abstract Artist Absorbing Multiple Identities (NBC News)
Julie Mehretu Awarded 2015 Medal of Arts by U.S. State Department
American Artist Lecture: Julie Mehretu at Tate Modern in London
Julie Mehretu on Africa’s Emerging Presence in Contemporary Art

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Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests

The government in Ethiopia is asking for food assistance to help feed over eight million people, which the United Nations says are in need of immediate help due to severe drought. (Image: Video still/Black Gold)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s government is calling for international assistance to help feed 8.2 million people after erratic rains devastated crop yields.

Climate shocks are common in Ethiopia and often cause poor or failed harvests that lead to acute food shortages.

The government has allocated $192 million for food and other aid and is appealing for $596 million in assistance from the international community for the remainder of 2015, said Mitiku Kassa, secretary of the Ethiopian Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee.

More than 300,000 children are in need of specialized nutritious food and a projected 48,000 more children under 5 are suffering from severe malnutrition, according to a government assessment conducted in September.

The situation is “incredibly serious,” said John Aylieff, an official in Ethiopia with the U.N.’s World Food Program, who said Ethiopia needs the international community to help remedy the worst effects of El Nino conditions.

The conflict in South Sudan is also exacerbating the food insecurity situation, said Dennis Weller, the USAID mission director in Ethiopia. Since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in mid-December 2013, hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees have fled to Ethiopia and are living alongside local communities.

“We are seeing malnutrition rates go up in some of the host communities. We are looking at ways of reducing the stress levels to the host communities in Ethiopia by providing supplementary feeding that could bring the malnutrition levels down,” he said.


Related:
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

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Zewede Retta: Author, Diplomat Dies at 81

Amb. Zewde Retta (center) with his son Gabriel at a Book Signing event in Atlanta. (Photo: zewderetta.com)

Ethiopia Observer

By Arefayné Fantahun

Outstanding Ethiopia historian, journalist and diplomat Zewede Retta passed away yesterday in London at the age of 81, Ethiopia Observer has learnt. Zewde who was considered a great historian of modern Ethiopia, and a political commentator was on vacation in the United Kingdom. He was taken to hospital by ambulance, after he fell down on the street in London. He died at the hospital.

Ethiopian Ambassador to Italy and Tunisia, wrote important books on the life and times of Haile Selassie and the question of Eritrea.

Born in Addis Ababa, Young Zewde went to French Lycée Guebre-Mariam, where he completed his primary and secondary education. According to his biography in Amazon, he began his professional career at the Ministry of Information in 1952 and became the youngest news correspondent for Ethiopian radio as well as press correspondent to the Emperor’s palace. “He then spent four years at the school of journalism in Paris where he graduated in 1959. Soon after he became editor in chief for the newspaper The Voice of Ethiopia and for Menen magazine,” the bio reads.

Throughout the 50’s and 60’s he held numerous positions including deputy information minister, chief director of the Ethiopian news agency and President of the Pan African News Agency.

Read more at ethiopiaobserver.com »


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In Ethiopia Only 1.7% Have Internet Access

Ethiopia has less than 2% Internet penetration rate and ranks as one of the least connected countries in the world, a Fortune magazine report says based on data from Internet Live Stats. (Photograph: Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In Ethiopia only 1.7% of the country’s 96 million people have access to the Internet according to a Fortune magazine report that quotes data from Internet Live Stats showing eight of the world’s least connected countries are located in Africa.

In addition to Ethiopia, the American Business Magazine also highlights neighboring Eritrea as having the worst Internet penetration rate in the world with only 0.91% of its residents having digital access.

Other countries with less than 2% Internet availability include Burundi, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Niger, Guinea and Congo.

On the positive side Fortune says: “Last week, Google announced that it would be bringing Google Link — fiber optic cables to enhance the reliability and speed of internet connections — to Ghana after a successful pilot in Uganda. The program is designed to improve Internet access across Africa, a service that is needed on that continent more than any other.”

