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Zimbabwe Billionaire to Bid for Ethiopian Telecoms License (Bloomberg)

Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa seeks to acquire a telecommunications license in Ethiopia. (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg

Econet Global Ltd., owned by Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, is keen to acquire a telecommunications license in Ethiopia, which is opening up the industry to foreign investment for the first time.

The Horn of African nation has announced plans to sell as much as 49% of the state-owned monopoly, Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp., and issue two new spectrum licenses. Carriers including Orange SA, MTN Group Ltd. and Vodacom Group Ltd. have already shown interest in the nation of more than 100 million people, which has a relatively low level of data penetration and internet access.

“Econet, through a number of its subsidiaries, is actively developing interests in Ethiopia,” a company spokesman said in an emailed response to questions. “Given that there is a competitive process on new licenses, it would not be appropriate at this stage to discuss our own positioning.”

Econet has operations in Africa in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi, and investments in Europe and South America. Masiyiwa’s Liquid Telecoms, Africa’s biggest fiber company, has assets across the continent.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had scheduled the liberalization of the industry for early this year, but delayed the process because of elections to be held in August and also to give bidders for the new licenses more time to prepare. It has yet to provide guidance on the exercise, including any limits on foreign ownership.

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Related:

Ethiopia Red Tape Is Barrier for Business as Country Opens Up (Bloomberg)

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Berlin: Government Support Has Ethiopian Biz Ready to Boom (Variety)

That was the takeaway from a presentation Sunday morning at the Berlinale Africa Hub, led by producer Mehret Mandefro (“Difret”) and director Abraham Gezahagne, who outlined the opportunities and challenges for the film and TV industry in Africa’s second-most populous nation. (CREDIT: EFM 2020)

Variety

For the past decade, Ethiopia has boasted the world’s fastest-growing economy, and its new reform-minded government seems determined to harness that growth to transform an already vibrant creative sector.

That was the takeaway from a presentation Sunday morning at the Berlinale Africa Hub, led by producer Mehret Mandefro (“Difret”) and director Abraham Gezahagne, who outlined the opportunities and challenges for the film and TV industry in Africa’s second-most populous nation.

Ethiopia’s production sector is booming, with roughly 175 films released in 2018 and fervid support from audiences hungry for local content. “A lot of our films don’t end up crossing over [into the international market], but it’s a really burgeoning scene,” said Mandefro.

The industry has begun to look outward in recent years, following the festival success of films like “Difret,” the 2014 Sundance audience award winner executive produced by Angelina Jolie and directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, and “Sweetness in the Belly,” the 2018 Toronto player also directed by Mehari.

Those movies have helped the Ethiopian government, led since 2018 by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to recognize the potential of the film industry as not only a cultural force but a prime driver of economic growth.

Read more »


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Ethiopia: 29 Injured in ‘Bomb Attack’ at Pro-Abiy Rally (AFP)

A rally in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came under attack in the town of Ambo, located roughly 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa (AFP Photo)

AFP

Addis Ababa (AFP) – A “bomb attack” on a rally in support of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed injured nearly 30 people Sunday, a police official said, in the latest sign of instability ahead of elections in August.

The incident occurred in the town of Ambo, located roughly 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

“The bomb attack on a rally for Dr. Abiy has injured 29 people, of whom 28 have been treated and sent home,” Arasa Merdasa, the top police official in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, where Ambo is located, told the state-run Ethiopian News Agency.

“Police have arrested six people who are suspected in the attack,” Arasa said.

Ethiopia’s electoral board has scheduled landmark national polls for August 29.

Opposition parties and civil society organisations have questioned whether the elections will be peaceful and credible, citing persistent ethnic violence since Abiy was appointed in 2018 following several years of anti-government protests.

The formal campaign period begins in May.

Abiy did not attend Sunday’s rally, which was organised by officials in Ambo.

Abiy, the winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, hopes the elections will secure him a mandate to continue with an ambitious agenda of political and economic reforms.

Arasa said Sunday’s attack was believed to be the work of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the breakaway armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front, an opposition party.

Officials have also blamed the OLA for the assassination on Friday of the top security official in Burayu, another Oromia town located on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

That attack left three other people injured, and police “vowed to hunt down” those responsible, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.

Arasa declined to answer questions about the latest violence in Oromia when contacted Sunday, referring an AFP reporter to the Ethiopian News Agency report.


Related:

Nearly 30 injured in bombing at rally for Ethiopian PM

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Bernie Wins Nevada (US Election Update)

Casino workers hold up presidential preference cards as they support Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a presidential caucus at the Bellagio hotel-casino, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Bernie Sanders scored a resounding victory in Nevada’s presidential caucuses on Saturday, cementing his status as the Democrats’ national front-runner amid escalating tensions over whether he’s too liberal to defeat President Donald Trump.

The 78-year-old Vermont senator successfully rallied his fiercely loyal base and tapped into support from Nevada’s large Latino community as the Democratic contest moved for the first time into a state with a significant minority population.

The win built on Sanders’ win earlier this month in the New Hampshire primary. He essentially tied for first place in the Iowa caucuses with Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has sought to position himself as an ideological counter to Sanders’ unabashed progressive politics, but was fighting for a distant second place in Nevada.

The victory, while encouraging for Sanders supporters, only deepens concern among establishment-minded Democratic leaders who fear that the self-described democratic socialist is too extreme to defeat Trump. Sanders for decades has been calling for transformative policies to address inequities in politics and the economy, none bigger than his signature “Medicare for All” health care plan that would replace the private insurance system with a government-run universal system.

Despite establishment anxiety, moderates are struggling to unify behind a single candidate, and the vote on Saturday was again split between several centrists, including Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Also in the mix: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who desperately needed a spark to revive her stalled bid; billionaire Tom Steyer, who spent more than $12 million on Nevada television, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who hoped to prove her strong New Hampshire finish was no fluke.

After the chaos of Iowa’s caucuses, there were concerns about Nevada’s similar setup. But no major problems were in sight.

At noon, under sunny skies, dozens of uniformed housekeepers and casino workers cast ballots in the Bellagio, one of seven casino-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip among 200 locations statewide that hosted caucuses. Nevada is the third contest on a 2020 election calendar marked by chaos and uncertainty after the opening votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, overwhelmingly white, rural states.

The first presidential contest in the West is testing the candidates’ strength with black and Latino voters for the first time in 2020. Nevada’s population aligns more with the U.S. as a whole, compared with Iowa and New Hampshire: 29% Latino, 10% black and 9% Asian American and Pacific Islander.

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopian Americans Voting Early in Nevada (UPDATE)

The presidential contest turns to African American and Latino voters

Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary (Update)

Ethiopian Meatpackers Go for Bernie in Iowa (2020 U.S. Election Update)

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Video: Queen of England in Ethiopia 1965

The Queen with Emperor Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa, 1965. (Getty Images)

Daily Express

Slow but extravagant – The unique way the Queen chose to travel Ethiopia

THE QUEEN is one of the most well-travelled monarchs in history, having spanned the globe as part of her royal tours. Though its no surprise she often flew by private jet or a chauffeured car, a new documentary reveals the extravagant mode of transport she once opted for during tour in Ethiopia.

As part of her royal duty, The Queen has travelled far and wide representing the United Kingdom. In fact, she has spanned the entire globe approximately 42 times during these travels.

It’s no surprise to hear that she spent numerous journeys in private jets, onboard the royal train or in chauffeured cars, however on a royal tour in 1965, the Queen chose to travel her destination another way.

As part of a new Channel 4 documentary exploring the secrets of the royal tour, insiders revealed the extravagant way the Queen travelled through Ethiopia.

While her method of transport was certainly luxurious, it was slow too.

“Progress was slow for the royal couple as they travelled in a state coach drawn by six white horses, flanked by 100 horsemen of the imperial bodyguard each of which wore a heavy lions main helmet.,” states the show’s narrator.

Read more and watch the video »


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Watch: British Royal Visit To Ethiopia (1965)

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18th Century Crown Returned to Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, right, receives with gloved hands during a ceremony to hand over a lost crown Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. The 18th Century Ethiopian crown has been returned home after being hidden in a Dutch flat for the past 21-years. (The Office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed via AP)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Looted 18th Century Crown Returned to Ethiopia After Decades

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — A rare and looted crown from the 18th century was returned to Ethiopia on Thursday after it was discovered in the Netherlands two decades ago.

The Dutch government facilitated the handover “with the belief that it has a duty to restitute this important artifact back to Ethiopia,” the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, sharing photos of a smiling Abiy holding the ceremonial crown.

“This is a historic day for us,” Hirut Kassaw, Ethiopia’s minister for culture and tourism, told The Associated Press.

The religious crown went missing in 1993 and was discovered in Rotterdam in October. “I still don’t know how this crown and the other items were looted and taken out of Ethiopia,” the culture minister said, adding that several other items were stolen including a cross.

Ethiopia, like many African nations, has been outspoken about seeing artifacts returned home from museums and private owners around the world. Last year the National Army Museum in Britain said it would return two locks of hair from the widely revered Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros.

The Dutch government in a statement Thursday said the crown was the property of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It said the crown went missing from the Holy Trinity Church in the village of Cheleqot.

For years the crown was in the hands of Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch national of Ethiopian origin, the statement said. He reached out to the foreign ministry last year “through the mediation of art detective Arthur Brand, to discuss how to return this important cultural artifact.”

“He told us someone gave him to look after it. But after realizing it was of Ethiopian origin, he refused to return it back to the owner and kept it for 21 years,” the culture minister said.

The crown is on display at Ethiopia’s national museum in the capital, Addis Ababa, for a few days and then will be returned to its original place in the church in Cheleqot, the minister said.

The Dutch minister for foreign trade, Sigrid Kaag, attended the handover ceremony.

“We’re honored and delighted to have been able to facilitate the rightful return,” Kaag said.


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, right, with gloved hands as he officially hands over a crown to the country’s tourism minister, Hirut Kassaw, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (The Office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed via AP)


An ancient crown that was taken from Ethiopia many years ago is seen in this photo taken inside the office of Abiy Ahmed Ethiopian Prime Minister, Thursday Feb. 20, 2020. The 18th Century Ethiopian crown has been returned home after being hidden in a Dutch flat for the past 21-years. (The Office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed via AP)


Related:

Ethiopian 18th Century Crown Returns Home From Netherlands (BBC)

Ethiopia gets back Christian crown spirited away to Rotterdam decades ago (Reuters)

Precious Ethiopian Crown Returned — After 21 Years Stashed In A Dutch Apartment (NPR)

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Early Voting Begins in Nevada (UPDATE)

LA Times reports: "Many voters said they were just making up their minds. Alem Seghit, an immigrant from Ethiopia, said Steyer is her top choice because she saw him on TV every day. Antoniette Mcgrue, also an immigrant from Ethiopia, said Biden is her top choice and Sanders is her second, although she said she likes them equally." (Photo: Las Vegas Sun)

Los Angeles Times

LAS VEGAS — The Democratic presidential campaign turned west this weekend, with candidates barnstorming Nevada in the lead-up to the state’s caucuses on Saturday…

More than 18,500 Nevadans cast ballots on the first day of early voting, according to the Nevada Democratic Party. Voters could rank up to five candidates on their ballot. There were reports of long lines that lasted hours, and Sanders led a march of hundreds of supporters to a polling place in East Las Vegas.

Some voters found the lines and wait time daunting, but the state Democratic party said no major problems were reported.

Though the presidential campaign has been underway for a year, many voters said they were just making up their minds.

Sisters Alem Seghit, 57, and Antoniette Mcgrue, 74, members of the influential Culinary Workers Union, were focused on one priority when they cast their ballots on Saturday — picking the candidate they think has the best chance of beating President Trump in November.

“I want a Democrat to win,” Mcgrue said when asked about what drove her to vote on the first day. “We want an honest candidate to win.”

Seghit, an immigrant from Ethiopia, said Steyer is her top choice because she saw him on TV every day. Mcgrue, also an immigrant from Ethiopia, said Biden is her top choice and Sanders is her second, although she said she likes them equally.

But some voters remained undecided with just days to go before the caucuses.

Read the full article at www.latimes.com »


Related:

The presidential contest turns to African American and Latino voters

Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary (Update)

Ethiopian Meatpackers Go for Bernie in Iowa (2020 U.S. Election Update)

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Ethiopia Red Tape Is Barrier for Business as Country Opens Up (Bloomberg)

Getty Images

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia Red Tape Is Barrier for Business as Country Opens Up

Bureaucracy remains a stumbling block for businesses as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed strives to roll back decades of tight controls and maintain one of the fastest rates of economic growth in Africa.

The country’s World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking has been above 159 of 190 countries for the past five years, and the government wants to improve that to below 100 in 2021, according to the prime minister’s office. The government has introduced an online system to register businesses, a new import-export platform to simplify trade document processing and the state is amending policies and will introduce a new investment law.

“Ethiopia has already identified what needs to be done,” Charles Robertson, Renaissance Capital’s global chief economist, said in an emailed response to questions. However, one of the major challenges for companies is access to credit and this won’t suddenly “be miraculously better,” he said.

Ethiopia is among Africa’s fastest growing economies — the World Bank estimates 6.3% in the 2020 fiscal year — yet it remains one of the most state-controlled on the continent. Abiy, 43, is seeking to attract billions of dollars in foreign investment by selling state assets from the sugar industry, the phone system, railroads, and other infrastructure.

Decades of state bureaucracy in the Horn of Africa nation of more than 100 million people make it difficult to fully benefit from the reforms.

“Regulatory changes don’t mean ease of doing business,” said Getachew Alemu, an independent economist. “The bureaucrats are the same.”

While there have been improvements in key offices at the federal level, especially the Ethiopian Investment Commission, this isn’t the case at the lower administrative levels, where manual filing is still the norm.

“Launching a business in Ethiopia still requires considerable levels of courage and resilience,” said Addis Alemayehu, chief executive officer of Addis Ababa-based 251 Communications. The business reforms will trickle down and “contribute a fair share toward an investor confidence boost and slight decline in risk-aversion,” he said.

Read more »


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Ethiopia Approves Controversial Law Curbing Hate Speech (AP)

Ethiopian lawmakers on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 approved a controversial law aimed at curbing hate speech and disinformation just months ahead of a major election but some worry the new law will restrict freedom of expression in a country that once jailed thousands of people, including journalists, over political views. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers on Thursday approved a controversial law aimed at curbing hate speech and disinformation, especially online, just months ahead of a major election.

The law’s approval, with 23 lawmakers opposing and two abstaining, came amid concerns over widespread online false information and hate speech that some observers blame for ethnic tensions in the East African nation.

Others worry the new law will restrict freedom of expression in a country that once jailed thousands of people, including journalists, over political views.

The new law “will not meet its goal but will discourage free expression and may eventually target people who make innocent mistakes,” Befekadu Hailu, director of the Center for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy, told The Associated Press. “But most importantly, legal actions are usually used by the state to stifle dissent in the country. To say something positive … it may have a deterrence effect for irresponsible social media users.”

Ethiopia has been experiencing sometimes deadly ethnic violence since June 2018, shortly after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced sweeping political reforms for which he later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The loosening of restrictions on political space also led some in the country of more than 80 ethnic groups to air long-held grievances.

Some government officials and observers have called for the need to regulate hate speech and disinformation online, citing the ethnic unrest.

Lawmakers said the law is needed because existing legal provisions didn’t properly address hate speech and disinformation and said it will not affect citizens’ rights beyond protecting them.

According to the new law, content with hate speech or disinformation that is broadcast, printed or disseminated on social media platforms with more than 5,000 followers is punishable with up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 birr ($3,000).

The law, however, says “dissemination” doesn’t include liking or tagging such content on social media.

Human Rights Watch said the law could “significantly curtail freedom of expression.”

“The Ethiopian government is under increasing pressure to respond to rising communal violence that has at times been exacerbated by speeches and statements shared online,” Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher with the rights group, said in December. “But an ill-construed law that opens the door for law enforcement officials to violate rights to free expression is no solution.”


Related:

Ethiopia passes law imposing jail terms for internet posts that stir unrest (Reuters)

Ethiopia’s Draft Proclamation: Comparative View on Hate Speech & Hate Crime (TADIAS)

Narrow hate speech law will not broaden minds: by Girmachew Alemu

Rights Group Calls New Law in Ethiopia a Threat to Freedom of Expression (VOA)

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Bernie Wins New Hampshire (Update)

Adding to his strong showing in Iowa last week, Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary vote on Tuesday solidifying his position as a front-runner in the Democratic nomination contest for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. (Photo: Cornel West meets with supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at a primary night election rally in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020/AP)

The Washington Post

Sanders wins New Hampshire primary

Sanders is the winner of the New Hampshire primary, with Buttigieg coming in second and Klobuchar in third.

With more than 85 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders had 26 percent of the vote, Buttigieg had 24.4 percent and Klobuchar had 19.8 percent. Warren and Biden had 9.4 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively.

It’s a repeat victory for Sanders, who beat Hillary Clinton by 20 in the state’s Democratic primary in 2016.

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopian Meatpackers Go for Bernie in Iowa (2020 U.S. Election Update)

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NYC: DA Re-Examines Killing Of Malcolm X

Malcolm X was one of America's most famous activists of the civil rights era. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: February 11th, 2020

In New York, Prosecutors Re-Examine the Killing Of Malcolm X

New York (TADIAS) — More than five decades after the African-American civil rights activist Malcolm X was assassinated at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in New York City on February 21st, 1965, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced this week that it is re-examining the case in light of new evidence brought forth through the new documentary film series on Netflix titled “Who Killed Malcolm X?”

In a statement provided to New York television station Pix 11, the Manhattan DA’s office stated: “District Attorney Vance has met with representatives from the Innocence Project and associated counsel regarding this matter. He has determined that the district attorney’s office will begin a preliminary review of the matter, which will inform the office regarding what further investigative steps may be undertaken. District Attorney Vance has assigned Senior Trial Counsel Peter Casolaro and Conviction Integrity Deputy Chief Charles King to lead this preliminary review.”

According to Essence magazine “the six-part docuseries, “Who Killed Malcolm X,” provides significant evidence to discredit the convictions of two men, Khalil Islam who died in 2009 and Muhammad Abdul Aziz. Both served more than two decades for the activist’s death. It also sheds light on four additional men from a mosque in Newark, New Jersey, who were named in the 1970’s as having been connected to the killing.”

In a follow-up article The Washington Post adds:

“Historians have long believed that police and prosecutors botched the investigation. Conspiracy theories about police misconduct and hidden evidence have festered. And some critics believe most of the assassins who fired at the civil rights leader managed to get away, leading to the wrongful convictions of two members of the Nation of Islam. “Who Killed Malcolm X?” largely follows the work of historian and Washington tour guide Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, who spent years piecing together declassified FBI documents, interviewing former members of Nation of Islam mosques in New Jersey and New York City, and tracking down four other potential assassins named by Hayer but never formally investigated by authorities.

Previously known as the Audubon Ballroom, the historic location where Malcolm X was killed is now re-named as The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Essence notes that “On Friday, Feb 21st, they will commemorate his life with a screening and discussion of the Netflix / Fusion TV docuseries.”

In his autobiography Malcolm X had highlighted the history of ancient Ethiopia as one of his earliest memories that inspired his intellectual curiosity. “I can remember accurately the very first set of books that really impressed me,” Malcolm enthused, “J.A. Rogers’ three volumes told about Aesop; about the great Coptic Christian Empires; about Ethiopia, the earth’s oldest continuous black civilization.”

Regarding the case’s reexamination, Barry Scheck, Co-Founder of the Innocence Project shared in a statement: “We are grateful that District Attorney Vance quickly agreed to conduct a review of the conviction.”


Related:

Manhattan DA Reexamining The Assassination Of Malcolm X (Essence)

Malcolm X assassination may be reinvestigated as Netflix documentary, lawyers cast doubt on convictions (The Washington Post)

Manhattan district attorney to review Malcolm X murder case (Pix 11)

Watch the Documentary Film: Who Killed Malcolm X? (Netflix)

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Book Review of Maaza Mengiste’s Novel by Adom Getachew

Maaza Mengiste’s novels reject grand narratives, instead offering uncommonly intimate glimpses of what it was like to live through the century of war and dictatorship that created today’s Ethiopian diaspora. - (Adom Getachew)

Boston Review

The Private History of Ethiopia’s Wars

Adom Getachew

The Shadow King
Maaza Mengiste
W.W. Norton, $26.95 (cloth)

“We are the children of failed revolutionaries,” a friend ruefully concluded about our families’ paths from Ethiopia to the United States. The Ethiopian revolution, which quickly devolved to civil war, began in 1974 with an unlikely coalition of radicalized students, intellectuals, populists, and a disaffected army. At the center of this ferment was the “land question” and the “nationalities question.” First, in the midst of a famine in northern Ethiopia, and under the slogan of “Land to the Tiller!” their revolution aimed to replace Ethiopia’s sclerotic monarchy with a socialist state. Second, it sought to displace imperial centralization with a form of democratic self-government that reflected Ethiopia’s ethnic and religious pluralism. That dream was, however, quickly hijacked as the military junta—the Derg—seized power. Claiming to be Marxist-Leninist, in reality its violent authoritarianism soon turned against the socialists who had demanded democratization and redistribution. At the height of state repression during the Red Terror of 1975–77, the Derg massacred between 30,000 and 75,000 dissidents accused of being reactionaries. By the time the Derg’s rule came to an end in 1991, an estimated 1.5 million Ethiopians had died and an Ethiopian diaspora was born for the first time.

Absent the neat divisions of ideology, Mengiste refuses moralization and captures the daily accrued trauma of living through war.

The revolution and its aftermath continue, in Marx’s words, to “weigh like a nightmare on the brains of the living,” rendering it both ever-present and unspeakable. Within families, questions about the revolution and the Red Terror often illicit no more than elliptical memories and illusive fragments. One tries to reconstruct from these a narrative of what it was like to live through, but the plot slips away.

For many Ethiopian Americans like myself, born in the last years of the Derg, Maaza Mengiste’s debut novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze (2010) provided a narrative of the experience of the revolution that we had been seeking and never finding. As such, it was, at least for us, a kind of instant classic.

Read more »


Related:

Tadias 10 Arts & Culture Stories of 2019

Spotlight: The Shadow King is on Time’s 2019 List of 100 Must Read Books

Atlas Acquires Maaza Mengiste’s Novel ‘The Shadow King’

Spotlight: Three Great Reviews of Maaza Mengiste’s New Book by NYT, WSJ & NPR

Maaza Mengiste’s Outstanding New Essay on Refugees

Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste


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Model Ashley Graham Names Son Menelik

The popular American model and TV presenter Ashley Graham has named her new born son Isaac Menelik Giovanni Ervin. Per the entertainment and lifestyle website PopSugar: "As for Menelik, Ashley shared that the couple was inspired when they went to Ethiopia with a friend, and that Menelik was the name of the first emperor of Ethiopia — it means "son of the wise." (Photo: @ashleygraham/Instagram)

Popsugar

Ashley Graham Just Revealed the Name of Her Newborn Son, and You’ll Love Her Choice!

Ashley Graham is a mama! The new mom of one announced the Jan. 18 birth of her son with husband Justin Ervin on Instagram, and we love his name: Isaac Menelik Giovanni Ervin.

Although Ashley didn’t share Isaac’s name in her initial birth announcement, she dedicated the Feb. 4 episode of her podcast show, Pretty Big Deal, to recounting her pregnancy and birth experiences, along with introducing her son alongside her husband. Upon bringing their newborn onto the set, Justin revealed the the idea for the name Isaac is actually one that came to him in high school, and has clearly stuck with him since.

As for Menelik, Ashley shared that the couple was inspired when they went to Ethiopia with a friend, and that Menelik was the name of the first emperor of Ethiopia — it means “son of the wise.” And Giovanni, which is John in Italian, was suggested by a friend, but actually holds a lot of meaning for Ashley and Justin. “It kind of hit home for us because [Justin's] grandfather’s name is John, my grandfather’s name is John,” Ashley said. Justin added that John is also the name of a bishop at his parents’ church and that using Giovanni instead of John is a nod to his partial Italian roots.


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A Peek into the Process Behind the Popular Obama Portraits (WaPo Book Review)

The National Portrait Gallery welcomed more than 2 million visitors in 2018, nearly doubling its annual attendance record. (Paul Morigi)

The Washington Post

In the past two decades, it has become a rite of passage for soon-to-be-former presidents and first ladies to have their portraits commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Given the glamour of Barack and Michelle Obama and the historic nature of their tenure, gallery officials anticipated a healthy interest in their portraits. Little did they know. The two weeks after the paintings’ public unveiling in February 2018 saw more than 4,100 articles about them published in the domestic and international press. Annual attendance at the museum almost doubled over the next year.

With copious photos, the book “The Obama Portraits” details the creation of the paintings while delving into the significance of their unprecedented popularity.

The choice of artists, both African American, was leaked while the portraits were being executed. Kehinde Wiley, known for his large-scale depictions of African American men in poses and trappings inspired by famous paintings from art history, was painting the president. Amy Sherald had been commissioned to paint the first lady. Sherald had received attention for paintings of African Americans that included many she had met on the streets of her native Baltimore.

Any portrait painter can expect to enter into a struggle with the sitter, as the artist’s vision is unlikely to match exactly the sitter’s self-image. Wiley initially intended to pose the president in a royal manner. In Obama’s comments at the unveiling ceremony — reprinted in the book in full — he explained that the artist’s plan was to “elevate me and put me in these settings with partridges and scepters and thrones and shift robes and mounting me on horses. And I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon. We’ve gotta bring it down just a touch.”


Michelle Obama and Amy Sherald stand alongside the newly unveiled portrait of the former first lady at a ceremony on Feb. 12, 2018. (Pete Souza)

Sherald chose to paint the first lady in a dress designed by Michelle Smith. The choice was a nod both to art history and African American heritage. The geometric designs, Sherald said, call to mind the paintings of Piet Mondrian and the patchwork creations of the now-famous quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Ala. Sherald aroused comment with the gray tones of the first lady’s skin in the portrait. She explained that the skin tones were reminiscent of and paid homage to the humble black-and-white photographs of African American women a century ago, women who were not the subjects of large-scale painted portraits.

In an essay in the book, the Portrait Gallery’s director, Kim Sajet, writes that large crowds still make the trip specifically to see the Obama portraits.

Read more »


Related:

The wildly popular Obama portraits are going on a year-long tour to museums across the country

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In Houston, the Opera ‘Aida’ Returns as Ethiopia-Egypt Tensions Dominate News

The timeless opera 'Aida' — the epic love story between an Egyptian General and an enslaved Ethiopian princess amid a conflict between their two countries over the Nile -- opened at the Houston Grand Opera last week bringing a modern take to the old fictional story. The show opens as current Ethiopia-Egypt negotiations over the use of the Nile river continues. Below is a review of the opera by Houstonia Magazine. (IMAGE: LYNN LANE)

Houstonia Magazine

Aida Returns to Houston Grand Opera Stage in Modernized Take on Verdi Classic

AMERICAN TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS MAKES A DOUBLE DEBUT in Houston Grand Opera’s production of ​Aida​, a sweeping tale of love and tragedy amid war written by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi in 1871. It’s the first time he’s sung the male lead of Radames, and the first time he’s appearing with Houston Grand Opera. The Atlanta-based Thomas admits he’s feeling some pressure but thinks he’s ready.

“The rehearsal process has been great so far, and I’m very familiar with Verdi,” says Thomas, who has performed the composer’s work around the world.

In Aida,​ Radames, an Egyptian army commander during the time of the pharaohs, is in love with an Ethiopian slave, Aida. However, he’s unaware that she is, in fact, a princess and the daughter of the Ethiopian king who’s marching on Egypt. Meanwhile, Amneris, an Egyptian princess, is in love with Radames, and, discovering his relationship with Aida, becomes enraged with jealousy. When Radames unwittingly reveals military plans to Aida, Amneris turns him in as a traitor.

Convicted and sentenced to death, Radames is buried alive in a tomb. He accepts his fate, hoping that Aida has escaped. Instead, she has hidden herself in the tomb to wait for him so they can die in each other’s arms. When she first appears, he’s unsure if she’s real. “In this production, we play it as if he’s hallucinating when he first sees her,” says Thomas. “The air is going out of the tomb, that’s affecting him. He doesn’t know if she’s real until they start singing together.”

HGO’s modernized version of the Verdi classic also features American soprano Tamara Wilson, an HGO Studio alumna, as Aida. It’s a role she’s sung before with companies including the Sydney’s Opera Australia, The Metropolitan Opera, and the Washington National Opera. Thomas and Wilson, who are set to reprise their roles in ​Aida in Toronto later this season, have previously worked together in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Il Trovatore and the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Verdi’s Othello. Thomas has also worked with American soprano Melody Moore, who alternates the role of Amneris with mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin.

The role of Radames has two big challenges for Thomas, who The New York Times previously called “a tenor of gorgeously burnished power.”

Read more »


Related:

US-Brokered Nile Dam Deal Still Deadlocked (VOA)

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan say final agreement on Blue Nile dam ready by next month (Reuters)

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Q&A with goTeff Founder Saron Mechale

Saron Mechale, a recent Brown University graduate who has launched a company called goTeff. (NORBESIDA BAGABILA)

The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe has launched a weekly Q&A with Rhode Island innovators who are starting new businesses and nonprofits, conducting ground-breaking research, and reshaping the state’s economy.

This week’s Ocean State Innovators conversation is with Saron Mechale, a recent Brown University graduate who has launched a startup that makes a cereal/granola product.

Question: Your company, goTeff, makes cereal and granola that includes teff. What is teff?

Answer: Teff is an ancient super grain — 4,000 years old. It is our staple diet in Ethiopia. What rice is to Asian cuisine, teff is to Ethiopian cuisine. Ethiopian runners grew up on this grain. We decided to bring it to a typical American diet through this product — a cereal or granola — because we realize it has a lot of nutrients. Not only does a cup of teff offer 51 percent of the (recommended daily allowance of) protein, it offers 62 percent of the fiber and 82 percent of the iron. Our product has no added sugar and is oil-free and gluten-free. It can be used as a cereal, a topper for yogurt, or a nutritious crouton alternative. We started by targeting runners. We want to be able to give runners the nutrients they need, especially for endurance purposes — long-lasting energy. Most of the products out there for runners are super high in sugar. They just offer sort of a high and a crash of energy. Our slogan will be: Go long, go strong, goTeff.

Q: How and when did this company get started?

A: I just graduated from Brown in May 2019. I studied social analysis and research, and business. I just turned 25 but I took time off from college, so I’m older than the typical recent graduate. I was working on goTeff when I was a student as part of a class project. I wanted to use the resources at Brown to help me understand how to launch a business and do market research. Brown has the fantastic Nelson Center of Entrepreneurship where I worked with executive director Danny Warshay and the rest of the amazing team there who supported me in starting goTeff. We officially launched sales in October 2019. We currently sell online on our website and at Plant City Providence.

Q: Ethiopia has had some legendary runners. Are you drawing on that heritage?

A: Abebe Bikila is the historical figure who ran barefoot in the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and won — the first time a Black African ever won an Olympic gold medal. Since then, Ethiopian athletes have just been dominating in long-distance races. Teff is the staple diet of these amazing runners. Haile Gebrselassie, who is like a legend, works with us. He is a big advocate of teff and wants to tell the Ethiopian story of teff. As an Ethiopian, I felt it was important to shine light on runners to help change the brand for the country. Ethiopia is not perceived in a positive light, as most African countries are not, in the Western perspective at least — the Western media. To tell the story of victory and perseverance, of the success of these Ethiopian athletes, is a beautiful way to change that narrative.

Read more »


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US-Brokered Nile Deal Still Deadlocked

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

VOA

US-Brokered Nile Dam Deal Still Deadlocked

WASHINGTON – The latest round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Washington has failed to reach a comprehensive agreement on the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD), a massive hydropower project on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River.

The White House released a statement saying President Trump spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday, and “expressed optimism” that a deal was close.

The tripartite meeting hosted by the U.S. Treasury is the parties’ last-ditch attempt to resolve the question of the operation of the dam, particularly the filling of its reservoir, an issue that has triggered concerns of a “water war” between Egypt and Ethiopia.

The meeting was scheduled to end Wednesday but continued until Friday without an agreement on filling the reservoir.

The U.S. Treasury released a statement Friday that the parties will continue to work on the legal and technical aspects of the agreement for a signing by the end of February. The agreement would include a schedule for a stage-based filling plan of the reservoir, and a mitigation mechanism for filling and operations during periods of drought and prolonged drought.

