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First Volume of Barack Obama’s Memoir Coming Nov. 17

The 768-page book is the most anticipated presidential memoir in memory, as much or more because of the quality of the writing than for any possible revelations. He has been called the most literary president since Abraham Lincoln and has already written two highly praised, million-selling books. (AP photo)

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The first volume of former President Barack Obama’s memoir is coming out Nov. 17, two weeks after Election Day. It’s called “A Promised Land” and will cover his swift and historic rise to the White House and his first term in office.

The publication date for the second volume has not yet been determined.

“I’ve spent the last few years reflecting on my presidency, and in ‘A Promised Land’ I’ve tried to provide an honest accounting of my presidential campaign and my time in office: the key events and people who shaped it; my take on what I got right and the mistakes I made; and the political, economic, and cultural forces that my team and I had to confront then — and that as a nation we are grappling with still,” Obama said in a statement Thursday.

“In the book, I’ve also tried to give readers a sense of the personal journey that Michelle and I went through during those years, with all the incredible highs and lows. And finally, at a time when America is going through such enormous upheaval, the book offers some of my broader thoughts on how we can heal the divisions in our country going forward and make our democracy work for everybody — a task that won’t depend on any single president, but on all of us as engaged citizens.”

Obama’s book, like his previous ones, will be released by Crown, a division of Penguin Random House.

The 768-page book is the most anticipated presidential memoir in memory, as much or more because of the quality of the writing than for any possible revelations. He has been called the most literary president since Abraham Lincoln and has already written two highly praised, million-selling books: “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope,” both of which have been cited as aiding his presidential run in 2008 and making him the country’s first Black president.


AP photo

Even with a substantial list price of $45, “A Promised Land” is virtually guaranteed to sell millions of copies, and has an announced first printing of 3 million. But it will face challenges far different from most presidential memoirs, and even from former first lady Michelle Obama’s blockbuster book, “Becoming,” which came out two years ago and has sold more than 10 million copies.

Because of the pandemic, the former president will likely be unable to have the spectacular arena tour that Michelle Obama had, what was then an unprecedented launch for a political book. Barack Obama also may find his book coming out at a time when the Nov. 3 election is still undecided and the country far more preoccupied with who the next president will be than with events of the past.

Obama has taken longer than most recent presidents to complete his memoir, with the first volume coming nearly four years after the end of his second term. (George W. Bush’s “Decision Points,” a single volume, came within two years). He has been writing during unusual times, even before the pandemic spread earlier this year. His successor in the White House, Donald Trump, has attacked and upended achievements of the Obama administration ranging from the Iran nuclear treaty to “Obamacare.”

Obama is not the first president to publish more than one volume of memoirs; Dwight Eisenhower also wrote two. But he had been expected to write just one when Penguin Random House first announced, in February 2017, a multimillion joint publication deal with Barack and Michelle Obama. On Thursday, Crown Publisher David Drake cited the scale of Obama’s ambition to write a book that captures the experiences of being president and offers an inspiring story for young people.

“As his writing progressed and the scope of the memoirs continued to grow, he ultimately decided to write two volumes,” Drake said.

The November release will be welcomed not only by Obama readers, but by booksellers and fellow publishers who anticipate that the massive demand for “A Promised Land” will raise sales for everyone. Its popularity may also present another complication: The publishing industry has struggled with chronic printing shortages in the U.S. over the past two years, leading to frequent delays. Drake said that Crown had taken several measures to minimize disruption, from printing one-third of the copies in Germany to arranging for a U.S. plant that had been scheduled to close in October to remain open for two additional months.

“The president’s book should not impact the U.S. print market more significantly than other major bestsellers of late,” Drake said.

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How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change: By Barack Obama

A young boy holds a "Justice" sign as he peers outside the window of a car passing protesters marching through downtown for a third night of unrest Sunday May 31, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia. (AP Photo)

Medium

By Barack Obama

As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change.

Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. But I believe there are some basic lessons to draw from past efforts that are worth remembering.

First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause. I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.

Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

Read more »

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US heads into a new week shaken by violence and frustration

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — After six straight days of unrest, America headed into a new work week Monday with neighborhoods in shambles, urban streets on lockdown and political leaders struggling to control the coast-to-coast outpouring of rage over police killings of black people.

Despite curfews in big cities across the U.S. and the deployment of thousands of National Guard soldiers over the past week, demonstrations descended into violence again on Sunday.

Protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at police in Philadelphia, set a fire near the White House and were hit with tear gas and pepper spray in Austin, Texas, and other cities. Seven Boston police officers were hospitalized.

Police officers and National Guard soldiers enforcing a curfew in Louisville, Kentucky, killed a man early Monday when they returned fire after someone in a large group shot at them first, police said. In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence over the weekend, adding to deaths recorded in Detroit and Minneapolis.

In some cities, thieves smashed their way into stores and ran off with as much as they could carry, leaving shop owners, many of them just beginning to reopen their businesses after the coronavirus shutdowns, to clean up their shattered stores.

In other places, police tried to calm tensions by kneeling in solidarity with demonstrators.

The demonstrations were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

Racial tensions were also running high after two white men were arrested in May in the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and after Louisville, Kentucky, police shot Breonna Taylor to death in her home in March.

The upheaval has unfolded amid the gloom and economic ruin caused by the coronavirus, which has killed over 100,000 Americans and sent unemployment soaring to levels not seen since the Depression. The outbreak has hit minorities especially hard, not just in infections and deaths but in job losses and economic stress.

The scale of the coast-to-coast protests has rivaled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras. At least 4,400 people have been arrested for such offenses as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count compiled by The Associated Press.

“They keep killing our people. I’m so sick and tired of it,” said Mahira Louis, 15, who was at a Boston protest with her mother Sunday, leading chants of “George Floyd, say his name!”

At the White House, the scene of three days of demonstrations, police fired tear gas and stun grenades Sunday into a crowd of more than 1,000 chanting protesters across the street in Lafayette Park.

The crowd ran, piling up road signs and plastic barriers to light a raging fire in a street nearby. Some pulled an American flag from a building and threw it into the flames. A building in the park with bathrooms and a maintenance office was burned down.

The district’s entire National Guard — roughly 1,700 soldiers — was called in to help control the protests, according to Pentagon officials.

As the unrest grew, President Donald Trump retweeted conservative commentator Buck Sexton, who called for “overwhelming force” against violent demonstrators.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, visited the site of protests in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, and talked to demonstrators. He also wrote a post online expressing empathy for those despairing about Floyd’s killing.

In New York, thieves raided luxury stores, including Chanel, Rolex and Prada boutiques. In Birmingham, Alabama, a Confederate statute was toppled.

In Salt Lake City, an activist leader condemned the destruction of property but said broken buildings shouldn’t be mourned on the same level as black men like Floyd.

“Maybe this country will get the memo that we are sick of police murdering unarmed black men,” said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah. “Maybe the next time a white police officer decides to pull the trigger, he will picture cities burning.”

Thousands marched peacefully in Phoenix; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and other cities, with some calling for an end to the fires, vandalism and theft, saying the destruction weakens calls for justice and reform.

In downtown Atlanta, authorities fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said t wo officers had been fired and three placed on desk duty after video showed police surrounding a car Saturday and using stun guns on the man and woman inside.

In Los Angeles, a police SUV accelerated into several protesters in a street, knocking two people to the ground. Nearby in Santa Monica, not far from a peaceful demonstration, groups broke into stores, walking out with boxes of shoes and folding chairs, among other items. A fire broke out at a restaurant across the street. Scores of people swarmed into stores in Long Beach. Some hauled armloads of clothing from a Forever 21 store away in garbage bags.

In Minneapolis, the officer who pinned Floyd to the pavement has been charged with murder, but protesters are demanding the three other officers at the scene be prosecuted. All four were fired.

“We’re not done,” said Darnella Wade, an organizer for Black Lives Matter in neighboring St. Paul, where thousands gathered peacefully in front of the state Capitol. “They sent us the military, and we only asked them for arrests.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz brought in thousands of National Guard soldiers on Saturday to help quell violence that had damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings in Minneapolis over days of protests.

That appeared to help minimize unrest, but thousands marching on a closed freeway were shaken when a tractor-trailer rolled into their midst. No serious injuries were reported. The driver was arrested on suspicion of assault.

In tweets Sunday, Trump accused anarchists and the media of fueling violence. Attorney General William Barr pointed a finger at “far left extremist” groups. Police chiefs and politicians accused outsiders of causing the problems.


Related:

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger Over Police Killings Shatters US

Obama On George Floyd’s Death And The ‘Maddening’ Normalcy Of Racism

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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 »


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In US, Barack Obama Named 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Laureate

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s historic campaign for the White House, and the founding of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. (@RFKHumanRights)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 7th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This week the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization announced that it will be honoring the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama with its 2018 Ripple of Hope award.

“My father believed; ‘Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,” said Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy. “On the 50th anniversary of his historic campaign for the White House, we honor laureates who have sent forth countless ripples of hope to millions of people inspired by their example.”

The former U.S. President will share the accolade along with Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Humana CEO Bruce D. Broussard.

“Laureates were selected for their exceptional work toward a more just and peaceful world,” the nonprofit said in a press release.

“Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights founder Ethel Kennedy will award the Laureates during the annual Ripple of Hope Gala at the New York Hilton Midtown on Wednesday, December 12, 2018.”

President Obama said: “Bobby Kennedy was one of my heroes. I first got into public service because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, believing that my own salvation was bound up with the salvation of others. That’s something he expressed far better than I ever could when he talked about the power that comes from acting on our ideals, those ripples of hope that can ‘sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.’ That’s what I’m determined to help inspire and cultivate over the rest of my career – the idea that anybody can be one of the millions of acts of conscience and voices raised against injustice, the idea that anybody can be one of the ‘million different centers of energy and daring’ who, like Bobby Kennedy, have always changed the world for the better.”

The press release added: “2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s historic campaign for the White House, and the founding of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. The Ripple of Hope Gala caps an incredible year of commemoration and activism by celebrating those who work to advance the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy in our challenging modern times.”

Past Ripple of Hope laureates include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton, Bono, George Clooney, Robert Smith, Harry Belafonte, Howard Schultz, Joe Biden, Congressman John Lewis, Tim Cook, Tony Bennett, and Robert De Niro.

“Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United States. Following his roles as a community organizer, constitutional law professor, and U.S. Senator, Obama was elected President in 2008, taking office at a moment of crisis unlike any America had seen in decades. His leadership helped rescue the economy, revitalize the American auto industry, reform the healthcare system to cover another twenty million Americans, and put the country on a firm course to a clean energy future – all while overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history. On the world stage, Obama’s belief in America’s indispensable leadership helped wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, decimate al Qaeda and eliminate the world’s most wanted terrorists, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, open up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and unite humanity in coordinated action to combat a changing climate. In his post-presidency, President Obama remains committed to lifting up the next generation of leaders through his work with the Obama Foundation.”


Learn more and purchase tickets at rfkhumanrights.org.

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Barack & Michelle Obama Partner With Netflix to Produce Media Content

(Getty Images)

Reuters

LOS ANGELES – Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, have struck a deal to produce films and series for Netflix Inc, the streaming service said on Monday, giving the former first couple a powerful and unprecedented platform to shape their post-White House legacy.

Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas have the option to produce scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and feature films, Netflix said in a statement.

The Obamas will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others, said a person familiar with the deal.

Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed and the first of the programming is not expected to reach viewers until about May 2019, the person said.

The agreement between the Obamas and Netflix, which boasts some 125 million subscribers worldwide, is a first for any occupant of the White House…

The Obamas gave no details of the topics they planned to cover but the content is not expected to be directly political.

Barack Obama in a statement recalled the “fascinating people” from all walks of life that he had met during his eight years in office, ending in January 2017.


Netflix Forming Storytelling Partnership With Barack and Michelle Obama

Press Release

Hollywood, Calif., May 21, 2018 — President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series with Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service.

The Obamas will produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features. These projects will be available to the 125 million member Netflix households in 190 countries.

The Obamas have established Higher Ground Productions as the entity under which they will produce content for Netflix.

“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” said President Obama. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix – we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” said Mrs. Obama. “Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”

“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”

About Netflix:

Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with 125 million memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.


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The Optimism of Barack Obama

(Photo: The New York Times)

The New York Times

Sunday Review | EDITORIAL

Barack Obama is leaving the White House with polls showing him to be one of the most popular presidents in recent decades. This makes sense. His achievements, not least pulling the nation back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, have been remarkable — all the more so because they were bitterly opposed from the outset by Republicans who made it their top priority to ensure that his presidency would fail.

Many Americans celebrated the election of the first African-American president as a welcome milestone in the history of a nation conceived in slavery and afflicted by institutional racism. Yet the bigotry that president-elect Donald Trump capitalized on during his run for office confirmed a point that Mr. Obama himself made from the start: that simply electing a black president would not magically dispel the prejudices that have dogged the country since its inception. Even now, these stubborn biases and beliefs, amplified by a divisive and hostile campaign that appealed not to people’s better instincts but their worst, have blinded many Americans to their own good fortune, fortune that flowed from policies set in motion by this president.

That story begins on Inauguration Day in 2009. That’s when Mr. Obama inherited a ravaged economy that was rapidly shedding jobs and forcing millions of people from their homes. The Obama stimulus, which staved off a 1930s-vintage economic collapse by pumping money into infrastructure, transportation and other areas, passed the House without a single Republican vote. Republican gospel holds that government spending does not create jobs or boost employment. The stimulus did both — preserving or creating an average of 1.6 millions jobs a year for four years. (A timely federal investment in General Motors and Chrysler, both pushed to the brink during the recession, achieved similarly salutary results, preserving more than a million jobs.)

Mr. Obama’s opponents have had trouble accepting that any of this actually happened. They have not learned the simple truth — a truth clear in the New Deal and just as clear now — that timely and significant federal investment can make a real difference in people’s lives. Or accepted that compassionate and well-designed government programs can do the same. Driven by ideology or envy, or maybe both, Republican leaders have now pounced upon the demonstrably successful Affordable Care Act of 2010, a law that has improved the way medical care is delivered in the United States, providing affordable care for millions and driving the percentage of Americans without insurance to a record low 9.1 percent in 2015. Despite the law’s clear successes, Mr. Trump and Republican congressional leaders have nevertheless declared it a failure, hoping to justify a repeal that would rob an estimated 22 million people of health insurance. The point of following this destructive course can only be to destroy a central Obama legacy — even though doing so will drive up costs and cause havoc in the lives of the newly uninsured.

Read more »


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Photos & Video: President Barack Obama’s Historic U.S.- Africa Summit

First lady Michelle Obama takes her seat following President Barack Obama's toast at a dinner for the U.S. - Africa Leaders Summit, on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 5, 2014. (Photo: AP)

VOA News

August 06, 2014

President Barack Obama and African leaders have opened talks on expanding trade, improving security and strengthening government accountability across Africa.

The talks, at a series of forums Wednesday, are a highlight of a massive three-day summit in Washington involving some 50 African heads of state and government.

In opening remarks Wednesday, President Obama said a “new Africa” is emerging.

“With some of the world’s fastest growing economies, a growing middle class and the youngest and fastest-growing population on earth, Africa will help shape the world as never before,” Obama said.

The president said increased business opportunities in Africa could help transform the relationship between the U.S. and the African continent.

“It is time for a new model of partnership between America and Africa, a partnership of equals that focuses on African capacity to solve problems and on Africa’s capacity to grow, and that is why we are here,” he said.

Late Tuesday, the White House hosted a state dinner for the visitors, where the president noted his African heritage and said that for his family, the bonds between the U.S. and Africa are deeply personal.

Private, public investment

Earlier, Obama announced $33 billion in U.S. private and public investment in various African countries.

Speaking at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, he said the investment and financing commitments will support both African and American jobs. The bulk of the commitments will come from private sector companies like Coca-Cola and IBM.

The president emphasized that the U.S. is interested in more than just the abundance of natural resources to be found in Africa.

WATCH: President Obama Addresses US-African Leaders Summit

He said the Power Africa program introduced last year will aim to bring electricity to 60 million Africans, triple the previous goal.

But he cautioned that Africa’s future will be made on the continent, not the United States.

Obama said the U.S. will do more to help African nations trade with each other. He said it should not be harder to export goods to your neighbor than to export goods to Los Angeles or Amsterdam.

As the worst Ebola outbreak on record rages on in West Africa, Obama told African leaders that keeping their citizens healthy and putting a health care system in place will ensure their countries’ future economic success.

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Barack Obama’s Ambitions for Africa

President Obama speaking to the 500 YALI Mandela Washington Fellows on Monday, July 29th, 2014. (Photo: AMIP)

The Economist | From the print edition

America and Africa: The next great disruption

Aug 2nd 2014

AIR FORCE ONE AND WASHINGTON, DC – AMERICA, an exceptional place, has long stood out for a willingness to take big bets on the rise of others. Post-war American governments devoted vast amounts of money, attention and military might to rebuilding or being the midwife of economies and democracies in Europe and Asia, with spectacular results. Of the country’s 15 largest trading partners today, 11 are former recipients of American aid.

Now Africa is set to deliver a fresh asymmetric shock to the global order, taking its place as the last great emerging market. Its population is set to double by 2050, and will be astonishingly young. Does Barack Obama’s America have the patience and confidence to welcome this change, harnessing it for mutual gain? Or is today’s America more like an old-world power, risk-averse, inward-looking and fearful of change? Africa may seem a sideshow now, but it is not a bad test of America’s standing in the world…

America has reasons to bet big. It enjoys more latent goodwill than ex-imperial Europe (Nelson Mandela said that the election of Mr Obama, the son of a Kenyan economist, was proof that people everywhere should “dare to dream”). America is more trusted in Africa than China, whose vast investments have at times sparked comparisons with colonial exploitation.

Yet critics accuse Mr Obama of all but ignoring the continent, only paying his first lengthy visit as president in 2013, after his re-election. Asian and European cities have hosted numerous summits for African leaders, ending with ceremonies to sign agreements worth billions of dollars.

Read more at The Economist »

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Tadias Magazine Endorses President Barack Obama for Re-election

We endorse President Barack Obama for re-election. (Photograph by © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Published: Sunday, November 4th, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – As Ethiopian Americans prepare to cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election on Tuesday, regardless of the choice of candidate, we urge our readers who have not voted early to vote on November 6th and to exercise their citizenship right to participate in the democratic process.

Four years ago when we backed Barack Obama for President, we were motivated not only by the historic nature of the 2008 election, but also by the enthusiastic, grassroots activism that his candidacy had generated in our community. Although we cannot agree with every decision that the Obama administration has made in the last four years, both domestic and foreign, there can be no doubt that the Ethiopian Diaspora’s contribution to the American tapestry has received more national attention in the same period than at any previous time in history, both through appointments to key administration positions as well as honoring innovators and high achieving professionals.

President Obama could do better to articulate and encourage the culture of free press, government transparency and accountability in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa. However, it is ultimately our responsibility as citizens to make our voices heard. Regardless of who wins this election, we hope that political activists in our community tone down the non-constructive criticism that prevents all of us from responsibly engaging in the democratic system.

Broadly speaking President Obama’s accomplishments have been impressive, including the passage of the most sweeping health care reforms since 1965, preventing another “Great Depression” and saving the American automobile industry from demise. The economy that was on a doomsday downward spiral when he took office in 2009 has rebounded to a positive territory with the latest jobs report showing “persistent economic growth.”

Most importantly we believe President Obama has remained true to the spirit of his historic 2008 campaign to be a leader of the people, by the people for the people. It goes without saying that President Obama has earned our vote. We urge Ethiopian Americans to support his re-election!
—-
Video: Watch President Obama makes his Case in Ohio

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Update:
President Obama Wins Second Term

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President Barack Obama Calls Human Trafficking ‘Modern Slavery’ (Video)

In a landmark speech delivered at the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, President Barack Obama called human trafficking “modern slavery,” outlining new steps to combat the exploitation of workers in the United States and overseas. Obama said that more than 20 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, including women pushed into the sex trade. The President unveiled new steps his administration is taking in the fight against human trafficking. (Photo: halogentv.com)

Latest:
In Obama’s Speech, Their Voices (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF)

WATCH:


Text of full remarks by President Obama to the Clinton Global Initiative

Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers

New York, New York

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Appreciate it. Please, please, everybody have a seat.

Well, good afternoon, everybody. And, President Clinton, thank you for your very kind introduction. Although I have to admit, I really did like the speech a few weeks ago a little bit better. (Laughter.) Afterwards, somebody tweeted that somebody needs to make him “Secretary of Explaining Things.” (Laughter.) Although they didn’t use the word, “things.” (Laughter.)

President Clinton, you are a tireless, passionate advocate on behalf of what’s best in our country. You have helped to improve and save the lives of millions of people around the world. I am grateful for your friendship and your extraordinary leadership. And I think I speak for the entire country when we say that you continue to be a great treasure for all of us. (Applause.)