Read more at Fortune.com »


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New Metro Keeps Ethiopia on Growth Track

The new urban rail service in Ethiopia's capital was inaugurated on September 20th, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Reuters

A novelty for many in Ethiopia’s capital, a new trainline stretching nearly 20 miles in Addis Ababa. The country was already achieving growth of eight percent. With a new metro that can carry up to 60,000 passengers a day that could soon be even higher. (Reuters)


Related:
Addis Ababa launches modern urban rail service (BBC News)
Modernizing Ethiopia Opens $475-Million, China-Built Urban Rail (Bloomberg)
China in driving seat as Ethiopian capital gets new tramway (AFP)

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Business and Bureaucracy: Ethiopia Entrepreneurs Overcome Hurdles

Ethiopia's first online restaurant delivery service, Deliver Addis, must contend with major hurdles that would stall many entrepreneurs in more developed nations (AFP Photo/Christina Goldbaum)

AFP

By Karim Lebhour

Addis Ababa – The large open plan office with staff behind sleek computers looks like any newly-started modern business.

But Ethiopia’s first online restaurant delivery service, Deliver Addis, must contend with major hurdles that would stall many entrepreneurs in more developed nations.

Setting up any business is a challenge, but in Ethiopia, those range from daily operating headaches such as on-off Internet — stalling the highly time-sensitive orders on which it depends — to even more fundamental business challenges.

As the country’s banking and payments systems are still in their infancy, electronic payments are impossible, thus creating a huge hurdle for growth.

“The Internet goes out a couple of times a week — when that happens, there is not much we can do but rely on phone lines to take orders,” said Feleg Tsegaye, manager of Deliver Addis.

But he also believes the Horn of Africa nation — the second most populous on the continent — offers enormous opportunities.

Tsegaye was born and brought up in the United States but moved to Ethiopia, the homeland of his parents, hoping to tap into a still largely untapped but swiftly growing market he believes is one of the most promising on the continent.

“The IT sector is still in its infancy — typically in these markets there is a way to transfer money very quickly and very easily, but here that doesn’t exist quite yet,” he added.

Read more »

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In Oakland, Ethiopian Refugee Begged to Return Home Before Fatal Police Encounter

At a candlelight vigil for Yonas Alehegne, an Ethiopian immigrant who was shot and killed by an Oakland police officer in August, in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, September 13, 2015. (Photo: Sarah Rice/SF Chronicle)

San Francisco Chronicle

By Rachel Swan

A man shot and killed by an Oakland police officer in August left behind only a small pile of luggage and a few family photographs, one of which had a phone number scrawled on the back.

The number belonged to the 30-year-old man’s mother, Genet Alemu, who sells injera bread to support a family of seven in Ethiopia. She last heard from her son, Yonas Alehegne, several months before his death.

CASE HISTORY

Police are seen at the scene of a police involved shooting at MacArthur Boulevard and Van Buren Avenue in Oakland, Ca. on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. The incident left the involved police officer in the hospital and the suspect dead at the scene. Man shot dead by Oakland cop had violent past. An officer was injured and a suspect was shot by police in Oakland on Thursday morning. Oakland cop shoots suspect dead after chain attack.

“I feel like I’m dead,” Alemu said from her village in Dire Dawa, where she lives in a house that her other son, Habtamu, describes as “almost a tent.” Alemu was reached by phone Sept. 12 — the day of the Ethiopian new year. Dawn had broken and a rooster crowed insistently in the background.

Remembering “Yonas,” Alemu wailed.

“He was my first son,” she said, speaking through an interpreter in Amharic, the language spoken in Ethiopia. “He came to the U.S. to help us.”

Whatever dreams and ambitions Alehegne had when he arrived in the United States in 2012 were soon replaced by distress and desperation.

Read more at San Francisco Chronicle »


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New York Warmly Welcomes Pope Francis

Pope Francis waves to gathered worshipers as he leaves St. Patrick's Cathedral after presiding over an evening prayer service, in New York, September 24, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

September 24, 2015

Three days into his historic first visit to the United States, Pope Francis shifted his attention from the nation’s political capital to its economic heart.

Francis left Washington, D.C., Thursday afternoon and flew to New York City where the 78-year-old pontiff was met with huge cheering crowds as he continued his jam-packed itinerary.

Thursday evening, he led an evening prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan.

On Friday, Francis is scheduled to address world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, then join in a multi-faith service at the National September 11 Memorial where the World Trade Center once stood.