Ethiopia and Egypt have been negotiating for years, but several technical sticking points remain, including the duration and rate at which Ethiopia will draw water out of the Nile and the quantity of water that will be retained. Cairo fears Ethiopia’s plans to rapidly fill the reservoir could threaten Egypt’s source of fresh water.

The technical details of how, when, and where the water will flow are a life-and-death matter for each party,” said Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. Bruton added that the situation is complicated by “international organizations and mediating third party countries, which all come with their own interests and agendas.”

With the Trump administration’s urging, last November the parties agreed to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers with the World Bank and the United States attending as observers. They agreed to a deadline of January 15, 2020, for reaching an accord. When they failed to reach an agreement, the parties agreed to another round of talks this week.

The main issue has been a lack of consensus, said Mirette Mabrouk, director of the Egypt Program at the Middle East Institute. “Ethiopia’s priority has been to complete the dam and Egypt’s priority has been to ensure that its near sole source of water is not decimated,” Mabrouk said.

A flexible treaty

In previous statements, the ministers have recognized that flexibility in trans-boundary water management is essential considering the constantly changing levels of the Nile.

They have agreed that guidelines for the filling and operation of the GERD “may be adjusted by the three countries, in accordance with the hydrological conditions in the given year.”

However, competing hydrological and political interests have hindered negotiations.

The director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina, Aaron Salzberg said that parties are striving for an agreement that is “easily codified in terms of numbers” –how fast you can fill, how much water is released.” At the same time, he says, the agreement must establish a joint decision-making process that allows flexibility in responding to changing conditions, but not one that may be “too open to interpretation and set the stage for conflict down the line.”

This is not something that should be forced, Salzberg added. “The parties themselves must drive the process. This is an agreement that will need to last multiple lifetimes,” he said.


Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister for Water and Energy, speaks to the media after the end of the fourth and final round of talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Ethiopia’s construction of a controversial dam on the Nile River, in Addis Ababa, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo)

Mediation?

On their first Washington meeting on November 6, the foreign ministers agreed that if a deal is not reached by January 15, 2020, Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked.

Article 10 of the declaration, signed in Khartoum, addresses the peaceful settlement of disputes. It states that “if the parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers.”

Egypt has long-sought external mediation, while Ethiopia wants to keep the negotiations on a tripartite level. But earlier this month Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed said he has asked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene. Ramaphosa has accepted the task.

Under the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement between Egypt and Sudan, signed before Egypt began constructing the Aswan High Dam, Egypt can take up to 55.5 billion cubic meters of water from the Nile each year, and Sudan can take up to 18.5 billion. Ethiopia was not part of that agreement.

US involvement

U.S. involvement in the dam issue came about after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi last year requested that President Trump help mediate the conflict. A senior Trump administration official confirmed that the president had offered “the good offices of Mnuchin” to lead the effort and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has played the role of host and observer in negotiations since last November.

Trump appears to have sustained his interest on the negotiations and has even gone so far as inviting the ministers to impromptu meetings at the Oval Office on November 6 and January 14.

After the last meeting, the White House released a statement that Trump emphasized to the foreign and water resources ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan that the United States “wants to see all of these countries thrive and expressed hope that each country will take this opportunity to work together so that future generations may succeed and benefit from critical water resources.”


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Kidnapping of Students Sparks Anti-government Protests in Ethiopia

Several thousand people took part in marches in a handful of cities during the week to demand their release and activists made #BringBackOurStudents trend online. (Image shared on Twitter @AndenetTadesse)

Reuters

By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Several thousand protesters took to the streets in Ethiopian cities this week, demanding Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed do more to tackle simmering ethnic violence following the kidnapping of a group of university students.

Armed men abducted the students from Dembi Dollo University in the Oromiya region in early December, according to survivors who escaped. The government said earlier this week that the army had rescued 21 of the students, but at least 12 others are still missing.

While the kidnappers’ identity or motive is not clear, the incident has revived widespread fears about ethnic violence ahead of this year’s election and intensified pressure on Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy, who comes from the Oromo ethnic group.

Many of the students were Amhara, a group that has clashed with Oromos in the past.

In the past six months, clashes on campus have killed 12 students and played a role in the decision of 35,000 to drop out of university, according to the higher education ministry.

Anger about the kidnapping has focused on Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for signing a peace deal with former enemy Eritrea and has overseen political reforms since coming to power in 2018.

He has been unable, however, to stamp out ethnic violence in Africa’s second-most populous nation, including among his Oromo group.

Families of the missing students met the prime minister and other senior government officials on Thursday, receiving assurances that their relatives were safe but no further information about their whereabouts or any plans to rescue them.

“We were just told by the officials that they are alive,” said Yeneneh Adugna, a local priest and a farmer from Gondar, whose 23-year-old daughter Germanesh Yeneneh, a third-year biotechnology student, is missing.

“The last phone call conversation I had with her was two weeks after her abduction,” Yeneneh said. “She told me not to worry.”

Several thousand people took part in marches in a handful of cities during the week to demand their release and activists made #BringBackOurStudents trend online.

Another protest is planned in Gondor, the capital of Amhara, on Sunday, the families said.

Belay Abebe, father to a second-year journalism student, said his daughter had also called him after she was abducted and said she was safe.

“We … demanded to talk to the students over the phone,” another relative of one of the students told Reuters, asking for anonymity for fear of possible reprisals. “There was no willingness from the officials to let us speak with the students.”

Endeshaw Tasew, general commissioner of the federal police, said on Wednesday that the government knows where the students are but declined to give further details.


Related:

Abduction of Ethiopian Students Fuels Anger at the Government (NYT)

Video: Tens of thousands take to streets in Ethiopia over abducted students (AFP)

Growing Outcry in Ethiopia Over Abducted University Students (AP)

Help us bring back abducted university students! (Petition at Change.org)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethio-jazz Icon Hailu Mergia’s New Album

This is Hailu Mergia’s second brand-new studio album on Awesome Tapes from Africa. (#vinyloftheday)

Vinyl of the Day

Ethio-jazz musician Hailu Mergia has a new album on the way.

Titled Yene Mircha, which translates to “my choice” in Amheric, the six-track album is due for release on March 27 via Awesome Tapes from Africa.

The reissue label made its name for reissuing obscure albums from Ghana and the wider region of Africa. Yene Mircha is one of several original releases by the label, expanding their repertoire from the usual reissues.

This is Hailu Mergia’s second brand-new studio album on Awesome Tapes from Africa.

Hailu Mergia is a well-known figure from the label. His 1977 album Tche Belew — recorded with backing band The Walias — was rescued from obscurity by Awesome Tapes in 2014.

The label’s reissue campaign granted Mergia an important place in the narrative of Ethio-jazz and popular Ethiopian music. Previously, the multi-instrumentalist migrated to the United States in the 1980s and stopped performing not long after.

A growing interest in his music allowed Mergia to tour worldwide and record new music aside from his day job as a taxi driver in Washington D.C..

At 74 years old, Mergia appears to be creatively renewed than ever. He’s expanding his sound on Yene Mircha with the help of guest musicians, aside from his newly-established trio with drummer Kenneth Joseph and bassist Alemseged Kebede.

The album is now available for pre-order on vinyl here, and you can preview the album with ‘Abichu Nege Nege’ below.

Tracklist

1. ሰሜንና እና ደቡብ
Semen Ena Debub
North & South
(Hailu Mergia)

2. የኔ ምርጫ
Yene Mircha
My Choice
(Hailu Mergia)

3. ባይኔ ላይ ይሄዳል
Bayine Lay Yihedal
He Walks In My Vision
(Asnakech Worku)

4. አቢቹ ነጋ ነጋ
Abichu Nega Nega
How Are You, Abichu
(trad., arr. Hailu Mergia)

5. የኔ አበባ
Yene Abeba
My Flower
(Hailu Mergia)

6. ሼመንደፈር
Shemendefer
Chemin de Fer Railway
(Teddy Afro)


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US Asst. Secretary for Africa Tibor Nagy Concludes Successful Visit to Ethiopia

Tibor Nagy, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, speaking at the inauguration of the Mekelle American Corner (MAC) in Mekelle during his recent trip to Ethiopia. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Ethiopia)

Press Release

U.S. Embassy Ethiopia

Addis Ababa – U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy has concluded a successful visit to Ethiopia which involved the inauguration of the Mekelle American Corner (MAC), a modern space for learning, discovery and collaboration aimed at developing and empowering Ethiopian youth and emerging leaders. MAC is located at the newly opened Science Museum Building, Adi Haki Campus and houses a digital library with a collection of journals, American publications and thousands of books, a bank of computing devices from iPads to laptops, and a makerspace equipped with the latest science and technology kits that promote hands-on creativity and innovation.

In his remarks at the MAC opening event, Assistant Secretary Tibor Nagy said, “This American Corner will be a place for the free exchange of ideas, where all can discover new talents and develop them, and where connections with the United States and the rest of the world are as close as a click on a computer screen.”

The Assistant Secretary was joined by Mekelle University President Professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot and U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor in opening the new American Corner in Mekelle.

The U.S. Embassy invested over 2,170,000 Birr in the MAC, the sixth space of its kind in Ethiopia with five others in Bahir Dar, Dire Dawa, Jimma and two in Addis Ababa at the U.S. Embassy and the Ethiopian National Archives and Library Agency (NALA). The MAC symbolizes the deepening U.S.-Ethiopian relationship and the U.S. commitment to investing in the capacity of Ethiopian people through education and training. The MAC will be open to the public Mondays to Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Assistant Secretary Nagy also met with U.S. exchange alumni and American Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars in Mekelle to discuss how these programs have shaped their interests and work in Ethiopia. Alumni participants included those who participated in the Young African Leaders Initiative, the International Visitor Leadership Program, the Community Solutions Program, and the Study of the U.S. Institutes program. During the meeting, Assistant Secretary Nagy expressed the United States’ support of these alumni and the Ethiopian government’s ongoing efforts to capitalize on the potential of its people, particularly its youth.

In addition, Assistant Secretary Nagy met with key university partners and officials from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MoSHE). During the meeting, Assistant Secretary Nagy and the officials discussed challenges facing Ethiopian higher education institutions and opportunities for increased university partnerships and research collaboration between the United States and Ethiopia. The Assistant Secretary expressed his appreciation for the long history of partnership with Ethiopia on education, a relationship going back nearly 70 years. He also discussed the University Partnerships Initiative, a program that aims to expand partnerships between U.S. and African universities to strengthen Africa’s educational institutions and enhance their role as instruments of national development.


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AP on the Abducted Ethiopian Students

Below is an AP report on the growing social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls demanding answers and better government transparency regarding the abducted University Students in Ethiopia. (Image: change.org)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Growing Outcry in Ethiopia Over Abducted University Students

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopians are expressing anger and frustration over several university students, most of them female, who remain missing after their kidnapping two months ago.

A growing social media campaign echoes the #BringBackOurGirls activism in Nigeria over the mass kidnapping there of scores of schoolgirls in 2014. Ethiopians are pressuring the government for answers in the abduction in the Oromia region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been praised for appointing women to prominent positions “but with regard to the abducted girls, in its silence, it is violating a tremendous number of their human rights,” Yared Hailemariam, director of the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, said in a statement Monday. “Ethiopian authorities have failed to protect the victims of the abduction and to take necessary measures to bring them back.”

It is not clear how many of the students remain captive. The prime minister’s press secretary, Nigussu Tilahun, disclosed on Jan. 11 that 21 students from Dembi Dollo University were released while six remained captive.

But family members say they haven’t heard from their loved ones.

“The last time I heard from my daughter was a month ago. She said youths from the local area took them to the forest. I don’t know what happened to her since,” Yeneneh Adugna, who lives in Central Gondar in the Amhara region, told The Associated Press. “We are living in an anguish every day. We are crying every day. We want to know whether they are alive or dead. No one is giving us any information.”

The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia says 18 university students, 14 of them female, were seized while returning home from university.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Oromia regional officials have blamed the armed Oromo Liberation Army, which is clashing with government forces in the Western Oromia region. The armed group has denied the accusation and said the government itself was to blame for the kidnapping.


Related:

Abduction of Ethiopian Students Fuels Anger at the Government (NYT)

Video: Tens of thousands take to streets in Ethiopia over abducted students (AFP)

Help us bring back abducted university students! (Petition at Change.org)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Nigerian E-payment Startup Paga Acquires Ethiopia-based Apposit Software

Apposit partners (L-R) Adam Abate, Simon Solomon, Eric Chijioke, Gideon Abate. Apposit CEO Adam Abate moved back to Ethiopia 17 years ago for an assignment in the country’s Ministry of Finance, after studying at Brown University and working in fintech in New York. (TechCrunch)

TechCrunch

Nigerian digital payments startup Paga has acquired Apposit, a software development company based in Ethiopia, for an undisclosed amount.

That’s just part of Paga’s news. The Lagos based startup will also launch its payment products in Mexico this year and in Ethiopia imminently, CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch

The moves come a little over a year after Paga raised a $10 million Series B round and Oviosu announced the company’s intent to expand globally, while speaking at Disrupt San Francisco.

Paga will leverage Apposit — which is U.S. incorporated but operates in Addis Ababa — to support that expansion into East Africa and Latin America.

Repat founders

Behind the acquisition is a story threaded with serendipity, return, and collaboration.

Both Paga and Apposit were founded by repatriate entrepreneurs. Oviosu did his MBA at Stanford University and worked at Cisco Systems before returning to Nigeria.

Apposit CEO Adam Abate moved back to Ethiopia 17 years ago for an assignment in the country’s Ministry of Finance, after studying at Brown University and working in fintech in New York.

“I put together a team…to build…public financial management systems for the country. And during the process…brought in my best friend Eric Chijioke…to be a technical engineer,” said Abate.

The two teamed up with Simon Solomon in 2007 to co-found Apposit, with a focus on building large-scale enterprise software for Africa.

A year later, Oviosu met Chijioke when he crashed at his house while visiting Ethiopia for a wedding. It just so happened Chijioke’s brother was his roommate at Stanford.

That meeting began an extended conversation between the two on digital-finance innovation in Africa and eventually led to a Paga partnership with Apposit in 2010.

Apposit dedicated an engineering team to build Paga’s payment platform, Eric Chijioke became Paga’s CTO (while maintaining his Apposit role) and Apposit backed Paga.

“We aligned ourselves as African entrepreneurs…which then developed into a close relationship where we became…investors in Paga and strategically aligned,” said Abate.

African roots, global ambitions

Fast forward a decade, and the two companies have come pretty far. Apposit has grown its business into a team of 63 engineers and technicians and has racked up a list of client partnerships. The company helped digitize the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange and has contracted on IT and software solutions with banks non-profits and brick and mortar companies.

For a decade, Apposit has also supported Paga’s payment product development.

Read more »


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Ethiopia, Nobel & Trump’s 81 False Claims

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is presented by the Chair of the Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen, left, during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (NTB Scanpix via AP)

CNN

Reverting to his usual level of dishonesty, Trump made 81 false claims last week

Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump made just 15 false claims two weeks ago, a holiday week during which he uttered few public remarks.

He gave fact checkers only a brief respite. Back to Washington and back to doing interviews and campaign rallies, Trump made 81 false claims last week. That is tied for the fifth-highest total in the 27 weeks we have counted at CNN.

It was an eclectic batch of dishonesty. Among other things, Trump took unearned credit for both the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace agreement and for the drop in the US cancer death rate, absurdly claimed that NATO “had no money” before his presidency, wrongly denied that his golf excursions cost taxpayers any money, and repeated his usual varied inaccuracies about impeachment, immigration and the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Trump made 27 of the false claims at his campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio. He made 16 more in a Fox News interview with Laura Ingraham. He made six in his speech on National Environmental Policy Act regulations, plus 10 in his exchange with reporters after the speech.

Trump’s total of 81 false claims last week was above his average of about 61 per week. Trump is now up to 1,636 false claims since July 8, an average of about nine per day.

The most revealing false claim: Ethiopia and the Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in large part for Ahmed’s successful effort to make a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea.

Trump is an incorrigible acclaim-seeker who has been open about his desire for a Nobel. At his January 9 rally, he claimed that he was a more deserving recipient than Ahmed — not for some other initiative of his own but because, he suggested, he was the one who actually made Ethiopia’s big deal. “I made a deal. I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country,” he complained.

This left Ethiopians baffled. Experts on Ethiopia say there is no sign Trump played an important role in the deal.

Read more »


Related:

Abiy to Trump: You can take your Nobel issue to Norway (BBC)

Is Trump Mad at Obama or Ethiopia? (TADIAS)

Ethiopia PM Reacts to Trump’s Head Scratching Nobel Prize Comments (Voice of America)

Trump tells Toledo rally he ‘saved’ Ethiopia, laments he didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize for it (The Week Magazine)

Puzzlement in Ethiopia as Trump claims hand in Nobel prize (The Associated Press)

Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed (BBC)

Trump takes partial credit for Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize. That’s news to Ethiopians. (The Washington Post)

A ‘confused’ Trump tried to take credit for the Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize (Business Insider)

TRUMP INSISTS HE WAS ROBBED OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AT OHIO RALLY (Vanity Fair)

Foreign Affairs Democrats: ‘Trump is confused’ on Ethiopian claim (The Hill)

‘Confused’ Trump mocked after claiming he should have won Nobel Peace Prize for ‘saving’ Ethiopia (Independent)

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Ethiopia Aims $7.5B for Privatization

Ethiopia's privatization push aims to raise $7.5 billion - Bloomberg. (Photo: Sugar cane plantation. Photographer: John Bowker)

Bloomberg

Ethiopia Pushes Privatization to Give Its Economy a Sugar Rush

For decades, Irba Jana has scraped out a modest living from sugar cane, selling his harvest to mills run by Ethiopia’s state-owned sugar monopoly. But lately he’s been working as a security guard to supplement his income, as two of the three nearby processing facilities have closed because of a lack of upkeep and investment. “Sugar cane just isn’t profitable anymore,” says Irba, a grizzled, 50-year-old father of eight. “It may be time to start farming something else.”

Recently, though, he got news that could augur a return to better times: The government is planning to privatize Ethiopian Sugar Corp.’s assets, including a factory complex near Irba’s home on a high plateau a two-hour drive southeast of Addis Ababa. And a local investor aims to let farmers buy shares in the mills, with promises of investment in additional projects such as candy and ethanol factories. A voice at the factory would benefit farmers, says Beyene Bikila, a fellow grower and union member. “We know how to produce,” he says, “and we should get paid properly.”

Privatization of the sugar industry is part of a sweeping liberalization backed by Abiy Ahmed, the 43-year-old prime minister who in October won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end a two-decade conflict with neighboring Eritrea. Ethiopia is among Africa’s most dynamic economies, averaging annual growth of almost 10% for the past decade. Yet the country remains one of the most state-controlled on the continent, a legacy of the Marxist-Leninist Derg regime that ruled from the 1974 coup that deposed Emperor Haile Selassie until a return to democracy in 1991. “The private sector is not playing its natural role,” says Eyob Tekalign, a former diplomat and private equity executive hired by Abiy as state minister for finance. “Our growth had shortcomings in terms of quality, job creation, inclusivity, and benefiting the poor.”

The government aims to raise at least $7.5 billion from selling assets from the sugar industry, the phone system, railroads, and other infrastructure. Ethiopia needs foreign exchange: Exports have dwindled, and external debt has grown 26% since 2016, to $27 billion—more than a quarter of the country’s likely 2020 gross domestic product of roughly $100 billion. In December, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank pledged more than $5 billion to help narrow the budget deficit and support Abiy’s reform agenda. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also pledged cash, and China has pushed back the repayment of loans by a decade, to 2030.

Read more »


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10 Killed in Ethiopia Platform Collapse

(AP photo)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Death toll up to 10 in Ethiopia platform collapse; 250 hurt

ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Regional officials in Ethiopia on Tuesday confirmed 10 deaths and 250 people injured after a wooden platform collapsed during a religious event the day before.

Thousands of people attended the colorful Epiphany celebration known as Timkat in the northern city of Gondar.

“Ten people have lost their lives,” the Ethiopian Press Agency quoted the city’s police chief, Ayalew Teklu, as saying. “Thirteen people have sustained serious injuries, including four members of the security services.”

Ashenafi Tazebew with Gondar University Hospital said more than 250 people had received medical care. Some 80 people remained at the hospital, Ashenafi said.

The collapse occurred inside the Emperor Fasilides Bath in the city where several thousand Ethiopians and tourists attended the celebration commemorating the baptism of Jesus.

The Ethiopian News Agency reported that more than 15,000 foreigners attended the event in Gondar.

UNESCO late last year added Ethiopia’s Epiphany festivities to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which attracted more attendees.


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Jerusalem Post: Chief Rabbinate Accepts Position Recognizing Beta Israel as Jewish

The step comes after several high-profile cases in which the Jewishness of Ethiopian Jews was challenged by rabbinic authorities. (Photo: Children attend Jewish studies class while awaiting immigration to Israel, in Gondar./REUTERS)

The Jerusalem Post

The Chief Rabbinate has accepted the position of the revered, late ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that the Beta Israel Jewish community from Ethiopia is Jewish.

The Council of the Chief Rabbinate, the body’s executive arm, approved a policy to fully accept the Beta Israel as Jewish last November, but the decision has only been disclosed now.

The Chief Rabbinate has not issued a formal statement on the issue, although a spokesman for the body confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the decision has been officially approved.
Beta Israel (House of Israel) is the Ge’ez term for the Jewish community of Ethiopia, which is believed to date back to between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago. It was isolated from the rest of the Jewish world for most of that period.

Yosef, who is considered to have been one of the preeminent arbiters of Jewish law of his generation, ruled in 1973 that the Beta Israel were Jewish and should be allowed to immigrate to Israel. But the Chief Rabbinate has refrained from fully recognizing them as such until now.

In the 1980s, when the Beta Israel began immigrating from Ethiopia to Israel, the Chief Rabbinate adopted a position that it believed the community was Jewish but required them to undergo pro forma conversion so that all rabbinic authorities would accept their Jewishness. This was, however, deeply insulting to the community, which has always insisted that they were fully Jewish, pointing to the decision of Yosef from the 1970s.

Yosef reiterated his view that they were fully Jewish. A solution was found whereby Netanya Chief Rabbi David Shloush, a student of Yosef who also maintains that the Beta Israel are fully Jewish, agreed to register anyone from the community for marriage, which would then be accepted by the central Chief Rabbinate. Marriage registration within the Chief Rabbinate is the most practical application of Jewish-status recognition.

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MLK Day 2020: Martin Luther King Jr Was More Than “I Have a Dream” Speech

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the United States marking what would have been the civil rights leader's 91st birthday celebration. (Photo: The MLK Memorial in Washington by Gediyon Kifle/Tadias archive)

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Forget the notion of MLK Jr. as ‘Dreamer,’ say activists.

The legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is often celebrated by conjuring his words spoken at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. His “I Have a Dream” speech has come to be remembered as inspired, rousing, and optimistic about race relations in America.

“With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood,” he said on that August day in Washington, D.C.

Increasingly, though, black Americans are calling for new ways to analyze and celebrate his legacy — more accurately.

“America has been comfortable with Dr. King the dreamer as opposed to Dr. King who articulates the American nightmare,” said the Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of the historic Mother Bethel AME Church.

The man who was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, at age 39, denounced racism, materialism, militarism. He predicted social ills would never be solved without fixing entrenched inequity. And he called out U.S. economic policy.

In fact, many activists who are asking today for reparations to repair the damages black Americans have suffered — a subject that last year rose to the level of presidential candidate debates — borrow rhetoric from King’s combative speeches…

In the next campaign on Washington, King said, “We’re coming to get our check.”

By 1967, King came to confess in an interview with NBC News correspondent Sander Vanocur: “That dream I had that day has, at many points, turned into a nightmare.”

Yet, said Solomon Jones, a host for Philadelphia radio station WURD and a columnist for the Inquirer, America has come to sanitize King’s ideas to prevent them from growing into a larger movement…

Philadelphia lawyer and activist Michael Coard, co-founder of the Avenging the Ancestors Coalition, said, “Anyone who reduces him to the 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech knows very little about him.”

Read more »


Related:

MLK’s Invitation from Haile Selassie in 1964 (TADIAS)

TADIAS Interview: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Photographer Gediyon Kifle

MLK’s Dream: An Ethiopian Perspective

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‘Clever’: Biden Plays the Obama Card

As Ethiopian Americans we're intimately following two important elections this year: the upcoming parliamentary polls in Ethiopia and the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Below is an update from politico.com highlighting former vice president Joe Biden's campaign. (AP photo)

Politico

‘Clever’: Biden plays the Obama card

Barack Obama hasn’t endorsed his former vice president, Joe Biden. But you wouldn’t know that from watching Biden’s newest campaign ad.

“We all know that on its own, his work does not capture the full measure of Joe Biden,” Obama says in the ad, piano music lightly rippling in the background as black and white images of the former vice president flash on the screen, before calling Biden “a resilient and loyal and humble servant.”

“The best part is,” Obama says in closing, “he’s nowhere close to finished.”

The ad, stitched together from Obama’s speech presenting Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom before they left office together in January 2017, is part of Biden’s closing argument in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3. It’s a way to convince Democratic voters that they should put him in the Oval Office because Obama — the most popular figure in the party — put him a heartbeat away from it.

“This a very effective ad … it is a clever way of signifying Obama’s feelings about Biden, implying an endorsement the president has not made,” said David Axelrod, a top Obama adviser.

“His testimonial from the Medal of Freedom speech goes to what are perhaps the most salient and appealing qualities of Biden: character, empathy, decency,” Axelrod continued. “Barack Obama is a highly esteemed figure in the Democratic Party and perhaps nowhere more than Iowa, which really embraced him and launched him to the presidency.”

Read more »


Related:

Joe Biden Officially Announces He is Running for U.S President in 2020 (TADIAS)

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Ethiopia Plans $5 Billion Airport

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. (Image: Ralph Vinnie/YouTube)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia Plans to Build Africa’s Largest Airport at $5 Billion

Ethiopia plans to start building Africa’s largest airport at $5 billion within six months and continue the ascendancy of its national carrier, the most profitable on the continent.

The new airport, 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from the existing Bole International Airport in the capital Addis Ababa, will be able to handle as many as 100 million passengers yearly, Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam told the state news agency. That would catapult Ethiopia into a global league, with capacity greater than London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, and Dubai International, currently the world’s No. 1 for international flights.

Ethiopian Airlines reported a 25% increase in profits to $260 million in 2018-19 as it carried more passengers and cargo, according to a report on the carrier’s website. Revenue of almost $4 billion, 18% higher than previously, could continue to climb as the airline nears its goal of 22 million passengers by 2025.

While Bole airport has just been expanded with additional capacity, it will be overwhelmed in three to four years if the airline grows as projected, GebreMariam told the Ethiopian News Agency.

The plans are part of a 15-year expansion strategy of Ethiopia’s aviation industry, that has also seen it either sign up joint ventures or start subsidiaries in other African countries including Malawi, Chad, Zambia and Mozambique. The carrier is also in talks to start airlines in Ghana and Nigeria.


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In DC Ethiopia & Egypt Made Progress, But No Comprehensive Deal Yet on Nile Dam

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

VOA

Despite Trump’s Urging, Egypt, Ethiopia Still Deadlocked on Nile Dam

WASHINGTON – The latest talks hosted by the U.S. Treasury produced some progress but failed to achieve a comprehensive agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Egypt and Ethiopia are still deadlocked over the dam, despite urging from U.S. President Donald Trump that parties reach a “mutually beneficial agreement.”

The parties had agreed in November to a deadline of January 15, 2020, for reaching an accord on the dam. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are scheduled to reconvene in Washington on January 28-29 to finalize an agreement.

A joint statement released by U.S. Treasury noted the “progress achieved” and the joint “commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

Ethiopia and Egypt have been negotiating for years, but one sticking point remains the rate at which Ethiopia will draw water out of the Nile to fill the dam’s reservoir. Cairo fears Ethiopia’s plans to rapidly fill the reservoir could threaten Egypt’s source of fresh water.

Reservoir filling in stages

The parties have agreed that the filling of the dam will be “executed in stages” during the wet season, in a manner that will take into account “the potential impact of the filling on downstream reservoirs,” according to the statement.

The parties have agreed to an initial filling stage of the GERD that will provide for the rapid achievement of a level of 595 meters above sea level and the early generation of electricity, while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan in case of severe droughts during this stage.

The parties have not appeared to agree on how these provisions will be implemented. However, observers note that there is political will to continue talks.

“This is progress,” said Aaron Salzberg, director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina and former director of the State Department agency that deals with international transboundary water issues.

“The countries are staying at the table and a vision for the cooperative and adaptive management of GERD — based on hydrology and downstream impacts — is coming together,” Salzberg added.

Prior to negotiations this week, a group of Egyptian academics and civil society circulated a petition calling for the United Nations, African Union and Pan African Parliament to exert pressure on Ethiopia and “avert potential conflict in the region” over the dam.

Ethiopia continues to insist that it is not going beyond a tripartite negotiation on this issue, with U.S. and the World Bank participating only as observers during the three Washington meetings.

“We came out of respect, but we will not accept negotiation. That is our stance,” Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s minister of water, irrigation and electricity, told VOA last week.

On Sunday, Ethiopia requested that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa help resolve the long-running dispute.

Still, the joint statement appears to represent a lowering in tensions. In October, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed warned that if the need arose to go to war over the dam, his country could ready millions of people.

White House meeting

On Tuesday, Trump met with the foreign and water resources ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan at the White House to discuss progress on dam talks and reaffirm “United States support for a cooperative, sustainable and mutually beneficial agreement among the parties.”

The meeting was not on the president’s public schedule and was not announced until hours later. A White House meeting with the parties in November was also not announced on the president’s schedule.

Trump took interest in the dam in September, after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi asked him to mediate the conflict. He appointed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to be the point of contact in the matter.

The U.S. State Department has engaged with parties of the dam project since 2011 and repeatedly urged tripartite negotiations to resolve the matter.

Salem Solomon and Habtamu Seyoum contributed to this report.


Related:

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to finalise Blue Nile dam agreement this month (Reuters)

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Members of Ethiopian Diaspora Gather at British Home of Former Emperor (VOA)

Haile Selassie, the exiled emperor of Ethiopia, is shown around the garden at princes gate, London, on June 4, 1936. (AP photo)

VOA

BATH, ENGLAND – Traveling to the British town of Bath has become a pilgrimage of sorts for people of Ethiopian heritage. When Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie had to go into exile, he landed in Bath. The town, about 145 kilometers west of London, hosted the emperor from 1936 to 1940.

When the Italians under Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935, Haile Selassie, was forced to temporarily go in exile in Britain. He lived in Bath at Fairfield House, which also hosted his family, closest confidants and entourage.

Ezra Tsegay is part of the Ethiopian diaspora community and organizes Ethiopian-related events several times a year at Fairfield House.

“We feel privileged that we are continuing a historical tradition,” Ezra said. “And I think it’s a good thing that the emperor’s name is remembered and the place is in use. And we feel very attached to the place emotionally.”

The emperor renovated the two-story house after he bought the property. Rooms are still decorated with impressive carpets and Ethiopian art, as well as photos of Haile Selassie. The property sits on nearly one hectare of land.

An estimated 90,000 people of Ethiopian heritage live in Britain. Most are based in London. One of them — Abiyou Desta — was visiting the former residence of the Ethiopian emperor for the first time.


Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie at the White House in Washington on Oct. 25, 1970. (AP Photo)

“To be honest, as someone of Ethiopian heritage, I’m really feeling very proud about the place and about the king, what he was doing, Abiyou said. “The displays all over the walls from the first floor to the top floor are very informative. It tells you a lot of information about him, how he used to administer his country from here.”

The 25-room house is now a listed building, meaning changes cannot be made without prior approval. What once used to be the empresses’ office is now an office used by Fairfield project coordinators such as Pauline Swaby Wallace. She explains why the emperor gave Fairfield House to the city of Bath in 1958.

“He had come with money, he came with resources, but in time those resources had run out, so the people of Bath were kind enough to, you know, accept him in their community,” Pauline said. “Although they were told by our government that, you know, just leave him let him just live quietly at Fairfield House. So he was invited to events, and he invited people here. So I think the kindness that was shown to him, he showed it back by giving this gift.”

Besides the Ethiopian community, Rastafarians use the house as they revere Haile Selassie as God. But the house is mostly used as a day care center for the elderly.

After the Italians were driven out, Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia, and ruled the country until he was deposed in 1974. He died in 1975.


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Spotlight: Meklit at Globalfest, NYC Showcase of World Music

Ethiopian-American Artist Meklit Hadero (photo credit: Nina Westervelt for the New York Times)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 15th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian American singer and songwriter Meklit Hadero was one of the artists invited to perform at the 2020 Globalfest concert in New York City.