As always, I also have to thank President Clinton for being so understanding with the record-breaking number of countries visited by our Secretary of State. (Laughter and applause.) As we’ve seen again in recent days, Hillary Clinton is a leader of grace and grit — and I believe she will go down as one of the finest Secretaries of State in American history. So we are grateful to her. (Applause.)

To the dedicated CGI staff and every organization that’s made commitments and touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people, thank you for being an example of what we need more of in the world, especially in Washington — working together to actually solve problems.

And that’s why I’m here. As Bill mentioned, I’ve come to CGI every year that I’ve been President, and I’ve talked with you about how we need to sustain the economic recovery, how we need to create more jobs. I’ve talked about the importance of development — from global health to our fight against HIV/AIDS to the growth that lifts nations to prosperity. We’ve talked about development and how it has to include women and girls — because by every benchmark, nations that educate their women and girls end up being more successful. (Applause.)

And today, I want to discuss an issue that relates to each of these challenges. It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery. (Applause.)

Now, I do not use that word, “slavery” lightly. It evokes obviously one of the most painful chapters in our nation’s history. But around the world, there’s no denying the awful reality. When a man, desperate for work, finds himself in a factory or on a fishing boat or in a field, working, toiling, for little or no pay, and beaten if he tries to escape — that is slavery. When a woman is locked in a sweatshop, or trapped in a home as a domestic servant, alone and abused and incapable of leaving — that’s slavery.

When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery. When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family — girls my daughters’ age — runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery. It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world. (Applause.)

Now, as a nation, we’ve long rejected such cruelty. Just a few days ago, we marked the 150th anniversary of a document that I have hanging in the Oval Office — the Emancipation Proclamation. With the advance of Union forces, it brought a new day — that “all persons held as slaves” would thenceforth be forever free. We wrote that promise into our Constitution. We spent decades struggling to make it real. We joined with other nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that “slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

A global movement was sparked, with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act — signed by President Clinton and carried on by President Bush.

And here at CGI, you’ve made impressive commitments in this fight. We are especially honored to be joined today by advocates who dedicate their lives — and, at times, risk their lives — to liberate victims and help them recover. This includes men and women of faith, who, like the great abolitionists before them, are truly doing the Lord’s work — evangelicals, the Catholic Church, International Justice Mission and World Relief, even individual congregations, like Passion City Church in Atlanta, and so many young people of faith who’ve decided that their conscience compels them to act in the face of injustice. Groups like these are answering the Bible’s call — to “seek justice” and “rescue the oppressed.” Some of them join us today, and we are grateful for your leadership.

Now, as President, I’ve made it clear that the United States will continue to be a leader in this global movement. We’ve got a comprehensive strategy. We’re shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists. Under Hillary’s leadership, we’re doing more than ever — with our annual trafficking report, with new outreach and partnerships — to give countries incentives to meet their responsibilities and calling them out when they don’t.

I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea. We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers. We’re helping other countries step up their own efforts. And we’re seeing results. More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti-trafficking laws.

Last week I was proud to welcome to the Oval Office not only a great champion of democracy but a fierce advocate against the use of forced labor and child soldiers — Aung San Suu Kyi. (Applause.) And as part of our engagement, we’ll encourage Burma to keep taking steps to reform — because nations must speak with one voice: Our people and our children are not for sale.

But for all the progress that we’ve made, the bitter truth is that trafficking also goes on right here, in the United States. It’s the migrant worker unable to pay off the debt to his trafficker. The man, lured here with the promise of a job, his documents then taken, and forced to work endless hours in a kitchen. The teenage girl, beaten, forced to walk the streets. This should not be happening in the United States of America.

As President, I directed my administration to step up our efforts — and we have. For the first time, at Hillary’s direction, our annual trafficking report now includes the United States, because we can’t ask other nations to do what we are not doing ourselves. (Applause.) We’ve expanded our interagency task force to include more federal partners, including the FBI. The intelligence community is devoting more resources to identifying trafficking networks. We’ve strengthened protections so that foreign-born workers know their rights.

And most of all, we’re going after the traffickers. New anti-trafficking teams are dismantling their networks. Last year, we charged a record number of these predators with human trafficking. We’re putting them where they belong — behind bars. (Applause.)

But with more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world — think about that, more than 20 million — they’ve got a lot more to do. And that’s why, earlier this year, I directed my administration to increase our efforts. And today, I can announce a series of additional steps that we’re going to take.

First, we’re going to do more to spot it and stop it. We’ll prepare a new assessment of human trafficking in the United States so we better understand the scope and scale of the problem. We’ll strengthen training, so investigators and law enforcement are even better equipped to take action — and treat victims as victims, not as criminals. (Applause.) We’re going to work with Amtrak, and bus and truck inspectors, so that they’re on the lookout. We’ll help teachers and educators spot the signs as well, and better serve those who are vulnerable, especially our young people.

Second, we’re turning the tables on the traffickers. Just as they are now using technology and the Internet to exploit their victims, we’re going to harness technology to stop them. We’re encouraging tech companies and advocates and law enforcement — and we’re also challenging college students — to develop tools that our young people can use to stay safe online and on their smart phones.

Third, we’ll do even more to help victims recover and rebuild their lives. We’ll develop a new action plan to improve coordination across the federal government. We’re increasing access to services to help survivors become self-sufficient. We’re working to simplify visa procedures for “T” visas so that innocent victims from other countries can stay here as they help us prosecute their traffickers.

This coming year, my Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships will make the fight against human trafficking a focus of its work. (Applause.) They’re doing great work. And I’m also proud to announce a new partnership with Humanity United, which is a leader in anti-trafficking — a multi-million dollar challenge to local communities to find new ways to care for trafficking victims. And I want to thank Johns Hopkins University, which will be focusing on how to best care for child victims. (Applause.)

Now, finally, as one of the largest purchasers of goods and services in the world, the United States government will lead by example. We’ve already taken steps to make sure our contractors do not engage in forced labor. And today we’re going to go further. I’ve signed a new executive order that raises the bar. It’s specific about the prohibitions. It does more to protect workers. It ensures stronger compliance. In short, we’re making clear that American tax dollars must never, ever be used to support the trafficking of human beings. We will have zero tolerance. We mean what we say. We will enforce it. (Applause.)

Of course, no government, no nation, can meet this challenge alone. Everybody has a responsibility. Every nation can take action. Modern anti-trafficking laws must be passed and enforced and justice systems must be strengthened. Victims must be cared for. So here in the United States, Congress should renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, Democrat or Republican, this is a no-brainer. This is something we should all agree on. We need to get that done.

And more broadly, as nations, let’s recommit to addressing the underlying forces that push so many into bondage in the first place. With development and economic growth that creates legitimate jobs, there’s less likelihood of indentured servitude around the globe. A sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited, that has to be burned into the cultures of every country. A commitment to equality — as in the Equal Futures Partnership that we launched with other nations yesterday so societies empower our sisters and our daughters just as much as our brothers and sons. (Applause.)

And every business can take action. All the business leaders who are here and our global economy companies have a responsibility to make sure that their supply chains, stretching into the far corners of the globe, are free of forced labor. (Applause.) The good news is more and more responsible companies are holding themselves to higher standards. And today, I want to salute the new commitments that are being made. That includes the new Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking — companies that are sending a message: Human trafficking is not a business model, it is a crime, and we are going to stop it. We’re proud of them. (Applause.)

Every faith community can take action as well, by educating their congregations, by joining in coalitions that are bound by a love of God and a concern for the oppressed. And like that Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho, we can’t just pass by, indifferent. We’ve got to be moved by compassion. We’ve got to bind up the wounds. Let’s come together around a simple truth — that we are our brother’s keepers and we are our sister’s keepers.

And finally, every citizen can take action: by learning more; by going to the website that we helped create — SlaveryFootprint.org; by speaking up and insisting that the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the products we buy are made free of forced labor; by standing up against the degradation and abuse of women.

That’s how real change happens — from the bottom up. And if you doubt that, ask Marie Godet Niyonyota, from the Congo. Think about Marie’s story. She was kidnapped by rebels, turned into a slave. She was abused — physically and sexually. They got her pregnant five times. In one awful battle, her children were killed — all five of them. Miraculously, she survived and escaped. And with care and support, she began to heal. And she learned to read and write and sew, and today Marie is back home, working toward a new future.

Or ask Ima Matul. She grew up in Indonesia, and at 17 was given the opportunity to work as a nanny here in the United States. But when she arrived, it turned out to be a nightmare. Cooking, cleaning — 18-hour days, seven days a week. One beating was so bad it sent her to the emergency room. And finally, she escaped. And with the help from a group that cared, today Ima has a stable job. She’s an advocate — she’s even testified before Congress.

Or ask Sheila White, who grew up in the Bronx. Fleeing an abusive home, she fell in with a guy who said he’d protect her. Instead, he sold her — just 15 years old — 15 — to men who raped her and beat her, and burned her with irons. And finally, after years — with the help of a non-profit led by other survivors — she found the courage to break free and get the services she needed. Sheila earned her GED. Today she is a powerful, fierce advocate who helped to pass a new anti-trafficking law right here in New York. (Applause.)

These women endured unspeakable horror. But in their unbreakable will, in their courage, in their resilience, they remind us that this cycle can be broken; victims can become not only survivors, they can become leaders and advocates, and bring about change.

And I just met Ima and Sheila and several of their fellow advocates, and I have to tell you they are an incredible inspiration. They are here — they’ve chosen to tell their stories. I want them to stand and be recognized because they are inspiring all of us. Please — Sheila, Ima. (Applause.)

To Ima and Sheila, and each of you — in the darkest hours of your lives, you may have felt utterly alone, and it seemed like nobody cared. And the important thing for us to understand is there are millions around the world who are feeling that same way at this very moment.

Right now, there is a man on a boat, casting the net with his bleeding hands, knowing he deserves a better life, a life of dignity, but doesn’t know if anybody is paying attention. Right now, there’s a woman, hunched over a sewing machine, glancing beyond the bars on the window, knowing if just given the chance, she might some day sell her own wares, but she doesn’t think anybody is paying attention. Right now, there’s a young boy, in a brick factory, covered in dust, hauling his heavy load under a blazing sun, thinking if he could just go to school, he might know a different future, but he doesn’t think anybody is paying attention. Right now, there is a girl, somewhere trapped in a brothel, crying herself to sleep again, and maybe daring to imagine that some day, just maybe, she might be treated not like a piece of property, but as a human being.

And so our message today, to them, is — to the millions around the world — we see you. We hear you. We insist on your dignity. And we share your belief that if just given the chance, you will forge a life equal to your talents and worthy of your dreams. (Applause.)

Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it — in partnership with you. The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past. For we know that every life saved — in the words of that great Proclamation — is “an act of justice,” worthy of “the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

That’s what we believe. That’s what we’re fighting for. And I’m so proud to be in partnership with CGI to make this happen.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)

END
Source: White House

President Barack Obama Accepts Nobel Peace Prize

NYT: Formally accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on
Thursday, President Obama robustly defended the use of
military force “on humanitarian grounds” and to preserve
peace. Read more.

Video: Obama Accepts Nobel Peace Prize (AP)

Video: MTP reflects on MLK’s Nobel
In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, President Obama
highlighted the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, delivered in
the same ceremony in 1964. In the following video, Meet The Press
reflects on MLK’s Nobel.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

HBO Series: The Election of Barack Obama

The Election of Barack Obama HBO series Premieres
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

By The People: The Election of Barack Obama

While Obama’s meteoric rise to the White House has been well
documented in the press, few have witnessed the behind-the-
scenes story of the passionate campaigners who helped a young
African-American freshman senator attain the nation’s highest
office.

Video: Watch the trailer

Barack Obama proved anything is possible in America, Ethiopian immigrant tells students

Above: Tewolde Habtemicael speaks to a group of
government students at Carson High School in
Nevada on Wednesday. Habtemicael told students
that the election of Barack Obama proved to the native
of Ethiopia that anything is possible in America.
(Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal)

Nevada Appeal

By Teri Vance

In a small cement high school in Ethiopia, Tewolde Habtemicael heard for the first time the concept of democracy.

“What is this?” he wondered as American Peace Corps volunteers taught him and his classmates about a government run by the people.

“We had no concept of democracy before that because we had one king and he did whatever he wanted,” Habtemicael, 60, told Blair Roman’s sophomore government class at Carson High School on Wednesday.

The visiting Americans also helped prepare them for entrance exams for the country’s only university, which accepted just 560 students each year. Habtemicael passed. In college, he ran for vice president of the student union.

“Because I attentively listened to what my American teachers taught me, I was elected,” he said.

Invigorated by the idea of democracy, Habtemicael led demonstrations calling on the government to hold elections. Instead, he and three classmates were arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.

A student boycott led to their release a year later. On probation, Habtemicael was forbidden from participating in political activities, a condition he couldn’t uphold.

Three years later, protesting a military takeover, he was arrested again.

“This time, they do not take you to court, they kill you,” he said. “We were on the verge of being executed. They killed our king. We were next.” Read more at the Nevada Appeal.

Barack Obama’s grandfather ‘tortured by British’

Above: March 1953: A Kenyan suspect, detained by the
police, is led away with his hands bound with rope during
the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya.
(Photo by Express/Express/Getty Images)

Telegraph

Barack Obama’s grandfather was imprisoned and tortured by the British during the violent struggle for Kenyan independence, the Kenyan family of the US President-elect has claimed.

Mr Obama’s paternal grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama was part of the Kenyan independence movement when he was arrested in 1949 and jailed for two years.

His family allege he was tortured by his British guards to extract information about the insurgency.

“The African warders were instructed by the white soldiers to whip him every morning and evening till he confessed,” said Sarah Onyango, Hussein Onyango’s third wife, told the Times.

Mrs Onyango, who Mr Obama calls Granny Sarah, described how “white soldiers” carried out “disciplinary action”.


Above: Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama (the President-elect’s
Kenyan grandmother) described how ‘white soldiers’ carried out ‘disciplinary
action’ (Photo: REUTERS)

“He said they would sometimes squeeze his testicles with parallel metallic rods. They also pierced his nails and buttocks with a sharp pin, with his hands and legs tied together with his head facing down,” she told the paper.

The alleged violence was said to have left Mr Onyango permanently scarred, and deeply anti-British.

“That was the time we realised that the British were actually not friends but, instead, enemies,” Mrs Onyango, 87, said. “My husband had worked so diligently for them, only to be arrested and detained.”

Mr Obama refers briefly to his grandfather’s imprisonment in his best-selling memoir, Dreams from My Father, but states that his grandfather was “found innocent”.

Barack Speaks To HQ Staff & Volunteers

Barack Speaks To HQ Staff & Volunteers

Ethiopia’s Superstar Teddy Afro on Obama’s List of Favorite Artists of 2021

In a pleasant surprise and much-needed break from the usual gloomy portrait of Ethiopia we've come to expect from U.S. officials and media, former President Barack Obama announced that the new Ethiopian song 'Armash' አርማሽ (ቀና በል) by Ethiopia's superstar Teddy Afro is among his favorite music of 2021. (Photo: Teddy Afro at Echostage in Washington D.C, 2012/By Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 18th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s superstar Teddy Afro has been named one of President Barack Obama’s favorite artists.

The former U.S. President listed Teddy’s new single ‘Armash’ አርማሽ (ቀና በል) in his annual playlist released this week featuring his favorite songs of the year.

“I’ve always enjoyed listening to a wide variety of music, so it’s no surprise that I listened to a little bit of everything this year,” Obama said in a Twitter post. “I hope you find a new artist or song to add to your own playlist.”

Listen: TEDDY AFRO – አርማሽ (ቀና በል) – [New! Official Single 2021] – With Lyrics

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Twitter Appointments Mimi Alemayehou to Board of Directors

Mimi Alemayehou's career spans both the public and private sectors across emerging markets. She currently serves as Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at Mastercard. Prior to joining Mastercard, Ms. Alemayehou was the Managing Director for Black Rhino Group. Ms. Alemayehou was previously appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). (Photo: Mastercard)

Press Release

Twitter Announces Appointment of Mimi Alemayehou and Departure of Jesse Cohn

Mimi Alemayehou to join the Board, bringing more than 20 years of investment and finance experience across emerging markets

News provided by Twitter, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) today announced the appointment of Mimi Alemayehou to the Company’s Board of Directors as a new independent director, effective immediately.

“Mimi’s extensive experience overseeing growth in emerging markets in both the public and private sectors will be invaluable as we advance Twitter’s mission to serve the public conversation across the world,” said Patrick Pichette, independent chair of the Twitter Board. “Mimi shares our commitment to social responsibility and strengthening global communities, and we’re eager to benefit from her perspective and regional expertise as we expand Twitter’s presence to Ghana and invest in improving our service across Africa and other regions.”

Ms. Alemayehou, who brings to Twitter’s Board more than 20 years of investment and finance experience across emerging markets, with a strong focus on Africa, said, “I have long respected Twitter’s focus on supporting the diverse global communities that drive public conversation, and am proud to join the team as they work to expand Twitter’s reach around the world. I look forward to working closely with Twitter’s management team and the rest of the Board to help oversee and execute the Company’s long-term growth objectives.” In her current role as Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at Mastercard, Ms. Alemayehou leads Mastercard’s partnerships with private foundations, international development organizations and non-governmental organizations with the objective of building commercially sustainable digital ecosystems that benefit everyone by advancing financial inclusion, transparency, support to humanitarian response and economic development.

In connection with Ms. Alemayehou’s appointment, Jesse Cohn will be stepping down after an important year on the Board. As one of Twitter’s largest shareholders, Elliott Investment Management will continue to engage with members of the Company’s senior management team and Board, facilitated by the Information Sharing and Engagement Agreement the Company entered into with Elliott.

Mr. Pichette continued, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Jesse for his support and contributions as a director. Over the past year, years of foundational work combined with a clear focus on growth and monetization paid off. The pace of innovation at Twitter has increased dramatically, the company is executing at a high level, and the vision of Twitter’s ecosystem value is being realized. We are grateful for Jesse’s insights and commitment to help strengthen Twitter over the course of this important year.”

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, said, “As we shared at our Analyst Day, we continue to build upon our strengths and are proud of our progress. We are appreciative of Jesse’s input and support during an important year for us.”

Jesse Cohn, Managing Partner at Elliott, said, “It’s been a pleasure to serve on Twitter’s Board during this remarkable period of progress for the company. Over the past year, thanks to the hard work of Twitter’s management team and Board, Twitter has improved operational execution, strengthened the Board’s governance, initiated a share repurchase program, established bold, multi-year performance goals, meaningfully accelerated its release of new products and monetization strategies, and intensified its focus on operational performance and shareholder value creation. Elliott remains one of the company’s largest shareholders, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with Twitter’s management and Board as it executes on its vision.”

About Mimi Alemayehou

Mimi Alemayehou’s career spans both the public and private sectors across emerging markets. She currently serves as Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at Mastercard. Prior to joining Mastercard, Ms. Alemayehou was the Managing Director and a Board member for investment platform Black Rhino Group, a portfolio company of Blackstone, where she focused on the development and acquisition of energy and infrastructure assets across Africa. Ms. Alemayehou was previously appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). During Ms. Alemayehou’s tenure from 2010 to 2014, OPIC’s portfolio grew by more than 24% to $18 billion and the corporation’s Africa portfolio tripled to nearly $4 billion. Prior to OPIC, Ms. Alemayehou was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the United States Executive Director on the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB). She received a Distinguished Honor Award for her outstanding service in this role. Ms. Alemayehou has also launched entrepreneurial ventures in consulting.

About Twitter, Inc.

Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) is what’s happening and what people are talking about right now. To learn more, visit about.twitter.com and follow @Twitter. Let’s Talk.

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Spotlight: Girmay Zahilay, King County Councilman From District 2 in Seattle

Girmay Hadish Zahilay is a Sudan-born Ethiopian-American attorney who serves as a member of the King County Council from District 2 in Seattle, Washington. The following is a spotlight on Girmay by The South Seattle Emerald in honor of Black History Month. (Photo: Girmay Zahilay speaks at the opening of a pop-up resource center in the Skyway neighborhood, south of Seattle/by Susan Fried)

South Seattle Emerald

By Marcus Harden

BLACK HISTORY TODAY: GIRMAY ZAHILAY, A DREAM MANIFESTED

“One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”

—Barack Obama

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the African Diaspora and the connection to the African American experience. I’ve especially been fascinated with learning more about the countries in Africa such as Ethiopia, as it stands as one of the only countries to not be colonized by European “settlers.” It’s begged the question: What lay in the culture of those people? What portions of that culture permeate from generation to generation and how do they show up today?

The answer is complex, yet if I had to take a personal wager, I’d bet that ancestral depth lives in people like Girmay Zahilay. Girmay is the “American Dream” personified, in that he’s uniquely bridged the gap of culture from continent to continent and has become a possibility for so many on both sides of that bridge.