He’ll visit a Catholic elementary school in the heavily Hispanic and black neighborhood of East Harlem. In the evening, he’ll celebrate a Mass at Madison Square Garden before an estimated 20,000 worshipers – and will sit on a chair primarily built by day laborers.

The pope plans to leave Saturday morning for two days in Philadelphia, his final U.S. stop for the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families. On Sunday, he will celebrate an outdoor Mass, which is expected to draw nearly 2 million people.

In New York, Francis is expected to focus on climate change, migration and immigration in his U.N. address. The organization on Friday starts a three-day summit to adopt new goals aimed at ending poverty and inequality and combating climate change.


Pope Francis waves to huge crowds gathered in Manhattan as his motorcade drives along Fifth Avenue in New York, Sept. 24, 2015. (C. Presutti / VOA)

Embracing the people

Earlier in the day, when the motorcade stopped at the cathedral where throngs cheered and yelled greetings at the pontiff. He shook hands with people, and met with assembled New York brass as he made his way into the vast and grand cathedral that recently underwent a $177-million renovation.

His flight departed Thursday afternoon from Washington’s nearby Joint Base Andrews and landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in the late afternoon.


Pope Francis engages well wishes as he kisses a child after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Sept. 24, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

He spoke with gathered schoolchildren after getting off the plane, and they gave him a book of prayers written by students. He gave each child a pat on the head, and laughed when they handed him a bobblehead version of himself.

The 78-year-old pontiff continues a jam-packed itinerary in New York.

Francis incorporated themes of ending poverty, inequality, giving, combating climate change and sacrifice into his speech Thursday to Congress, the first ever by a U.S. pope.

Rich nations have a moral obligation to aid the vulnerable, Francis suggested in discussing “the creation and distribution of wealth.”

“The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements” of an inclusive, sustainable economy, he continued.

Environmental focus

Referencing his recent encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” Francis called for “a courageous and responsible effort to ‘redirect our steps’ … and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”

As for coping with the worst refugee crisis since World War II, Francis urged compassion, not hostility.

“We must not be taken aback by [migrants’] numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation – to respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal,” he told Congress.

After the speech, Francis went onto the Capitol balcony to address thousands gathered below. Speaking in Spanish, he said, “I’m so grateful for your presence. The most important ones here, children, I’ll ask God to bless them.”

Standing next to him, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief, overcome with emotion.

Francis concluded his remarks in English, saying, “Thank you very much and God bless America.” The crowd erupted in boisterous cheers.

After leaving the Capitol, Francis spoke to roughly 400 people at St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Washington, addressing parishioners, people served by Catholic Charities and choirs from two local high schools.

He called for charity and compassion toward the homeless and the least fortunate. And he said there is no social or moral justification for a lack of housing for the people.


VOA’s Carolyn Presutti contributed to this report from New York.

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11 Questions With Aberash Bekele (Time)

Aberash Bekele, the subject of Difret, talks to Time magazine about her life as a child bride who killed her would-be husband. (Photo: Erik Tanner for TIME)

Time Magazine

By Belinda Luscombe

The subject of Angelina Jolie’s new movie talks about her life as a child bride who killed her would-be husband

In 1997, when you were 14, you killed a man. Can you explain why?

I was abducted, and I was trying to go home. I shot not at him but to keep him away.

Why had he abducted you?

Read the full interview at Time.com »


Related:
‘Difret’ Heads To U.S. Theaters In Time For Awards Season

DIFRET release trailer from Tambay A Obenson on Vimeo.

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Rice Warns China to Quit Cyber Spying

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice speaks about the U.S.-China relationship at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2015. (AFP)

VOA News

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice warned China on Monday that Beijing-sponsored cyber espionage is a major stumbling block to U.S.-China relations, saying that such spying must stop.

Rice spoke in Washington, three days ahead of a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Analysts say this Friday’s meetings between Xi and President Barack Obama are expected to be blunt, focusing in large part on cyber spying, the global economy and China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.

“This isn’t a mild irritation,” Rice said of numerous incidents linking Beijing to large-scale cyber theft. “It’s an economic and a national security concern” that places “enormous strain on our bilateral relationship.”