This past weekend, on Sunday January 12th, New York City’s annual Globalfest returned for its 17th edition at the legendary Manhattan nightclub Copacabana and the San Francisco-based artist Meklit Hadero was among the eclectic lineup of international performances.

“This year’s Globalfest was the most manic and clamorous of them all, a lineup of musicians demanding attention with speed, rhythm, passion, humor, costumes, dance moves and the determination to hold on to particular cultural heritages in a connected world,” writes Jon Pareles of The New York Times. ” With 12 acts in five hours on the three stages of the Copacabana in Manhattan, this year’s event brought musicians from Korea, Brazil, Turkey, Hungary, Algeria, Senegal and the Louisiana bayou, and elsewhere. Some were expatriates, mingling sounds from their birthplaces with influences from their newer homes; others sought to thrust a local heritage into a 21st-century context. Few shied away from making a ruckus.”

NYT adds: “The lineup included well-known performers: Yungchen Lhamo, a Tibetan singer whose meditative songs and Buddhist sentiments were Globalfest’s brief moment of serenity on a boisterous night. Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, who hooted and clattered through bayou rockers and two-steps. And Cheikh Lo from Senegal, who crooned smoothly while propelling his band with complex, skittering African funk drumbeats. Here are eight other performances that stood out.”

Meklit

Meklit, a songwriter who was born in Ethiopia but grew up in the United States, sang in English but reached back to modal Ethiopian funk for her songs. Her band included the snappy rhythms of a tupan, a large drum used in the Balkans and Turkey; her lyrics promise cosmic unity, insisting, “Everything that we are was made in a supernova.”

Read the full list at NYTimes.com »


Related:

Watch: Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz

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Ethiopia To Build Continental Satellite Data Receiver Station With China’s Help

Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite (ETRSS-1) mission control, command and data receiving station at a glance. (Africa News)

Africa News

China is expected to help Ethiopia build a continental satellite data receiver station, a news report by China state media Xinhua quotes Dr Solomon Belay, Director General of Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI), as saying.

Belay told Xinhua that Beijing and Addis Ababa are on a path to agreeing on a long-term partnership ranging from training programs for Ethiopian space engineers to assisting Ethiopia with launching space satellites and setting up a continental satellite data receiver station.

Beijing and Addis Ababa are still at the discussion table with regards to the continental satellite receiver station. However, Belay revealed that the plan is to realize the project in the next three years.

Belay added that the continental satellite data receiving station will be ideally placed to disseminate information to various African countries since Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is home to the African Union (AU) Headquarter.

China’s growing influence in Africa is witnessing a new facet as Beijing expands its diplomatic relations in Africa not only on Earth but also in space. Sino-African space cooperation is growing rapidly as with other Chinese advances on the continent.

Last December, China helped Ethiopia launch its first satellite into space by providing USD 6 million grant, trained 21 Ethiopian engineers on the project and helped blast the satellite into orbit.

Read more »


Related:

Ethiopia Launches First Satellite into Space

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Abiy to Trump: Take Your Nobel Issue to Norway

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is presented by the Chair of the Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen, left, during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (NTB Scanpix via AP)

BBC

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed responds to Trump’s Nobel Prize complaint

US President Donald Trump should take his complaint about being overlooked for the Nobel Peace Prize to the award organisers, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 winner, has said.

Mr Abiy said he was not aware of the criteria used to select him.

He was credited for his move to make peace with neighbouring Eritrea.

Mr Trump said last week that he had “saved a country” from a big war, a possible reference to his work on another dispute involving Ethiopia.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter border war from 1998-2000, which killed tens of thousands of people.

Although a ceasefire was signed in 2000, the neighbours technically remained at war until July 2018, when Mr Abiy and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal.

Read more »


Related:

Is Trump Mad at Obama or Ethiopia? (TADIAS)

Ethiopia PM Reacts to Trump’s Head Scratching Nobel Prize Comments (Voice of America)

Trump tells Toledo rally he ‘saved’ Ethiopia, laments he didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize for it (The Week Magazine)

Puzzlement in Ethiopia as Trump claims hand in Nobel prize (The Associated Press)

Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed (BBC)

Trump takes partial credit for Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize. That’s news to Ethiopians. (The Washington Post)

A ‘confused’ Trump tried to take credit for the Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize (Business Insider)

TRUMP INSISTS HE WAS ROBBED OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AT OHIO RALLY (Vanity Fair)

Foreign Affairs Democrats: ‘Trump is confused’ on Ethiopian claim (The Hill)

‘Confused’ Trump mocked after claiming he should have won Nobel Peace Prize for ‘saving’ Ethiopia (Independent)

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Ethiopia PM Asks South Africa Leader to Help in Dam Dispute (Associated Press)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, left, with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gestures as they pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. (AP)

The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Ethiopia’s prime minister has asked South Africa’s president to intervene in his country’s dispute with Egypt over a massive dam project on the Nile River, set to be Africa’s largest hydraulic dam.

During a visit to South Africa on Sunday, Abiy Ahmed said President Cyril Ramaphosa as the incoming chair of the African Union could play an important role in ensuring a peaceful resolution is found.

Talks last week among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan failed to reach agreement on technical issues including the filling of the $4.6 billion Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is around 70% complete.

Egypt has said filling the dam’s reservoir too quickly could significantly reduce the amount of Nile water available to its people and agriculture. Ethiopia says the dam is needed for development in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Last week Ethiopia said Egypt asked to extend the time it takes to fill the dam from 12 years to 21 years. Ethiopia called that “not acceptable” and plans to start filling the dam in July at the start of the rainy season.

Egypt later said Ethiopia’s government failed to prove it would take all necessary precautions to ensure that the dam will not affect Egypt’s water supply, especially in times of drought.

Water and energy ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are expected to meet again Monday in Washington to report on their progress. The U.S. and World Bank are observers to the talks after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi last year pleaded to the U.S. and the international community to mediate a solution.

“Ethiopia always believes in a win-win approach with Egypt and Sudan. Our kind request is that Ramaphosa … as he is a good friend of Ethiopia and Egypt, also as the incoming African Union chair, he can make a discussion between both parties for us to solve the issue peacefully,” Abiy said Sunday.

He called it crucial that a peaceful solution be found and said he is sure Ramaphosa will “play a significant role” in negotiations.

The South African leader confirmed that he had already raised the matter with the Egyptian president.

“The Nile river is important to both countries and there must be a way in which both their interests can be addressed. There must be a way in which a solution can be found,” Ramaphosa said.

Ethiopia and South Africa signed several trade agreements in health, tourism and telecommunications during Abiy’s visit.

Ramaphosa also gave assurances to the Ethiopian prime minister that his country would protect Ethiopians living in South Africa from the xenophobic attacks that break out in South Africa. Last year, foreign businesses were targeted by locals in Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.


Related:

Ethiopians Have “Utmost Admiration” for Those Who Fought Against Apartheid, Says PM Abiy in South Africa

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Ethiopians Have “Utmost Admiration” for South Africa Heroes, Says PM Abiy

Ethiopians have the "utmost admiration" for those who fought against apartheid, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said while addressing ANC's 108th annual anniversary celebrations in South Africa on Saturday, January 11th 2020. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa/ANA)

African News Agency

Ethiopia has utmost admiration for SA liberation heroes, says prime minister Abiy Ahmed

Abiy Ahmed – the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner – was speaking at the African National Congress’s (ANC) 108th annual anniversary celebrations in Kimberley, the largest city in the Northern Cape.

“Ethiopians have always treated and looked with utmost admiration upon the great heroism of South African men and women in their successful struggle to end apartheid,” he told thousands of ANC supporters at the Tafel Lager Stadium in the city.

The ANC of today was the result of the unbroken chain of proud men and women who served their nation with honour, who fought the system of oppression, and suffered so that dignity and freedom might be known.

“South Africa will continue to be a more equitable”

He added that he salutes freedom fighters such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Ahmed Kathrada, and “many others who dedicated their lives to the struggle for a better South Africa and a better world”.

“We also salute the current leaders, and President Cyril Ramaphosa, for keeping strong the democratic and progressive vision that Madiba produced. I have no doubt that under the leadership of the ANC, South Africa will continue to be a more equitable, wealthier, healthier, and more tolerant and hopeful nation that inspires the rest of Africa,” he said.

Regardless of differing political orientations at home and abroad, all successive Ethiopian governments had firmly supported the “just cause” of the people of South Africa for freedom and equality, said Abiy.

Ethiopia remembers Mandela

He recalled Mandela travelling to Ethiopia for three months in 1962 to undergo military training, using an Ethiopian passport in the name of David Motsamayi.

“In his autobiography, Madiba speaks fondly about Ethiopia as a country that inspired him to continue his struggle against apartheid.”

Mandela was remembered in Ethiopia for his enduring values of peace and reconciliation, and the dedication to his long walk to freedom, justice, and moral leadership Abiy said.

He added that Ethiopians continued to be inspired by Madiba’s service to humanity., and said:


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addressing the audience. Photo: ANA/Danie van der Lith

“His immense contribution and exemplary leadership fostered the promotion of peace, tolerance, inclusivity, and forgiveness, which was close to the hearts of Ethiopians.” – Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed

Mandela relinquishing the South African presidency after one term in office was “so rare” in Africa that it served as an example to the current crop of the continent’s leaders.

Abiy said his own party would continue to work closely with the ANC in the interests of Pan-Africanism to the benefit of the people in both countries, and through “our joint continental leadership to the benefit of Africa and beyond”.

He wished Ramaphosa success as he moved the ANC “into the next stage”.

Read more »


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Abiy’s Agenda and the Future of Ethiopia

A Vendor sales a newspaper with a picture of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on it's cover in Addis Ababa, December 10, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

The Council on Foreign Relations

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ambitious reform plans for Ethiopia will be tested in the year ahead. Since taking the helm of government in April 2018, Abiy has been a whirlwind of activity, opening up political space and economic possibilities in his country. But Ethiopia’s complexity, and the way the lessons of its history have been framed, present real challenges to Abiy’s audacious overhaul and his stated goals of bringing more unity to the state, more dynamism and opportunity to its economy, and more justice to its people.

Abiy has stressed the importance of unity to Ethiopian politics. His new Prosperity Party represents a fundamental change from the ethnic federalist model that has dictated how politics have been organized in recent decades and has been regularly presented as the solution to the restiveness that plagued the country in earlier eras. In practice, this change not only threatens the interests of those who benefited from the old system; it changes the nature of the Ethiopian national project. In turbulent times it may well be a tougher sell than ethno-nationalism, which can be stoked at will by the prime minister’s opponents.

Delivering on his economic promises will be critical to maintaining support, but this too is not an easy task. Opening up to more foreign investment and more competition makes sense, but it comes with risks and painful transitions. It may not be possible to maintain growth at the projected, optimistic levels in the year ahead, and while international support is on the table, it will take even more significant and clearheaded support from abroad to ease the way toward sustainable prosperity.

Finally there is the issue of security. For now, dismantling the machinery of repression has meant weakening the state’s ability to maintain order. While the internal displacement crisis of 2019 has abated in large measure, the perils of disorder loom over plans for some 50 million Ethiopians to cast their ballots in May’s general elections. Abiy is encouraging Ethiopians to revise their idea of what the state represents, but he has to ensure that providing security is a bedrock, dependable element of his work in progress.


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Is Trump Mad at Obama or Ethiopia?

(Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

January 10th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Politics aside, Donald Trump — who last month became only the third president in American history to be impeached – seems to be continuing his endless rant against Obama, and this time it also looks like he may be mad at Ethiopia’s PM for robbing him of the chance to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Eugene Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize winning Columnist and Associate Editor of The Washington Post, had asked in a poignant article this week: “Seriously? Does Obama take up that much space inside Trump’s head?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Eugene then proceeded to remind us that:

the vehicle Trump used to transform himself from a harmless New York character into a malevolent political force was birtherism — the absurd, fictional and racist claim that the nation’s first African American president was not actually born in the United States. I have met Trump supporters who still believe in this thoroughly debunked fairy tale. Obama’s election and reelection made a powerful statement about the nation and its growing diversity. Trump, however, portrayed that statement as a threat. Whether he genuinely felt a sense of racial panic or just pretended to do so is irrelevant. That’s how he played it, and he rode Obama-hatred to the White House.

But even more bemusing is that Trump, who has long coveted in matching Obama with the prestigious Nobel Prize, whined that the 2019 award has gone to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize,” Trump told a rally in Toledo, Ohio last night. “I’ll tell you about that. I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said, ‘what, did I have something do with it?’ Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is. As long as we know, that’s all that matters.”

Well, we are more than certain that PM Abiy will be the first to credit the youth protesters across Ethiopia who’ve paid with their lives for political reform in the country not any foreign leader or nation. Still, we all appreciate America’s continued engagement with Ethiopia and its support to assist the people’s desire to build a more peaceful, inclusive and democratic society, and maintaining the more-than-a-century-old relationship that began in 1903, making Ethiopia the first diplomatic partner of the United States on the African continent.

In the end, Trump is not mad at Ethiopia. As Peter Weber of The Week Magazine noted he is simply envious of his predecessor: “The last U.S. president to win a Nobel Peace Prize was Barack Obama.”


Related:

Trump tells Toledo rally he ‘saved’ Ethiopia, laments he didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize for it (The Week Magazine)

Puzzlement in Ethiopia as Trump claims hand in Nobel prize (The Associated Press)

Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed (BBC)

Trump takes partial credit for Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize. That’s news to Ethiopians. (The Washington Post)

A ‘confused’ Trump tried to take credit for the Ethiopian prime minister’s Nobel Peace Prize (Business Insider)

TRUMP INSISTS HE WAS ROBBED OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AT OHIO RALLY (Vanity Fair)

Foreign Affairs Democrats: ‘Trump is confused’ on Ethiopian claim (The Hill)

‘Confused’ Trump mocked after claiming he should have won Nobel Peace Prize for ‘saving’ Ethiopia (Independent)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Man Convicted in Killing of Ethiopian Refugee Store Clerk

Sarah Pratcher (right) signs the memorial with her friend Mary Bledsoe outside the closed convenience store on July 8, 2014, where store clerk Abdulrauf Kadir, an Ethiopian refugee was shot and killed. "He was a good person," said Pratcher. (Photo St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

By The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — A man has been convicted in the shooting death of an Ethiopian refugee who was working at a convenience store to earn enough money to bring his wife and children from a refugee camp to St. Louis.

Antonio Muldrew, 41, of St. Louis, was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder and five other charges in the July 2014 death of convenience store clerk Abdulrauf Kadir. He faces a life sentence.

Muldrew shot Kadir three times in the chest and abdomen before going behind the counter himself to make change and sales for patrons as Kadir bled, the Missouri attorney general’s office said in a news release. Muldrew then grabbed cash and lottery tickets from the register and counter and fatally shot Kadir in the head twice when he sought help from customers.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who prosecuted the case, said Muldrew told police, “He was going to die anyway. I wanted to make sure he was dead. He said he had two kids but I didn’t care,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Muldrew didn’t testify this week. His public defender, Sharon Turlington, did not dispute that Muldrew killed Kadir but argued the evidence supported a second-degree murder conviction. She told the jury he was a regular customer of the store and was desperate to get money for his pregnant girlfriend.

Kadir had immigrated to the United States from Kenya after fleeing his home country of Ethiopia in the midst of a civil war. Schmitt said in the release that his life was “unnecessarily and brutally cut short.”


Related:

St. Louis man found guilty in 2014 deadly robbery of Ethiopian refugee


Abdulrauf Kadir, third from the right, was fatally shot in 2014 in St. Louis. He was an Ethiopian refugee working to bring his wife, Kuzeyma, daughter Samira and son, Omar, to the United States. Photo and names provided by the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — A jury has found a St. Louis man guilty of gunning down an Ethiopian refugee who was working to bring his wife and two young children here from Africa.

After deliberating for about 90 minutes Wednesday, jurors found Antonio Muldrew, 41, guilty of first-degree murder, robbery, assault and three counts of armed criminal action in the July 6, 2014, killing of Abdulrauf Kadir.

Muldrew fatally shot Kadir, 32, a convenience store clerk, about 3:25 p.m. and robbed the store of cash and lottery tickets.

Kadir had lived in St. Louis only eight months when he was shot to death while working as a clerk at his cousin’s corner market at 3404 Chippewa Street. At the time of his death, Kadir was working two jobs in St. Louis to send money to his wife and two young children waiting to come to St. Louis from a refugee camp in Kenya.

Surveillance video of the shooting showed Muldrew standing in the store for several minutes, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cellphone before shooting Kadir three times in the chest with a .25-caliber pistol.

Muldrew then looted the cash register and pretended to be the store’s clerk for other customers as Kadir lay bleeding on the floor. Kadir begged for his life, told Muldrew about his wife and two children and said he could take everything he wanted, including a 9 mm pistol behind the counter. Muldrew did so and shot Kadir twice in the head, killing him.

Muldrew then walked back to his apartment a couple of blocks south on Louisiana Avenue and hid the guns, cash and lottery tickets. Police arrested him a short time later when he returned to the shooting scene.

Muldrew initially denied involvement but later confessed, telling police, “He was going to die anyway. I wanted to make sure he was dead. He said he had two kids but I didn’t care.”

Evidence at trial included the cigarette butt Muldrew left in the store, which had his DNA on it, the two pistols and lottery tickets seized at his apartment, and Muldrew’s clothing and shoes with Kadir’s blood on it.

Muldrew did not testify this week. Muldrew’s public defender, Sharon Turlington, did not dispute that Muldrew killed Kadir but argued the evidence supported a conviction of second-degree murder. She told the jury he was a regular customer of the store and was desperate to get money for his pregnant girlfriend.

Prosecutors announced in 2015 that they would seek the death penalty but withdrew that option after several mental evaluations found Muldrew “intellectually disabled” but competent to stand trial. His public defender told the court Muldrew has an IQ between 65 and 70.

Muldrew’s sister, Aurtisha Volrie, 39, of Los Angeles, said in an interview that her brother, who she said suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, belongs in a mental hospital, not prison. She believes the criminal justice system failed him by not forcing him to continue prescribed medication after he was paroled from a Missouri prison in 2013, and by finding him mentally competent for trial.

“He’s not the monster they’re proclaiming him to be,” Volrie said, adding that their oldest brother was fatally shot in Los Angeles in 1992. “I hurt for Kadir’s family because I know what it’s like to lose a loved one to gun violence.

“The system just robbed me of my brother,” she continued.

Muldrew had fathered 13 children, Volrie said. His youngest was born weeks after his arrest for Kadir’s death.

The case was prosecuted by Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office instead of Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner because of a conflict of interest with a former top assistant.

When Muldrew is sentenced Feb. 21 by Circuit Judge Michael Mullen, Muldrew will receive the mandatory sentence of life without parole.


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World Bank Cuts Ethiopia Growth Forecast

“Growth is expected to slow due to tighter fiscal and monetary policy stances aimed at containing inflation,” the World Bank said in a report released Wednesday in Washington. The annual inflation rate in [Ethiopia] was 19.5% in December. (Photographer: Yannick Tylle/Corbis Documentary)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

The World Bank cut its forecast for Ethiopia’s economic growth in the 2020 fiscal year to 6.3%, well below the government’s projection.

The National Bank of Ethiopia has forecast that gross domestic product growth would accelerate to 10.8% for the fiscal year ending in July, up from a 9% pace in fiscal 2019 as the government implements a blueprint expected to boost investment.

Read more: Ethiopia Returns to Double-Digit Economic Growth (Bloomberg)

Economic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government have renewed interest from investors and attracted billions of dollars in financial support. However, the country is struggling with foreign currency shortages, shrinking exports and the highest inflation in half a decade.

“Growth is expected to slow due to tighter fiscal and monetary policy stances aimed at containing inflation,” the World Bank said in a report released Wednesday in Washington. The annual inflation rate in the Horn of Africa nation was 19.5% in December.

The lender reduced its fiscal 2020 growth forecast for Ethiopia by 1.9 percentage points from the prior estimate in June. Growth could increase slightly to 6.4% in fiscal 2021 and 7.1% in 2022, according to the World Bank.


Related:

World Bank cuts growth forecast for fourth time in a row (Axios)

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Ethiopia Returns to Double-Digit Growth

Economic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government have renewed interest from investors and attracted billions of dollars in financial support from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. (Photo: Reuters)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia Returns to Double-Digit Economic Growth

Ethiopia forecasts economic growth will accelerate to 10.8% for the fiscal year ending in July underpinned by its reforms, from 9% in the previous year, according to the National Bank of Ethiopia.

“The proper implementation of the recently launched Home Grown Economic Reform Program is expected to contribute toward developing a modern, vibrant, competitive and sound financial system,” according to the NBE annual report.

Economic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government have renewed interest from investors and attracted billions of dollars in financial support from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Abiy, last year’s Nobel laureate, has opened up Ethiopia’s once tightly controlled political and economic space since taking power in April 2018. Africa’s second-most populous nation is liberalizing state-owned telecommunications, sugar and energy companies.

Ethiopia’s current-account deficit narrowed to $4.5 billion in 2018-19 from $5.3 billion a year earlier, the central bank said. Exports were $2.77 billion, compared to $15.1 billion of imports in the same period.


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Ethiopia Changes Anti-Terror Law

The parliament building in Addis Ababa. (Reuters photo)

By Reuters

Ethiopia Relaxes Curbs on Political Gatherings With New Anti-Terror Law

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s parliament on Thursday passed an anti-terrorism law that relaxed restrictions on political gatherings, broadening reforms introduced under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The legislation repealed the 2009 anti-terrorism law that said staging gatherings that could cause “serious interference or disruption of any public services” was an act of terrorism.

The new legislation states: “If the disruption of public services was caused by a legally recognized protest, meetings or job strikes, the act will not be taken as a terrorist act.”

Since coming to power in 2018, Abiy has implemented a series of reforms that have reshaped public life in Ethiopia.

He made peace with Eritrea, freed political prisoners, and is opening up the economy to foreign investment by loosening state control.

The country is due to hold a general election this year, which will test the popularity of Abiy’s reforms.

Under the new law, Ethiopians who suffer abuses at the hands of law enforcement can receive compensation of up to 50,000 Ethiopian Birr ($1,500).

For anyone convicted of terrorism, though, the new law maintains sentences of death or jail terms of 15 years to life.

Although Abiy’s reforms have drawn plaudits and won him a Nobel prize, a freer environment has stirred violence in some areas as previously repressed ethnic groups assert their newly found freedom and demand a bigger share of the nation’s resources.


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Angelina Jolie Visits Ethiopia with Zahara & Shiloh — and Met Nation’s First Female President

Angelina Jolie, Zahara [who was born in Ethiopia] and Shiloh in a meeting with the President of Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewde. (OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT)

People

Angelina Jolie is returning to a place close to her heart.

The actress, 44, visited Ethiopia with four of her kids — Shiloh, 13, and Zahara, 14, who was born in the African country, as well as 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne. The family will stay in the region for New Year’s Eve.

While there, Jolie brought Shiloh and Zahara to meet with Sahle-Work Zewde, the president of Ethiopia and the first woman to hold the office. It was a special treat for Zahara, who turns 15 on Jan. 8.

Their talks covered education, sanitary pad solutions to help girls continue their schooling (girls often stay home from class while menstruating due to lack of supplies), and Ethiopian culture and history. The group also discussed Jolie’s ongoing efforts to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The actress and activist has funded efforts for over a decade through the Zahara Program, named after her daughter. The Jolie Pitt Foundation partnered with the Global Health Committee and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health in 2009 to create an initiative to treat drug-resistant TB.

Their work has led to continuing success in treating people with TB in the region.

Read more »


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Cheers, Tears, Prayers for 2020

Confetti falls at midnight on the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Cheers, tears, prayers for 2020: A new decade is ushered in

Revelers around the globe are bidding farewell to a decade that will be remembered for the rise of social media, the Arab Spring, the #MeToo movement and, of course, President Donald Trump. A look at how the world is ushering in 2020:
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NEW YORK

Fireworks burst and confetti fell as throngs of revelers cheered the start of 2020 in New York City’s Times Square.

In one of the globe’s most-watched New Year’s Eve spectacles, the crowd counted down the last seconds of 2019 as a luminescent crystal ball descended down a pole.

About 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti showered the sea of attendees, many of whom were also briefly rained on earlier in the evening as they waited in security pens for performances by stars including rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

The crowds packed into the heart of Manhattan mouthed lyrics and waved yellow and purple balloons in a frenzy as midnight approached.

“It was a dream, I wanted to do it so this year a lot of people helped me to get here so I’m here, and I’m thankful for that,” said Mariemma Mejias, 48, who flew to New York for the festivities from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The fun was evident, but some important global issues were driven home as well.

Spotlighting efforts to combat climate change, high school science teachers and students pressed the button that begins the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to the new year.
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RIO DE JANEIRO

About 3 million people welcomed 2020 at Brazil’s iconic Copacabana beach as almost 34,000 pounds (15,420 kilograms) of colorful fireworks went off for 14 minutes after midnight.

Rio de Janeiro holds one of the biggest New Year parties in the world, with music, drinks and religious rituals on the shores. Many dress in white in a traditional sign of their hope for peace. About 2,000 policemen are working to ensure party-goers are safe. Authorities say only minor incidents have been reported so far.

Many locals and tourists are expected to stick around Copacabana until Wednesday’s sunrise for their first dip of the year in the ocean, expecting to wash away their troubles from 2019. Summer in Rio often brings high temperatures early on.

The party in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s metropolis, took about 2 million people to Paulista Avenue, the city’s main road. Nearly all the 6,000 pounds (2,720 kilograms) of fireworks used there were silent so pets did not get too bothered by the noise.

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PARIS

A joyful crowd of Parisians and tourists walked, biked and used scooters to reach the Champs-Elysees for the new year celebrations, in a city with almost no public transport amid massive strikes.

Revelers converged at the famous avenue to watch a light show at the Arc de Triomphe, followed by a fireworks display at midnight. Paris police set up a security perimeter around the Champs-Elysees area with a ban on alcohol and traffic restrictions.

All metro lines in the French capital were closed except for two automatic lines, and only a few night buses were running, as Tuesday marked the 27th consecutive day of transport strikes against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the French pension system.

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ROME

Pope Francis delighted tourists and Romans in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday night when he took a stroll to admire the Nativity scene. Shouts of “Pope! Pope!” and “Happy New Year!” resounded as families rushed to catch a glimpse of him or thrust out their infant in hopes he would pat their heads or pinch their cheeks.

One woman grabbed the pope’s hand and pulled him toward her to shake it. Francis, 83, exclaimed and then struck the woman’s hand twice to free his hand.

At a New Year’s Eve Vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis urged people to practice more solidarity and to “build bridges, not walls.” Since becoming pontiff in 2013, Francis has preached openness — a reform-minded agenda that has irritated a small but vocal group of ultra-conservatives in the church.

___

HONG KONG

Revelers as well as pro-democracy protesters flocked to sites across Hong Kong to usher in 2020.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city has toned down New Year’s celebrations amid the monthslong demonstrations. The protests have repeatedly sparked pitched battles with police and have taken their toll on Hong Kong’s nightlife and travel industries.

A fireworks display that traditionally lights up famed Victoria Harbor was canceled amid safety concerns, while some roads were closed and barriers set up in the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district to control crowds.

___

RUSSIA

Russians began the world’s longest continuous New Year’s Eve with fireworks and a message from President Vladimir Putin urging them to work together in the coming year.

Putin made the call in a short speech broadcast on television just before the stroke of midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones. The recorded message was followed by an image of the Kremlin Clock and the sound of its chimes. State TV showed footage of extensive festive fireworks in cities of the Far East.

But one holiday tradition was missing in Moscow this year — a picturesque layer of snow. The Russian capital has had an unusually warm December and temperatures in central Moscow as midnight approached were just above freezing.

___

AUSTRALIA

More than a million people descended on a hazy Sydney Harbour and surrounding areas to ring in the new year despite the ongoing wildfire crisis ravaging New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.

The 9 p.m. fireworks over Sydney’s iconic landmarks was briefly delayed due to strong winds, but revelers clearly enjoyed themselves in a desperately needed tonic for the state.

New South Wales has born the brunt of the wildfire damage, which has razed more than 1,000 homes nationwide and killed 12 people in the past few months.

___

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand’s major cities greeted the new year with fireworks as the nation appeared happy to be done with a year of challenges, both natural and man-made.

On March 15, a lone gunman identified killed 51 people and wounded dozens at two mosques in the South Island city of Christchurch. In December, an eruption of volcanic White Island off the east coast of the North Island killed at least 19 tourists and tour guides.

___

SAMOA

Fireworks erupted at midnight from Mount Vaea, overlooking the capital, Apia. The end of the year celebration was a time of sadness and remembrance.

A measles epidemic in late 2019 claimed 81 lives, mostly children under 5.

More than 5,600 measles cases were recorded in the nation of just under 200,000. With the epidemic now contained, the Samoa Observer newspaper named as its Person of the Year health workers who fought the outbreak.

___

LONDON

Londoners watched a spectacular fireworks display from the banks of the River Thames that was launched from the London Eye and barges near Parliament.

The familiar chimes of London’s Big Ben clock tower rung in the new year, even though they have been silent for most of 2019 because of extensive restoration work.

To the north, the multi-day Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations in Edinburgh began Monday night with a torchlight parade through the streets of the Scottish capital.

Security was tight in both cities and elsewhere in Britain following a recent extremist attack on London Bridge that claimed two lives. Police arrested five men on suspicion of terrorism offenses Monday but said the arrests were not related to the London Bridge attack or to celebrations.

___

SOUTH AFRICA

Thousands of revelers gathered at Cape Town’s Waterfront area to ring in the new year with music, dancing and fireworks in front of the city’s iconic Table Mountain.

In past years, residents of Johannesburg’s poor Hillbrow neighborhood would celebrate the New Year by tossing furniture, appliances and even refrigerators from the balconies of high-rise apartment buildings. Police have issued stern warnings, and it appears the dangerous tradition has declined.

In a somber statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa said “while our economy created jobs, these have not been nearly enough to stop the rise in unemployment or the deepening of poverty.”

South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka was deported from Uganda, where she was to perform at a New Year’s Eve event. Ugandan police cited visa issues, but Ugandan media reported it was because she had voiced support for Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine, the most potent opposition challenger to President Yoweri Museveni.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

For nearly 10 minutes, fireworks lit the sky over Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, as hundreds of thousands gathered downtown to watch the spectacular display.

The New Year’s Eve display at the 828-meter-tall (2,716-foot-tall) skyscraper was just one of seven different fireworks shows across the emirate. Tourists, especially from Europe and Russia, flocked to the sunny beaches of Dubai at this time of year to escape the cold, dark winter.

To keep the massive crowds safe, police created walkways around the Burj Khalifa tower for male-only groups to separate them from families and women.

Dubai this year will be hosting Expo 2020, a world fair that brings the most cutting-edge and futuristic technologies.

___

JAPAN

People flocked to temples and shrines in Japan, offering incense with their prayers to celebrate the passing of a year and the the first New Year’s of the Reiwa era.

Under Japan’s old-style calendar, linked to emperors’ rules, Reiwa started in May, after Emperor Akihito stepped down and his son Naruhito became emperor. Although Reiwa is entering its second year with 2020, Jan. 1 still marks Reiwa’s first New Year’s, the most important holiday in Japan.

Stalls at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo sold sweet rice wine, fried noodles and candied apples, as well as little amulets in the shape of mice, the zodiac animal for 2020. Since the Year of the Mouse starts off the Asian zodiac, it’s associated with starting anew.

Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, an event that is creating much anticipation for the entire nation.

___

INDONESIA

Tens of thousands of revelers in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta were soaked by torrential rains as they waited for New Year’s Eve fireworks while others in the country were wary of an active volcano.

Festive events along coastal areas near the Sunda Strait were dampened by a possible larger eruption of Anak Krakatau, an island volcano that erupted last year just ahead of Christmas Day, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 430 people.

The country’s volcanology agency has warned locals and tourists to stay 2 kilometers (1.3 miles) from the volcano’s crater following an eruption Tuesday that blasted ash and debris up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) into the air.

___

SOUTH KOREA

Thousands of South Koreans filled cold downtown streets in Seoul ahead of a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall to send off an exhausting 2019 highlighted by political scandals, decaying job markets and crumbling diplomacy with North Korea.

Dignitaries ringing the old Bosingak bell at midnight included South Korean Major League Baseball pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and Pengsoo, a giant penguin character with a gruff voice and blunt personality that emerged as one of the country’s biggest TV stars in 2019.