Born in Sudan and of Ethiopian descent, his parents Ethiopian Refugees who themselves escaped military conflict, he arrived in the United States at the tender age of 3. Girmay’s family settled in the historic Rainier Valley of Seattle, and it was here that he learned about the world and came to understand others, turning his family’s trials into triumphs. Whether moving from the International District to Skyway, getting by temporarily without stable housing, living in shelters in downtown Seattle, or finally settling in the Rainier Vista, his humility and leadership were being crafted at every step.

Girmay graduated from Franklin High School before going on to Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, where his natural instincts in fighting for justice would be sharpened into the skill of understanding and interpreting the law. Girmay’s journey took him to Washington D.C. and New York City, yet no matter where he surfaced on the map, his spirit of bridging the gap and liberating people would never change.

His return home to Seattle saw more of the same, as he founded a nonprofit that created opportunities for young people to practice their innate leadership skills. The spirit and culture of leadership and liberation never left him, beating steady like a drum, speaking louder and louder as he saw the needs of the community through the eyes of the youth who looked like him. Soon those voices were crying out louder and louder throughout the Rainier Vista and other communities whose fight for public housing deserved to finally be heard.

In 2019, Girmay decided to become that megaphone that resonated change.

It wasn’t an easy path, of course. Girmay chose to pursue a coveted city council seat held by Larry Gossett, a local legend who blazed the trail for Girmay and many others. What was most notable about Girmay’s approach was that it was rooted in the culture of class and respect, never diminishing the accomplishments of Gossett and his place in history, yet as he had times before, wanting to be the bridge to and for the next generation that would stand on the shoulders of those before him.

Before he was a councilman, to me Girmay was just “Lull’s little big cousin.” Lull Mengesha, a close friend of mine, told me I just had to meet his cousin. It happened one day at Empire Espresso in South Seattle, and I talked for hours with Girmay about education and social change. I learned that he wanted to utilize his passion for law to support youth — specifically those disenfranchised and trapped in the System in the Rainier Valley and Skyway. Even over great coffee and greater waffles, Girmay’s purpose shined through.

Girmay’s commitment to public service shows up in the small details, like his social media that ensures people from all walks of life can celebrate, or through continuing to demystify public service for cultures and people who traditionally haven’t gotten an inside look. In constantly honoring those throughout the Diaspora in word and actions, Girmay embodies the spirit of liberation his ancestors passed down. He is a humble servant with the ear to listen to the past and the voice that changes the future. He is the dream manifested. Girmay Zahilay is undoubtedly Black History Today!

Related:

Ethiopian American Girmay Zahilay, a New Councilman in King County, Washington

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BIG READ: Biden Looks Set to Rewrite Trump’s ‘African Sh*thole’ Narrative

President Joe Biden. (Getty Images)

Business Day

In 1986, as the apartheid regime resisted international pressure, an ambitious Democratic senator from Delaware launched into a passionate rebuke of US government policy towards the pariah state.

Challenging secretary of state George Shultz on the ambiguity of Reagan administration policy, the energetic senator offered vocal support to the embattled black population of SA in a committee hearing.

“Dammit, we have favourites in SA. The favourites in SA are the people that are being repressed by an ugly white regime. We have favourites! Our loyalty is not to SA, it’s to South Africans. And the South Africans are majority black. They are being excoriated!”

Thirty-four years later, nearly two weeks after his victory over Donald Trump, that senator — now US President Joe Biden — spoke to President Cyril Ramaphosa, his first call with an African head of state after the election win. The leaders recalled Biden’s earlier visit to SA during the “dark days of apartheid”, and spoke of Biden’s recognition of Africa as “a major player in international affairs and in the advancement of multilateralism”.

Such a rapport would have been unthinkable during the administration of Trump, whose attention in the 1980s was not directed towards apartheid but to real estate, the gossip columns of New York tabloids and Manhattan’s Studio 54 nightclub.

Throughout his one-term presidency, Trump’s engagement with Africa appeared scarcely more developed, as relations with the continent flitted between perfunctory and hostile. From launching an attempted travel ban on citizens from Muslim-majority countries including Libya, Somalia and Sudan to reportedly dismissing some African nations as “sh*thole countries” in an unrecorded Oval Office meeting, Trump did little to play down his “America First” stereotype.

Disengagement went beyond tactless comments. While Trump saw Africa as an arena for US competition with China, important diplomatic posts in Africa went unfilled and he failed to visit the continent. Now with Biden at the helm, US foreign policy experts hope an outward-looking presidency will re-engage with Africa by resetting trade policy, boosting investment and co-operating on security and climate change. But after four years of drift, it will take more than a change of tone to re-establish the US as a big partner.

“I think US diplomatic relations with African states have not been given the level of seriousness or mutual respect they deserved under the Trump administration,” says Grant Harris, CEO of Harris Africa Partners and a senior director for African affairs in Barack Obama’s White House.

“Under Trump, the US didn’t even have an ambassador in SA for two and a half years, a lot of ambassadorships were slow to appoint, embassies were understaffed, and Trump said racist things about the continent. Trade and investment ties with Africa received little to no high-level attention, the president was not engaged and didn’t travel. There weren’t champions in the cabinet who understood the importance of increasing trade in and within African markets. Biden brings literally decades of experience on foreign policy issues. For decades he’s understood the importance of strong relations with African states.”

Yet even Trump’s critics concede that behind the crass exterior and shocking faux pas, the former president’s transactional instincts shaped the outlines of an African commercial strategy that Biden can build on.

“With the Trump Africa policy, the tone was wrong — it was derisive, dismissive, disrespectful. Obviously that was a problem and we lacked senior-level engagement,” says Aubrey Hruby, a Washington DC-based Africa investment adviser. “However, there were interesting positive aspects of the last four years that I hope are continued into the new administration. One was a focus on the commercial aspects of US-Africa policy.”

On October 5 2018, Trump signed into law the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act (Build), which established the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), a new development bank that will invest in sectors across the emerging world including energy, health care, infrastructure and technology.

The act gave DFC a lending capacity of $60bn, double that of its forerunner, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation — an organisation Trump considered scrapping before being convinced by allies that US overseas finance could combat the influence of a rising China. The unlikely product of the Trump era could become a game-changer driving US investment in Africa.

“The high point, the single most positive legacy of the Trump administration in my mind, will be the creation of the DFC. That is really important, that has a lot of potential,” says Harris. “It gives more resources and flexibility to the US government to support companies. It’s a work in progress, the statutory authority is there, the resources are increased. The DFC currently has about $8bn worth of exposure to Africa, which is over half its exposure currently.”

While it’s too early to judge the DFC’s influence, its creation — and that of Trump’s Prosper Africa initiative, which combines the resources of more than 15 government agencies to connect US and African businesses — offers a timely boost to US development finance capabilities as Africa emerges from the economic ruin of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read more »

UPDATE: U.S. Senate Confirms Blinken as Secretary of State in Biden Administration


Antony Blinken served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and is one of Biden’s closest and longest-serving foreign policy advisers. He will succeed Mike Pompeo as the nation’s top diplomat. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Updated: January 26th, 2021

Blinken, Biden’s nominee to become secretary of state, won Senate confirmation Tuesday, becoming the fourth member of the new president’s Cabinet to clear that hurdle.

The vote was 78 to 22.

Blinken served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and is one of Biden’s closest and longest-serving foreign policy advisers.

He will succeed Mike Pompeo as the nation’s top diplomat as the new administration faces numerous challenges from China, Iran, Russia and North Korea.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Schumer hailed Biden’s choice.

“Mr. Blinken is just the right person to rebuild and reassert America’s national security prerogatives on the national stage and reestablish the first instrument of American power: diplomacy,” the Senate majority leader said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Blinken’s nomination in a 15-to-3 vote Monday, clearing the way for it to be taken up on the Senate floor.

Blinken was staff director of the committee when Biden, as a senator from Delaware, was its chairman. Blinken later joined the Obama administration as a senior adviser to Biden when he was vice president.

The Senate has confirmed Avril Haines as Biden’s director of national intelligence, Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary and Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary.

Nearly a week into Biden’s presidency, several other picks are moving forward.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday advanced Alejandro Mayorkas’s nomination for secretary of homeland security. Mayorkas served as Department of Homeland Security deputy secretary under President Barack Obama.

And the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is holding a hearing Tuesday on Gina Raimondo’s nomination to be secretary of commerce. Raimondo (D) is serving as governor of Rhode Island.

UPDATE: Controversial Head of VOA Resigns at President Biden’s Request


Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who sought to remake the Voice of America, resigned on Wednesday, bringing an end to a short and tumultuous tenure. He said that his resignation came at Biden’s request. Biden is expected to name a replacement, although no successor was announced on Wednesday. (Photo: Voice of America headquarters on Capitol Hill/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Controversial head of Voice of America resigns hours after President Biden takes office

Updated: Jan. 20, 2021

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who sought to remake the Voice of America and other government-funded overseas news agencies, resigned on Wednesday, bringing an end to a short and tumultuous tenure.

Pack quit a few hours after President Biden took office and less than eight months into his three-year term as chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). The government agency oversees VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and other networks that produce and distribute news to millions of people in countries whose governments suppress independent reporting.

He said that his resignation came at Biden’s request. During the president campaign, Biden’s staff had signaled that he would replace Pack if Biden won election.

Biden is expected to name a replacement from within USAGM, although no successor was announced on Wednesday.

Pack, a former documentary filmmaker who has worked with former Trump adviser Steve K. Bannon, left a trail of controversies, lawsuits and general criticism inside and around the agencies he oversaw.

He characterized his efforts — which included replacing top managers and asserting the right to direct VOA’s newsgathering, despite a firewall of regulations intended to keep the news product independent — as an attempt to restore the venerable news agency’s tradition of nonpartisan reporting. Critics, however, saw his initiatives as an effort to turn VOA into a mouthpiece for the Trump administration.

How Trump’s obsessions with media and loyalty coalesced in a battle for Voice of America

“I firmly believe that — thanks to your support, patriotism, and understanding — a great amount of much-needed reform was achieved in the past eight months,” Pack wrote in a resignation letter to staff on Wednesday.

He added: “USAGM and the CEO position are meant to be non-partisan. As such, every single day, I was solely focused upon reorienting the agency toward its mission. I sought, above all, to help the agency share America’s story with the world objectively and without bias.”

Others inside USAGM and VOA strongly disagreed with that self-assessment.

One VOA journalist said Pack’s resignation triggered “sighs of relief and cheers” among employees.

“Most if not all of us are celebrating Pack’s resignation as the first step toward a return to normalcy,” the journalist said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she isn’t authorized to comment.