She told her audience at George Washington University that espionage targeting personal and corporate information “for the economic gain of businesses undermines our long-term economic cooperation.”

She also said Obama will use the meeting to address U.S. concerns on Beijing’s human rights record, and will insist on maintaining navigation and commerce through crowded sea lanes in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

Rice’s comments on cyber security echo those of the president, who last week told U.S. business leaders that China’s theft of trade secrets is an “act of aggression that we must stop.”

U.S. officials have suggested imposing sanctions on China, and the president said Washington is preparing “a number of measures” aimed at showing Beijing that “this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset.”

Ahead of the Chinese leader’s arrival in Washington, he is holding meetings with U.S. and Chinese technology executives in the West Coast city of Seattle.


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Attitude About Child Marriage Slowly Changing in Ethiopia

Children participate in a running event that's part of an awareness campaign to change attitudes and prevent child marriages, in Gondor, Ethiopia, September 2015. (M. van der Wolfe / VOA)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

September 21, 2015

GONDOR, ETHIOPIA — Thousands of girls in the Horn of Africa are forced to marry although they are underage. The local government in Gondor, Ethiopia, and UNICEF are organizing large awareness campaigns to change the attitude of rural communities.

Sixteen-year-old Hibste Abebayehu, from the town of Gondor, was about to be married to a 28-year-old man when she was just 13. Last year, her parents tried again to marry her to another man.

Hibist said her parents did not even tell her about the marriage, but her friends overheard the arrangements and informed her.

She said when she heard, she immediately reported it to the school principal and to the lead teacher of the girls’ club. They spoke to the police. After they negotiated with her parents, they managed to cancel the marriage arrangements.


Sixteen-year-old Hibste Abebayehu has battled against being married to older men since she was just 13, and she is continuing her education, in Gondor, Ethiopia, Septmber 2015. (M. van der Wolfe / VOA)

Awareness interventions

The girls club that Hibste joined in school is a place where information is provided to girls about child marriage through awareness interventions. Especially for rural communities, child marriage is the social norm. The local government says that raising awareness and changing the attitude of the community is the biggest challenge.

The police, religious leaders and development partners such as the United Nations Children’s Fund are involved in trying to change the mindset about child marriage and eliminate all forms of child marriage by 2025.

UNICEF program worker Zemzem Shikur said child marriage has several consequences for the girl’s life.

“The first one is, easily they are forced to drop out from school, which shapes their destiny to be a housewife or to be in a very vulnerable situation,” said Shikur. “The other one is the health consequence. They do not get treatment easily, and they may not have information on where to get services.”

One in five girls in Ethiopia are married before the age of 18. In Gondor, a northern region, almost half of the underage girls are married, even though the legal age is set at 18.

Changing attitudes

Hibste feels lucky to have been rescued. She said many of her friends already are married. She said the thinking in the community is to marry off children at a very early age, since they do not see why girls should get an education or how they can become somebody.

One of the awareness campaigns in Gondor features an afternoon of musical performances on the main square. The event attracts large crowds and the message appears to get through to the audience of mostly boys. They say they agree girls should not get married before the age of 18.

Solomon Assefa is one of them. He said girls first need to be physically ready to get married, and that they then have to be educated so they can work toward what they want to become.

Hibste is now in 8th grade. She hopes her parents will allow her to attend university if she keeps receiving good grades.

Fourteen-year-old Abebe Ayele was less fortunate. She lives in a village an hour outside Gondor, was forced into a marriage last year and now has a six-month-old baby. She said it is difficult to deal with the new attitude from her peers.

She said everyone was gossiping about her when she was pregnant and it gave her psychological problems.

Abebe has registered for school again, but is not sure she can attend, as she does not have the funds to look after herself and her baby.


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Kerry Says US to Boost Migrant Quota

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, walks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, prior to a meeting with a group of refugees fleeing Syria, at Villa Borsig, in Berlin, Sept. 20, 2015. (AP Photo)

VOA News

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration will increase the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States to 100,000 annually in 2017, as Europe grapples with its largest influx of migrants since the end of World War II.

Speaking Sunday in Berlin, Kerry called the U.S. decision a “step in keeping with America’s best tradition as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope.”