___

GERMANY

Hundreds of thousands of revelers were expected to ring in the New Year in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Several German cities including Munich and Hamburg have banned private fireworks amid concerns about the danger and environmental impacts from the increasingly powerful fireworks. A recent poll by the Forsa research institute found 59% of Germans would support a ban on private fireworks in city centers, while 37% were opposed.

___

LAS VEGAS

Tourism officials expected more than 300,000 revelers for fireworks fired at midnight from atop seven casinos on the resort-lined Las Vegas Strip. Thousands more were expected for live music and an LED light and sound show at the downtown Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall.

“I tell people to expect one of the better fireworks they’re ever going to see,” said Michael Austin, a country music singer from Nashville, Tennessee, who was booked to perform in Las Vegas. “Swarms of people getting along, bringing in the new year.”

Juan and Isabel Tinajero, making their first family visit to Las Vegas, said they hoped 2020 brings less stress than 2019.

“I expect a great show,” Juan Tinajero said as Isabel pushed a stroller along the Las Vegas Strip sidewalk. “It’s Vegas, right?”

___

HONOLULU

Revelers packed beaches from Waikiki to the Big Island as Hawaii residents and visitors prepared to ring in the new decade.

A strong winter swell brought heavy waves to north- and west-facing shores of the islands Monday, nearly triggering the iconic Waimea Bay big wave contest named after Hawaiian surfing legend Eddie Aikau.

The waves weren’t quite big enough for the green light on the North Shore Oahu surfing competition, but waters across the archipelago saw above-average sets of rollers that some surfers took full advantage of.

On Oahu, people packed the streets of Waikiki, where a fireworks display would welcome 2020. But across the island at Ko Olina and Turtle Bay resorts, people gathered to the sounds of bumping music as tiki torches burned along walkways.

Comedian Bill Maher was spotted leaving one hotel as he prepared for his annual comedy show in Honolulu.

Fireworks displays both big and small were expected across the islands as the sanctioned shows competed with the less legal versions of the explosive festivities in neighborhoods on every island.

At Ko Olina Resort on Oahu’s west side, people watched sun dip below the horizon of the Pacific as the sky turned shades of orange and red before a deep blue sky took over. A traditional Hawaii luau was set for later in the evening, with fire and hula dancers set to entertain the crowds.


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Ethiopia’s Draft Proclamation: Comparative View on Hate Speech & Hate Crime

A taxi driver in Addis Ababa reading news on his mobile phone. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 28th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — As Ethiopia prepares to pass “Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation,” there has been very little meaningful public discussion regarding what exactly constitutes hate speech and hate crime.

In the short term, from the government’s perspective, the upcoming law is designed to fight the ongoing threat of misinformation — particularly on social media platforms, which often leads to deadly violence on the ground as well as destruction of property, usually on ethnocentric and religious lines. There could be no doubt that inciting violence and burning down places of business, residential houses, public buildings or sanctuaries of worship including churches and mosques, which has become a more common occurrence in Ethiopia, are pure criminal acts and not freedom of expression by any standard of the definition.

Here in the United States — another diverse country with its own issues of hate speech, racial or ethnic discrimination, and gun violence — the constitution unambiguously forbids that the government “shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech, or of the press,” yet hate crime and arson are clearly defined as illegal federal offenses resulting in stiff penalties under the national penal code including years of imprisonment.

Hate Crime

According to the American Library Association (ALA), in the U.S.:

Hate itself is not a crime. The FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate crimes, which can also encompass color, or national origin, are overt acts that can include violence against persons or property, violation of civil rights, conspiracy, or certain “true threats,” or acts of intimidation. The Supreme Court has upheld laws that either criminalize these acts or impose a harsher punishment when it can be proven that the defendant targeted the victim because of the victim’s race, ethnicity, identity, or beliefs.

Similarly, arson is against federal law as described in 18 U.S.C. § 844(i) that intentionally setting fire to both commercial and private spaces are punishable by a hefty prison term of up to 20 years behind bars. “If a violation resulted in personal injury to any person, the maximum sentence is 40 years in jail, with a minimum of 7 years.”

Hate Speech

On the other hand, “Hate speech doesn’t have a legal definition under U.S. law, just as there is no legal definition for rudeness, evil ideas, unpatriotic speech, or any other kind of speech that people might condemn,” explains ALA. “Generally, however, hate speech is any form of expression through which speakers intend to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or a class of persons.” The U.S. Supreme Court empathizes that the nation “must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate ‘breathing space’ to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. Tolerance of hate speech not only protects and upholds everyone’s right to express outrageous, unorthodox or unpopular speech; it also allows society and the targets of hate speech to know about and respond to racist or hateful speech and protect against its harms.”

The Problem with Ethiopia’s Proclamation

Given that Ethiopia’s history of oppression and suppression of free speech it is understandable that international human rights organizations are expressing skepticism and concern about this recent proclamation’s unintended long-term effects. For instance, what kind of guarantees are included in the legislation to prevent politicians from weaponizing the legal loophole to target their opponents and journalists? This loophole must be addressed through the judicial system and not left up to the goodwill of any current or future leader.

According to Human Rights Watch the draft bill, which has already been approved at a cabinet level, jeopardizes Ethiopia’s newly found freedom of expression. In a press release issued on December 19th the the New York-based rights group warned that if it becomes law in its current form, “the Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation could significantly curtail freedom of expression,” noting that “the use of hate speech laws around the world shows that authorities have often abused them for political purposes.”

“The government should instead adopt a comprehensive strategy to address incitement to violence, discrimination and hostility, and invoke non-punitive measures to address hate speech,” Human Rights Watch added. “This should include regular public messaging from the prime minister and other public figures about the dangers of hate speech, programs to improve digital literacy, and efforts to encourage self-regulation within and between communities.”

More importantly, Human Rights Watch cautions the following:

The draft proclamation’s definition of hate speech is not narrowly restricted to speech that is likely to incite imminent violence, discrimination or hostility, as is required under international law…Nor does the draft law set out an objective process to make this determination” adding that “the draft includes new, vaguely worded online, broadcast and print activities subject to criminal penalty. It criminalizes the “dissemination of disinformation” defined as speech that is knowingly “false,” without defining this concept. It also sets criminal penalties if speech is not “truthful.”

Given that Ethiopia is at the crossroads — in the process of easing prior restrictions on freedom of expression while grappling with increasing acts of ethnic and religion-based violence — it is critical that this draft proclamation uphold the spirit of freedom of speech while also properly defining which actions specifically constitutes as hate-crime rather than unleashing broad, sweeping measures that could be politically used to silence any unwanted opposition. Restricting hate crimes while upholding free speech is by no means an easy challenge, but it’s possible, and it begins with having an informed national dialogue.


Related:

Narrow hate speech law will not broaden minds: by Girmachew Alemu

Rights Group Calls New Law in Ethiopia a Threat to Freedom of Expression (VOA)

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Ethiopia Charges Former Head of State Electricity Firm, Others With Corruption

Zinabu Tunu, Spokesperson and Communication Affair Director of Attorney General of Ethiopia, takes questions from journalists during a news conference in Addis Ababa, on January 25, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia on Friday charged the former head of the state electricity company and the former deputy head of military-run industrial conglomerate METEC with corruption in relation to the giant hydroelectric dam the country is building.

Azeb Asnake and Mulu Woldegebriel were charged in relation to a 5.1 billion Ethiopian birr (about $159 million) contract awarded to METEC to clear a forest area where water from the dam on the Nile River is planned to flow, Attorney General office spokesman Zinabu Tunu told Reuters.

At least half of the money was wasted and the contract was never finalised, he said.

Azeb is the former CEO of Ethiopian Electric Power and Mulu is the former deputy head of METEC.

Azeb did not respond to phone calls seeking comment after Friday’s announcement by the attorney general’s office. Mulu, previously charged in a separate corruption case involving METEC, is in jail awaiting trial in that case.

Nearly 50 other people, some of them former METEC officials and others employees of private companies involved in the contract, were charged along with the two senior officials, the spokesman said.

The case is the latest probe into graft by the government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office last year vowing to clean up state-owned firms and the military.

He cancelled many METEC contracts, including one related to the nearly $5 billion Grand Renaissance Dam.

Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Editing by Maggie Fick and Mark Potter


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Washington Post on Tommy T’s New Song

Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena (standing) and Mahmoud Ahmed (seated). (Bereket Essayas and Nebiyou Elias)

The Washington Post

Tommy T wrote a great song. Then he convinced one of his heroes to sing it.

Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena had all the pieces of a terrific song. He had a fistful of intricate melodies, inspired by Ethiopian folk music and shimmering like rare jewels. There was a thick reggae pulse — a thump masquerading as a lilt. And, of course, there was that low, latent, guiding groove coming from Tommy’s own bass guitar. Now he just needed someone to sing it.

Jump ahead to a Stephen Marley concert at Washington’s 9:30 Club at which Tommy spotted one of his musical heroes dancing in the wings. It was the legendary vocalist Mahmoud Ahmed. Was this really happening? Here was one of the greatest Ethiopian singers alive moving his body to a reggae beat. “I heard his voice on the track in that moment,” Tommy says.

Read more »


Related:

Spotlight: Tommy T’s newest Single ‘Anchin’ Featuring Mahmoud Ahmed (TADIAS)

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In Praise of Barack Obama, Music Critic

President Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, center, with performers at the White House in 2015. (Credit...Amanda Lucidon/White House)

The New York Times

The former president’s annual year-end playlist never fails to delight.

In recent years, one unlikely [music] critic has emerged whose year-end list I find myself coveting: Barack Obama, who every December issues deliriously geeky inventories that catalog his favorite pop songs, books and films from the year. (His 2019 list is due any day now. He also issues “summer playlists” that include older songs.) His erudite book choices fall under his professional purview, and his movie picks seem fine enough. But Mr. Obama’s music lists — unruly, spiked with surprises and a tad quirky — can truly sing.

As it turns out, the former president’s ears really do protrude outward, swooping up a generous hodgepodge of genres and styles: hip-hop, rock (“dad” and otherwise), R&B and more. My favorite entry comes in his 2017 list, delivered as a nerdy asterisked addendum: “Bonus,” he writes. “‘Born in the U.S.A.’ by Bruce Springsteen (not out yet, but the blues version in his Broadway show is the best!).”

Regardless of any feelings about the recent leader of the free world transitioning into a Nick Hornby protagonist, Mr. Obama makes a knockout music critic. Putting together these year-end lists is no picnic. When staff positions compelled me to assemble them, the task reliably bedeviled me. Year after year, I would cavalierly shun entire musical movements, turn my nose up at anything hinting of trendiness and punish personal favorites if they fell short of masterpieces.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


Related:

Spotlight: Dinaw Mengestu’s Novel on Obama’s 2019 Summer Reading List

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Abiy Meets Isaias For 1st Time Since Nobel

File Image: President Isaias Afwerki (L) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed talk during the inauguration of the Tibebe Ghion Specialized Hospital in Bahir Dar, northern Ethiopia, on November 10, 2018. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

AFP

Abiy Meets Eritrean Leader For First Time Since Winning Nobel

ADDIS ABABA – Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki flew to Addis Ababa Wednesday for his first meeting with the Ethiopian prime minister since Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for initiating a thaw between the sparring neighbors.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a border war in 1998-2000 that left an estimated 80,000 dead before a prolonged stalemate took hold.

Shortly after he came to power last year, Abiy, 43, stunned observers at home and abroad by reaching out to Isaias and creating momentum for a peace deal.

Abiy welcomed Isaias at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate said.

“During his stay in Ethiopia, the Eritrean president is expected to meet with Ethiopian officials to discuss bilateral issues,” Fana said.

Isaias was accompanied by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Yemane Gebreab, a presidential advisor, according to a post on Twitter by Eritrean Information Minister Yemane G. Meskel.

“The two leaders will discuss enhancement of important bilateral & regional matters,” Yemane wrote.

Abiy’s office and a spokesman for Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After the two leaders first met and embraced on the tarmac in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, last year, they reopened embassies, resumed flights and held a series of meetings across the region.

But the initial optimism fueled by these gestures has faded, and citizens of both countries complain that they are still waiting for meaningful change.


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali receives medal and diploma from Chair of the Nobel Comitteee Berit Reiss-Andersen during Nobel Peace Prize awarding ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway.

During the Nobel award ceremony in Oslo earlier this month, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Anderson noted that the peace process “seems to be at a standstill,” with border crossings closed and little apparent progress on border demarcation efforts.

She said the committee hoped the Nobel would “spur the parties to further implementation of the peace treaties.”

Isaias and Abiy last met in Asmara in July.

Upon returning from Oslo to Ethiopia this month, Abiy expressed hope that the two leaders would be able to meet “soon”.

Abiy wrote on Twitter Wednesday that he was “happy to welcome again to his second home my comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afeworki and his delegation.”


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Ethiopian Muslims Protest After Several Mosques Burned (AP)

Many communities across Ethiopia have seen demonstrations including the capital, Addis Ababa. (Map via CGTN Africa

The Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Several thousand Muslims across Ethiopia in recent days have protested the burning of four mosques in the Amhara region. The Dec. 20 attacks in Motta town also targeted Muslim-owned businesses. Muslims have called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called the attacks “attempts by extremists to break down our rich history of religious tolerance and coexistence.” Recent ethnic-based unrest in some parts of the country has at times taken religious form.

Prominent Muslim scholar Kamil Shemsu on Tuesday told The Associated Press there are “political actors who want to pit one religious group against another” and blamed the negative role of activists and videos circulated online.

Amhara regional officials said they have arrested 15 suspects in connection with the attacks. Police commander Jemal Mekonnen told state media the attacks appeared to be triggered by news of a fire that broke out in an Orthodox church a few days earlier.

Regional officials were criticized for their slow response and their inability to stop similar attacks.

Many communities across Ethiopia have seen demonstrations including the capital, Addis Ababa.


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Susan Rice’s Memoir Prompts Nostalgia for the Obama Years

Then-President Barack Obama and his national security adviser, Susan Rice, at the Group of 20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, in 2015. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

By David Ignatius

Reading Susan Rice’s new memoir, “Tough Love,” is a reminder of two things: what a remarkably gifted, subtle but maddeningly distant man President Barack Obama was; and how people such as Rice who served him endured ceaseless public attacks in a country that was already on the ragged edge, though we didn’t yet know it.

Washington memoirs are most valuable for the parts that aren’t about what the author did at the office. That’s especially true of this account by the former national security adviser. The riveting passages are where Rice tells the private story that was hidden: her parents’ brutal divorce, her mother’s death, her children’s struggles with their mother’s public vilification.

Good memoirs always have a quality the Germans define as a bildungsroman, a novel of the principal character’s education in the world. That’s true with Rice’s tale: She was an African American who triumphed in the elite world of prep schools, Ivy League colleges and Rhodes scholarships. She embodied the intellect and ambition these institutions aspired to produce, even as she masked a shattered family where her parents “fought ugly and often,” she writes, and her home life was “like a civil war battlefield.”

Read more »


Related:

Susan Rice Has Spent Her Career Fighting off Detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’ (WaPo on Her Memoir)


Former national security adviser Susan Rice at her Washington home. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

October 8th, 2019

Susan Rice has spent her career fighting off detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’

She should have listened to her mother.

“Why do you have to go on the shows?” Lois Dickson Rice asked her daughter, Susan, in September 2012 “Where is Hillary?”

Susan Rice was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, equipped with a gold-standard Washington résumé — Stanford, Rhodes scholar, Oxford doctorate, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She explained that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “wiped after a brutal week.” The Obama White House asked Rice to appear “in her stead” on all five Sunday news programs.

It was days after attacks in Libya killed four U.S. officials.

“I smell a rat,” said her mother, a lauded education policy expert. “This is not a good idea. Can’t you get out of it?”

“Mom, don’t be ridiculous,” Rice said. “I’ve done the shows. It will be fine.”

Well, no, it was not.

Benghazi became the millstone in Rice’s stellar career. It stopped her from succeeding Clinton.

Criticism of Rice was relentless… The scrutiny lasted through multiple congressional investigations.

The aftermath took a punishing toll on Rice’s family and professional reputation, she reveals in her frank new memoir, “Tough Love.” The book also explores how, despite Rice’s many accomplishments during two administrations, she attracted criticism for her brusque manner. And Rice faces an extra challenge — she’s been forced to grapple with whether any of this adversity was somehow a result of her race and gender.

“The combination — being a confident black woman who is not seeking permission or affirmation from others — I now suspect accounts for why I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men,” she writes, “and perhaps also why I have long inspired motivated detractors who simply can’t deal with me.”

Read the full article at www.washingtonpost.com »


Related:

What My Father Thought Me About Race: By Susan Rice


Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the forthcoming memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” from which this essay is adapted. (Photo: Susan Rice with her father Emmett J. Rice, right, and the Federal Reserve chairman, William Miller, in 1979. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By Susan E. Rice

My father, Emmett Rice, was drafted into military service at the height of World War II and spent four and a half years in uniform, first as an enlisted man and ultimately as an officer with the rank of captain. Called up by the Army Air Force, he was sent to a two-part officer training program, which began in Miami and was completed at Harvard Business School — where he learned “statistical control” and “quantitative management,” a specialized form of accounting in an unusual program designed to build on his business background.

Emmett eventually was deployed to Tuskegee, Ala., where he joined the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first black fighter pilot unit, which distinguished itself in combat in Europe. Though he learned to fly, my father was not a fighter pilot, but a staff officer who ran the newly created Statistics Office, which performed management analyses for commanding officers. He earlier served a stint at Godman Field adjacent to Fort Knox, Ky. There, he was denied access to the white officers’ club. To add insult to injury, he saw German prisoners of war being served at restaurants restricted to blacks. Both in the military and the confines of off-base life, his time in Kentucky was a searing reintroduction to the Southern segregation he had experienced as a child in South Carolina.


Susan and Emmett Rice in 1996. (Credit Ian Cameron)

Still, socially and intellectually, dad’s Tuskegee years were formative. He met an elite cadre of African-American men who would later be disproportionately represented in America’s postwar black professional class, among them my mother’s brothers, Leon and David Dickson. Dad’s Tuskegee friends and acquaintances formed a network he maintained throughout his life. What was it, I have often wondered, about those Tuskegee Airmen and support personnel that seemingly enabled them to become a vanguard of black achievement? Perhaps the military preselected unusually well-educated and capable men for Tuskegee, or some aspect of their service experience propelled them as a group to succeed. To my lasting regret, I failed to take the opportunity to study this topic in depth before almost all those heroes passed away.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


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VOA on CNN Hero Freweini Mebrahtu

Girls attend school in Ethiopia. (Photo: Courtesy of Joni Kabana with Dignity Period)

An Ethiopian ‘Hero’ Works to Rebuild Girls’

by VOA

Freweini Mebrahtu remembers when she returned to her home village in northern Ethiopia. She saw women bending down and sitting over holes in the ground. Without any cotton padding to use during their monthly period, the women had to stay in this position.

“How is that possible? And they were telling me that they don’t even use underwear,” Freweini told VOA. “And that was the turning point for me… And that’s when I said, ‘You know, I’ve gotta do something. Why is this thing bothering me over and over again?’ So that was it.”

The more she thought about the problem, the bigger it appeared. Two out of every five girls have been forced to miss school during their periods, with many eventually leaving school. Older women were using old cloth or grass because they had no padding. Women and girls, she found, were being shamed by their community during their menstruation.

“We’re talking about …equality and all that stuff. But when the basic necessity of a young girl is not fulfilled, how is that possible?” she said.

In 2009, Freweini founded the Mariam Seba Products Factory in the city of Mekelle in northern Ethiopia. The factory makes reusable pads that can last up to 18 months. They cost 90 percent less than pads that are thrown away each month. Freweini joined up with an aid group called Dignity Period, and together they have given away more than 150,000 free menstrual kits made by the factory.

The work is having an effect. Dignity Period has recorded a 24 percent increase in attendance by girls in schools where they offer services.

This month, the American broadcaster CNN recognized Freweini as its Hero of the Year. The CNN award includes a prize of $100,000 to support her work. She said the award was an affirmation of a decision she made many years ago to move from the United States back to Ethiopia to make the pads.

“People thought that I was crying because of the whole event. But it’s the whole timing issue,” Freweini told VOA. “It must have been God’s willing it to happen, the way it happened.”

Her work, she says, is not done. She noted that there are 30 million women who menstruate in Ethiopia and most cannot get cotton pads. Additionally, there is a 15 percent value added tax on many menstrual health products.

“It’s not just Ethiopia…even in the U.S. there is a tax issue… we hope that everyone will make a sensible solution and a sensible change in making this a reality for all,” she said.


Related:

Meet 2019 CNN Hero of the Year: Freweini Mebrahtu

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U.S. Post-Impeachment: A New Nickname for Trump Goes Viral (LIVE UPDATE)

It's official: The U.S. House of Representatives has impeached Donald Trump making him only the third president in American history to receive the utmost Congressional reprimand for 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' In this case abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The process now moves to a Senate trial that will be presided over by the chief justice of the United States. In the latest development, the first national survey to measure public opinion on the impeachment vote shows that a majority of voters approve of the historic action taken by the House earlier this week. Meanwhile, a new nickname for Trump created by conservative attorney George Conway has gone viral on the internet: 'IMPOTUS' (IMpeached President Of The United States). Below are live updates and analysis of what comes next. (Getty Images)

TRUMP IMPEACHED: Donald Trump is the 3rd U.S. president to be Impeached; he faces a trial in the Senate

George Conway’s new nickname for Trump starts trend: ‘IMPOTUS’

The Hill

George Conway, a conservative attorney and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband, created a new nickname for President Trump that went viral Thursday after he lashed out online.

“An Update on IMPOTUS (IMpeached President Of The United States),” Conway, a frequent, and often fiery critic of the president tweeted Thursday night.

POTUS is a common acronym that stands for president of the United States. The new acronym sought to combine the two ideas of impeachment and the presidential office into one. The House voted to impeach Trump on two articles of impeachment earlier this week, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“Okay, you want a hashtag, you got it. #IMPOTUS,” Conway later added.

#IMPOTUS quickly went viral on Twitter, shooting to the top of the trending hashtags Friday. Several Twitter users used the trend to criticize the president.

Pam Keith, a former Democratic House candidate, tweeted, “100% on board with this. I came up with #Imp45 but #IMPOTUS is better.”

Rob Anderson, a Louisiana Democratic House candidate, tweeted “I think #IMPOTUS is apt.”

Others also used the hashtag to jab the president.

Conway shared his new nickname for the president as the top trending search Friday morning.

Read more »

Poll: Majority approves of Trump’s impeachment

POLITICO

A majority of voters approve of the House of Representatives’ impeachment of President Donald Trump earlier this week, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted in the immediate aftermath of the vote.

The narrow majority who approve, 52 percent, is greater than the 43 percent who disapprove of the House voting to impeach Trump, the poll shows. Five percent of voters have no opinion on Trump’s impeachment.

Support for impeachment breaks sharply among party lines. Among Democrats, 85 percent approve of the House’s action, and only 12 percent disapprove. Approval among Republicans is only 16 percent, compared with 81 percent who disapprove.

Among independents, 48 percent approve of the House passing articles of impeachment and 41 percent disapprove.

After the House vote on Wednesday, the impeachment fight will move — eventually — to the GOP-controlled Senate, where Republicans are confident they can stop the charges in their tracks. But public opinion on whether to actually remove Trump from office is virtually identical: Fifty-two percent would approve of the Senate voting to convict Trump, while 42 percent would disapprove.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, conducted Dec. 19-20, is the first national survey to measure public opinion on the impeachment vote. Prior to the vote, POLITICO/Morning Consult polls showed slightly greater support for impeaching Trump than other public surveys.

Read more »

Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, says Trump ‘should be removed from office’

The Washington Post

December 20th, 2019

The evangelical magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham published a surprising editorial Thursday calling for President Trump’s removal and describing him as “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

“Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment,” said the piece, written by editor in chief Mark Galli. “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”

Galli, who will retire from the magazine Jan. 3, wrote that the facts leading to Wednesday’s impeachment of Trump are unambiguous.

“The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents,” Galli wrote. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”

But the editorial didn’t just call out Trump. It called out his devout Christian supporters.

Trump’s hell suggestion outraged some faith leaders, but his evangelical advisers are still defending him

“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve,” Galli wrote. “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior.”

Trump lashed out at the magazine in a pair of early-morning tweets Friday, calling Christianity Today a “far left magazine … which has been doing poorly.”

He added that “no President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close.”

Galli told The Post Friday morning that Trump had mischaracterized the magazine, which considers itself centrist or possibly center-right.

“Nobody considers us as far-left,” Galli said. “We don’t comment on larger national issues except when they rise to a level of moral influence. … That’s not who we are.”

Read more »

AP Analysis: Impeachment forever changes Trump’s legacy

NEW YORK (AP) — The first line of President Donald Trump’s obituary has been written.

While Trump is all but certain to avoid removal from office, a portion of his legacy took shape Wednesday when he became just the third president in American history to be impeached by the U.S. House.

The two articles of impeachment approved along largely partisan lines on Wednesday stand as a constitutional rebuke that will stay with Trump even as he tries to trivialize their meaning and use them to power his reelection bid.

“It’ll be impossible to look back at this presidency and not discuss impeachment. It is permanently tied to his record,” said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. “Trump now always becomes part of the conversation about misusing presidential power. Ukraine will be his Watergate. Ukraine will be his Lewinsky.”

History books will add Trump to the section that features Bill Clinton, impeached 21 years ago for lying under oath about sex with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and Andrew Johnson, impeached 151 years ago for defying Congress on Reconstruction. Richard Nixon, who avoided impeachment by resigning during the Watergate investigation, is there, too.

Trump himself is keenly aware of the impact that impeachment may have on his legacy.

Read more »

TRUMP IMPEACHED: History in America


On Dec. 18, Donald Trump became one of only three presidents in American history to be impeached for criminal misconduct while in office. The full chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives voted resoundingly on Wednesday charging him with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On many levels, the historical vote was a vindication of the endurance of American democracy and the best constitution ever written in human history. The impeachment process now proceeds to a trial in the U.S. Senate, which has the ultimate authority on whether to keep him in office or not. This story is developing and will be updated. (Getty Images)

Day 1,063: The U.S. House of Representatives has impeached President Trump

What’s Next in the Historic U.S. Impeachment Process

The Associated Press

IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to name a handful of members to argue the Democrats’ case in the Senate trial. It’s still unclear who these impeachment managers will be, but they are likely to be members of the Judiciary and intelligence committees that took the lead on the case.

Pelosi has kept quiet on potential names. But the managers are expected to be from safe Democratic districts, diverse in race and gender and from all parts of the country. It is also likely that the number of impeachment managers will be fewer than 13, the number of GOP managers in President Bill Clinton’s 1998 trial.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler are front-runners for two of the positions.

THE SENATE TRIAL

If the House approves the charges, as expected, impeachment would then move to a weekslong Senate trial, where senators are jurors and the impeachment managers act as prosecutors. The chief justice of the United States presides over the trial.

If the Senate approves an article of impeachment with a two-thirds vote of “guilty,” the president is convicted and removed from office. If all the articles are rejected – as expected – the president is acquitted.

It is unclear how long the trial will last or exactly how it will be structured…

If he were convicted by the Senate, Trump would be the first to be removed.


House Judiciary approves Trump impeachment charges


Related:

Panel vote sends Trump impeachment charges to full House (AP)

The Associated Press

December 13, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats propelled President Donald Trump’s impeachment toward a historic vote by the full U.S. House as the Judiciary Committee on Friday approved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It’s the latest major step in the constitutional and political storm that has divided Congress and the nation.

The House is expected to approve the two articles of impeachment next week, before lawmakers depart for the holidays.

Read more »


House Judiciary Committee approves two articles of impeachment (Nightly News December 13th)

House Democrats charge Trump with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in two articles of impeachment


Lawyer for Democrats calls Trump ‘a clear and present danger’ as he argues case for removal

The Washington Post

December 9th, 2019

A lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee called President Trump “a clear and present danger” as he summarized the party’s case for impeaching him for having abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation into his conduct in Ukraine.

The testimony from Daniel S. Goldman came amid a contentious hearing at which lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans are making cases for and against impeachment. Stephen R. Castor, a lawyer for Republicans, called impeachment “baloney” and said Democrats had failed to make a compelling case.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Read more »


Related:

House impeachment report looks at abuse, bribery, corruption (AP)

The Associated Press

Updated: December 7th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Previewing potential articles of impeachment, the House Democrats on Saturday issued a lengthy report drawing on history and the Founding Fathers to lay out the legal argument over the case against President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

The findings from the House Judiciary Committee do not spell out the formal charges against the president, which are being drafted ahead of votes, possibly as soon as next week. Instead, the report refutes Trump’s criticism of the impeachment proceedings, arguing that the Constitution created impeachment as a “safety valve” so Americans would not have to wait for the next election to remove a president. It refers to the writings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others to link Trump’s actions in his July phone call with Ukraine’s president seeking political investigations of his rivals to the kind of behavior that would “horrify” the framers.

“Where the President uses his foreign affairs power in ways that betray the national interest for his own benefit, or harm national security for equally corrupt reasons, he is subject to impeachment by the House,” the Democrats wrote. “Indeed, foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our Nation and the Framers of our Constitution.”

Democrats are working through the weekend as articles are being drafted and committee members are preparing for a hearing Monday. Democrats say Trump abused his power in the July 25 phone call when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favor and engaged in bribery by withholding nearly $400 million in military aide that Ukraine depends on to counter Russian aggression.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it’s part of a troubling pattern of behavior from Trump that benefits Russia and not the U.S.

Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong. “Witch Hunt!”the president tweeted Saturday morning.

The articles of impeachment are likely to encompass two major themes — abuse of office and obstruction — as Democrats strive to reach the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.″

In releasing his report Saturday, Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the president’s actions are the framers’ “worst nightmare.”

“President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment,” Nadler said in a statement. “The safety and security of our nation, our democracy, and future generations hang in the balance if we do not address this misconduct. In America, no one is above the law, not even the President.”

The report released Saturday is an update of similar reports issued during the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachments and lays out the justification for articles under consideration, including abuse of power, bribery and obstruction.

It does not lay out the facts of the Ukraine case, but it hints at potential articles of impeachment and explains the thinking behind Democrats’ decision to draft them. Without frequently mentioning Trump, it alludes to his requests that Ukraine investigate Democrats, a move he believed would benefit him politically, by saying a president who “perverts his role as chief diplomat to serve private rather than public ends” has unquestionably engaged in the high crimes and misdemeanors laid out in the Constitution. That is true “especially” if he invited rather than opposed foreign interference, the report says.

The report examines treason, bribery, serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements and corruption of office and elections. Democrats have been focused on an overall abuse of power article, with the possibility of breaking out a separate, related article on bribery. They are also expected to draft at least one article on obstruction of Congress, or obstruction of justice.

In laying out the grounds for impeachable offenses, the report directly refutes several of the president’s claims in a section called “fallacies about impeachment,” including that the inquiry is based on secondhand evidence, that a president can do what he wants to do, and that Democrats’ motives are corrupt.

“The President’s honesty in an impeachment inquiry, or his lack thereof, can thus shed light on the underlying issue,” the report says.

In pushing ahead with the impeachment inquiry, Democrats are bringing the focus back to Russia.

Pelosi is connecting the dots — “all roads lead to Putin,” she says — and making the argument that Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine was not an isolated incident but part of a troubling bond with the Russian president reaching back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on the 2016 election interference.

“This isn’t about Ukraine,” she explained a day earlier. ”’It’s about Russia. Who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance? Russia.”

It’s an attempt to explain why Americans should care that Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate rival Joe Biden while withholding the military aid that Congress had approved.

At the same time, by tracing the arc of Trump’s behavior from the 2016 campaign to the present, it stitches it all together. And that helps the speaker balance her left-flank liberals, who want more charges brought against Trump, including from Mueller’s report, and centrist Democrats who prefer to keep the argument more narrowly focused on Ukraine.

Pelosi and her team are trying to convey a message that impeachment is indeed about Ukraine, but also about a pattern of behavior that could stoke renewed concern about his attitude toward Russia ahead of the 2020 election.

Trump pushed back on the Democrats’ message. “The people see that it’s just a continuation of this three-year witch hunt,” he told reporters as he left the White House on a trip to Florida.

Late Friday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone informed the Judiciary Committee that the administration would not be participating in upcoming hearings, decrying the proceedings as “completely baseless.”

And Trump’s campaign announced new rallies taking the case directly to voters — as well as a new email fundraising pitch that claims the Democrats have “gone absolutely insane.”

“The Democrats have NO impeachment case and are demeaning our great Country at YOUR expense,” Trump wrote in the email to supporters. “It’s US against THEM.”