She said she was among a number of staff members who are hopeful that the director and deputy director appointed by Pack, Robert Reilly and Elizabeth Robbins, respectively, would soon follow Pack out the door. “They must be removed immediately or the damage to the credibility of the VOA brand will be permanent,” she said.

Pack swept aside top managers of USAGM and the directors of the agencies under his supervision, replacing them with a cadre of conservative appointees. Reilly and Robbins have been on the job for just the past month.

It’s not clear whether Pack’s appointees, including those on supervisory boards, will be replaced by Biden.

He also declined to renew the expiring visas of foreign journalists who work for VOA, saying that they had not been properly vetted and suggesting the agency was harboring foreign spies.

According to a whistleblower complaint filed Tuesday on behalf of former employees, Pack used about $2 million in taxpayer funds to hire a law firm to compile personnel dossiers on some of the managers he targeted for removal. The dossier were developed to support his decision to replace them, the complaint said.

Earlier this month, more than two dozen VOA employees objected to a directive, apparently from Pack, to broadcast a speech by Mike Pompeo, the outgoing secretary of state, at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The employees said the mandate to carry the speech from a political appointee amounted to government “propaganda” — the very thing VOA was established to counter in countries abroad. They demanded the resignations of Reilly and Robbins.

Reilly did not allow reporters to question Pompeo at the event. He later demoted the agency’s White House correspondent, Patsy Widakuswara, after as she fired questions at Pompeo as he was leaving the building.

Pack did not respond to a request for comment, continuing a practice he has observed since his appointment began. Since June, he has given interviews only to conservative media outlets and to USAGM-supervised agencies.

UPDATE: Biden Sworn in as America’s 46th President


Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo via AP)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration (all times local):

12:00

Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- n as a U.S. senator.

Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

Inauguration Live Updates: Biden Takes Power as Trump Leaves White House

Facing crush of crises, Biden will take helm as president

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

The very ceremony in which presidential power is transferred, a hallowed American democratic tradition, will serve as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces evocative of those in a war zone, and devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay home, Americans were exhorted, to prevent further spread of a surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States. Biden will look out over a capital city dotted with empty storefronts that attest to the pandemic’s deep economic toll and where summer protests laid bare the nation’s renewed reckoning on racial injustice.

He will not be applauded — or likely even acknowledged — by his predecessor.

Flouting tradition, Donald Trump planned to depart Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, stoked grievance among his supporters with the lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate.

Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. On his first day, Biden will take a series of executive actions — on the pandemic, climate, immigration and more — to undo the heart of Trump’s agenda. The Democrat takes office with the bonds of the republic strained and the nation reeling from challenges that rival those faced by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Biden will face a series of urgent, burning crises like we have not seen before, and they all have to be solved at once. It is very hard to find a parallel in history,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “I think we have been through a near-death experience as a democracy. Americans who will watch the new president be sworn in are now acutely aware of how fragile our democracy is and how much it needs to be protected.”

Biden will come to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he will be the oldest president inaugurated.

More history will be made at his side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president. The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

The two will be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony with few parallels in history.

Tens of thousands of troops are on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory.

The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II.

Despite security warnings, Biden declined to move the ceremony indoors and instead will address a small, socially distant crowd on the West Front of the Capitol. Some of the traditional trappings of the quadrennial ceremony will remain.

The day will begin with a reach across the aisle after four years of bitter partisan battles under Trump. Biden invited Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leaders of the Senate and House, to join him at a morning Mass, along with Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders.

Once at the Capitol, Biden will be administered the oath by Chief Justice John Roberts; Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The theme of Biden’s approximately 30-minute speech will be “America United,” and aides said it would be a call to set aside differences during a moment of national trial.

Biden will then oversee a “Pass in Review,” a military tradition that honors the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief. Then, Biden, Harris and their spouses will be joined by a bipartisan trio of former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony.

Full Coverage: Biden’s inauguration
Later, Biden will join the end of a slimmed-down inaugural parade as he moves into the White House. Because of the pandemic, much of this year’s parade will be a virtual affair featuring performances from around the nation.

In the evening, in lieu of the traditional glitzy balls that welcome a new president to Washington, Biden will take part in a televised concert that also marks the return of A-list celebrities to the White House orbit after they largely eschewed Trump. Among those in the lineup: Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at the Capitol earlier in the day.

Trump will be the first president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. He planned his own farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for the final time as president for the flight to his Florida estate.

Trump will nonetheless shadow Biden’s first days in office.

Trump’s second impeachment trial could start as early as this week. That could test the ability of the Senate, poised to come under Democratic control, to balance impeachment proceedings with confirmation hearings and votes on Biden’s Cabinet choices.

Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days that includes a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion virus relief package. On Day One, he’ll also send an immigration proposal to Capitol Hill that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.

He also planned a 10-day blitz of executive orders on matters that don’t require congressional approval — a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. Among the planned steps: rescinding travel restrictions on people from several predominantly Muslim countries; rejoining the Paris climate accord; issuing a mask mandate for those on federal property; and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the border.

The difficulties he faces are immense, to be mentioned in the same breath as Roosevelt taking office during the Great Depression or Obama, under whom Biden served eight years as vice president, during the economic collapse. And the solution may be similar.

“There is now, as there was in 1933, a vital need for leadership,” said presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, “for every national resource to be brought to bear to get the virus under control, to help produce and distribute the vaccines, to get vaccines into the arms of the people, to spur the economy to recover and get people back to work and to school.”

___

UPDATE: Biden Outlines ‘Day One’ Agenda of Executive Actions


President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.

The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.

On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.

Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.

“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”

“Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain wrote, including the $1.9 trillion virus relief bill he outlined on Thursday. Klain said that Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.

Providing a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally will be part of Biden’s agenda, according to people briefed on his plans. Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum and among those briefed, said immigrants would be put on an eight-year path. There would be a faster track for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields people from deportation who came to the U.S. as children, and for those from strife-torn countries with temporary status.

On Thursday, the new president’s second day in office, Biden would sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, Klain said. The following day, Friday, will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic.

In the following week, Klain said, Biden would take additional actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies.

More actions will be added, Klain said, once they clear legal review.

Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts.

Klain maintained that Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying “the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President.”

UPDATE: Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 & Economic Plan


President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: January 15th, 2021

Biden unveils $1.9 Trillion plan to stem COVID-19 and steady economy

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.

“We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Biden said in a nationwide address Thursday. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.”

Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.

And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it after Biden takes office next Wednesday. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress, and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

“Remember that a bipartisan $900 billion #COVID19 relief bill became law just 18 days ago,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. But Biden says that was only a down payment, and he promised more major legislation next month, focused on rebuilding the economy.

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s not time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

Still, he sought to manage expectations. “We’re better equipped to do this than any nation in the world,” he said. “But even with all these small steps, it’s going to take time.”

His relief bill would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus.

That squares with the judgment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobbying group and traditionally an adversary of Democrats. “We must defeat COVID before we can restore our economy and that requires turbocharging our vaccination efforts,” the Chamber said in a statement Thursday night that welcomed Biden’s plan but stopped short of endorsing it.

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 11 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 30 million doses have been delivered.

Biden called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure so far” and said he would provide more details about his vaccination campaign on Friday.

The plan also provides $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. It’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

The pace of vaccination in the U.S. is approaching 1 million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to 3 million a day.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans.

“We will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated,” Biden said.

Next Wednesday, when Biden is sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: U.S. Senate Confirms Blinken as Secretary of State in Biden Administration

Antony Blinken served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and is one of Biden’s closest and longest-serving foreign policy advisers. He will succeed Mike Pompeo as the nation’s top diplomat. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Blinken, Biden’s nominee to become secretary of state, won Senate confirmation Tuesday, becoming the fourth member of the new president’s Cabinet to clear that hurdle.

The vote was 78 to 22.

Blinken served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and is one of Biden’s closest and longest-serving foreign policy advisers.

He will succeed Mike Pompeo as the nation’s top diplomat as the new administration faces numerous challenges from China, Iran, Russia and North Korea.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Schumer hailed Biden’s choice.

“Mr. Blinken is just the right person to rebuild and reassert America’s national security prerogatives on the national stage and reestablish the first instrument of American power: diplomacy,” the Senate majority leader said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Blinken’s nomination in a 15-to-3 vote Monday, clearing the way for it to be taken up on the Senate floor.

Blinken was staff director of the committee when Biden, as a senator from Delaware, was its chairman. Blinken later joined the Obama administration as a senior adviser to Biden when he was vice president.

The Senate has confirmed Avril Haines as Biden’s director of national intelligence, Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary and Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary.

Nearly a week into Biden’s presidency, several other picks are moving forward.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday advanced Alejandro Mayorkas’s nomination for secretary of homeland security. Mayorkas served as Department of Homeland Security deputy secretary under President Barack Obama.

And the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is holding a hearing Tuesday on Gina Raimondo’s nomination to be secretary of commerce. Raimondo (D) is serving as governor of Rhode Island.

UPDATE: Controversial Head of VOA Resigns at President Biden’s Request


Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who sought to remake the Voice of America, resigned on Wednesday, bringing an end to a short and tumultuous tenure. He said that his resignation came at Biden’s request. Biden is expected to name a replacement, although no successor was announced on Wednesday. (Photo: Voice of America headquarters on Capitol Hill/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Controversial head of Voice of America resigns hours after President Biden takes office

Updated: Jan. 20, 2021

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who sought to remake the Voice of America and other government-funded overseas news agencies, resigned on Wednesday, bringing an end to a short and tumultuous tenure.

Pack quit a few hours after President Biden took office and less than eight months into his three-year term as chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). The government agency oversees VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and other networks that produce and distribute news to millions of people in countries whose governments suppress independent reporting.

He said that his resignation came at Biden’s request. During the president campaign, Biden’s staff had signaled that he would replace Pack if Biden won election.

Biden is expected to name a replacement from within USAGM, although no successor was announced on Wednesday.

Pack, a former documentary filmmaker who has worked with former Trump adviser Steve K. Bannon, left a trail of controversies, lawsuits and general criticism inside and around the agencies he oversaw.

He characterized his efforts — which included replacing top managers and asserting the right to direct VOA’s newsgathering, despite a firewall of regulations intended to keep the news product independent — as an attempt to restore the venerable news agency’s tradition of nonpartisan reporting. Critics, however, saw his initiatives as an effort to turn VOA into a mouthpiece for the Trump administration.

How Trump’s obsessions with media and loyalty coalesced in a battle for Voice of America

“I firmly believe that — thanks to your support, patriotism, and understanding — a great amount of much-needed reform was achieved in the past eight months,” Pack wrote in a resignation letter to staff on Wednesday.