Under the new plan, the U.S. limit on refugee visas — currently capped at 70,000 annually — would jump to 85,000 in fiscal 2016 and then rise to 100,000 the following year.

Kerry also said Washington would explore ways to boost the limit beyond the 100,000 ceiling in future years.

Kerry did not say how many of the additional refugees would be from Syria but pledged that the U.S. was ready to help.

EU meeting

The announcement comes ahead of an emergency summit meeting planned for Tuesday of European Union leaders to address the flood of refugees that has overwhelmed the region.

Earlier Sunday, Austria said 11,000 migrants crossed into the country from Hungary in the 24-hour period that ended at midnight Saturday, and was expecting another 7,000 migrants Sunday at the main Nickelsdorf crossing, east of Vienna.

Most of the migrants had made the grueling journey across the Balkans into western Europe, with Croatia saying 21,000 had entered its territory in the past four days.

Hungarian and Serbian interior ministers also jointly reopened the Horgos-Roszke 1 crossing, which had been closed since last Monday, which led thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to try to find other routes to western and northern Europe, where most want to start a new life.

Most flooded into Croatia, which within days announced that it could not cope with the flow and began to redirect the migrants back toward Hungary or toward Slovenia.

Meanwhile, Austrian ministry officials were meeting with charity organizations Sunday to try to find temporary shelter for the new arrivals, many coming from countries unable or unwilling to cope with a desperate human tide fleeing war and poverty.

Razor-wire border fence

After lashing out against Croatian officials, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto is now trading barbs with his Romanian counterpart over a razor-wire border fence that Hungary is building between the two countries to keep out migrants.

Hungary’s erection of fences is deeply straining its ties with neighboring countries, who feel the problem of the huge flow of migrants is being unfairly pushed onto them. After completing a fence along the border with Serbia, Hungary is now building fences along its borders with Croatia and Romania.

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu on Saturday called the border closure an “autistic and unacceptable act” that violated the spirit of the European Union.

On Sunday, Szijjarto said, “We would expect more modesty from a foreign minister whose prime minister is currently facing trial.” That was a reference to corruption charges filed recently against Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta.


A migrant man reacts as he is surrounded by Slovenian police at the Slovenia-Croatia border crossing in Rigonce, Slovenia, Sept. 19, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Szijjarto added: “We are a state that is more than 1,000 years old that throughout its history has had to defend not only itself, but Europe as well many times. That’s the way it’s going to be now, whether the Romanian foreign minister likes it or not.”

In Germany, police are investigating an asylum-seeker on suspicion that he fought for the Islamic State group in Syria, newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday.

The suspect is a Syrian national and lives in an asylum-seeker shelter in the northeast region of Brandenburg, the newspaper reported, quoting security sources.

Alleged accusations

The man was secretly filmed with a mobile telephone, allegedly telling other migrants in the center that he had fought for the Islamic State group and killed people.

The video led to the probe.


Migrants pull a boy through a train window at the station in Tovarnik, Croatia, Sept. 20, 2015. (Reuters)

Investigators are now trying to determine if the Syrian was indeed a member of the Islami State group, the newspaper reported.

A spokeswoman for federal police declined to confirm or deny the report.

Despite the case, federal police do not believe that Islamists are infiltrating Germany through the influx of refugees.

Elsewhere, thousands of migrants arrived Sunday morning in the Macedonian village of Gevgelija, on their way to Serbia.

They made their way to a temporary camp near the railway station, and some were able to board a train to take them onwards in their journey with the end goal of western Europe.

The bulk of the migrants are fleeing the war in Syria, with the European Union receiving almost a quarter of a million asylum requests in the three months to June.

Germany alone expects up to 1 million asylum-seekers this year, but Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the European Union should in the future take a finite number of migrants, while sending the rest back to a safe country in their home regions.

Rift among EU members

The continent’s biggest migratory flow since the end of World War II has dug a deep rift between western and eastern EU members over how to distribute the migrants.

The crisis has raised questions over the fate of the Schengen agreement allowing borderless travel across most countries within the 28-nation bloc, with several of them imposing border controls.