Impeachment articles could include obstruction of Congress, as the White House ordered officials not to comply with House subpoenas for testimony or documents in the inquiry. They could also include obstruction of justice, based on Mueller’s report on the original Trump-Russia investigation.

There is still robust internal debate among House Democrats over how many articles to write and how much to include — and particularly whether there should be specific mention of Mueller’s findings from his two-year investigation into Trump’s possible role in Russia’s 2016 election interference.

The special counsel could not determine that Trump’s campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia. However, Mueller said he could not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice in the probe and left it for Congress to determine.


A historic day for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Updated: December 6th, 2019

The House is proceeding with articles of impeachment. Here’s what happens next.

CNN

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she’s asked the House to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Here’s what we know will happen next:

Monday: The House Judiciary Committee will hold its next impeachment hearing, where it will hear evidence from the staff counsels of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

After that timing, it gets a little unclear, but here’s a general sense of how the impeachment process will work:

Now: The House Judiciary Committee — which has authority to write articles of impeachment — will begin drafting them.

Committee vote: After articles are complete, the committee will vote on whether to refer them to the full House. We’re not sure when this will happen, but it could happen sometime next week.

House vote: If they’re approved, the articles will go to the House floor, where a simple majority is needed to formally impeach Trump. This vote could happen the week of Dec. 16.

More than 500 law professors say Trump committed ‘impeachable conduct’ (The Washington Post)

More than 500 legal scholars have signed an open letter asserting that Trump committed “impeachable conduct” and that lawmakers would be acting well within their rights if they ultimately voted to remove him from office.

The signers are law professors and other academics from universities across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan and many others. The open letter was published online Friday by the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Democracy.

“There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress,” the group of professors wrote. “His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.”


Pelosi announces House moving forward with articles of impeachment

The Associated Press

December 5th, 2019

House will draft Trump impeachment articles, Pelosi says

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

’’Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said. “The president leaves us no choice but to act.”

Pelosi delivered the historic announcement as Democrats push toward a vote, possibly before Christmas.

With somber tones, drawing on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, Pelosi stood at the speaker’s office at the Capitol and said she was authorizing the drafting of formal charges “sadly but with confidence and humility.”

“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.

“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” she said.

At the heart of the impeachment probe is a July call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump pressed the leader to investigate Democrats and political rival Joe Biden as Trump was withholding military aid to the country.

Trump tweeted that if Democrats “are going to impeach me, do it now, fast.” He said he wants to get on to a “fair trial” in the Senate. The president also said that Democrats have “gone crazy.”

At the White House, press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that Pelosi and the Democrats “should be ashamed, then she, too, looked past the likely impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House to trial in the Republican-majority Senate.

The chairmen of the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry will begin drafting the articles, and some lawmakers are expecting to remain in Washington over the weekend.

On Wednesday, Pelosi met behind closed doors with her Democratic caucus, asking, ”Äre you ready?”

The answer was a resounding yes, according to those in the room.

Democrats are charging toward a vote on removing the 45th president, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but which now seems inevitable.

Three leading legal scholars testified Wednesday to the House Judiciary Committee that Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment, bolstering the Democrats’ case.

A fourth expert called by Republicans warned against rushing the process, arguing this would be the shortest of impeachment proceedings, with the “thinnest” record of evidence in modern times, setting a worrisome standard.

Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by putting personal political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by withholding $400 million in military aid Congress had approved for Ukraine, and then obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.

Democrats in the House say the inquiry is a duty. Republican representatives say it’s a sham. And quietly senators of both parties conferred on Wednesday, preparing for an eventual Trump trial.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the Judiciary panel, which would draw up the articles of impeachment, said Trump’s phone call seeking a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wasn’t the first time he had sought foreign help to influence an American election, noting Russian interference in 2016. He warned against inaction with a new campaign underway.

“We cannot wait for the election,” he said. “ If we do not act to hold him in check, now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain.”

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Law professor said Trump’s actions toward Ukraine meet constitutional definition of bribery


UPDATE: U.S. Impeachment Panel Finds Trump Abused His Office for Personal Gain

THE TRUMP-UKRAINE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY REPORT

Report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Consultation with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

December 3, 2019

In his farewell address, President George Washington warned of a moment when “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

The Framers of the Constitution well understood that an individual could one day occupy the Office of the President who would place his personal or political interests above those of the nation. Having just won hard-fought independence from a King with unbridled authority, they were attuned to the dangers of an executive who lacked fealty to the law and the Constitution.

In response, the Framers adopted a tool used by the British Parliament for several hundred years to constrain the Crown—the power of impeachment. Unlike in Britain, where impeachment was typically reserved for inferior officers but not the King himself, impeachment in our untested democracy was specifically intended to serve as the ultimate form of accountability for a duly-elected President. Rather than a mechanism to overturn an election, impeachment was explicitly contemplated as a remedy of last resort for a president who fails to faithfully execute his oath of office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Accordingly, the Constitution confers the power to impeach the president on Congress, stating that the president shall be removed from office upon conviction for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While the Constitutional standard for removal from office is justly a high one, it is nonetheless an essential check and balance on the authority of the occupant of the Office of the President, particularly when that occupant represents a continuing threat to our fundamental democratic norms, values, and laws.

Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment was not designed to cover only criminal violations, but also crimes against the American people. “The subjects of its jurisdiction,” Hamilton wrote, “are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Similarly, future Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention, distinguished impeachable offenses from those that reside “within the sphere of ordinary jurisprudence.” As he noted, “impeachments are confined to political characters, to political crimes and misdemeanors, and to political punishments.”

* * *
As this report details, the impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection. In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump conditioned official acts on a public announcement by the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, of politically-motivated investigations, including one into President Trump’s domestic political opponent. In pressuring President Zelensky to carry out his demand, President Trump withheld a White House meeting desperately sought by the Ukrainian President, and critical U.S. military assistance to fight Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage. In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.

At the center of this investigation is the memorandum prepared following President Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukraine’s President, which the White House declassified and released under significant public pressure. The call record alone is stark evidence of misconduct; a demonstration of the President’s prioritization of his personal political benefit over the national interest. In response to President Zelensky’s appreciation for vital U.S. military assistance, which President Trump froze without explanation, President Trump asked for “a favor though”: two specific investigations designed to assist his reelection efforts.

Our investigation determined that this telephone call was neither the start nor the end of President Trump’s efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain. Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a months-long campaign driven by President Trump in which senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Acting Chief of Staff, the Secretary of Energy, and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President.

The investigation revealed the nature and extent of the President’s misconduct, notwithstanding an unprecedented campaign of obstruction by the President and his Administration to prevent the Committees from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony. A dozen witnesses followed President Trump’s orders, defying voluntary requests and lawful subpoenas, and refusing to testify. The White House, Department of State, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Energy refused to produce a single document in response to our subpoenas.

Ultimately, this sweeping effort to stonewall the House of Representatives’ “sole Power of Impeachment” under the Constitution failed because witnesses courageously came forward and testified in response to lawful process. The report that follows was only possible because of their sense of duty and devotion to their country and its Constitution.

Nevertheless, there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue, even as we transmit our report to the Judiciary Committee. Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts. The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began.

The damage the President has done to our relationship with a key strategic partner will be remedied over time, and Ukraine continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress. But the damage to our system of checks and balances, and to the balance of power within our three branches of government, will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked. Any future President will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.

* * *

The decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry is not one we took lightly. Under the best of circumstances, impeachment is a wrenching process for the nation…The alarming events and actions detailed in this report, however, left us with no choice but to proceed.

In making the decision to move forward, we were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president. Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by a President who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which the President welcomed and utilized…

By doubling down on his misconduct and declaring that his July 25 call with President Zelensky was “perfect,” President Trump has shown a continued willingness to use the power of his office to seek foreign intervention in our next election. His Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, in the course of admitting that the President had linked security assistance to Ukraine to the announcement of one of his desired investigations, told the American people to “get over it.” In these statements and actions, the President became the author of his own impeachment inquiry. The question presented by the set of facts enumerated in this report may be as simple as that posed by the President and his chief of staff’s brazenness: is the remedy of impeachment warranted for a president who would use the power of his office to coerce foreign interference in a U.S. election, or is that now a mere perk of the office that Americans must simply “get over”?

* * *

Those watching the impeachment hearings might have been struck by how little discrepancy there was between the witnesses called by the Majority and Minority. Indeed, most of the facts presented in the pages that follow are uncontested. The broad outlines as well as many of the details of the President’s scheme have been presented by the witnesses with remarkable consistency. There will always be some variation in the testimony of multiple people witnessing the same events, but few of the differences here go to the heart of the matter. And so, it may have been all the more surprising to the public to see very disparate reactions to the testimony by the Members of Congress from each party.

If there was one ill the Founding Founders feared as much as that of an unfit president, it may have been that of excessive factionalism. Although the Framers viewed parties as necessary, they also endeavored to structure the new government in such a way as to minimize the “violence of faction.” As George Washington warned in his farewell address, “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

Today, we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party. But perhaps even more corrosive to our democratic system of governance, the President and his allies are making a comprehensive attack on the very idea of fact and truth. How can a democracy survive without acceptance of a common set of experiences?

America remains the beacon of democracy and opportunity for freedom-loving people around the world. From their homes and their jail cells, from their public squares and their refugee camps, from their waking hours until their last breath, individuals fighting human rights abuses, journalists uncovering and exposing corruption, persecuted minorities struggling to survive and preserve their faith, and countless others around the globe just hoping for a better life look to America. What we do will determine what they see, and whether America remains a nation committed to the rule of law.

As Benjamin Franklin departed the Constitutional Convention, he was asked, “what have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?” He responded simply: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Click here to read the full report »

For only the fourth time in American history, the U.S. House began historic public impeachment hearings last month setting the stage for Donald Trump’s possible removal from office for bribery, extortion and abuse of power

‘Tis a new season in the impeachment inquiry: Actual impeachment

The Washington Post

Dec. 2, 2019

House Democrats want to vote on whether to impeach President Trump by Christmas, which means they have about three weeks to write up articles of impeachment, debate them and vote on them.

This next phase comes after two months of an inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached, which culminated in a blitz of public hearings before Thanksgiving…

There’s no standard timeline for impeachment; this is only the fourth time Congress has formally considered impeaching a president…

Once the House votes on whether to impeach Trump, we’re through only the first half of the process.

Here’s an outline of what we can expect next.

First week of December: The handover from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee

House impeachment investigators are expected to release a report Monday to members of the House Intelligence Committee about what wrongdoing was uncovered during their two-month impeachment inquiry. The Intelligence Committee will vote on whether to approve it by Tuesday evening, after which the report could get released publicly.

The Judiciary Committee…will have its first public hearing Wednesday. Constitutional experts will explain what impeachment is and what the Constitution says about impeachment.

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


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Updated: November 23, 2019

Highlights from Dramatic Final Day of This Week’s Landmark U.S. Impeachment Hearings (NBC News)

Impeachment hearings shine spotlight on stories of immigrants

The Washington Post

One surprising aspect of the impeachment hearings is that they have shone a spotlight on the stories of officials who were born elsewhere and immigrated to the United States in search of a better life.

Three of the officials who have testified so far — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council expert on Ukraine; former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; and Hill — are naturalized U.S. citizens.

Vindman was born in Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the U.S. as a child. Yovanovitch is the Canadian-born daughter of Russians who fled the Soviet Union.

And Hill came to the U.S. from northeast England, where her poor background and working-class accent were obstacles to her advancement. In her testimony Thursday morning, she described herself as “an American by choice.”

“I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent,” she said. “In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America.”

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The Latest: Former Trump adviser undercuts GOP impeachment defenses (Day 5)

The Associated Press

November 21st, 2019

A former White House official said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s top European envoy was sent on a “domestic political errand” seeking investigations of Democrats, stunning testimony that dismantled a main line of the president’s defense in the impeachment inquiry.

In a riveting appearance on Capitol Hill, Fiona Hill also implored Republican lawmakers — and implicitly Trump himself — to stop peddling a “fictional narrative” at the center of the impeachment probe. She said baseless suggestions that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election bolster Russia as it seeks to sow political divisions in the United States.

Testimony from Hill and David Holmes, a State Department adviser in Kyiv, capped an intense week in the historic inquiry and reinforced the central complaint: that Trump used his leverage over Ukraine, a young Eastern European democracy facing Russian aggression, to pursue political investigations. His alleged actions set off alarms across the U.S. national security and foreign policy apparatus.

Hill had a front row seat to some of Trump’s pursuits with Ukraine during her tenure at the White House. She testified in detail about her interactions with Gordon Sondland, saying she initially suspected the U.S. ambassador to the European Union was overstating his authority to push Ukraine to launch investigations into Democrats. But she says she now understands he was acting on instructions Trump sent through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

“He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy,” she testified in a daylong encounter with lawmakers. “And those two things had just diverged.”

It was just one instance in which Hill, as well as Holmes, undercut the arguments being made by Republicans and the White House. Both told House investigators it was abundantly clear Giuliani was seeking political investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden in Ukraine, knocking down assertions from earlier witnesses who said they didn’t realize the purpose of the lawyer’s pursuits. Trump has also said he was simply focused on rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

Giuliani “was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us and in fact,” Hill testified. “I think that’s where we are today.”

Hill also defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Army officer who testified earlier and whom Trump’s allies tried to discredit. A previous witness said Hill raised concerns about Vindman, but she said those worries centered only on whether he had the “political antenna” for the situation at the White House.

The landmark House impeachment inquiry was sparked by a July 25 phone call, in which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for investigations into Biden and the Democratic National Committee. A still-anonymous whistleblower’s official government complaint about that call led the House to launch the current probe.

After two weeks of public testimony, many Democrats believe they have enough evidence to begin writing articles of impeachment. Working under the assumption that Trump will be impeached by the House, White House officials and a small group of GOP senators met Thursday to discuss the possibility of a two week Senate trial.

There still remain questions about whether there will be additional House testimony, either in public session or behind closed doors, including from high-profile officials such as former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

In what was seen as a nudge to Bolton, her former boss, Hill said those with information have a “moral obligation to provide it.”

She recounted one vivid incident at the White House where Bolton told her he didn’t want to be involved in any “drug deal” that Sondland and Trump’s acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were cooking up over the Ukrainian investigations Trump wanted. Hill said she conveyed similar concerns directly to Sondland.

“And I did say to him, ‘Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up,’” she said. “And here we are.”

Read more »

Impeachment Bombshell: US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’ (Day 4)

November 20th, 2019

US Envoy Says ‘We followed the president’s orders’

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Was there a “quid pro quo?”

The ambassador entangled in an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is telling House lawmakers: “Yes.”

Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly.

Sondland says “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if President Volodymyr Zelenskiy agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

He says he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, where he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy departments and White House staff.

Sondland said: “It was no secret.”

___

9:20 a.m.

A key witness in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump says that Vice President Mike Pence was informed about concerns that military aid to Ukraine had been held up because of the investigations.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying Wednesday publicly. He already appeared behind closed doors.

The wealthy hotelier and Trump donor has emerged as a central figure in an intense week with nine witnesses testifying over three days. He has told lawmakers the White House has records of the July 26 call, despite the fact that Trump has said he doesn’t recall the conversation.

The ambassador’s account of the recently revealed call supports the testimony of multiple witnesses who have spoken to impeachment investigators over the past week.

Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he was withholding military aid to the East European nation is at the center of the impeachment probe that imperils his presidency.

—-
U.S. Impeachment Highlights From Day 3 (Video)

Top aides call Trump’s Ukraine call ‘unusual’ and ‘inappropriate’ in impeachment hearing

The Associated Press

Impeachment hearings takeaways: Firsthand witnesses appear

There were attacks on the credibility of a witness in uniform, and hand-wringing by another witness on all that he knows now that he says he didn’t know then. Vice President Mike Pence was name-dropped, and lawmakers heard expressions of concern about the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s leader.

The third day of impeachment hearings was the longest yet, bringing to the forefront four witnesses in two separate hearings. All were steeped in national security and foreign affairs.

Some takeaways from Tuesday’s testimony:

‘CONCERNED BY THE CALL’

Republicans consistently criticize the House impeachment inquiry by saying witnesses didn’t have firsthand knowledge of Trump’s role in trying to persuade Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival.

On Day 3 of the proceedings, that posture became more difficult to maintain.

The two witnesses in Tuesday morning’s hearing each listened to the July 25 phone call in which Trump prodded his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democrat Joe Biden.

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Pence, said she considered the call “unusual” since it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.”

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who arrived for the hearing in military uniform adorned with medals, went even further. He considered it “improper,” and, acting out of “duty,” reported his alarm to a lawyer for the National Security Council.

“My intent was to raise these concerns because they had significant national security implications for our country,” Vindman said. “I never thought that I’d be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the American public about my actions.”

For his part, Tim Morrison, who recently left his National Security Council post, said he did not believe that anything illegal occurred on the call but was worried about the political ramifications if the contents leaked.

Read more »


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Democrats invite Trump to testify in impeachment inquiry

Updates from last week: Trump accused of witness intimidation

The Associated Press

Ousted ambassador says she felt intimidated by Trump attacks

Updated: November 15th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — In chilling detail, ousted U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch described to Trump impeachment investigators Friday how she felt threatened upon learning that President Donald Trump had promised Ukraine’s leader she was “going to go through some things.”

Trump was unwilling to stay silent during Yovanovitch’s testimony, focusing even greater national attention on the House hearing by becoming a participant. He tweeted fresh criticism of her, saying that things “turned bad” everywhere she served before he fired her — a comment that quickly was displayed on a video screen in the hearing room.

Rather than distract from the career diplomat’s testimony, Trump’s interference could provide more evidence against him in the probe. Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s attacks were intimidation, “part of a pattern to obstruct justice.” Others said they could be part of an article of impeachment.

The former ambassador was testifying on the second day of public impeachment hearings, just the fourth time in American history that the House of Representatives has launched such proceedings. The investigation centers on whether Trump’s push for Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals amounted to an abuse of power, a charge he and Republicans vigorously deny.

Yovanovitch, asked about the potential effect of a presidential threat on other officials or witnesses, replied, “Well, it’s very intimidating.”

When she saw in print what the president had said about her, she said, a friend told her all the color drained from her face. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated” at what was happening after a distinguished 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Unabashed, Trump said when asked about it later, “I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech.”

But not all Republicans thought it was wise. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Trump’s live tweeting at the ambassador was wrong. She said, “I don’t think the president should have done that.”

More hearings are coming, with back-to-back sessions next week and lawmakers interviewing new witnesses behind closed doors.

Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served for decades under both Republican and Democratic presidents and was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, was pushed from her post in Kyiv earlier this year amid intense criticism from Trump allies.

During a long day of testimony, she relayed her striking story of being “kneecapped,” recalled from Kyiv by Trump in a swiftly developing series of events that sounded alarms about a White House shadow foreign policy.

She described a “smear campaign” against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., before her firing.

The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, her career included three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out last May.

In particular, Yovanovitch described Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, as leading what William Taylor, now the top diplomat in Ukraine who testified earlier in the inquiry, called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations.

“These events should concern everyone in this room,” Yovanovitch testified in opening remarks.

She said her sudden removal had played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States. They have learned, she said, “how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

After Trump’s tweets pulled attention away from her statement, Schiff read the president’s comments aloud, said that “as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” and asked if that was a tactic to intimidate.

“I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidated,” she said.

Said Schiff, “Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

Later Friday, the panel in closed-door session heard from David Holmes, a political adviser in Kyiv, who overheard Trump asking about the investigations the day after the president’s July 25 phone conversation with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Holmes was at dinner with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, when Sondland called up Trump. The conversation was apparently loud enough to be overheard.

In Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy, he asked for a “favor,” according to an account provided by the White House. He wanted an investigation of Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden. Later it was revealed that the administration was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the time.

Democrats are relying on the testimony of officials close to the Ukraine matter to make their case as they consider whether the president’s behavior was impeachable.

Yovanovitch provides a key element, Schiff said, as someone whom Trump and Giuliani wanted out of the way for others more favorable to their interests in Ukraine, an energy-rich country that has long struggled with corruption.

It became clear, he said, “President Trump wanted her gone.”

The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, bemoaned the hearings as a “daylong TV spectacle.”

Republicans complained that the ambassador, like other witnesses, can offer only hearsay testimony and only knows of Trump’s actions secondhand. They note that Yovanovitch had left her position before the July phone call.

Nunes also pressed to hear from the still anonymous government whistleblower who first alerted officials about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine that is in question. “These hearings should not be occurring at all,” he said.

Just as the hearing was opening, the White House released its rough transcript of a still-earlier Trump call with Zelenskiy that was largely congratulatory.

Nunes read that transcript aloud. In it, Trump mentioned his experience with the Miss Universe pageant in Ukraine and invited Zelenskiy to the White House. He closed with, “See you very soon.”

Under questioning from Republicans, Yovanovitch acknowledged that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, serving on the board of a gas company in Ukraine could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest. But she testified the former vice president acted in accordance with official U.S. policy.

She denied allegations against her, including that she favored Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election, and she rejected the notion that Ukraine tried to interfere in the election, as Trump claims, counter to mainstream U.S. intelligence findings that it was Russia.

The White House has instructed officials not to comply with the probe, and most have been issued subpoenas to appear.

An administration budget official will meet privately with the panel privately Saturday. Part of the impeachment inquiry concerns the contention that military aid for Ukraine, which borders a hostile Russia, was being withheld through the White House budget office, pending Ukrainian agreement to investigate Biden and the 2016 U.S. election.

LIVE | Day 2 of public Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch testifies

Friday, Nov. 15, 2019

Representative Eric Swalwell, one of the Democratic members of the House intelligence committee, said that witness intimidation “will be considered” for one of the articles of impeachment against Trump after the president sent a disparaging tweet about Maria Yovanovitch as the longtime diplomat testified.

One of Swalwell’s fellow Democrats on the panel, Andre Carson, similarly said the committee would “look into” whether Trump engaged in witness intimidation.

After Trump smears Yovanovitch, Schiff says witness intimidation is taken ‘very, very seriously’ – live

After reading Trump’s tweet attacking the reputation of Maria Yovanovitch, Adam Schiff asked the longtime diplomat whether she thought the tweet was meant to intimidate her as she testified at the impeachment hearing.

“It’s very intimidating.”

Schiff rejoined: “The president is attacking you in real time… Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

Presidential candidate Kamala Harris weighed in on Trump’s tweet smearing Maria Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified, accusing the president of witness intimidation.

Fox News anchors described the testimony of Maria Yovanovitch as a “turning point” in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Anchor Bret Baier predicted that Trump’s tweet smearing Yovanovitch’s reputation as the longtime diplomat testified would lead to a new article of impeachment against the president.

John Roberts

@johnrobertsFox
Wow….this is really unprecedented. @realDonaldTrump and Amb Yovanovitch are talking to each other in real time through @Twitter and Television… Something I never thought I would ever see.

Chris Wallace on Fox News: “If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, you don’t have a pulse.”

Read more at theguardian.com »


Ousted ambassador testifies ouster helped ‘shady interests’


Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. At left is attorney Lawrence Robbins. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Associated Press

Updated: November 15th, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch opened the second day of Trump impeachment hearings Friday declaring that her abrupt removal by President Donald Trump’s administration played into the hands of “shady interests the world over” with dangerous intentions toward the United States.

Yovanovitch told the House Intelligence Committee of a concerted “smear” campaign against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Her removal is one of several events at the center of the impeachment effort.

“These events should concern everyone in this room,” the career diplomat testified in opening remarks. “Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

The daughter of immigrants who fled the former Soviet Union and Nazi German, she described a 33-year career, including three tours as an ambassador to some of the world’s tougher postings, before arriving in Ukraine in 2016. She was forced out in April 2019.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the panel, opened day’s hearing praising Yovanovitch, saying she was “too tough on corruption for some, and her principled stance made her enemies.”

Pelosi calls Trump’s actions ‘bribery’ as Democrats sharpen case for impeachment

The Washington Post

Escalating her case for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Trump of committing bribery by seeking to use U.S. military aid as leverage to persuade the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations that could politically benefit Trump.

The shift toward bribery as an impeachable offense, one of only two crimes specifically cited in the Constitution, comes after nearly two months of debate over whether Trump’s conduct amounted to a “quid pro quo” — a lawyerly Latin term describing an exchange of things of value.

Wednesday’s public testimony from two senior diplomats, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.”

Bribery, she suggested, amounted to a translation of quid pro quo that would stand to be more accessible to Americans: “Talking Latin around here: E pluribus unum — from many, one. Quid pro quo — bribery. And that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceedings.”

Article II of the Constitution holds that the president and other civil federal officials “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Pelosi’s remarks came a day after William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in the Ukrainian capital, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing Ukraine policy, told lawmakers in the House’s first public impeachment hearing since 1998 that they were deeply troubled by an apparent perversion of U.S. policy, done at what seemed to be the behest of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and Trump himself.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »


The Associated Press

Diplomats accuse Trump as impeachment hits Americans’ TVs

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time, the Democrats’ case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment streamed from Americans’ TVs Wednesday, including a new contention that he was overheard asking about political “investigations” that he demanded from Ukraine in trade for military aid.

On Day One of extraordinary public U.S. House hearings — only the fourth formal impeachment effort in U.S. history — career diplomats testified in the open after weeks of closed-door interviews aimed at removing the nation’s 45th president.

The account they delivered was a striking though complicated one that Democrats say reveals a president abusing his office, and the power of American foreign policy, for personal political gain.

“The matter is as simple and as terrible as that,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as he opened the daylong hearing. “Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency but the future of the presidency itself.”

Career diplomat William Taylor, the charge d’affaires in Kyiv, offered new testimony that Trump was overheard asking on the phone about “the investigations” of Democrats that he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

Trump said he was too busy to watch on Wednesday and denied having the phone call. “First I’ve heard of it,” he said when asked.

All day, the diplomats testified about how an ambassador was fired, the new Ukraine government was confused and they discovered an “irregular channel” — a shadow U.S. foreign policy orchestrated by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that raised alarms in diplomatic and national security circles.

The hearing, playing out on live television and in the partisan silos of social media, provided the nation and the world a close-up look at the investigation.

At its core, the inquiry stems from Trump’s July 25 phone call when he asked Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for “a favor.”

Trump wanted the Ukraine government to investigate Democrats’ activities in the 2016 election and his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden — all while the administration was withholding military aid for the Eastern European ally that is confronting an aggressive neighbor, Russia.

Both sides tried to distill it into soundbites.

Democrats said Trump was engaged in “bribery” and “extortion.” Republicans said nothing really happened — the military aid was ultimately released after Congress complained.

Read more »


Related Videos:

New testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure

LIVE UPDATES

A top diplomat on Wednesday tied President Trump more directly to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponents, describing a phone call in which Trump sought information about the status of the investigations he had asked Ukraine to launch one day earlier.

William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers that the phone conversation between the president and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in Kyiv was overheard by one of his aides. Afterward, Sondland told the aide that Trump cared more about investigations of former vice president Joe Biden than other issues in Ukraine, Taylor said.

The startling testimony revealed a new example of Trump’s personal involvement in the Ukraine pressure campaign that touched off the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »

The Associated Press

Impeachment hearings go live on TV: Witness says Trump asked about Ukraine probes

For the first time a top diplomat testified Wednesday that President Donald Trump was overheard asking about “the investigations” he wanted Ukraine to pursue that are central to the impeachment inquiry.

William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, revealed the new information as the House Intelligence Committee opened extraordinary hearings on whether the 45th president of the United States should be removed from office.

Taylor said his staff recently told him they overheard Trump when they were meeting with another diplomat, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, at a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new leader of Ukraine that sparked the impeachment investigation.

The staff explained that Sondland had called the president and they could hear Trump on the phone asking about “the investigations.” The ambassador told the president the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, Taylor testified.

Not inappropriate, let alone impeachable, countered the intelligence panel’s top Republican, Devin Nunes of California.

Trump “would have a perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened” if there were indications that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election, he said.

National security officials have told Congress they don’t believe Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

The hearing Wednesday was the first public session of the impeachment inquiry, a remarkable moment, even for a White House full of them.

It’s the first chance for America, and the rest of the world, to see and hear for themselves about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and consider whether they are, in fact, impeachable offenses.

An anonymous whistleblower’s complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general — including that Trump had pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic foe Joe Biden and Bidens’ son and was holding up U.S. military aid — ignited the rare inquiry now unfolding in Congress.

The country has been here only three times before, and never against the 21st century backdrop of real-time commentary, including from the Republican president himself. The proceedings were being broadcast live, and on social media, from a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill.

Read more »


Related:

Watch: U.S. Public impeachment hearings to begin this week

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Rights Group Calls New Law in Ethiopia a Threat to Freedom of Expression (VOA)

A man scrolls down his cell phone for social media newsfeed about Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed winning the Nobel Peace Prize in Addis Ababa, Oct. 11, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA

By Salem Solomon

December 20, 2019

WASHINGTON – A new law being considered in Ethiopia is being called a threat to free speech and online expression.

Ethiopia’s “Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation” is in a draft stage, but if approved, it would criminalize online, broadcast or print speech that promotes hatred, said the London-based rights group Human Rights Watch in a press statement Friday. It defines this as anything inciting “hatred, discrimination or attack against a person or an identifiable group, based on ethnicity, religion, race, gender or disability.” It also outlaws “dissemination of disinformation” or falsehoods, the statement added.

The law has been approved by the prime minister’s Cabinet but must still be approved by parliament.

But critics believe this law could be used to silence critical voices or political opponents. This, they say, was the case with an anti-terrorism law passed in 2009 which was used to imprison protestors and journalists.

“These kinds of laws including, in the past, the anti-terrorism law, has been used to illegally stifle opposition,” said Befeqadu Hailu, the executive director of the Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), speaking to VOA Amharic. “So there is a concern that there hasn’t been enough discussion over these laws.”

Supporters of the law believe it is necessary, particularly to stop people from inflaming ethnic hatred.

Ethiopia has endured a tumultuous year of ethnic tension. In June, an Army general from the Amhara ethnic group led a coup attempt. In October, 86 people were killed in the Oromia region, Harari region and the city of Dire Dawa in clashes with security forces. The violence began when Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed announced that security forces were plotting to assassinate him.

In announcing the law, Ethiopia’s council of ministers said it was needed to prevent further violence. “It is deemed necessary to enact the law because the nation cannot address problems arising from hate speeches and fake news with existing laws,” the council said.

Human Rights Watch agrees that the threat of ethnic violence is real, but says a law like this is not the answer.

“The Ethiopian government is under increasing pressure to respond to rising communal violence that has at times been exacerbated by speeches and statements shared online,” said Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But an ill-construed law that opens the door for law enforcement officials to violate rights to free expression is no solution.”

The use of hate speech laws around the world shows that authorities have often abused them for political purposes, Human Rights Watch said.


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Boeing to Stop 737 Max Production (AP)

The Max has been grounded since March after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed total of 346 people. (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Boeing to halt production of 737 Max airliner in January

Boeing Co. said Monday that it will temporarily stop producing its grounded 737 Max jet starting in January as it struggles to get approval from regulators to put the plane back in the air.

The Chicago-based company said production would halt at its plant with 12,000 employees in Renton, Washington, near Seattle. But it said it didn’t expect to lay off any workers “at this time.”

The move amounts to an acknowledgement that it will take much longer than Boeing expected to win approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other global regulators to fly the planes again.

The Max is Boeing’s most important jet, but it has been grounded since March after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed total of 346 people. The FAA told the company last week that it had unrealistic expectations for getting the plane back into service.

Read more »


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Internal FAA review saw high risk of 737 MAX crashes

Boeing Was Aware of 737 Max Problem Long Before Ethiopia Crash – Report

Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes

Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’

Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report

Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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IMF to Approve $3bn Loan for Ethiopia

PM Abiy Ahmed receiving the Nobel peace prize in Oslo this week © Scanpix/AP

Financial Times

IMF Poised to Approve Landmark $3bn Loan for Ethiopia

Programme will provide balance of payments support for cash-strapped economy

The IMF is poised to approve a loan of almost $3bn for Ethiopia as part of a programme to provide balance of payments support for the cash-strapped economy as well as technical assistance for the government’s liberalisation agenda.

The loan, which still needs IMF board approval, has been agreed by staff after the fund opened a representative office in Addis Ababa this year, according to Ethiopia’s state minister of finance, Eyob Tolina.

The east African country of 105m people has enjoyed more than a decade of high growth but recently ran into capacity constraints and chronic shortages of foreign exchange, a byproduct of its tightly state-controlled economy.

Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister, took office in 2018, promising to overhaul the economy. He has spoken frequently about the limits of Ethiopia’s Asian-style state-led development model, which has produced 15 years of near double-digit growth, and he has pledged to nudge Ethiopia towards a more open, market-oriented system.

In September, Mr Abiy, who received the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday, announced a “homegrown economic reform” agenda, which he said would include opening various sectors to foreign investment for the first time. Two new telecoms licences are due to be auctioned next year.

Mr Tolina described the anticipated IMF programme as “a huge stamp of approval” for Mr Abiy’s agenda. “It’s excellent news,” he said. “They want to support our policy reform.”

The funds, which will be released in tranches, would be used to counter a looming balance of payments crisis and to fund specific reform initiatives, he said. He added that the IMF would also provide technical assistance on macroeconomic policy, but did not specify in which areas.

The IMF confirmed the agreement after the Financial Times published details of the loan. The fund added that the three-year $2.9bn finance package had been approved by staff following an IMF visit to Ethiopia in November. The programme would also strengthen the oversight of state-owned enterprises and support the reform of Ethiopia’s financial sector, it said in a statement.

Read more »


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UNESCO Adds TIMKET to Its Heritage list

TIMKET added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. (ENA)

ENA

UNESCO Decides to Inscribe TIMKET on the List of Cultural Heritage

ENA,December 12/2019 The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to inscribe TIMKET, which is Ethiopian Epiphany, on the List of Representatives of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
UNESCO’s intergovernmental committee for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritages made the decision in its meeting in Bogota, the capital of Colmbia.

According to UNESCO, inscription of Timiket festivity on the Representative List could enhance the visibility of intangible cultural heritage and promote inter-cultural dialogue among the multi-ethnic population of Ethiopia and other communities globally.

The festival of Timiket or Epiphany is celebrated across Ethiopia on January 19th or 20th in leap year, corresponding to the 10th day of Tirr in the Ethiopian calendar.

Timkat celebrates to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. This festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism.

The inscription of Timiket raised the number of Ethiopia’s world intangible cultural heritages to four after Meskel, the Geda System and Fichee-chambalaalla, New Year festival of the Sidama people.


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Full Text of PM Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Speech

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (Scanpix via AP)

PM Abiy Ahmed – Nobel Lecture

THE NOBEL FOUNDATION

Nobel Lecture given by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2019 Abiy Ahmed Ali, Oslo, 10 December 2019.

“Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa”

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,
Fellow Ethiopians, Fellow Africans, Citizens of the World
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to be here with you, and deeply grateful to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for recognizing and encouraging my contribution to a peaceful resolution of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace.

Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afeworki, whose goodwill, trust, and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries.

I also accept this award on behalf of Africans and citizens of the world for whom the dream of peace has often turned into a nightmare of war.

Today, I stand here in front of you talking about peace because of fate.

I crawled my way to peace through the dusty trenches of war years ago.

I was a young soldier when war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I witnessed firsthand the ugliness of war in frontline battles.

There are those who have never seen war but glorify and romanticize it.

They have not seen the fear,
They have not seen the fatigue,
They have not seen the destruction or heartbreak,
Nor have they felt the mournful emptiness of war after the carnage.

War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back.

I have seen brothers slaughtering brothers on the battlefield.

I have seen older men, women, and children trembling in terror under the deadly shower of bullets and artillery shells.

You see, I was not only a combatant in war.

I was also a witness to its cruelty and what it can do to people.

War makes for bitter men. Heartless and savage men.

Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badme.

The town was the flashpoint of the war between the two countries.

I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception.

It took only but a few minutes. Yet, upon my return, I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack.

I still remember my young comrades-in-arms who died on that ill-fated day.

I think of their families too.

During the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, an estimated one hundred thousand soldiers and civilians lost their lives.

The aftermath of the war also left untold numbers of families broken. It also permanently shattered communities on both sides.

Massive destruction of infrastructure further amplified the post-war economic burden.

Socially, the war resulted in mass displacements, loss of livelihoods, deportation and denationalization of citizens.

Following the end of active armed conflict in June 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea remained deadlocked in a stalemate of no-war, no-peace for two decades.

During this period, family units were split over borders, unable to see or talk to each other for years to come.

Tens of thousands of troops remained stationed along both sides of the border. They remained on edge, as did the rest of the country and region.

All were worried that any small border clash would flare into a full-blown war once again.

As it was, the war and the stalemate that followed were a threat for regional peace, with fears that a resumption of active combat between Ethiopia and Eritrea would destabilize the entire Horn region.

And so, when I became Prime Minister about 18 months ago, I felt in my heart that ending the uncertainty was necessary.

I believed peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was within reach.

I was convinced that the imaginary wall separating our two countries for much too long needed to be torn down.

And in its place, a bridge of friendship, collaboration and goodwill has to be built to last for ages.

That is how I approached the task of building a peace bridge with my partner President Isaias Afeworki.

We were both ready to allow peace to flourish and shine through.

We resolved to turn our “swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks” for the progress and prosperity of our people.

We understood our nations are not the enemies. Instead, we were victims of the common enemy called poverty.

We recognized that while our two nations were stuck on old grievances, the world was shifting rapidly and leaving us behind.

We agreed we must work cooperatively for the prosperity of our people and our region.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are reaping our peace dividends.

Families separated for over two decades are now united.

Diplomatic relations are fully restored.

Air and telecommunication services have been reestablished.

And our focus has now shifted to developing joint infrastructure projects that will be a critical lever in our economic ambitions.

Our commitment to peace between our two countries is iron-clad.

One may wonder, how it is that a conflict extending over twenty years, can come to an amicable resolution.

Allow me to share with you a little about the beliefs that guide my actions for peace.

I believe that peace is an affair of the heart. Peace is a labor of love.
Sustaining peace is hard work.

Yet, we must cherish and nurture it.

It takes a few to make war, but it takes a village and a nation to build peace.

For me, nurturing peace is like planting and growing trees.

Just like trees need water and good soil to grow, peace requires unwavering commitment, infinite patience, and goodwill to cultivate and harvest its dividends.

Peace requires good faith to blossom into prosperity, security, and opportunity.

In the same manner that trees absorb carbon dioxide to give us life and oxygen, peace has the capacity to absorb the suspicion and doubt that may cloud our relationships.
In return, it gives back hope for the future, confidence in ourselves, and faith in humanity.

This humanity I speak of, is within all of us.

We can cultivate and share it with others if we choose to remove our masks of pride and arrogance.

When our love for humanity outgrows our appreciation of human vanity then the world will know peace.

Ultimately, peace requires an enduring vision. And my vision of peace is rooted in the philosophy of Medemer.

Medemer, an Amharic word, signifies synergy, convergence, and teamwork for a common destiny.

Medemer is a homegrown idea that is reflected in our political, social, and economic life.

I like to think of “Medemer” as a social compact for Ethiopians to build a just, egalitarian, democratic, and humane society by pulling together our resources for our collective survival and prosperity.

In practice, Medemer is about using the best of our past to build a new society and a new civic culture that thrives on tolerance, understanding, and civility.

At its core, Medemer is a covenant of peace that seeks unity in our common humanity.

It pursues peace by practicing the values of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusion.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come from a small town called Beshasha, located in the Oromia region of Western Ethiopia.

It is in Beshasha that the seeds of Medemer began to sprout.

Growing up, my parents instilled in me and my siblings, an abiding faith in humanity.

Medemer resonates with the proverb, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

In my little town, we had no running water, electricity, or paved roads. But we had a lot of love to light up our lives.

We were each other’s keepers.

Faith, humility, integrity, patience, gratitude, tenacity, and cooperation coursed like a mighty stream.

And we traveled together on three country roads called love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

In the Medemer idea, there is no “Us and Them.”

There is only “US” for “We” are all bound by a shared destiny of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

For the people in the “Land of Origins” and “The 13 Months of Sunshine,” Medemer has always been second nature.

Ethiopians maintained peaceful coexistence between the followers of the two great religions because we always came together in faith and worship.

We, Ethiopians, remained independent for thousands of years because we came together to defend our homeland.

The beauty of our Ethiopia is its extraordinary diversity.

The inclusiveness of Medemer ensures no one is left behind in our big extended family.

It has also been said, “No man is an island.”

Just the same, no nation is an island. Ethiopia’s Medemer-inspired foreign policy pursues peace through multilateral cooperation and good neighborliness.

We have an old saying:
“በሰላም እንድታድር ጎረቤትህ ሰላም ይደር”
“yoo ollaan nagayaan bule, nagaan bulanni.”

It is a saying shared in many African languages, which means, “For you to have a peaceful night, your neighbor shall have a peaceful night as well.”

The essence of this proverb guides the strengthening of relations in the region. We now strive to live with our neighbors in peace and harmony.

The Horn of Africa today is a region of strategic significance.

The global military superpowers are expanding their military presence in the area. Terrorist and extremist groups also seek to establish a foothold.

We do not want the Horn to be a battleground for superpowers nor a hideout for the merchants of terror and brokers of despair and misery.

We want the Horn of Africa to become a treasury of peace and progress.

Indeed, we want the Horn of Africa to become the Horn of Plenty for the rest of the continent.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a global community, we must invest in peace.

Over the past few months, Ethiopia has made historic investments in peace, the returns of which we will see in years to come.

We have released all political prisoners. We have shut down detention facilities where torture and vile human rights abuses took place.

Today, Ethiopia is highly regarded for press freedom. It is no more a “jailor of journalists”.

Opposition leaders of all political stripes are free to engage in peaceful political activity.

We are creating an Ethiopia that is second to none in its guarantee of freedoms of expression.

We have laid the groundwork for genuine multiparty democracy, and we will soon hold a free and fair election.

I truly believe peace is a way of life. War, a form of death and destruction.

Peacemakers must teach peace breakers to choose the way of life.
To that end, we must help build a world culture of peace.

But before there is peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart and mind.

There must be peace in the family, in the neighborhood, in the village, and the towns and cities. There must be peace in and among nations.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen:
There is a big price for enduring peace.

A famous protest slogan that proclaims, “No justice, no peace,” calls to mind that peace thrives and bears fruit when planted in the soil of justice.

The disregard for human rights has been the source of much strife and conflict in the world. The same holds in our continent, Africa.

It is estimated that some 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30.

Our young men and women are crying out for social and economic justice. They demand equality of opportunity and an end to organized corruption.

The youth insist on good governance based on accountability and transparency. If we deny our youth justice, they will reject peace.

Standing on this world stage today, I would like to call upon all my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunities for all its citizens.

I would like to especially express that we should avoid the path of extremism and division, powered by politics of exclusion.

Our accord hangs in the balance of inclusive politics.

The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media.

They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves.

Together, we must neutralize the toxin of hatred by creating a civic culture of consensus-based democracy, inclusivity, civility, and tolerance based on Medemer principles.

The art of building peace is a synergistic process to change hearts, minds, beliefs and attitudes, that never ceases.

It is like the work of struggling farmers in my beloved Ethiopia. Each season they prepare the soil, sow seeds, pull weeds, and control pests.

They work the fields from dawn to dusk in good and bad weather.

The seasons change, but their work never ends. In the end, they harvest the abundance of their fields.

Before we can harvest peace dividends, we must plant seeds of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of our citizens.

We must pull out the weeds of discord, hate, and misunderstanding and toil every day during good and bad days too.

I am inspired by a Biblical Scripture which reads:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Equally I am also inspired by a Holy Quran verse which reads:
“Humanity is but a single Brotherhood. So, make peace with your Brethren.”

I am committed to toil for peace every single day and in all seasons.

I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper too.

I have promises to keep before I sleep. I have miles to go on the road of peace.

As I conclude, I call upon the international community to join me and my fellow Ethiopians in our Medemer inspired efforts of building enduring peace and prosperity in the Horn of Africa.

ሰላም ለሁላችንም፤ ለሰላም አርበኖች እንዲሁም ለሰላም ወዳጆች።

I thank you!


Related:

PM Abiy Ahmed Becomes First Ethiopian to Receive Nobel Prize (In Pictures)

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As Abiy Prepares to Accept Peace Prize, A Look Back at Obama’s Nobel Lecture

Left: Abiy Ahmed, PM of Ethiopia, will accept the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 in Oslo, Norway. Right: Barack H. Obama delivered his Nobel Lecture on 10 December 2009 at the Oslo City Hall, Norway. (Photos: Tadias and Nobel Media)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: December 8th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Like PM Abiy Ahmed’s dilemma, as he gets ready to accept the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo this week, President Obama faced similar controversy ten years ago this month given that his award also came early in his presidency in recognition and encouragement of his vision for peace. The humility, elegance and confidence in which President Obama accepted the prize amid the swirling public debate including this media interview could be instructive to PM Abiy.

As we have noted before Abiy has more than earned the peace prize with what he accomplished when he brought to an end the border conflict with Eritrea. In announcing the award this past October the Nobel Institute praised the “important reforms” that Abiy has initiated and implemented in Ethiopia in the last year and half since he came to power. “The prize comes as Abiy faces pressure to uphold the sweeping freedoms he introduced, and critics warn that his ability to deal with rising domestic unrest may be slipping,” AP reported. “The Nobel committee said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement. The award reflects the committee’s taste for trying to encourage works in progress.”

As we speak Abiy is moving forward with the challenge of addressing the entrenched ethnic politics and federalism in Ethiopia as the country prepares for a major election in the new year.

Below is the video and text of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture by Barack Obama:

Text: Nobel Lecture by Barack H. Obama, Oslo, 10 December 2009.

A Just and Lasting Peace

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who’ve received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela – my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women – some known, some obscure to all but those they help – to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 42 other countries – including Norway – in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

Still, we are at war, and I’m responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill, and some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

Now these questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease – the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

And over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers and clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of “just war” was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations – total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it’s hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations – an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize – America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

And yet, a decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states – all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak – nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.” A gradual evolution of human institutions.

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait – a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America – in fact, no nation – can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our actions appear arbitrary and undercut the legitimacy of future interventions, no matter how justified.

And this becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self-defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

America’s commitment to global security will never waver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. America alone cannot secure the peace. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries, and other friends and allies, demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they’ve shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That’s why NATO continues to be indispensable. That’s why we must strengthen U.N. and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That’s why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali – we honor them not as makers of war, but of wagers – but as wagers of peace.

Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant – the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor – we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it’s easy, but when it is hard.

I have spoken at some length to the question that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me now turn to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior – for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: All will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work towards disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I’m working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.

But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

The same principle applies to those who violate international laws by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo, repression in Burma – there must be consequences. Yes, there will be engagement; yes, there will be diplomacy – but there must be consequences when those things fail. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

This brings me to a second point – the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.

And yet too often, these words are ignored. For some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are somehow Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation’s development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists – a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values around the world.

I reject these choices. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America’s interests – nor the world’s – are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear that these movements – these movements of hope and history – they have us on their side.

Let me also say this: The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach – condemnation without discussion – can carry forward only a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

In light of the Cultural Revolution’s horrors, Nixon’s meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable – and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul’s engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan’s efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There’s no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can’t aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

And that’s why helping farmers feed their own people – or nations educate their children and care for the sick – is not mere charity. It’s also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement – all of which will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and environmental activists who call for swift and forceful action – it’s military leaders in my own country and others who understand our common security hangs in the balance.

Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more – and that’s the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there’s something irreducible that we all share.

As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we’re all basically seeking the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.

And yet somehow, given the dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity, it perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities – their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we’re moving backwards. We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

And most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint – no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or the Red Cross worker, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it’s incompatible with the very purpose of faith – for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. For we are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best of intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached – their fundamental faith in human progress – that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith – if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace – then we lose what’s best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”

Let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.

Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he’s outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school – because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child’s dreams.

Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that’s the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you very much.


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Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed won’t be answering any questions when he receives his Nobel Prize (WaPo)

Nobel peace prize winner Abiy Ahmed embroiled in media row (The Guardian)

PM Abiy Should Talk to Media When Collecting Peace Prize: Nobel Committee (Reuters)

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9th Annual U.S.-Ethiopia Defense Meeting

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Pete Marocco and Ethiopian Defense Minister Lemma Megersa co-chaired the 9th annual U.S.-Ethiopia Bilateral Defense Committee meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 2019. (DoD photo)

Press Release

U.S. Dept of Defense

U.S., Ethiopian Defense Officials Meet at Pentagon

During the visit, the defense leaders shared views on regional security, peacekeeping, intelligence and military relations, with the goal of strengthening their security partnership, a defense official said in a readout following the meeting.

Both nations reaffirmed their commitment to the bilateral relationship and highlighted the significant increase in security cooperation between the two countries over the last 18 months, the official said.

The Ethiopian delegation also met at the Pentagon with James Anderson, who is performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph Kernan. Anderson thanked Ethiopia for their leadership and military contributions throughout the region and commended Lemma for the ongoing security sector reforms his nation is undertaking.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor said he was very grateful to Ethiopia’s civilian and military leaders for traveling to the U.S. for the event, and ”for the close partnership that exists between us; and for Ethiopia’s commitment to building our collaboration even further in the days ahead.”

The Bilateral Defense Committee enables the U.S. and Ethiopia to identify new opportunities for collaboration in areas such as counterterrorism and intelligence, which enhances an already robust partnership between the two countries, the defense official said, and helps bring peace and security to East Africa.

Ethiopia plays a critical and significant leadership role in East Africa, the official said. ”Its willingness and capability to develop security throughout the region furthers our mutual goals and shared security interests,” the defense official added.

Ethiopia has the third-largest military in Africa and is the world’s largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions, the official said.

The nation plays a vital role in the African Union Mission in Somalia, the defense official said, and in peacekeeping efforts in Sudan and South Sudan. ”The Department of Defense applauds these efforts and looks to help strengthen Ethiopia’s ability to further promote peace and stability in the region,” the official said.

Ethiopia was a top recipient of International Military Education and Training funds over the last year. More than 300 ENDF officers and noncommissioned officers took part in U.S. funded training last year.

In July, Ethiopia hosted U.S. Africa Command’s Justified Accord exercise — a regional multi-actor military exercise that allowed regional leaders to discuss common practices and challenges related to AMISOM. This exercise hosted the largest training contingent of U.S. military personnel in Ethiopia in the past 30 years, the defense official noted.


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Germany Grants Ethiopia $388 Million for Reforms / Ethiopia to Keep Control of Banks as Sectors Open Up (Bloomberg)

Market sellers in Harar. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Germany granted Ethiopia 352.5 million euros ($388 million) to support reforms that will promote private investment and sustainable economic development, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

The agreement was signed with Germany’s ministers for economic cooperation and labor and social affairs, who are in Ethiopia on a state visit. Ethiopia initiated economic reforms when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018, which are opening the Horn of Africa nation to more foreign capital.

Read more »

Related:
Ethiopia to Keep Control of Its Banks as Other Sectors Open Up

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In U.S., Waiting for Obama as 2020 Nears

In the following timely article, Politico magazine reflects on the upcoming 2020 U.S. election and the influential and behind-the-scenes role of former President Barack Obama, who has emerged during the tumultuous Trump era as one of the most beloved and globally admired American presidents in history. (POLITICO Illustration/AP, Getty Images)

POLITICO

The Democratic establishment is counting on him to stop Trump and, perhaps, stave off Bernie as well. But can his cerebral politics still galvanize voters in an age of extremes?

Today, almost every Democratic presidential campaign starts with what one close adviser to Barack Obama calls “The Pilgrimage”: the journey to the West End to meet the former president.

The West End of Washington, D.C., sandwiched between the better-known districts of Georgetown and Dupont Circle, is known as a neighborhood that people travel through, not to. For elite Democrats, that changed four years ago when Obama set up his personal office here. You wouldn’t know from outside that one of its bland concrete and glass building houses the man whom polls rank as the most popular Democrat in America, and who, according to one global survey, is the second-most admired man in the world.

The first presidential pilgrims started in early 2018, and they continued to trickle through this summer. Not every declared candidate has met with Obama—Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard were notable no-shows—but he let it be known he was available to anyone seeking advice. As a rule of thumb, the closer one is to Obama personally, the less important the West End summit is. Joe Biden, one of only two candidates who Obama knows at a familial, rather than strictly professional level, was an “exception,” said an Obama adviser, who had a rolling series of conversations about 2020, the most recent of which was backstage at the funeral for Elijah Cummings in Baltimore on October 25. Deval Patrick, a close Obama pal and board member at the Obama Foundation who parachuted into the race last week, checked in with a phone call before announcing.

For the others—Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Bullock, and more—the meeting was as important as planning their kickoff rally or first campaign ad…

Ostensibly the meetings are for the aspiring candidates to gain some wisdom from the last Democrat to win an open presidential primary and the presidency, but they also allow Obama to collect his own intelligence about what he and his closest advisers have made clear is all that matters to him: who can beat Donald Trump.

Read the full article at politico.com »


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Ethiopia to Launch Satellite for Agro, Mining & Environmental Protection

Ethiopia’s Innovation and Technology Minister Getahun Mekuria on Friday told reporters the satellite will be used for agricultural, mining, environmental protection and earth observatory purposes. (Image: Satellite composite courtesy of The Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute )

The Associated Press

Ethiopia says its 1st satellite will launch next month

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian officials say the country will launch its first ever satellite next month.

It is the latest example of space ambitions by several African nations.

The satellite was built in China and will be launched from a site there.

Ethiopia’s Innovation and Technology Minister Getahun Mekuria on Friday told reporters the satellite will be used for agricultural, mining, environmental protection and earth observatory purposes.

The minister said Ethiopian engineers took part in the satellite’s construction.

A control center has been set up on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.


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Ethiopian Human Rights Boss Battles Scant Resources (Reuters)

Daniel Bekele, former political prisoner and Africa director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, now heading the government's human rights commission, speaks during a Reuters interview in Addis Ababa, November 15, 2019. (REUTERS)

REUTERS

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – When Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a former political prisoner in July as head of the state-funded human rights commission, supporters hailed it as a sign the country might finally tackle abuses by security forces and move to break a cycle of bloody ethnic feuds.

Daniel Bekele, former political prisoner and Africa director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, now heading the government’s human rights commission, speaks during a Reuters interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Giulia Paravicini
Daniel Bekele left a high-ranking position at watchdog Human Rights Watch in New York to come home and take up the post.

Now reality has hit. He has one investigator for every million Ethiopians, and low salaries make it impossible to attract and retain talent, he told Reuters in an interview on Friday. His own salary after tax is equivalent to $270 per month, common for civil servants.

Parliament, which he reports to, approves the commission’s budget, equivalent to $3 million annually, but the finance ministry approves all spending, curbing the commission’s autonomy.

Even if funds were adequate, he said, bureaucracy prevents the quick deployment of researchers to investigate ethnic clashes around the country that have killed hundreds of people in the past few months alone.

The commission was established 15 years ago but was largely ineffective. Security forces committed widespread abuses against civilians but the commission rarely documented them.

After three years of protests, the ruling coalition bowed to pressure and appointed Abiy in April 2018 to drive reforms. His peacemaking efforts with longtime foe and neighbor Eritrea won him the Nobel Peace Prize last month. He has appointed former dissidents like Bekele to senior roles in the justice sector, raising hopes that abuses will not go unpunished.

Ethiopia must push harder if it wants to break the cycle of violence, Bekele said.


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After Ethiopia Trip, Bowser Touts Renewed Bond with Homeland of Many DC Residents

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), center, in Ethi­o­pia. Bowser led a 70-member delegation that toured Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital, where officials renewed a sister-city agreement. (Executive Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser)

The Washington Post

She met with the president and the prime minister, talked transportation and health care with local officials, visited an orphanage and an ancient church, and smiled broadly as a street was christened for her more than 7,000 miles from her hometown.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), back from a five-day diplomatic and trade mission to Ethiopia, described the trip on Thursday as a way to solidify ties with a country where an estimated 30,000 Ethiopians have relocated to the District.

“We are promoting our D.C. values of inclusivity around the world,” the mayor said when asked about the trip’s benefits for District residents. “Letting the world know that we are Washingtonians, not just who you see in the White House, and that has been increasingly important in the last two and a half years.”

On her visit to Ethi­o­pia, her fifth international trip since her 2014 election, Bowser led a 70-member delegation that toured Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital, where they renewed a sister-city agreement, met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde, and sampled lamb stew, enjera and other local delicacies.

After a one-hour flight to the town of Lalibela, they toured underground cathedrals and a school that was modernized by a Bowser donor who was on the trip. Before returning home, the mayor also accepted congratulations when Addis Ababa’s mayor, Takele Uma Banti, dedicated Mayor Muriel Bowser Street. The mayor’s office announced the designation in a press release that also reported that another location in Addis Ababa had been renamed Washington D.C. Square.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com »


Related:

UPDATE: Addis Ababa Unveils DC Square in Honor of Mayor Bowser’s Visit

DC Mayor Bowser Takes Delegation Of 70 To Ethiopia

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Clashes on Ethiopian Campuses Kill 3 (AP)

Two students at Woldia University in the Amhara region and one student at Dembi Dollo University in the Oromia region died in days of unrest largely along ethnic lines, AP reports. (Photo Dambi Dollo University Facebook)

The Associated Press

Clashes on Ethiopian Campuses Kill 3 University Students

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian authorities say three university students have died in days of unrest largely along ethnic lines, and students say security forces have entered campuses to restore order.

Clashes in the Amhara region began Saturday and in the Oromia region Monday and some students have been evacuated.

Education ministry official Samuel Kifle said Wednesday some people behind the unrest had fake student IDs and arrests were underway.

Two students at Woldia University in the Amhara region and one student at Dembi Dollo University in the Oromia region died.

Ethnic conflicts have posed a major challenge to Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Also Wednesday, the attorney general said 68 people who took part in a June attack that killed Ethiopia’s army chief and others will be charged this week.


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UPDATE: Addis Ababa Unveils DC Square in Honor of Mayor Bowser’s Visit

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s trip to Ethiopia comes a year after Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed came to D.C. gave a talk to members of the Ethiopian community at the convention center in July 2018. Bowser joined Abiy on stage and announced July 28 as “Ethiopia Day in D.C.” (Photo by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Press Release

Office of the DC Mayor

City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Honors Mayor Bowser and Washington, DC with Street Naming

Celebration Part of Renewal of Sister City Agreement that Establishes Cooperative Relationship in Areas of Economic Development, Public Health, Sustainability, Education, and Government Collaboration

(ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA) – Today, representing the 704,000 residents of Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated the renaming of an Addis Ababa street in honor of the collaborative relationship between the two capital cities. The Mayor of Addis Ababa, Takele Uma Banti, unveiled a newly-named street, “Mayor Muriel Bowser Street,” and announced the renaming of Gazebo Roundabout to “Washington DC Square” as part of the signing ceremony for the renewal of the Sister City agreement between the District and Addis Ababa. The agreement establishes a cooperative relationship to further the areas of economic development, public health, sustainability, culture, education, and government collaboration in both cities.

“I am delighted to accept this historic honor on behalf of all of the residents of Washington, DC,” said Mayor Bowser. “The DC region is proud to boast one of the largest populations of Ethiopians in the US, and this Sister City agreement is an effort to ensure we continue to collaborate and develop solutions that support the residents in both of our communities. Addis Ababa holds a special place in the hearts of Washingtonians, and now all Washingtonians have a place to call home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.”

Home to more than 30,000 Ethiopians, the DC region has a multitude of Ethiopian business owners, families, entrepreneurs, community leaders, artists, and more. The Sister City agreement signing ceremony was part of a five-day mission led by Mayor Bowser.

“Today, we renewed our Sister City Agreement with Washington, DC to create lasting partnerships and cooperation on economic development, public health, culture, tourism and education. We are the capital to two great nations and there is so much we can learn from each other,” said Addis Ababa Mayor Takele Uma Banti. “To Ethiopians in DC, we need your passion, knowledge, expertise, creativity and the values that allowed you to be outstanding citizens and entrepreneurs in DC. As we lay down the cornerstone for this new road in honor of our partnership, I’ve no doubt that we’re cementing a moment in history to highlight the place of DC and its residents in Addis.”

The agreement confirms the two cities will, in short:

    Promote collaboration, information exchange, and joint ventures, with a special focus on the growth and development of business investment, trade and tourism and public-private partnerships
    Share information on best practices in the areas of government operation; including public works, transportation, technology, infrastructure and housing
    Share information on health polices and best practices to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of prevention and treatment programs
    Promote the development of programs in the areas of culture, arts and education
    Share information and best practices the support a sustainable environment, including energy conservation and the green economy.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Mike Raynor attended the re-signing ceremony, as well as the inauguration of the Washington DC Roundabout and Muriel Bowser Street. At a reception held earlier in the day at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ambassador Raynor welcomed Mayor Bowser and her delegation saying, “…your visit embodies so many of the attributes that mark the long and rich relationship between the United States and Ethiopia: friendship, dynamism, good will, and the pursuit of partnerships that serve the best interests of both our countries and our peoples.”

Mayor Bowser also met Ethiopian leaders, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who recently received the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, and President H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde, the first woman to be elected president.


DC Mayor Bowser Takes Delegation Of 70 To Ethiopia

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FP on Tragic & Volatile Nature of Ethnic Politics in Ethiopia

In the following article published Friday by Foreign Policy magazine Addisu Lashitew, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues that Ethiopia "must find a way to avoid repeating the perilous history of previous experiments in ethnic federalism in countries such as Yugoslavia... The root causes of the current political crisis come from a system that awkwardly weds ethnicity to electoral politics." (GETTY IMAGES)

Foreign Policy

BY ADDISU LASHITEW | NOVEMBER 8, 2019

Ethiopia Will Explode if It Doesn’t Move Beyond Ethnic-Based Politics

In Oct. 11, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the long stalemate with neighboring Eritrea. Paradoxically, Abiy enjoys only fragmented and diminishing popular support in his own country. Even in his home region of Oromia, his leadership is seriously contested by the ethnonationalist forces represented by the social media activist Jawar Mohammed.

This became painfully evident on Oct. 23, when the Oromia region was shaken by a deadly wave of violence following a series of Facebook posts from Jawar. The activist, who also heads a TV channel called Oromia Media Network, announced that the police were about to detain him, an allegation that was later denied by the government. Around 70 civilians were killed when his angry supporters took to the streets, setting off an intercommunal conflict that took on an ethnic and religious dimension.

This tragic incident is emblematic of the volatile nature of ethnic politics in Ethiopia, which has started to crack the foundations of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. The EPRDF, which has ruled the country since 1991, is a coalition of four parties that represented the country’s major ethnic groups (Amhara, Oromo, Tigrayan, and southern groups) of which the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front was the most dominant party until recently.

Read more »


Related:
PM Abiy Says Death Toll Rises to 86
Ethiopia Update: Nobel Prize, Deadly Protests, Calls for Calm & Talk of Election

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Reflection on Legacy of Ethiopian Activist Dr. Bogaletch Gebre

Bogaletch Gebre passed away in Los Angeles, California on November 2nd, 2019. Her organization KMG announced that her family plans to take her body to Ethiopia for burial. (Photo: KMG Ethiopia)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

November 7th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — “What is good for women is good for the community,” Ethiopian social entrepreneur and community activist Dr. Bogaletch Gebre had declared in a profile interview with Tadias Magazine published sixteen years ago this Fall highlighting her non-profit organization, KMG (The Kembatti Mentti Gezzima). “What I discovered in our work,” she told us, “is not changing the whole society at once, but to change one person at a time. And it works.”

Dr. Bogaletch passed away this week at the age of 59 here in the U.S.

“The former scientist and marathon runner’s quiet revolution saved tens of thousands of girls from potential injury or death in Ethiopia, which has the second highest number of women living with FGM globally, data from anti-FGM charity 28TooMany shows,” Reuters points out, adding that “Bogaletch was determined to stop female cutting in Ethiopia after it killed her sister and nearly claimed her own life.”

In 2013 after being awarded the King Baudouin Prize in Belgium for confronting “culturally entrenched taboo subjects,” Dr. Bogaletch explained her simple message to the community elders in Ethiopia who defend the harmful tradition: “Daddy, you lived your time. This is our period, our children’s period. We don’t want to kill our children. I hope you are wise enough to accept that.”

BBC noted: “She helped reduce cases of FGM from 100% of newborn girls to less than 3% in parts of Ethiopia,” and described FGM in Africa and the Middle East as being “seen as a traditional rite of passage and is used culturally to ensure virginity and to make a woman marriageable. It typically involves removing the clitoris, and can lead to bleeding, infections and childbirth problems.”

Dr. Bogaletch ran marathon races in Los Angeles, California to raise funds for her projects in Ethiopia, which included efforts to create awareness on a wide ranging issues — in addition to FGM — that are detrimental to women’s health, livelihood, education and environment informed by her upbringing in rural Ethiopia. The literal translation of her non-profit, The Kembatti Mentti Gezzima, means “Women of Kembatta pooling their efforts to work together.”