He added: “USAGM and the CEO position are meant to be non-partisan. As such, every single day, I was solely focused upon reorienting the agency toward its mission. I sought, above all, to help the agency share America’s story with the world objectively and without bias.”

Others inside USAGM and VOA strongly disagreed with that self-assessment.

One VOA journalist said Pack’s resignation triggered “sighs of relief and cheers” among employees.

“Most if not all of us are celebrating Pack’s resignation as the first step toward a return to normalcy,” the journalist said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she isn’t authorized to comment.

She said she was among a number of staff members who are hopeful that the director and deputy director appointed by Pack, Robert Reilly and Elizabeth Robbins, respectively, would soon follow Pack out the door. “They must be removed immediately or the damage to the credibility of the VOA brand will be permanent,” she said.

Pack swept aside top managers of USAGM and the directors of the agencies under his supervision, replacing them with a cadre of conservative appointees. Reilly and Robbins have been on the job for just the past month.

It’s not clear whether Pack’s appointees, including those on supervisory boards, will be replaced by Biden.

He also declined to renew the expiring visas of foreign journalists who work for VOA, saying that they had not been properly vetted and suggesting the agency was harboring foreign spies.

According to a whistleblower complaint filed Tuesday on behalf of former employees, Pack used about $2 million in taxpayer funds to hire a law firm to compile personnel dossiers on some of the managers he targeted for removal. The dossier were developed to support his decision to replace them, the complaint said.

Earlier this month, more than two dozen VOA employees objected to a directive, apparently from Pack, to broadcast a speech by Mike Pompeo, the outgoing secretary of state, at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The employees said the mandate to carry the speech from a political appointee amounted to government “propaganda” — the very thing VOA was established to counter in countries abroad. They demanded the resignations of Reilly and Robbins.

Reilly did not allow reporters to question Pompeo at the event. He later demoted the agency’s White House correspondent, Patsy Widakuswara, after as she fired questions at Pompeo as he was leaving the building.

Pack did not respond to a request for comment, continuing a practice he has observed since his appointment began. Since June, he has given interviews only to conservative media outlets and to USAGM-supervised agencies.

UPDATE: Biden Sworn in as America’s 46th President


Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo via AP)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration (all times local):

12:00

Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- n as a U.S. senator.

Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

Inauguration Live Updates: Biden Takes Power as Trump Leaves White House

Facing crush of crises, Biden will take helm as president

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

The very ceremony in which presidential power is transferred, a hallowed American democratic tradition, will serve as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces evocative of those in a war zone, and devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay home, Americans were exhorted, to prevent further spread of a surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States. Biden will look out over a capital city dotted with empty storefronts that attest to the pandemic’s deep economic toll and where summer protests laid bare the nation’s renewed reckoning on racial injustice.

He will not be applauded — or likely even acknowledged — by his predecessor.

Flouting tradition, Donald Trump planned to depart Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, stoked grievance among his supporters with the lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate.

Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. On his first day, Biden will take a series of executive actions — on the pandemic, climate, immigration and more — to undo the heart of Trump’s agenda. The Democrat takes office with the bonds of the republic strained and the nation reeling from challenges that rival those faced by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Biden will face a series of urgent, burning crises like we have not seen before, and they all have to be solved at once. It is very hard to find a parallel in history,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “I think we have been through a near-death experience as a democracy. Americans who will watch the new president be sworn in are now acutely aware of how fragile our democracy is and how much it needs to be protected.”

Biden will come to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he will be the oldest president inaugurated.

More history will be made at his side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president. The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

The two will be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony with few parallels in history.

Tens of thousands of troops are on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory.

The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II.

Despite security warnings, Biden declined to move the ceremony indoors and instead will address a small, socially distant crowd on the West Front of the Capitol. Some of the traditional trappings of the quadrennial ceremony will remain.

The day will begin with a reach across the aisle after four years of bitter partisan battles under Trump. Biden invited Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leaders of the Senate and House, to join him at a morning Mass, along with Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders.

Once at the Capitol, Biden will be administered the oath by Chief Justice John Roberts; Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The theme of Biden’s approximately 30-minute speech will be “America United,” and aides said it would be a call to set aside differences during a moment of national trial.

Biden will then oversee a “Pass in Review,” a military tradition that honors the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief. Then, Biden, Harris and their spouses will be joined by a bipartisan trio of former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony.

Full Coverage: Biden’s inauguration
Later, Biden will join the end of a slimmed-down inaugural parade as he moves into the White House. Because of the pandemic, much of this year’s parade will be a virtual affair featuring performances from around the nation.

In the evening, in lieu of the traditional glitzy balls that welcome a new president to Washington, Biden will take part in a televised concert that also marks the return of A-list celebrities to the White House orbit after they largely eschewed Trump. Among those in the lineup: Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at the Capitol earlier in the day.

Trump will be the first president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. He planned his own farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for the final time as president for the flight to his Florida estate.

Trump will nonetheless shadow Biden’s first days in office.

Trump’s second impeachment trial could start as early as this week. That could test the ability of the Senate, poised to come under Democratic control, to balance impeachment proceedings with confirmation hearings and votes on Biden’s Cabinet choices.

Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days that includes a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion virus relief package. On Day One, he’ll also send an immigration proposal to Capitol Hill that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.

He also planned a 10-day blitz of executive orders on matters that don’t require congressional approval — a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. Among the planned steps: rescinding travel restrictions on people from several predominantly Muslim countries; rejoining the Paris climate accord; issuing a mask mandate for those on federal property; and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the border.

The difficulties he faces are immense, to be mentioned in the same breath as Roosevelt taking office during the Great Depression or Obama, under whom Biden served eight years as vice president, during the economic collapse. And the solution may be similar.

“There is now, as there was in 1933, a vital need for leadership,” said presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, “for every national resource to be brought to bear to get the virus under control, to help produce and distribute the vaccines, to get vaccines into the arms of the people, to spur the economy to recover and get people back to work and to school.”

___

UPDATE: Biden Outlines ‘Day One’ Agenda of Executive Actions


President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.

The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.

On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.

Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.

“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”

“Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain wrote, including the $1.9 trillion virus relief bill he outlined on Thursday. Klain said that Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.

Providing a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally will be part of Biden’s agenda, according to people briefed on his plans. Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum and among those briefed, said immigrants would be put on an eight-year path. There would be a faster track for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields people from deportation who came to the U.S. as children, and for those from strife-torn countries with temporary status.

On Thursday, the new president’s second day in office, Biden would sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, Klain said. The following day, Friday, will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic.

In the following week, Klain said, Biden would take additional actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies.

More actions will be added, Klain said, once they clear legal review.

Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts.

Klain maintained that Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying “the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President.”

UPDATE: Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 & Economic Plan


President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: January 15th, 2021

Biden unveils $1.9 Trillion plan to stem COVID-19 and steady economy

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.

“We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Biden said in a nationwide address Thursday. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.”

Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.

And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it after Biden takes office next Wednesday. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress, and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

“Remember that a bipartisan $900 billion #COVID19 relief bill became law just 18 days ago,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. But Biden says that was only a down payment, and he promised more major legislation next month, focused on rebuilding the economy.

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s not time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

Still, he sought to manage expectations. “We’re better equipped to do this than any nation in the world,” he said. “But even with all these small steps, it’s going to take time.”

His relief bill would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus.

That squares with the judgment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobbying group and traditionally an adversary of Democrats. “We must defeat COVID before we can restore our economy and that requires turbocharging our vaccination efforts,” the Chamber said in a statement Thursday night that welcomed Biden’s plan but stopped short of endorsing it.

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 11 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 30 million doses have been delivered.

Biden called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure so far” and said he would provide more details about his vaccination campaign on Friday.

The plan also provides $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. It’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

The pace of vaccination in the U.S. is approaching 1 million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to 3 million a day.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans.

“We will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated,” Biden said.

Next Wednesday, when Biden is sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Yene Damtew: Meet the Ethiopian Woman Behind Michelle Obama’s Famous Hairstyles

Yene Damtew has been Michelle Obama's hairstylist since 2008. Regarding the former first lady's recent look at Joe Biden's inauguration this week that has attracted international attention, Yene says: “I personally loved her look and was very happy to see how it came together, but did not expect it to resonate with viewers the way it has." (Photos: Courtesy of Yene Damtew and Getty Images)

The Washington Post

The woman behind Michelle Obama’s instantly iconic hair

It was a moment watch parties and group chats are made for: former first lady Michelle Obama, hand in hand with former President Barack Obama, emerging from the U.S. Capitol in a regal, floor-length plum coat and statement belt, her voluminous curls bouncing with each step.

The monochromatic pantsuit designed by Sergio Hudson was striking, but the star of the show was Obama’s hair: a silk press so perfect, it launched thousands of social media shares. In the middle of the inauguration ceremony, “laid” — a reference to the flawlessness of Obama’s hair — began trending.

Obama’s coif came courtesy of her longtime hairstylist, Yene Damtew, who has been part of the former first lady’s glam squad since 2008. For her, Wednesday began as a “typical day at work.” It wasn’t until a client tagged her in a tweet about Obama’s hair that she got a sense of how much the style had resonated with people, particularly Black women.

“I personally loved her look and was very happy to see how it came together, but did not expect it to resonate with viewers the way it has,” Damtew wrote in an email.

She has helped craft memorable looks for Obama before.

Damtew picked up her passion for hair from watching her mother get ready for church, enamored with her hot rollers and the full, bouncy hair they produced. As a teenager, she became the go-to person in her Orange County, Calif., neighborhood when someone wanted their hair done.

“I did everyone’s hair from football players to the kids, and then my high school classmates,” she told Allure.

At 21, she began working alongside Obama’s hairstylist Johnny Wright, whom she met while completing an assignment for cosmetology school. Damtew started doing Malia and Sasha Obama’s hair, as well as styling Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson. At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, when Obama delivered her famous “When they go low, we go high” line, Damtew was behind Obama’s striking, chestnut brown color that she custom-created and hand-painted onto Obama’s hair, according to Elle. In 2017, when Damtew opened her own business, Aesthetics salon in Arlington, Va., Obama attended the opening.

To create Obama’s inauguration look, Damtew consulted with Obama’s wardrobe stylist Meredith Koop and makeup artist Carl Ray. Since Obama was going for a monochromatic look, Damtew says she knew “the hair would stand out a lot on its own.”

“As I thought about the hairstyle that would complement her outfit and suit the weather, these bouncy curls came to life,” she said.