Migrant whose boat stalled at sea while crossing from Turkey to Greece swim to approach the shore of the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sept. 20, 2015. (AP photo)

Meanwhile, 26 migrants were feared missing Sunday off the Greek island of Lesbos, one of the Greek islands that has seen a heavy influx of refugees from war-torn Syria via Turkey.

More than 2,600 people have died among the nearly half a million who have braved perilous trips across the Mediterranean to reach Europe so far this year.

Altogether, Greece has seen more than 300,000 refugees and migrants enter the country this year, most of them passing through to other European countries.


Material for this report came from AFP, Reuters and AP.

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French Industry Give Ethiopian Film Boost

(Image: © Yared Zekele | Scene from 'Lamb')

France 24

By James JEFFREY

Ethiopian movie gets a boost from French film industry

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s first success at the Cannes Film Festival tells a simple tale, but the film’s director has set his sights on the world stage thanks to support from the French film industry.

Having successfully premiered “Lamb” in the director’s home city of Addis Ababa earlier this month, the filmmakers have turned their attention to their next important release: in France on September 30.

Earlier this year, “Lamb” became the first Ethiopian film selected for the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of a young boy, Ephraim, who is sent by his father to live with his extended family far from home. Ephraim’s only friend is a lamb called Chuni, but his uncle wants to slaughter it for a forthcoming religious festival, setting the clock ticking for this unlikely cinematic pairing.

From the earliest days of scriptwriting to the final days of post-production, this thoroughly Ethiopian cinematic rendition has overcome numerous challenges – thanks to the French film industry.

“When I first read ‘Lamb’ it was obvious to me there was an audience for such a film in France,” said Ghanaian producer Ama Ampadu, who lives in Paris and studied in France. “French audiences have developed a taste for African cinema through the works of African directors like Abderrahmane Sissako, director of ‘Timbuktu’. And when you delve into how these films came about, you will find a French component – it could be the financing, the crew, the world sales agent [or the] producers.”

“It’s not a commercial film, which I like,” said 33-year-old filmgoer Daniel Meles after the Addis Ababa premiere. “For my generation, it’s the first film to take us into the countryside, beyond Addis Ababa.”

Read more at France 24 »


Related:
Lamb Review: Sheer Brilliance Knits Together First Ethiopian Film at Cannes (The Guardian)

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Ethiopia Successful in Preventing Al-Shabab’s Attacks

A general view shows part of the capital Addis Ababa at night, Ethiopia, May 17, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

September 18, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — Over the past five years, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and the self-declared republic of Somaliland have all been attacked by Somalia-based Al-Shabab militants.

Ethiopia, which invaded Somalia in 2006 to fight Al-Shabab, has since evaded a large-scale attack.

According to Tewolde Mulugeta of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country’s secret to preventing attacks is public involvement.

“We know what lack of peace means, so the importance is well understood by our people,” he said. “They don’t want anybody to distract that. Whenever they are going to come across any anti-peace element, any anti-peace force, terrorist force, they are going to expose them, they are going to fight them head on.”

While it isn’t clear how many prospective attacks Ethiopian security forces have prevented, one bomb did exploded inside a central Addis Ababa house in 2013. Police believe the attackers were preparing it for a large football match taking place that day.

Strong security forces

Although Ethiopia’s military is considered among the strongest in the region, independent security expert Sunday Okello says Ethiopian security forces are strong because Al-Shabab is just one of several threats to the country.

“Ethiopia knows its threats to security, and you can’t sleep and kind of forget that there is a threat coming from Eritrea, that there is a threat coming from Somalia, there is a threat coming from maybe South Sudan,” he said. “And from that effect, Ethiopia has managed to build its security network very strongly.”

Ethiopian forces continue to fight al-Shabab in Somalia, working in conjunction with African Union troops. The AU troops have made significant gains but the militant group remains one of the biggest security threats to the East African region.

Read the full article at VOA News »


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Ethiopia Fireworks Usher in 2008, But Rising Commodity Prices Damp Festivities

Oromo traditional dance during celebrations in Ethiopia. (Photo: Anadolu Agency + DIPLOMAT.SO)

Anadolu Agency & Diplomat News Network

Addis Ababa , Ethiopia – Ethiopians marked the New Year “ENKUTATASH” on Saturday with traditional celebrations, although skyrocketing commodity prices put a damper on festivities.