Per the Tadias profile:

Daughter of a farmer, Bogaletch was taught how to read and write by a relative; she would study by the campfire at night after completing her daily house chores and responsibilities. In a village where the education of girls was rarely encouraged, Bogaletch’s father was reluctant to allow his daughter to continue with her primary school education. Occasionally, she was given permission and she would willingly make the six-mile run to and from school. “I would never dream of complaining,” she says, “I felt fortunate; one of the chosen few.” “Demands at home kept me away from school for weeks, sometimes months,” she continues, “but still I skipped grades, completing four levels in three years.” She became the first girl in her village to be educated beyond the fourth grade. By the time she was nine she was reading and translating court documents for her father, a task he had previously paid others to do for him. She helped people in her community write their court applications free of charge. “As a sign of respect in Kambatta tradition, a father is called after his first-born son, and a mother after her first-born daughter,” she explains, “Imagine his surprise when my father’s peers started calling him Father of Bogaletch.” With her father now won over by her diligence and perseverance Bogaletch was allowed to attend the one and only women’s boarding school in Addis Ababa on a government scholarship. She then went on to attend Hebrew University in Jerusalem on a full scholarship. Saving her stipend money with great effort she demonstrated her appreciation to her father by building him a new house with a corrugated tin roof‚ the only one of its kind in Zato. “People came from miles to see what a woman could do. Now I wanted to do more,” she confessed. Once people in her village saw what women could achieve with education they were willing to let their daughters become educated too and a ripple-effect ensued. Bogaletch continued her education securing a Fulbright scholarship to the University of Massachusetts and later completing a PhD program in Epidemiology at UCLA. Returning to Ethiopia after 13 years she realized the disparities in education opportunities in her hometown and began to conceive of a way to give back to her community.


Dr. Bogaletch Gebre. (From Tadias Magazine print issue 2003)

Speaking about the legacy of Dr. Bogaletch, the Africa director of the advocacy group Equality Now, Faiza Mohamed, told Reuters: “It was most impressive how she empowered the youth to reject the practice; it is a wave of hope and change into the community. It’s critical to involve the youth, have a dynamic partnership and engage with them.”


Related:
‘Wave of hope’ to end FGM in Ethiopia as activist pioneer dies (Reuters)
Bogaletch Gebre: Talking Female Circumcision Out of Existence (NYT)
Women’s Rights Activists Bogaletch Gebre wins King Baudouin Prize (BBC News)
Fulbright Scholar & Community Activist Uplifting Women (TADIAS)

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PM Abiy Says Death Toll Rises to 86

PM Abiy says death toll from recent protests rises to 86. “We have to stop those forces who are trying to pull us two steps back while we are going one step forward,” Abiy told a news conference. Most were from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups and victims included both Muslims and Christians, he said. (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday the death toll from protests last month had risen to 86 and urged citizens to resist forces threatening to impede the country’s progress.

“We have to stop those forces who are trying pull us two steps back while we are going one step forward,” Abiy told a news conference with local news organizations broadcast by state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting.

Supporters of activist Jawar Mohammed took to the streets on Oct. 23 and 24 to protest after he said police had surrounded his home in the capital Addis Ababa and tried to withdraw his government security detail.

The latest death toll, which the government late last week had put at 78, included 82 men and four women, Abiy said. Most were from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups and victims included both Muslims and Christians, he said.

There were also protests last month in several cities in Oromiya, Ethiopia’s most populous province, underscoring the specter of ethnic violence which the United Nations  says has already left more than 2 million people internally displaced.

“I ask you to pray for all the victims of violence in that land,” Pope Francis said during his weekly Sunday address at the Vatican.

Ahead of elections in 2020, Abiy must walk a delicate line between increasing political freedoms and reigning in strongmen building ethnic powerbases by demanding more access to land, power and resources for their groups.

Since his appointment in 2018, he has initiated political reforms which have won him international praise but also lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions among the many ethnic groups in Africa’s second most populous nation with a population of more than 100 million.

Abiy won the Nobel peace prize last month for his peacemaking efforts which ended two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.


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Al Jazeera on Ethiopia’s Confused Scene of Activism & Media

"The problem now is that so many individuals are mixing up the roles of activist and media when they shouldn't go together - media is meant to have its own ethics and rules," Abel Wabella, managing editor of the Addis Ababa-based newspaper Addis Zebye, said during an October 19 media forum in the capital to discuss the challenges faced by the media, and its role, in the country. "You have people running media who are calling for protests - it's totally absurd." (Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera

The challenges of navigating Ethiopia’s new media landscape

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Nobel committee earlier this month praised his “discontinuing media censorship” among a series of achievements during his first 100 days in power in 2018.

These included the lifting of the country’s state of emergency, the release of thousands of political prisoners, the legalisation of outlawed opposition groups, the tackling of corruption and the promotion of women in politics.

The freeing of detained journalists and bloggers, along with an end to the blocking of more than 260 websites and the restoration of access to media outlets forced to work in exile, resulted in Ethiopia jumping 40 places in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders – from 150 out of 180 countries to 110, the largest leap by any country.

But the outbreak in Ethiopia of violent protests last week – more than 60 are estimated killed in clashes across the Oromia region, and in the cities of Dire Dawa and Harar in eastern Ethiopia – is fuelling ongoing questions about whether such new media freedoms are being abused to stoke ethnic tensions.

Read more »


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Ethiopia Update: Nobel Prize, Deadly Protests, Calls for Calm & Talk of Election

Amid the ongoing deadly confrontation between his supporters and police in Addis Ababa and other cities, Jawar Mohammed, founder of OMN, suggests in an interview with The Associated Press that he might enter next year’s election race to challenge Abiy to become Prime Minister. (AP photo Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Deadly Ethiopia Unrest Poses Fresh Challenge to Nobel Winner

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed faced the most serious political challenge of his short rule Thursday as officials said dozens of people might be dead in two days of unrest caused by tensions between security forces and the country’s most prominent activist.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Jawar Mohammed hinted he might raise the stakes by entering next year’s election, but he warned that holding the vote amid current conditions “is the most dangerous thing Ethiopia can do.”

Not two weeks have passed since Abiy was named the Nobel winner for his sweeping reforms that included welcoming home from exile Mohammed and other critics and opposition figures who had been considered terrorists by the previous government. Abiy called it opening up the political space after he took office last year, and Ethiopians were surprised but jubilant.

Now Ethiopia’s largest regional state is engulfed in protests sparked by apparent friction between security forces and Jawar, a media entrepreneur who many say played a key role from afar in mobilizing months of widespread protests that led the previous prime minister to resign.

Some Ethiopians fear protests could emerge again as long-held grievances are aired after the loosening of repressive controls in a country with scores of ethnic groups. Officials recently expressed disgust with some media outlets that they called unprofessional and too ethnic-centered.

Last year, Abiy welcomed Jawar home. On Tuesday, however, in remarks to parliament Abiy warned unnamed people “who don’t even have an Ethiopian passport” that “if you threaten our peace and security, we will take measures.”

Many Ethiopians saw it as a warning to Jawar, a U.S. passport holder, who said he woke up the next morning to find attempts being made to remove his government-provided security detail in the capital, Addis Ababa.

“The order to remove my security was a strange one. It was attempted in the middle of the night,” Jawar said. “Later on I found out the plot was to remove the security and then unleash a mob attack on my house and accuse some other rival groups.”

He alerted the public on social media, and hundreds of his supporters began to arrive. Some camped outside and chanted slogans against the prime minister: “Down, down, Abiy!” Some remained on Thursday, while Jawar appealed for calm.

The unrest ignited in cities across the Oromia region that is home to many of Jawar’s supporters.

At least six people were killed on Wednesday, regional officials in Oromia told local media outlets.

But the real death toll could be in the “dozens,” a local official in the regional capital, Adama, told the AP on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Several Oromia residents told the AP that non-Oromos had been attacked, with their properties looted and burned.


Related:

Prominent activist won’t rule out election challenge to Ethiopia PM (Reuters)

Ethiopian activist calls for calm after 16 die in Ethiopia during clashes (Reuters)

Ethiopian Police Deny Claims of Plot to Harm Leading Activist (Bloomberg)

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WATCH: Obama, Clintons Eulogize Elijah Cummings in Final Farewell (UPDATE)

“Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart,” said former president Barack Obama, who sat in the front row of New Psalmist Baptist Church with Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s widow; Bill and Hillary Clinton; and former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate. “And it now falls on us to continue his work.” (Photo: Reuters)

The Washington Post

Obama, Clintons hail Cummings as an inspiration and a friend at funeral

BALTIMORE — In a vast church sanctuary filled with powerful people, Elijah Eugene Cummings was remembered Friday as a man who strove to protect American democracy but still made time to cherish his daughters, attend 7:15 a.m. Sunday worship each week and stop on the side of the road to help a motorist change a tire.

For nearly four hours, 4,000 people, including two former U.S. presidents, mourned the longtime Democratic lawmaker, the son of sharecroppers who rose from South Baltimore to Congress.

“Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart,” said former president Barack Obama, who sat in the front row of New Psalmist Baptist Church with Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s widow; Bill and Hillary Clinton; and former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate. “And it now falls on us to continue his work.”

The service — sometimes joyous, sometimes solemn and sometimes funny — offered up a noble vision of public service, in which elected officials collaborate and compromise to serve the public good. With political figures of both parties in attendance…

Obama, the last politician to speak, pointed out the massive video screens flanking the stage, which heralded “The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings.”

“This is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office,” Obama said, drawing out some laughter. “But Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to Congress. . . . As president, I could always count on Elijah being honorable and doing the right thing.”

Mourners began lining up at New Psalmist hours before the funeral and a viewing that preceded it. By 7 a.m., traffic was backed up a half-mile.

Read the full article at washingtonpost.com »


Related:

Elijah Cummings Was Our North Star: By Nancy Pelosi

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In Ethiopia PM Abiy Pushes Back Against Divisive Ethnic Politics Sparking Protests

Jawar Mohammed, who is a U.S. citizen and founder of the media network OMN, returned to Ethiopia from the United States last year after Abiy came to power and the two have been photographed repeatedly together since. On Tuesday Abiy issued a warning in a speech before parliament: “Those media owners who don’t have Ethiopian passports are playing both ways,” he said. “When there is peace you are playing here, and when we are in trouble you're not here." (Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

Protests spread after stand-off at Ethiopian activist’s home

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Police fired gunshots and teargas as thousands protested in Ethiopia on Wednesday over the treatment of a prominent activist, residents said, in a sign that the country’s Nobel Prize-winning prime minister might be losing support among his powerbase.

More than a thousand supporters gathered in Addis Ababa outside the house of Jawar Mohammed, a media entrepreneur who organized protests that brought Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power last year, after police surrounded the building.

Protests quickly spread to the cities of Adama, Ambo and Jimma, residents said. Four people were reported to have been shot in Ambo.

On Tuesday, Abiy had warned against media owners “fomenting unrest”. That night, security forces surrounded Jawar’s house and the government attempted to withdraw his security detail, Jawar told Reuters.

The next morning, a Reuters witness saw at least 400 young men from the Oromo ethnic group chanting support for Jawar and against Abiy, the winner of this year’s Nobel peace prize. Around two dozen police officers stood nearby.

Abiy has won international praise for his sweeping political reforms but greater freedoms have lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions between Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopian Police Deny Claims of Plot to Harm Leading Activist (Bloomberg)

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Dr. Abiy Releases New Book ‘Medemer’

A man reads a new book by Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed on MEDEMER (synergy) after it was launched Saturday Oct. 19, 2019, at the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Ethiopia’s Nobel-winning leader launches million-copy book

ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister is launching a book of his ideology, with one million copies already printed.

Saturday’s launch again raised concerns among some in the East African nation that a cult of personality could spring up around Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who announced sweeping political reforms after taking office last year.

The book called “Medemer” aims at inclusivity and consensus in a country with scores of ethnic groups and a rising problem of ethnic unrest.

The book comes as the country faces a national election next year that Abiy has pledged will be free and fair.

Exhibitors in the capital, Addis Ababa, told The Associated Press they were forced out of a conference hall for the launch. “We were told to evacuate,” said Bethlehem Bahran, a communications director for the event.

Abiy’s book is launching both in Ethiopia and the United States, which has a large diaspora community.

The press secretary for the prime minister’s office, Nigussu Tilahun, told the AP no state money was involved in promoting the book.

“And all proceeds from the book will be used to build schools across Ethiopia,” he said.

The Nobel committee awarded the 43-year-old Abiy the prize for making peace with neighboring Eritrea and ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts, and for his political reforms.

“No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early,” the Nobel committee said. But “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.”

Human rights groups and others have urged the prime minister to continue with reforms and resist the urge to return to repressive controls of the past such as widespread arrests and internet shutdowns.


Related:

Watch: Dr Abiy Ahmed Book launching speech (Amharic)

Why I Nominated Abiy Ahmed for the Nobel Peace Prize

PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize is deserved, but he still has work to do (WaPo Editorial)

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2 Years Before Deadly Ethiopia Crash, Boeing Staff Knew of 737 Max Problems

Messages show Boeing employees knew in 2016 of problems that turned deadly on the 737 Max. The messages, between two top pilots, were about an automated feature known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that investigators say repeatedly — and in error — forced down the noses of planes that crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people. (Photo: Reuters)

The Washington Post

Instant messages between two high-level Boeing employees in 2016 indicate the company was aware of major problems with an automated feature on the 737 Max jet that has been implicated in two deadly crashes.

The messages, between two top pilots, were about an automated feature known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that investigators say repeatedly — and in error — forced down the noses of planes that crashed in Indonesia and Ethi­o­pia, killing 346 people.

In the messages, Mark A. Forkner, then chief technical pilot for Boeing’s 737, wrote to technical pilot Patrik Gustavsson that the MCAS was engaging “itself like craxy,” calling the problem “egregious.”

Forkner, who had a major role in the Max, also indicated that the Boeing employees misled the Federal Aviation Administration. “So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” he wrote.

“It wasn’t a lie, no one told us that was the case,” Gustavsson replied.

Boeing and FAA faulted in oversight breakdowns that contributed to 737 Max failure

The messages show the company experts had identified critical safety concerns with the Max years ago, even as Boeing executives have publicly argued since the crashes on Oct. 29 and March 10 that the company had followed the same internal practices and FAA certification procedures that have long produced safe airplanes.

Boeing did not turn the messages over to the Transportation Department until Thursday, federal officials said. The document “containing statements by a former Boeing employee” was given to Congress on Friday, Boeing said in a statement.

In a letter to Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg on Friday, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson said: “I expect your explanation immediately.”

Read more »


Related:
Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes
Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Elijah Cummings Was Our North Star: By Nancy Pelosi

Elijah E. Cummings, a powerful congressman from Baltimore, Maryland "who gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police riots in Baltimore, and his forceful opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump, died Oct. 17 at a hospice center in Baltimore. He was 68." - WaPo. (AP photo)

The Washington Post

By Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House of Representatives.

This week, the people of Baltimore, the Congress and the United States lost a voice of unsurpassed moral clarity and truth: our beloved Chairman Elijah E. Cummings.

In the House, Elijah was our North Star. He was a leader of towering character and integrity, who pushed the Congress and country always to rise to a higher purpose, reminding us why we are here. As he said whenever he saw that we were not living up to our Founders’ vision for America and meeting the needs of our children for the future: “We are better than this.”

Elijah’s story was the story of the United States: A son of sharecroppers who became Baptist preachers, he dedicated his life to advancing justice, liberty, fairness and human dignity. He believed in the promise of America because he had lived it. As chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, he used his gavel to restore integrity, accountability and honesty to Washington so that government would be a force for good for working people, ensuring that all could experience the American Dream as he did.

Firm in his principles, Elijah was also a peacemaker and a bridge-builder: passionate about what he believed in, dispassionate in his judgments about how to proceed. His clarion voice would cut through conflict, calming the waters and reaching out across the aisle, no matter how rough and tumble the debate.

He was a generous leader. He always shared credit and took the time to mentor younger members, both on his committee and throughout our caucus. This year, during the first weeks of the new Congress, when members were being added to his highly coveted committee, he said to me, “Send me as many freshmen as you can.” He wanted to help them succeed — and he wanted to learn from them, too.

Read more »

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Son & Father Reunited Under Nobel Winner Abiy’s Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Deal

Samson Berhane, 27, reads a previous month's Ethiopian Business Review, featuring Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, at his office in Addis Ababa, October 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Reuters

A Son and Father Reunited, Like Many Under Nobel Winner Abiy’s Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Deal

The 27-year old journalist credits Abiy’s peace deal with Eritrea last year for reuniting him with his father. Like thousands of other families they had been separated by two decades of hostility with Ethiopia’s longtime enemy.

Abiy, Africa’s youngest leader, was awarded the prestigious prize on Friday for his efforts that ended the border conflict.

“When I first heard that Abiy won the prize, I was doubting the trustworthiness of the news. I felt so happy confirming it,” Samson told Reuters in an interview.

While Samson is Ethiopian, his father was originally from Eritrea.

Samson’s office in Addis Ababa is filled with books on Eritrea’s history that he began reading to discover his roots after he first met his father.

After the peace deal, thousands of families were reunited for the first time since 1998, the year the war broke out.

“He (Abiy) made history by making peace, which is more valuable than anything. He reunited the two brotherly people,” Samson said.

YEARS OF SILENCE

Samson’s father, Berhane Ashmelash, left for Eritrea in 1997 to attend mandatory military service. Samson was five years old.

The father had planned to return to Ethiopia after having served but never made it back as the war broke out a year later.

His family did not hear from him for years as communications between the two countries were cut off. They thought he had died.

After the peace deal, direct international telephone connection and flights between the two countries were restored, enabling people to communicate and travel.

Samson decided in 2018 to fly to the Eritrean capital Asmara and look for his father. He went to the Ministry of Defence, which keeps a database on all those who served in the military, to seek information.

Together with the workplace and phone number of his father, Samson found out that he had seven half siblings as his father had remarried in Eritrea.

“It was a mind blowing moment,” he said.

Read more »


Related:

Why I Nominated Abiy Ahmed for the Nobel Peace Prize

PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize is deserved, but he still has work to do (WaPo Editorial)

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WATCH: Things You Didn’t Know About Ambassador Susan Rice

Ambassador Susan E. Rice talks to theGrio about her new memoir, “Tough Love: My story of the Things Worth Fighting For.” (Photography by Christopher Patey)

Ambassador Susan Rice Reflects on Impeaching Trump, Raising a Republican Son, and Her New Memoir, ‘Tough Love’

One of the most refreshing aspects of President Barack Obama‘s legacy is the fact that he surrounded himself with intelligent, thoughtful women who possess some of the most strategic minds in our government’s history. No one fits that paradigm more than Obama’s former National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

Throughout her years at the White House, Rice set the tone for national security as a serious defender of American democracy and an ardent champion of Democratic politics. In her 500-page memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For” (Simon & Schuster) the 54-year diplomat, wife, daughter, sister, and mother of two, carefully details what it was like being a Black woman working in foreign policy as well as providing insight into some of the most pivotal moments of her personal life that led up to enormous professional accomplishments. She also talks about the bewildered haze that the Obama administration embodied as they turned over the White House to the Trump administration.

Click here to watch: Ambassador Susan Rice reflects on impeaching Trump, raising a Republican son, and her new memoir, ‘Tough Love’ (theGrio)


Related:

Susan Rice Has Spent Her Career Fighting off Detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’ (WaPo on Her Memoir)


Former national security adviser Susan Rice at her Washington home last month. Her memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” is being published this week. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

October 8th, 2019

Susan Rice has spent her career fighting off detractors: ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men’

She should have listened to her mother.

“Why do you have to go on the shows?” Lois Dickson Rice asked her daughter, Susan, in September 2012 “Where is Hillary?”

Susan Rice was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, equipped with a gold-standard Washington résumé — Stanford, Rhodes scholar, Oxford doctorate, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She explained that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “wiped after a brutal week.” The Obama White House asked Rice to appear “in her stead” on all five Sunday news programs.

It was days after attacks in Libya killed four U.S. officials.

“I smell a rat,” said her mother, a lauded education policy expert. “This is not a good idea. Can’t you get out of it?”

“Mom, don’t be ridiculous,” Rice said. “I’ve done the shows. It will be fine.”

Well, no, it was not.

Benghazi became the millstone in Rice’s stellar career. It stopped her from succeeding Clinton.

Criticism of Rice was relentless… The scrutiny lasted through multiple congressional investigations.

The aftermath took a punishing toll on Rice’s family and professional reputation, she reveals in her frank new memoir, “Tough Love.” The book also explores how, despite Rice’s many accomplishments during two administrations, she attracted criticism for her brusque manner. And Rice faces an extra challenge — she’s been forced to grapple with whether any of this adversity was somehow a result of her race and gender.

“The combination — being a confident black woman who is not seeking permission or affirmation from others — I now suspect accounts for why I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men,” she writes, “and perhaps also why I have long inspired motivated detractors who simply can’t deal with me.”

Read the full article at www.washingtonpost.com »


Related:

What My Father Thought Me About Race: By Susan Rice


Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the forthcoming memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” from which this essay is adapted. (Photo: Susan Rice with her father Emmett J. Rice, right, and the Federal Reserve chairman, William Miller, in 1979. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By Susan E. Rice

My father, Emmett Rice, was drafted into military service at the height of World War II and spent four and a half years in uniform, first as an enlisted man and ultimately as an officer with the rank of captain. Called up by the Army Air Force, he was sent to a two-part officer training program, which began in Miami and was completed at Harvard Business School — where he learned “statistical control” and “quantitative management,” a specialized form of accounting in an unusual program designed to build on his business background.

Emmett eventually was deployed to Tuskegee, Ala., where he joined the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first black fighter pilot unit, which distinguished itself in combat in Europe. Though he learned to fly, my father was not a fighter pilot, but a staff officer who ran the newly created Statistics Office, which performed management analyses for commanding officers. He earlier served a stint at Godman Field adjacent to Fort Knox, Ky. There, he was denied access to the white officers’ club. To add insult to injury, he saw German prisoners of war being served at restaurants restricted to blacks. Both in the military and the confines of off-base life, his time in Kentucky was a searing reintroduction to the Southern segregation he had experienced as a child in South Carolina.


Susan and Emmett Rice in 1996. (Credit Ian Cameron)

Still, socially and intellectually, dad’s Tuskegee years were formative. He met an elite cadre of African-American men who would later be disproportionately represented in America’s postwar black professional class, among them my mother’s brothers, Leon and David Dickson. Dad’s Tuskegee friends and acquaintances formed a network he maintained throughout his life. What was it, I have often wondered, about those Tuskegee Airmen and support personnel that seemingly enabled them to become a vanguard of black achievement? Perhaps the military preselected unusually well-educated and capable men for Tuskegee, or some aspect of their service experience propelled them as a group to succeed. To my lasting regret, I failed to take the opportunity to study this topic in depth before almost all those heroes passed away.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


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Writers Lemn Sissay & Zone 9′s Befeqadu Hailu Share 2019 PEN Pinter Prize

Poet Lemn Sissay (right) has named writer and activist Befeqadu Hailu (left), who is a co-founder of the blogging platform Zone 9, as this year’s ‘international writer of courage’ (Composite: PR/Hollie Fernando)

The Guardian

The poet Lemn Sissay has won the PEN Pinter award alongside the Ethiopian writer Befeqadu Hailu, who dedicated his award “to all those who use their voices for the voiceless”.

Hailu, a writer, activist and co-founder of the blogging platform Zone 9, has been jailed four times for his work, although never convicted of the charges brought against him. Under the motto “we blog because we care”, Zone 9 sets out to create a space for freedom of expression, where individuals can speak out against human rights violations in Ethiopia.

Sissay chose Hailu as the PEN Pinter international writer of courage, calling him “a man who stands by his word and whose words stood in the face of prison and arose far, far above to declaim in the name of humanity”.

“When I was considering him, I spoke to many Ethiopians in Ethiopia about him,” Sissay said. “He is loved by his people and the younger generation: He is a 21st-century hero. It was obvious that the writer of courage had to be him. He is my hero.”

Speaking in Amharic at the British Library event, Hailu thanked Sissay for choosing him to share the award. Hailu said he had wasted “596 days of his life in prison as a result of his writing”, as well as being “a victim of surveillance, intimidation, beatings and insults”.

“But I can say confidently that I have gained rather than lost by writing,” he said. “My wish is to use my voice for the service of the suppressed, those who are victimised because of sexual orientation, creed, religion or political opinion. My dream will come true. My wish is to give my voice to the service of the voiceless, who spoke for me when I could not. I pay it back only when I write to become a voice for the voiceless, the unheard.”

The PEN Pinter award goes to a writer who is deemed to, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, cast an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world, and show a “fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”. Sissay, who was announced as recipient in June, was described by judges as “an Orpheus who never stops singing”, who in every work “returns to the underworld he inhabited as an unclaimed child”, and “from his sorrows … forges beautiful words and a thousand reasons to live and love”. Sissay grew up in foster care in Wigan and his childhood was scarred by racist bullying.

The prize is shared with an international writer of courage who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.

Read more »


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Ethiopia Mourns Elias Melka

Musician and composer Elias Melka died on 4 October. (Music in Africa)

Music in Africa

The news of his death was made public by Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC)… FBC said Milka was receiving treatment for diabetes and kidney complications at a hospital in the country’s capital.

Several prominent Ethiopians have shared their fondest memories of the musician, while others have spoken about what his music means to them.

“Saddened to learn the passing of renowned lyricist and composer, Elias Melka. We lost a talented and influential figure in the music industry. My condolences to his family and fans,” Addis Ababa mayor Takele Uma Banti said.

Radio and TV journalist Berhane Negussie said: “What heartbreaking news. Elias Melka was a musical genius of our generation This is a loss to the Ethiopian music industry. Not only as a musician, but he was also an amazing and extremely kind as a person. Rest in heaven, my brother.

Ethiopian political analyst Esayas Girmay wrote: “Farewell to a legend! Elias transformed modern Ethiopian music like no other. His influence on traditional Amharic music was also something to remember him by. Tigrigna, Oromifa, Kunama and Guragigna have also benefited from his amazing talent and creativity.”

Melka began his career in the 1990s after graduating from Yared Music School where he majored in cello, piano and the krar.

Melka’s discography includes more than 40 albums, which mainly contain socially conscious songs. His songs touched on topics such as HIV/AIDS, road accidents, African unity and minorities. In 2003, he composed ‘Negarit’ (War Drum), which highlighted the plight of about 13 million people facing starvation in the country.

The award-winning musician composed music for prominent Ethiopian artists, most notably activist Teddy Afro, Gossaye Tesfaye, Zeritu Kebede, Haile Roots, Mikia Behailu, Eyob Mekonnen, Michael Belayneh, Aster Girma, Abush Zeleke, Berry, Gedion Daniel and Dan Admassu.

He will be remembered for being one of the first musicians to introduce the one-man band studio production concept in Ethiopia and for being part of the team that launched the Awtar Music App this year.

Before his death, he was one of the judges on the Fana Lamrot talent show, which airs on FBC.


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Man Seeking U.S. Asylum Claims Ethiopian Airlines Changed Records After Crash

Yonas Yeshanew, a former employee of Ethiopian Airlines who is currently applying for asylum in the U.S., has claimed — in a whistleblower complaint filed with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration — that Ethiopian Airlines changed records on a Boeing 737 Max jet following the tragic crash earlier this year. Investigators had preliminarily ruled that a defective software flight data sensor known as MCAS was to blame for the accident. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Engineer: Ethiopian Airlines went into records after crash

SEATTLE (AP) — Ethiopian Airlines’ former chief engineer says in a whistleblower complaint filed with regulators that the carrier went into the maintenance records on a Boeing 737 Max jet a day after it crashed this year, a breach he contends was part of a pattern of corruption that included fabricating documents, signing off on shoddy repairs and even beating those who got out of line.

Yonas Yeshanew, who resigned this summer and is seeking asylum in the U.S., said that while it is unclear what, if anything, in the records was altered, the decision to go into them at all when they should have been sealed reflects a government-owned airline with few boundaries and plenty to hide.

“The brutal fact shall be exposed … Ethiopian Airlines is pursuing the vision of expansion, growth and profitability by compromising safety,” Yeshanew said in his report, which he gave to The Associated Press after sending it last month to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other international air safety agencies…

Ethiopian Airlines portrayed Yeshanew as a disgruntled former employee and categorically denied his allegations…

Read the full article at apnews.com »


Related:
Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes
Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Majority of Americans Support Impeachment Inquiry into Trump (UPDATE)

The survey shows how public sentiment has moved amid the unfolding scandal over Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. (ILLUSTRATION: HUFFPOST; PHOTOS: GETTY)

CNBC

Updated: TUE, OCT 8 2019

Most Americans — including 1 in 5 Republicans — now back an impeachment inquiry or already believe Congress should remove President Donald Trump from office, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.

The survey shows how public sentiment has moved amid the unfolding scandal over Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. The share of Americans who say Congress should let Trump complete his term has dipped to 39%, from 50% in July.

At the same time, the proportion who say Congress should move to impeachment and removal has ticked up to 24% from 21%, while those who support an impeachment inquiry have swelled to 31% from 27%. Taken together, that 55% majority backing an impeachment inquiry at minimum is the highest the NBC/WSJ poll has shown this year.

That represents a gradual, not dramatic, shift in opinion. But it shows that, after the political hazards of the Trump-Russia investigation appeared to dissipate during the summer, the president faces new and potentially more-threatening trouble over Ukraine.

“What we’re seeing in this poll is an openness and willingness to listen to new information,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff. His Democratic counterpart Peter Hart added, “There’s not a scintilla of good news for Donald Trump in this survey.”


2nd Whistleblower Adds to Impeachment Peril at White House (AP)


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has initiated an impeachment proceedings against President Trump, accusing him of violating the Constitution in seeking help from a foreign leader to damage a political opponent. AP reports that this week a second whistleblower has come forward “adding to the impeachment peril engulfing the White House.” (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: October 7th, 2019

A second whistleblower has come forward with information about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, adding to the impeachment peril engulfing the White House and potentially providing new leads to Democrats in their unfurling investigation of Trump’s conduct.

Attorney Mark Zaid, who represents both whistleblowers, said in a text message to The Associated Press that the second person has spoken to the intelligence community’s internal watchdog and can corroborate information in the original whistleblower complaint. That document alleged that Trump pushed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s family, prompting a White House cover-up. Crucially, the new whistleblower works in the intelligence field and has “firsthand knowledge” of key events, Zaid said.

The emergence of the second whistleblower threatened to undermine arguments from Trump and his allies to discredit the original complaint. They have called it politically motivated, claimed it was filed improperly and dismissed it as unreliable because it was based on secondhand or thirdhand information.

A rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, released by the White House, has already corroborated the complaint’s central claim that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. The push came even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Text messages from State Department officials revealed other details, including that Ukraine was promised a visit with Trump if the government would agree to investigate the 2016 election and Ukrainian gas company Burisma — the outline of a potential quid pro quo.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said word of a second whistleblower indicates a larger shift inside the government.

“The president’s real problem is that his behavior has finally gotten to a place where people are saying, ‘Enough,’” Himes said.

Democrats have zeroed in on the State Department in the opening phase of their impeachment investigation. The Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have already interviewed Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine who provided the text messages. At least two other witnesses are set for depositions this week: Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly ousted as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May.

Trump and his supporters deny that he did anything improper, but the White House has struggled to come up with a unified response. No administration officials appeared on the Sunday news shows to defend the president, while other Republicans focused mainly on attacking Democrats. A few Republicans suggested that Trump was only joking this past week when he publicly called on China to investigate the Bidens.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s most vocal backers, provided perhaps the strongest defense of the president. He said there was nothing wrong with Trump’s July conversation with Zelenskiy and that the accusation look like a “political setup.”

As for Trump, rather than visiting his nearby golf course in Sterling, Virginia, for a second day, he stayed at White House, where he tweeted and retweeted, with the Bidens a main target.

“The great Scam is being revealed!” Trump wrote at one point, continuing to paint himself as the victim of a “deep state” and hostile Democrats.

As the president often does when he feels under attack, he trumpeted his strong support among Republican voters. He kept lashing out at Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the few Republicans who has publicly questioned Trump’s conduct.

“The Democrats are lucky that they don’t have any Mitt Romney types,” Trump wrote, painting the 2012 GOP presidential nominee as a traitor to his party. Romney tweeted recently that Trump’s “brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine” for an investigation of Biden is “wrong and appalling.”