Ethiopia’s unique calendar is comprised of 12 30-day months and a thirteenth month consisting of only five days, which become six every four years — as is the case this Ethiopian leap year.

The first of Meskerem — the first month in the Ethiopian calendar — fell on Saturday, September 12.

In capital Addis Ababa, fireworks lit the midnight sky Friday night, even though, according to prominent theologian Daniel Kibret, “counting down to 00:00 hours doesn’t tally with the Ethiopian system of counting days”.

According to Kibret, the day — under the traditional system of counting time — technically begins at 6 a.m.

Dr. Zerihun, another scholar in the field, told Anadolu Agency that Ethiopia “maintains the ancient Julian Calendar, which corresponds with the Egyptian Coptic calendar”.

“Calendars outside Ethiopia and Egypt underwent two revisions,” he explained. “In the second revision, Pope Gregory added eight years to it.”

“Until 530AD, the same Julian Calendar system was used,” he added.

Inflation

This year’s New Year celebrations, however, were accompanied by soaring commodity prices.

According to Ethiopia’s official statistics agency, the inflation rate — particularly for food — rose to 14.7 percent in August from 13.9 percent in July.

Many of those who visited Shola Gebeya, one of the busiest New Year markets, said food prices — especially prices for meat — had increased markedly compared to the same period last year.

Read more »


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US Spotlights Women Ethiopian Prisoners

Blen Mesfin, Meron Alemayehu, and Nigist Wondifraw of Ethiopia are among twenty women political prisoners from around the world who are being profiled by the State Department throughout September 2015. (USG)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, September 6th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, launched a one-month campaign last week called #FreeThe20 that will highlight 20 women from around the world who are political prisoners, including three female members of Ethiopia’s Semayawi (Blue) Party: Blen Mesfin, Meron Alemayehu, and Nigist Wondifraw.

According to the campaign, which will last through September 2015, the Ethiopian trio will be the focus of attention on day 4-6 this week.

“Blen Mesfin, Meron Alemayehu, and Nigist Wondifraw were among a number of opposition party members and others arrested and charged with inciting violence during anti-Islamic State in Libya (ISIL) demonstrations in Addis Ababa in April 2015, which were organized by the government of Ethiopia following the killing of 26 Ethiopians by ISIL,” states the campaign’s website humanrights.gov.

During a Q&A session with the press following her announcement of the campaign last Tuesday, a reporter asked Ambassador Power regarding the women from Ethiopia: “You’ve got three from Ethiopia on here,” the journalist said. “I’m curious – the President, our President, was just in Ethiopia, where he made some comments praising its democracy. I’m just wondering if you see a discord there?”

In her response Ambassador Power said: “As President Obama said on his trip to Ethiopia, the full potential of Ethiopia will not be unleashed and unlocked until journalists are able to report on what’s going in the country freely and opposition – credible opposition candidates are able to participate in elections.”

Humanrights.gov adds: “Blen, Meron, and Nigist are leading members of Ethiopia’s Blue Party, which advocates peacefully for democratic principles and has faced numerous obstacles in exercising freedom of association and assembly both in the build-up to May 24 parliamentary elections, and thereafter. All three were arrested in Addis Ababa in the days following the April 22 protests and charged with inciting violence at the rally. They remain behind bars to this day.”


Related:
#FreeThe20 Women Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Concern Campaign

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Jeb Bush Says He Helped Save Ethiopian Jews, But Here’s What Really Happened

Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida, is a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo: Brian Cahn/ZUMA)

Mother Jones Magazine

By Stephanie Mencimer

His campaign claims he convinced the Reagan administration to join a major airlift operation called Operation Moses. Not exactly.

Did Jeb Bush help launch a covert mission to airlift thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the 1980s, saving them from starvation?

He says he did. Twice in the past week his campaign has posted blog posts on its website making this claim in order to tout Bush’s record on Israel and to show his foreign policy chops. One reads:

In the 1980′s thousands of members of the Jewish community had fled their homeland due to famine for a refugee camp in Sudan. Jeb, hearing of the conditions in the camp and the persecution these Jews were suffering, suggested to Reagan-Bush officials that the United States had a duty to support a massive airlift. The resulting effort, Operation Moses, made history when Israeli planes, with American support, brought these Jews to the homeland of the Jewish people, the State of Israel.

But Bush’s campaign boast is false. Bush, then 31 years old and a fledgling developer in Miami, had nothing to do with with Operation Moses, the secret operation that rescued nearly 8,000 Jews in Africa. And he played no role in triggering the rescue effort by prodding the Reagan-Bush administration to take action. However, he—and several other Americans—did play a bit part in a subsequent effort to rescue about 900 Ethiopian Jews left behind when Operation Moses was halted abruptly in early 1985.

Here’s what happened:

Read more »


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The Weeknd Interview: Abel Says Grew Up Listening to Aster Aweke & Mulatu Astatke

Abel Tesfaye (born February 16, 1990), known by his stage name The Weeknd, is an Ethiopian-Canadian R&B singer, songwriter and record producer. (PHOTO BY: LAMAR TAYLOR)

Pitchfork

BY Anupa Mistry

AUGUST 31, 2015

All of the lights are off in the Weeknd’s apartment. It’s 49 floors up, high above the long shadows of Toronto’s financial district, and the clouds outside make everything in this sparse and tidy condo look monochrome. There is a white leather sectional stationed on a white rug so plush it would be disrespectful not to take your shoes off before walking on it. Platinum records for his 2012 mixtape collection Trilogy hang on the walls. A massive window reveals Lake Ontario, which has been a blueish boon to winter-weary city folk all summer; on this evening in late August, it’s grey, a precursor to the grim season ahead.

Abel Tesfaye strolls into the room and sits down at a long, dark, smoked-glass dining table. He’s in house clothes: a black Miami Heat mesh short-sleeve with fitted black jersey-blend pants and white house slippers. A child of immigrants who was raised in the bustling, brown suburb of Scarborough, he wears a filigreed Ethiopian cross around his neck—it’s the kind of token that stays hidden beneath clothing, but never comes off. His hair, the subject of so much curiosity and so many memes simply because he does whatever he wants with it, is there on his head as it should be. Mugs of green tea are set down on a folded paper towel, in lieu of coasters. Tesfaye smiles easy and often and is comfortable locking eyes, except when challenged to speak at length on his music. Then, he furrows his brow and speaks in clichés; his eyes swerve to the left; he stares at the iPhone set between us that is recording his thoughts; or he picks at an invisible blemish on the crook of his left arm. Otherwise, he asks questions. He seems eager to please, if not a bit nervous. When we say goodbye, Tesfaye’s last words are: “Write good things about me!” This is not the Weeknd I expected…

Pitchfork: You retweeted a recent Pitchfork piece about how your East African roots are reflected in your music, what did you think of it?

AT: It’s the first time any writer has really dove into that part of me and my music, but it’s always been there. That’s how I was raised. My mother, my grandmother, my uncles would play Ethiopian artists like Aster Aweke and Mulatu Astatke all the time in the house. They would drink coffee, eat popcorn, and listen to the music. It’s such beautiful music, but I didn’t realize how beautiful it was until I left that head space. That’s why I feel like my singing is not conventional. I mean, if you look at technique, I’m not a technical singer; I know I get bashed by R&B heads 24/7. I’m not here to do Luther Vandross runs. I can’t do what Jennifer Hudson does. But the feeling in my music and in my voice is very Ethiopian and very African and much more powerful than anything, technically. There are songs like “Gone” where I don’t even know what I’m saying—I let my voice do all the talking. I’ll probably do an album like that one day where it’s not lyrics at all, just melodies and great production. Maybe the next one, I don’t know. That’s the Ethiopian side of me. I didn’t know what [the musicians] were saying when I was younger: Just because you speak it doesn’t mean you really understand what they’re saying. Ethiopian poetry is a different language. I can speak and understand [Amharic], but I can’t understand their poetry. When my mother would translate—it’s the most beautiful thing ever. I’ve never been back home to Ethiopia, but when I do go I’m going to make it very special.

Read the full interview at Pitchfork.com »


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Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World? (NY Times)
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With dark tales of sex and drugs, is the Weeknd the next face of R&B? (The Guardian)

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