The July call raised questions about whether Trump held back near $400 million in critical American military aid to Ukraine as leverage for a Burisma investigation. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

A leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Biden wrote in The Washington Post that he had a message for Trump and “those who facilitate his abuses of power. … Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family.”

Additional details about the origins of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy emerged over the weekend.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry had encouraged Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader, but on energy and economic issues, according to Perry spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes. She said Perry’s interest in Ukraine is part of U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe.

Trump, who has repeatedly described his conversation with Zelenskiy as “perfect,” told House Republicans on Friday night that it was Perry who teed up the July call, according to a person familiar with Trump’s comments who was granted anonymity to discuss them. The person said Trump did not suggest that Perry had anything to do with the pressure to investigate the Bidens.

As the furor over Trump’s phone call and the House’s subsequent impeachment inquiry escalated, two Republicans challenging Trump for the GOP presidential nomination engaged in a heated on-air debate over what should happen to the president. The exchange between former Reps. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Joe Walsh of Illinois was notable, given the refusal of all but three Republican senators to criticize Trump’s conduct.

Walsh said the president deserves to be impeached. Sanford tried to make the case that moving forward with impeachment in the Democratic-run House if the Republican-controlled Senate doesn’t have the votes to convict would be counter-productive.

“This president needs to be impeached, just based on what he himself has said,” Walsh said. “And Republicans better get behind that.”

Himes appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” while Walsh was on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Graham spoke on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

___

Related:

U.S. House Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. The dramatic development follows the recent revelation that Trump may have abused his presidential powers by seeking help from a foreign government to undermine his potential 2020 election opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, and help his own reelection campaign. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Pelosi announces impeachment inquiry, says Trump’s courting of foreign political help is a ‘betrayal of national security’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the extraordinary step Tuesday of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, accusing him of violating the Constitution in seeking help from a foreign leader to damage a political opponent.

Pelosi’s move came after Trump acknowledged that he urged the Ukrainian president to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination who holds a wide lead over Trump, polls show, in a potential general election matchup. The revelation prompted a rush of moderate House Democrats to call for an impeachment inquiry into Trump, a step they had resisted for months. On Tuesday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) relented as well.

“The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a brief statement before a backdrop of American flags, repeatedly invoking the nation’s founders. “Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”

Read more »


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PM Abiy Commissions Artist Elias Sime for New Public Garden at National Palace

Elias Sime’s garden under construction. (COURTESY JAMES COHAN GALLERY)

ARTNEWS

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Commissions Artist Elias Sime for New Public Garden at Historically Off-Limits National Palace

Elias Sime, an Ethiopian artist well known at home and ascendant internationally for works involving intricately woven tangles of reclaimed electrical wires and other materials that come to look like paintings from afar, is building a large public garden for the Grand National Palace in Addis Ababa that once served as the home of emperor Haile Selassie. The project came to fruition after Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed visited Zoma, an ambitious complex of buildings and gardens in the city devoted to exhibitions of contemporary art and indigenous-architectural education as imagined by Sime and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued.

As James Cohan, whose New York–based gallery represents Sime, recalled of the prime minister, “Once he saw it, literally the next day he called Elias up and said, ‘You need to come to the grounds of the royal palace, which I’m going to open to the public for the first time since 1976. It will become our national pride, and you need to build a garden for us.’”

That visit some three months ago led to work that has continued around the clock on a 30,000-square-foot garden expected to be completed in six months. “They’re carving pieces of stone with wavelike rhythmic forms,” Cohan said, “and he’s carving stone for the walls.” More than 300 workers are involved, and “the prime minister visits on a daily basis and has brought numerous visiting international diplomats and dignitaries to see progress,” Cohan added.

In a written statement, Sime—who is working on the project with his partner in Zoma—told ARTnews, “Anyone can be commissioned to build, but being trusted by the Prime Minster, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, with love to build our dream in one of the most prestigious places is special. What Meskerem Assegued and I are building is meant to give love to anyone as much as we loved building it.”

Read more »


Related:

Elias Sime Set for Major U.S. Museum Shows in NY, Ohio and Kansas (TADIAS)

Noiseless: Elias Sime’s New Exhibition Opens in NYC

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In Oklahoma, Ethiopian Woman Receives OU’s International Water Prize

OU Interim Vice President Jane Irungu, left, presents the hand-blown glass trophy in the shape of a water droplet with a world map overlaid to Martha Gebeyehu, the 2019 International Water Prize winner. The World Health Organization estimates 800 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. (The Transcript)

The Transcript

An Ethiopian woman who helps coordinate government workers and private, self-help groups to promote clean water and sanitation formally received the 2019 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize at a banquet Tuesday evening.

Martha Gebeyehu received the $25,000 cash prize and hand-blown glass trophy shaped like a water droplet at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the end of the OU WaTER Center’s two-day conference.

Gebeyehu, who was chosen the winner by five jurors in 2018, said much of her country does not have access to adequate drinking water. Ninety four percent of the population drinks untreated water and nearly that many do not have access to basic sanitation.

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Behailu Wase: Ethiopia’s Cafe Society

Exploring the making of a political satire show offers insight into the growing pains of Ethiopia's new democracy. (Aljazeera)

Aljazeera

Filmmaker: Brian Tilley

In a compound on the edge of Addis Ababa – next to a cluster of houses and a busy primary school – is a large corrugated iron shack.

Inside is a cafe. Not an ordinary cafe, but the set of Ethiopia’s first political satire show to be broadcast on state television – Min Litazez, which translates to “How may I serve you?”.

“This is our mini Ethiopia,” says creator and director Behailu Wase, who grew up in the same compound from where he now airs his popular show. “A lot of ideas are discussed here.”

In the three seasons it has been on air, Min Litazez has built an enthusiastic and loyal audience among a population starved for political commentary and a new kind of comedy after almost 27 years of dictatorship during which such things would have been unthinkable.

We’re not just trying to make people laugh, but raise awareness because we want to create a better country.

But after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, he instituted a number of political and economic reforms, including loosening restrictions on the media and freedom of speech.

The sitcom-satire is set in a cafe, meant to be a metaphor of the country as a whole. In each episode, the cafe owner’s life tries to mirror and reflect the challenges faced by the country’s new leadership.

Past episodes have dealt with issues like government inefficiency, ethnic nationalism and authoritarianism – despite attempts to censor some of the content and, at times, even temporary suspension of the show itself.

“We’re not just trying to make people laugh, but raise awareness because we want to create a better country,” Behailu says.

Read more »


Related:

Watch: Meaza Ashenafi on Restoring Public Trust in Ethiopia’s Justice System

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Watch: Meaza Ashenafi on Restoring Public Trust in Ethiopia’s Justice System

In the following video Aljazeera follows Ethiopia's chief justice Meaza Ashenafi "as she meets judges and government officials to discuss current cases and reform efforts, visits some of Ethiopia's infamous prisons, and shares her dreams and aspirations for the future of her homeland." (Aljazeera)

Aljazeera

Meaza Ashenafi: Judging Ethiopia’s Future

Meaza Ashenafi, Ethiopia’s first female president of the Federal Supreme Court, is determined to restore public trust in her country’s justice system.

Appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in November 2018, the chief justice is tasked to reform her country’s entire judicial system.

“I always believed that promoting justice is my duty … I decided to take up this position to restore public trust in the judiciary,” Meaza says. “I knew it’s going to be a difficult assignment. There is a lot of expectation from the judiciary. The history of the judiciary [in Ethiopia] … has not been beautiful and people expect this to be corrected and they want that change not tomorrow, they want it today.”

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UPDATE: Dozens killed in Sidama Clashes

Reports from activists and opposition groups cite a higher death toll with fatalities as high as 60, but the local acting security head, Andinet Ashenafi, warns against what he called exaggerated numbers, reports the BBC's Kalkidan Yibeltal from Addis Ababa. (BBC)

BBC

Updated: July 22nd, 2019

At least 25 people have died in clashes between Ethiopian security forces and activists in southern Ethiopia, hospital officials have told the BBC.

The officials said security forces fired bullets during the protests across the Sidama region.

Activists from the Sidama ethnic group were set to declare their own federal state on Thursday.

They accused the government of failing to hold a promised referendum on the issue.

The Sidama are Ethiopia’s fifth biggest ethnic group, making up 4% of the population and are mainly based in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state.

The four bigger communities all have their own regions within Ethiopia’s ethnically based federal system.

Reports from activists and opposition groups cite a higher death toll with fatalities as high as 60, but the local acting security head, Andinet Ashenafi, warns against what he called exaggerated numbers, reports the BBC’s Kalkidan Yibeltal from Addis Ababa.

Mr Andinet confirmed to the BBC that four people had been killed in the city of Awassa and 26 others sustained wounds.

Members of other ethnic groups were also killed after being attacked by angry mobs.

Local media reported that protesters had attacked a tourist lodge, leading to 12 tourists being escorted out by troops.

The internet has been blocked in parts of the south of the country since Thursday, including the main city of Awassa.

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FAA Has No Timeline for 737 Max Return

The attempt to adapt the software on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been identified as a factor in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, has been slower than was initially predicted. (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg

FAA Has No Timeline for Lifting Grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max

U.S. aviation regulators have no timeline for returning Boeing Co.’s grounded 737 Max to service and won’t act until they are sure it is safe, the nation’s top transportation official said Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration has to be assured that a fix being developed by Boeing in the wake of two fatal crashes will prevent any future accidents, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a speech in Washington.

“The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when it is deemed safe to do so,” Chao said. “That is the bottom line: There is no timeline.”

Chao was speaking before the Air Line Pilots Association’s Air Safety Forum. ALPA is the largest pilot’s union in North America.

Boeing is altering software on the plane that had malfunctioned in both accidents, pushing each plane’s nose down without pilot input. The crews weren’t able to counter the plane and they lost control…

The attempt to adapt the software on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been identified as a factor in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, has been slower than was initially predicted.

Read more »


Related:
737 MAX fallout continues as some Ethiopia crash victims refuse to settle
Ethiopian Voted Best Airline in Africa
Boeing’s Mea Culpa Wins Over Ethiopian Airlines
Boeing CEO Calls Handling of 737 Max Crashes a ‘Mistake,’ Vows Improvements (USA Today)
In U.S. Fellowship Being Created in Name of Victim of Ethiopia Crash (AP)
Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’
Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report
Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

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Meet the ‘Squad’: The 4 Female U.S. Lawmakers Shaking Up Old Politics in DC

They were elected to Congress last November with a promise to shake up old politics in Washington, DC. This week they garnered international press attention for doing just that when they rattled the White House with their own unabashed social stand and world view. Below is a Boston Globe profile of the freshman American lawmakers who are pushing back against Trump's ethnocentric politics. (Photo Clockwise from top left: Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar. Photos from the Associated Press/Getty Images)

Boston Globe

Meet the ‘Squad’: Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib

So who exactly are the four trailblazers that comprise the “Squad”?

Pressley posted a photo in November, shortly after her election to the House, of herself, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar at the orientation for new members of Congress.

The four represent among the most progressive districts in the House, according to the Cook Political Report and that profile appeared to be part of the basis for Trump’s weekend attacks, where he referred to them as “ ‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen.”

Pressley replied Monday by saying “our squad is big.”

Here’s a brief refresher on the four Democratic woman challenging the president and facing his ire.

Read more »


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The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia Report on U.S.-Ethio Business

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia launched its inaugural report on U.S. investment in Ethiopia during an event held at the Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa on Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Photo: @AmchamET/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — The American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia has released a report featuring how U.S. investments in Ethiopia are having an impact on the ground. The report showcases “the contribution our members are making towards advancing inclusive economic growth in Ethiopia,” the non-profit organization announced in a Twitter post on Friday. “Case studies in the report cover education, skills development, health, and environment.”

It was announced previously that the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia was founded in 2016 “to strengthen the century‐old partnership economic ties that have existed between the United States and Ethiopia,” and counts former Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Fitsum Arega, among its Board members. Mr. Arega is now Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.S.

“The AmCham can play an important role in building a conducive environment for private sector growth, share experiences, and facilitate business capacity building in Ethiopia,” the press release adds.

The Twitter announcement notes that the current report was released during a forum held at the Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa on Thursday, July 11th where “a delegation from US Chamber met with Ethiopian President SahleWork Zewde to discuss linking the private sectors of the two countries & also underscored its long-term commitment to Ethiopia, focusing on deep & sustainable engagement.”

In addition to the forum the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia also hosted a panel discussion focusing on youth employment and featuring the head of Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission Ephrem T. Lemango as well as a representative from Coca Cola Africa, which recently had announced its intention to create 2700 new jobs through a construction of a new factory in Sebeta as their biggest plant in Ethiopia.


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TSEHAI Picks: Ethio-American Musicians

(Image courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

By Elias Wondimu

TSEHAI Picks: Ethio-American Musicians to Watch

For decades, TSEHAI has published books and journals to educate, inspire, and empower its readers with comprehensive and diverse narratives. In keeping with this tradition, TSEHAI is delighted to announce the launch of the quarterly TSEHAI Picks Series.

From cultural tastemakers to historical figures, TSEHAI Picks celebrates individuals from all walks of life and fields of expertise. In this first edition, the TSEHAI team is giving your summer playlist a makeover with a list ten songs from phenomenal musicians of Ethiopian origin whose art represents the rich and diverse Ethiopian heritage and narratives on the world stage.

“Rewind”-Kelela
https://youtu.be/py6PgXq0yDM


Kelela. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

The combination of Kelela’s sultry vocals with the hypnotic synthesizer and beat in “Rewind” immediately pull you in. On the podcast, Song Exploder, Kelela talks about her process of working with five different producers on this song. I was blown away by how she melded together elements from each producer to create one dynamic layered sound. “Rewind” is a great testament to Kelela as an artist: complex, unique, and forged from a melting pot of experiences.

“Danjahrous”–Haile Supreme
https://youtu.be/XJJjXFjkZKQ


Haile Supreme. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Drawing from many genres including jazz, blues, reggae and funk music, Haile Supreme creates a unique blend of Ethiopian culture with contemporary hip-hop/R&B in both his music and his persona. “Danjahrous” is a chill jam that goes down as smooth as honey wine.

“Black Truck”–Mereba
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGojZ12cZRQ


Mereba. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Mereba is a multi-talented musician, songwriter, producer, and rapper. Her brilliant album, The
Jungle is the Only Way Out, is a must listen for soulful vocals, intricate production, and poetically incisive lyrics. Her song “Black Truck” is an ode to her father who immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia and the perseverance of her ancestors.

“Walk Up”–Meklit
https://youtu.be/hGK6VUlaJmw


Meklit.(Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

In “Walk Up,” Meklit’ssoft vocals are accompanied by an eclectic assemblage of instrumental sounds. The lyrics of this song reminds me of Meklit’s brilliant TED talk, “The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds” on how music can be found all around — from the emphatic lilt of Amharic language to the sound of birds.

“W.I.A”–SIIMBA SELASSIIE
https://youtu.be/oN36HaYaZdc


SIIMBA SELASSIIE. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

SIIMBA SELASSIIE serves up clever and honest lyricism in an irreverent package that expands the definition of a hip-hop artist. Donning traditional dress and referencing his Ethiopian roots in his lyrics, SIIMBA is not one to shy away from his heritage.

“Abune”–Kibrom Birhane
https://youtu.be/2qwebzVcKAc

>
Kibrom Birhane. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Kibrom is a humble music visionary who embraces traditions in EthioJazz and EthioFolk music. His talent in piano and vocals shine in “Abune.” The powerful artistry of his music is truly arresting.

“Free Again”–Arima Ederra
https://youtu.be/OaYAE2lneD0


Arima Ederra. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Arima Ederra has the kind of angelic voice that will capture your attention within the first few notes. “Free Again” evokes the feeling of the first day of summer, ripe with infinite possibilities and childlike energy. I also love how the album art for this record draws from traditional Ethiopian illustration styles.

“Slow Fade”–Ruth B.
https://youtu.be/4HEUfU2CrEM


Ruth B. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Ruth B.’s regal voice remains soothing and pleasant, even as she takes you through her innermostfeelings. Currently signed with Columbia Records, it is exciting to see what she will do next.

“Process”–Gabriel Teodros, Shakiah
https://youtu.be/GUC31bcfAfM


Gabriel Teodros. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

Gabriel Teodros is an Ethiopian-American son of a refugee, which strongly influences his music. He creates music motivated to heal and promote positive social change. When he’s not creating music, Gabriel is actively involved in local youth communities and advocates on the treatment of immigrants in the US.

“Eye”–Helen Hailu
https://youtu.be/YAvdusDoDCE


Helen Hailu. (Courtesy of TSEHAI Publishers)

For my last pick, I chose “Eye” by Helen Hailu. “Eye” is the perfect song for a slow Sunday morning. Her jazzy vocals and instrumentals rock steady as she invites listeners to join in her proclamation of independence: “I’d rather be me, myself, and I.”


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Life After Death of ‘Love Bug’ in Ethiopia

Volkswagen will halt production of its latest version of the Beetle model car at its plant in Puebla, Mexico on Wednesday. Production of the original version of the curvy little vehicles ended in 2003. But, in Addis Ababa, Beetles enjoy a kind of life after death; their parts are never discarded but re-used to keep the city's remaining Beetles on the road. (Photo: Ishetu Kinfe, 59, a mechanic, poses next to his 1965 model Volkswagen Beetle car at a garage in Addis Ababa/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Reuters

In Ethiopia authentic spare parts of the original Beetle model are hard to come by. So mechanics there have to “slaughter” some cars to keep others alive.

“If one is in a bad condition, we will cannibalise it and give its parts to other cars. That is how we extend their life,” said Kinfe, the 74-year-old garage-owner who has been working on Beetles for six decades.

“I wish the Germans had continued producing them. They abandoned them and things started falling apart.”

“They are lovely cars,” said Teferi Markos, a mechanic in Kinfe’s garage. “You get satisfied when you fix them. If you want to change the colour, they absorb any paint.”

About 8,000 commercial and other vehicles are assembled in Ethiopia for the home market, about a quarter of them cars. The numbers of expensive imported models on the roads is also rising as a new middle class emerges.

“My brother-in-law owned a Beetle and I learned to drive with it when I was a young student,” said Workineh Kebede, 41, a businessman in the capital.

“I like them because they are so easy to drive. So I bought it because of my love for them since that time. It is not for economic reasons – I could afford to buy other cars.”

Read the full article and see photos »


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Africa Launches Free-Trade Zone

The IMF described the free-trade zone as a potential “economic game changer” of the kind that has boosted growth in Europe and North America. (Photo: AU summit in Niger on June 7th, 2019 where Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters/Reuters)

Reuters

Economic ‘Game Changer’? African Leaders Launch Free-Trade Zone

African leaders launched a continental free-trade zone on Sunday that if successful would unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.

After four years of talks, an agreement to form a 55-nation trade bloc was reached in March, paving the way for Sunday’s African Union summit in Niger where Ghana was announced as the host of the trade zone’s future headquarters and discussions were held on how exactly the bloc will operate.

It is hoped that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – the largest since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994 – will help unlock Africa’s long-stymied economic potential by boosting intra-regional trade, strengthening supply chains and spreading expertise.

“The eyes of the world are turned towards Africa,” Egyptian President and African Union Chairman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said at the summit’s opening ceremony.

“The success of the AfCFTA will be the real test to achieve the economic growth that will turn our people’s dream of welfare and quality of life into a reality,” he said.

Africa has much catching up to do: its intra-regional trade accounted for just 17% of exports in 2017 versus 59% in Asia and 69% in Europe, and Africa has missed out on the economic booms that other trade blocs have experienced in recent decades.

Economists say significant challenges remain, including poor road and rail links, large areas of unrest, excessive border bureaucracy and petty corruption that have held back growth and integration.

Members have committed to eliminate tariffs on most goods, which will increase trade in the region by 15-25% in the medium term, but this would more than double if these other issues were dealt with, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates.

The IMF in a May report described the free-trade zone as a potential “economic game changer” of the kind that has boosted growth in Europe and North America, but it added a note of caution.

“Reducing tariffs alone is not sufficient,” it said.

Read more »


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In Era of Reform, Ethiopia Still Reverts to Old Tactics to Censor Press (CPJ)

Ethiopians read newspapers in Addis Ababa on June 24. Following what the government refers to as a failed attempted coup, access to the internet was cut and journalists were arrested. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

CPJ

By Muthoki Mumo/CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative

On June 22, Ethiopia was plunged into an internet blackout following what the government described as a failed attempted coup in the Amhara region. In the aftermath at least two journalists were detained under the country’s repressive anti-terror law, part of an uptick in arrests that CPJ has noted in the country since May.

While internet shutdowns and anti-terror laws being turned against journalists are nothing new in Ethiopia, their use in recent weeks is in stark contrast to the Ethiopia that welcomed the international media community for World Press Freedom Day celebrations in May and whose prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has been fêted as taking bold steps in opening up the space for a free press.

Yared Hailemariam, the executive director of the Swiss-based Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, described the June 22 shutdown to CPJ as “a very wrong and old strategy of the government.” But it wasn’t the only blackout last month. The country was hit by intermittent network disruptions affecting internet and SMS services between June 11 and June 18, according to the Open Observatory of Network Interference, a global open sourcing network for tracking blocks. Several outlets, including Bloomberg and CNN, said speculation inside Ethiopia was that authorities cut internet access in those instances to prevent students cheating during examinations.

Alongside the blackouts, in the past two months authorities also arrested several journalists and, on July 8, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Defense said in a press conference that it planned to file charges against “individuals and media creating distrust between the public and the army,” the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported.

Read more »


Related:
Abiy should stick to his liberal instincts

Meet Daniel Bekele: The New Chief at Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

Ethiopia Coup Attempt Heightens Risk of Violent Balkan-style Split

Internet Being Restored in Ethiopia

The Biggest Displacement Crisis That Almost No One Is Talking About

Ethiopian Diplomat: ‘Power in Ethiopia to Come Through Voting, Not Violence’

Q&A: The Current Ethiopia Situation

Killings and Claims of an Attempted Coup Rock Ethiopia

An Emotional Memorial for Slain Military Chief in Ethiopia

UPDATE: Plotter of Failed Ethiopia Coup Killed


The PM’s spokeswoman gives details of army chief’s assassination

Watch: Government says rebellion quashed

Ethiopia’s army chief, 3 other officials killed in renegade general’s coup attempt (The Washington Post)

Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief killed (AP)

Ethiopia says coup attempt in Amhara region has failed (CNN)

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Ethiopia Lifts Power Rationing for Homes

Fana quoted Seleshi Bekele, the minister for water and electricity, saying the changes were prompted by an increase in water levels at the country's Gibe 3 dam. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Reuters

Ethiopia Lifts Power Rationing After Water Levels Rise

Ethiopia on Monday lifted measures rationing electricity for homes and companies after a rise in water levels at hydroelectric dams, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting said.

Fana quoted Seleshi Bekele, the minister for water and electricity, saying the changes were prompted by an increase in water levels at the country’s Gibe 3 dam.

Seleshi had said in May when announcing the rationing that the drop in water levels at Gibe 3 dam had led to a deficit of 476 megawatts, more than a third of the country’s electricity generation of 1,400 MW.

Load shedding temporarily reduces supply of power to an area of the grid when demand exceeds its supply.

Fana quoted Seleshi as saying power to the grid was also expected to increase when electricity from another dam, the Genale Dawa 3, is inaugurated next month. The dam has an installed capacity of 254 MW.

Under the rationing programme announced in May, domestic consumers faced blackouts for several hours each day, while cement and steel firms had to operate fewer shifts due to the cuts, Seleshi said at the time.


Related:
Ethiopia to Issue Two Telecom Licences

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Oklahoma State University Renews Bond with Haramaya University in Ethiopia

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis meets with Haramaya University officials in Ethiopia during its commencement ceremony on Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

The Oklahoman

Across the globe, standing before a room of foreign graduates, Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis could see the fruits of a program his college helped plant.

Hargis delivered the commencement address Saturday to Haramaya University in Ethiopia, addressing the more than 4,000 graduates earning degrees in agriculture, animal science and plant science.

“OSU has a lot of history in Ethiopia,” Hargis said. “Very excited to be a part of continuing that.”

Hargis is the first Oklahoma State president to visit the Ethiopian school in more than 60 years, renewing a bond between the two institutions that started in the years after World War II.

Established in 1952, Alemaya College of Agriculture (now called Haramaya University), was part of the vision of President Harry S. Truman as part of the Point Four Program, designed to build relationships with countries in Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East, while assisting them in agriculture and technological innovations.

Truman believed it was America’s duty to build up allies in the wake of World War II.

“What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing,” Truman said about the Point 4 program. “All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a constructive program for the better use of the world’s human and natural resources.”

Truman tasked Henry G. Bennett, OSU’s president, to help bring modern farming and ranching techniques to Ethiopia.

With the help of the agricultural experts at Oklahoma State, Bennett established schools in Ethiopia to teach the basics of crop management and rotation.

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie then returned the favor with a visit to Stillwater and Oklahoma State in 1954, marking the first time a foreign head of state had visited Oklahoma.

Clyde Kindell, who served as both an instructor and then as president of the college in Ethiopia, said his eight years in the country were life changing.

“If you establish friendship among the Ethiopians, they will never forget it,” Kindell said. “We have evidence to this day that there’s many Ethiopians in Ethiopia now that you mention Oklahoma State University and they remember it with fond memories.”

At an event last year, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie of Ethiopia, the great-grandson of Emperor Selassie, visited as OSU honored Kindell and four other professors for their work in the African nation.

“OSU’s involvement in the Point Four program in Ethiopia remains an important milestone in the university’s emergence as a truly global institution,” said Randy Kluver, the dean of OSU’s School of Global Studies and Partnerships.

Hargis’ trip to the Horn of Africa is part of a renewed effort on behalf of Oklahoma State and Haramaya to re-establish a strong connection between the two institutions.

Officially, Oklahoma State’s aid for the college ended in the late ‘60s, but earlier this year both schools pledged to reforge the relationship.


Related:

Photos: Emperor Haile Selassie visiting Oklahoma in 1954:

At Oklahoma State University Dr. Clyde Kindell Honored for Service to Ethiopia

Reflection: The 60th Anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Visit to OSU

Mel Tewahade Honored at Oklahoma State University

Point Four: A Film About Haramaya University

Letter From Harar: Dr. Clyde Kindell’s ‘Fond Memories of Ethiopia’ — Photos

Haile Selassie in America: Q & A with Professor Ted Vestal

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Ethiopia to Issue Two Telecom Licences

Finance Minister Eyob Tekalign Tolina told Reuters that Ethiopia will grant two telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies and a minority stake in Ethio Telecom. (Reuters)

Reuters

Ethiopia will award two telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies, a senior official told Reuters on Friday, in the first detailed formal announcement of the government’s plans for opening one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets.

The government will also offer a minority stake in Ethio Telecom, the monopoly operator, and foreign firms will be invited to bid.

“We have announced the market structure as ‘two plus one’,” State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina told Reuters by telephone, referring to the two licences and stake in Ethio Telecom.


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Healing Ethiopian Anger – Jerusalem Post

Protesters stand opposite police during a protest for the death of 18-year old Solomon Tekah of Ethiopian descent, after he was shot by police, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 2, 2019. (photo: REUTERS)

The Jerusalem Post

EDITORIAL – JULY 5, 2019

Israeli leaders and society in general understand that there are problems that we must address, and also help heal the anger among victims in the Ethiopian-Israeli community.

Protests erupted across Israel this week by Israelis from the Ethiopian community. Demonstrators blocked intersections. Some of the protests descended into tragic clashes with police in which more than 60 protesters were arrested and 47 officers injured. There are fears the protests will continue. Now is the time to reach out and heal the wounds and embrace each other.

These are not the scenes anyone in Israel wants to see, either members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community who have suffered racism in the past, or police and others caught in the traffic jams that surrounded the protests. The protests were triggered by the shooting of 19-year old Solomon Tekah in a suburb of Haifa. He was killed after an altercation with an off-duty policeman, the circumstances of which are under investigation.

The wider context, and the reason that people poured into the streets in anger, is that four years after similar nation-wide anti-racism protests in April 2015, there is a feeling among many Ethiopian-Israelis that the systemic issues youth face are still not being addressed. In April 2015, an Israeli soldier named Damas Pakedeh was stopped by police while riding his bicycle. An altercation ensued. At the time, the highest levels of government, from the president to the prime minister, sought to reach out to Pakedeh and the community and assure them that the incident was not consistent with the values of the Israel Police, and that they wanted a society in which people are not accosted for the color of their skin…

Israeli leaders and society in general understand that there are problems of racism that we must address, and also help heal the anger among victims in the Ethiopian-Israeli community. President Reuven Rivlin said we must stop and think how to continue. “Let us sit together in peace.” Articles in the media said it is important that the government addresses anger over discrimination by police. An officer should think twice before pulling his or her weapon.

Read the full editorial at jpost.com »


Ethiopian-Israelis Protest for 3rd Day After Fatal Police Shooting


The man who was killed, Solomon Tekah, 18, arrived from Ethiopia with his family seven years ago. On Sunday night, he was with friends in the northern port city of Haifa, outside a youth center he attended. An altercation broke out, and a police officer, who was out with his wife and children, intervened. (Photo: Israeli security forces detained a protester at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Wednesday/Getty Images)

The New York Times

JERUSALEM — Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters took to the streets across the country on Wednesday for a third day of protests in an outpouring of rage after an off-duty police officer fatally shot a black youth, and the Israeli police turned out in force to try to keep the main roads open.

The mostly young demonstrators have blocked major roads and junctions, paralyzing traffic during the evening rush hour, with disturbances extending into the night, protesting what community activists describe as deeply ingrained racism and discrimination in Israeli society.

Scores have been injured — among them many police officers, according to the emergency services — and dozens of protesters have been detained, most of them briefly. Israeli leaders called for calm; fewer protesters turned out on Wednesday.

“We must stop, I repeat, stop and think together how we go on from here,” President Reuven Rivlin said on Wednesday. “None of us have blood that is thicker than anyone else’s, and the lives of our brothers and sisters will never be forfeit.”…

On Tuesday night, rioters threw stones and firebombs at the police and overturned and set fire to cars in chaotic scenes rarely witnessed in the center of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

After initially holding back, the police fired stun grenades, tear gas and hard sponge bullets and sent in officers on horseback, prompting demonstrators to accuse them of the kind of police brutality that they had turned out to protest in the first place.

The man who was killed, Solomon Tekah, 18, arrived from Ethiopia with his family seven years ago. On Sunday night, he was with friends in the northern port city of Haifa, outside a youth center he attended. An altercation broke out, and a police officer, who was out with his wife and children, intervened.

The officer said that the youths had thrown stones that struck him and that he believed that he was in a life-threatening situation. He drew his gun and said he fired toward the ground, according to Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman.

Read more »


Related:
Ethiopian-Israeli teen shot by cop laid to rest amid cries for justice (The Times of Israel)

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Meet Daniel Bekele: The New Chief at Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

Daniel Bekele is the new Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Previously he served as a senior Advisor at Amnesty and as the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in New York. (Photo: by Patricia Williams)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: July 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – Daniel Bekele, formerly a Senior Advisor at Amnesty International and the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in New York, has been appointed as the new head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called Daniel a “seasoned human rights advocate and lawyer” congratulating him following his appointment by parliament on Tuesday. In a Twitter post Abiy also noted that “independent, credible and strong democratic institutions play a vital role in ensuring multiparty democracy and respect for human rights.” Daniel replaces the outgoing Commissioner Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher.

Prior to his experience at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch “Daniel practiced law in Ethiopia as a partner at Abebe Worke & Associates,” according to his bio shared by HRW. “He served as the Legal Department Director as well as Secretary of the Board for United Insurance Co., and he managed Action Aid Ethiopia’s policy research and advocacy departments.”

HRW adds: “Daniel has extensively consulted with non-governmental organizations including Oxfam, ARTICLE 19, Freedom House, and PACT, as well as with USAID and the World Bank. He has worked in varying capacities with numerous civil society organizations, and led the national-level campaign for the Global Call to Action against Poverty. Daniel’s focus includes promoting African civil society organizations, human rights, and good governance. In the 2005 parliamentary elections in Ethiopia, Daniel was actively involved in promoting human rights, and independent election monitoring, as well as peace initiatives in the aftermath of the post-election crisis. However, he was arrested by the authorities and spent more than two years in prison. He was internationally recognized as a prisoner of conscience, and in 2009 received the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, and in 2010 was nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award and the Index Freedom of Expression Award. Daniel received a Bachelor’s in Law and a Master’s in Regional Development Studies from Addis Ababa University and a Master’s in Legal Studies from Oxford University, where he is completing a PhD in International Law.”


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