But Damtew couldn’t predict just how much life they would give to viewers of the inauguration, many of whom wanted to know who was behind the look. Within hours of Damtew revealing herself as Obama’s hairstylist on Twitter, thousands of compliments and requests for tips starting pouring in.

“The support of Black Women Twitter has been amazing,” said Damtew, who is Ethiopian American. “As a salon owner who caters to women with textured hair, I know the importance that hair holds, particularly to Black women and the crowns that they wear. Black women hold their hair in high regard.”

She noted that it was important to continue showing versatility with Obama’s looks because “representation matters.” To celebrate her 57th birthday this week, Obama posted a selfie rocking her natural hair.

But Obama’s hair was about more than just serving a look. It was celebratory, “showing out” hair — a stark contrast not just to the modest bun Obama wore at Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony four years ago, but to the scenes at the Capitol earlier this month. During an inauguration ceremony that needed to acknowledge the deep divisions that remain in this country, as well as the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to the coronavirus in the United States, being able to gush over a coat or a blowout felt like a brief respite.

This is not lost on Damtew.

“The truth is we are still very much in a hard time in this nation,” she said. “But if, for a few minutes, people found joy in seeing a former first lady supporting her friends and wearing a beautiful coat and bouncy curls — I’m OK with that. We all need something to give us hope and make us smile.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Controversial Head of VOA Resigns at President Biden’s Request

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who sought to remake the Voice of America, resigned on Wednesday, bringing an end to a short and tumultuous tenure. He said that his resignation came at Biden’s request. Biden is expected to name a replacement, although no successor was announced on Wednesday. (Photo: Voice of America headquarters on Capitol Hill/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Controversial head of Voice of America resigns hours after President Biden takes office

Updated: Jan. 20, 2021

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who sought to remake the Voice of America and other government-funded overseas news agencies, resigned on Wednesday, bringing an end to a short and tumultuous tenure.

Pack quit a few hours after President Biden took office and less than eight months into his three-year term as chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). The government agency oversees VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and other networks that produce and distribute news to millions of people in countries whose governments suppress independent reporting.

He said that his resignation came at Biden’s request. During the president campaign, Biden’s staff had signaled that he would replace Pack if Biden won election.

Biden is expected to name a replacement from within USAGM, although no successor was announced on Wednesday.

Pack, a former documentary filmmaker who has worked with former Trump adviser Steve K. Bannon, left a trail of controversies, lawsuits and general criticism inside and around the agencies he oversaw.

He characterized his efforts — which included replacing top managers and asserting the right to direct VOA’s newsgathering, despite a firewall of regulations intended to keep the news product independent — as an attempt to restore the venerable news agency’s tradition of nonpartisan reporting. Critics, however, saw his initiatives as an effort to turn VOA into a mouthpiece for the Trump administration.

How Trump’s obsessions with media and loyalty coalesced in a battle for Voice of America

“I firmly believe that — thanks to your support, patriotism, and understanding — a great amount of much-needed reform was achieved in the past eight months,” Pack wrote in a resignation letter to staff on Wednesday.

He added: “USAGM and the CEO position are meant to be non-partisan. As such, every single day, I was solely focused upon reorienting the agency toward its mission. I sought, above all, to help the agency share America’s story with the world objectively and without bias.”

Others inside USAGM and VOA strongly disagreed with that self-assessment.

One VOA journalist said Pack’s resignation triggered “sighs of relief and cheers” among employees.

“Most if not all of us are celebrating Pack’s resignation as the first step toward a return to normalcy,” the journalist said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she isn’t authorized to comment.

She said she was among a number of staff members who are hopeful that the director and deputy director appointed by Pack, Robert Reilly and Elizabeth Robbins, respectively, would soon follow Pack out the door. “They must be removed immediately or the damage to the credibility of the VOA brand will be permanent,” she said.

Pack swept aside top managers of USAGM and the directors of the agencies under his supervision, replacing them with a cadre of conservative appointees. Reilly and Robbins have been on the job for just the past month.

It’s not clear whether Pack’s appointees, including those on supervisory boards, will be replaced by Biden.

He also declined to renew the expiring visas of foreign journalists who work for VOA, saying that they had not been properly vetted and suggesting the agency was harboring foreign spies.

According to a whistleblower complaint filed Tuesday on behalf of former employees, Pack used about $2 million in taxpayer funds to hire a law firm to compile personnel dossiers on some of the managers he targeted for removal. The dossier were developed to support his decision to replace them, the complaint said.

Earlier this month, more than two dozen VOA employees objected to a directive, apparently from Pack, to broadcast a speech by Mike Pompeo, the outgoing secretary of state, at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The employees said the mandate to carry the speech from a political appointee amounted to government “propaganda” — the very thing VOA was established to counter in countries abroad. They demanded the resignations of Reilly and Robbins.

Reilly did not allow reporters to question Pompeo at the event. He later demoted the agency’s White House correspondent, Patsy Widakuswara, after as she fired questions at Pompeo as he was leaving the building.

Pack did not respond to a request for comment, continuing a practice he has observed since his appointment began. Since June, he has given interviews only to conservative media outlets and to USAGM-supervised agencies.

UPDATE: Biden Sworn in as America’s 46th President


Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo via AP)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration (all times local):

12:00

Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- n as a U.S. senator.

Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

Inauguration Live Updates: Biden Takes Power as Trump Leaves White House

Facing crush of crises, Biden will take helm as president

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

The very ceremony in which presidential power is transferred, a hallowed American democratic tradition, will serve as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces evocative of those in a war zone, and devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay home, Americans were exhorted, to prevent further spread of a surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States. Biden will look out over a capital city dotted with empty storefronts that attest to the pandemic’s deep economic toll and where summer protests laid bare the nation’s renewed reckoning on racial injustice.

He will not be applauded — or likely even acknowledged — by his predecessor.

Flouting tradition, Donald Trump planned to depart Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, stoked grievance among his supporters with the lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate.

Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. On his first day, Biden will take a series of executive actions — on the pandemic, climate, immigration and more — to undo the heart of Trump’s agenda. The Democrat takes office with the bonds of the republic strained and the nation reeling from challenges that rival those faced by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Biden will face a series of urgent, burning crises like we have not seen before, and they all have to be solved at once. It is very hard to find a parallel in history,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “I think we have been through a near-death experience as a democracy. Americans who will watch the new president be sworn in are now acutely aware of how fragile our democracy is and how much it needs to be protected.”

Biden will come to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he will be the oldest president inaugurated.

More history will be made at his side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president. The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

The two will be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony with few parallels in history.

Tens of thousands of troops are on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory.

The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II.

Despite security warnings, Biden declined to move the ceremony indoors and instead will address a small, socially distant crowd on the West Front of the Capitol. Some of the traditional trappings of the quadrennial ceremony will remain.

The day will begin with a reach across the aisle after four years of bitter partisan battles under Trump. Biden invited Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leaders of the Senate and House, to join him at a morning Mass, along with Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders.

Once at the Capitol, Biden will be administered the oath by Chief Justice John Roberts; Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The theme of Biden’s approximately 30-minute speech will be “America United,” and aides said it would be a call to set aside differences during a moment of national trial.

Biden will then oversee a “Pass in Review,” a military tradition that honors the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief. Then, Biden, Harris and their spouses will be joined by a bipartisan trio of former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony.

Full Coverage: Biden’s inauguration
Later, Biden will join the end of a slimmed-down inaugural parade as he moves into the White House. Because of the pandemic, much of this year’s parade will be a virtual affair featuring performances from around the nation.

In the evening, in lieu of the traditional glitzy balls that welcome a new president to Washington, Biden will take part in a televised concert that also marks the return of A-list celebrities to the White House orbit after they largely eschewed Trump. Among those in the lineup: Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at the Capitol earlier in the day.

Trump will be the first president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. He planned his own farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for the final time as president for the flight to his Florida estate.

Trump will nonetheless shadow Biden’s first days in office.

Trump’s second impeachment trial could start as early as this week. That could test the ability of the Senate, poised to come under Democratic control, to balance impeachment proceedings with confirmation hearings and votes on Biden’s Cabinet choices.

Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days that includes a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion virus relief package. On Day One, he’ll also send an immigration proposal to Capitol Hill that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.

He also planned a 10-day blitz of executive orders on matters that don’t require congressional approval — a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. Among the planned steps: rescinding travel restrictions on people from several predominantly Muslim countries; rejoining the Paris climate accord; issuing a mask mandate for those on federal property; and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the border.

The difficulties he faces are immense, to be mentioned in the same breath as Roosevelt taking office during the Great Depression or Obama, under whom Biden served eight years as vice president, during the economic collapse. And the solution may be similar.

“There is now, as there was in 1933, a vital need for leadership,” said presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, “for every national resource to be brought to bear to get the virus under control, to help produce and distribute the vaccines, to get vaccines into the arms of the people, to spur the economy to recover and get people back to work and to school.”

___

UPDATE: Biden Outlines ‘Day One’ Agenda of Executive Actions


President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.

The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.

On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.

Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.

“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”

“Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain wrote, including the $1.9 trillion virus relief bill he outlined on Thursday. Klain said that Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.

Providing a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally will be part of Biden’s agenda, according to people briefed on his plans. Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum and among those briefed, said immigrants would be put on an eight-year path. There would be a faster track for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields people from deportation who came to the U.S. as children, and for those from strife-torn countries with temporary status.

On Thursday, the new president’s second day in office, Biden would sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, Klain said. The following day, Friday, will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic.

In the following week, Klain said, Biden would take additional actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies.

More actions will be added, Klain said, once they clear legal review.

Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts.

Klain maintained that Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying “the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President.”

UPDATE: Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 & Economic Plan


President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: January 15th, 2021

Biden unveils $1.9 Trillion plan to stem COVID-19 and steady economy

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.

“We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Biden said in a nationwide address Thursday. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.”

Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.

And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it after Biden takes office next Wednesday. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress, and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

“Remember that a bipartisan $900 billion #COVID19 relief bill became law just 18 days ago,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. But Biden says that was only a down payment, and he promised more major legislation next month, focused on rebuilding the economy.

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s not time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

Still, he sought to manage expectations. “We’re better equipped to do this than any nation in the world,” he said. “But even with all these small steps, it’s going to take time.”

His relief bill would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus.

That squares with the judgment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobbying group and traditionally an adversary of Democrats. “We must defeat COVID before we can restore our economy and that requires turbocharging our vaccination efforts,” the Chamber said in a statement Thursday night that welcomed Biden’s plan but stopped short of endorsing it.

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 11 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 30 million doses have been delivered.

Biden called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure so far” and said he would provide more details about his vaccination campaign on Friday.

The plan also provides $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. It’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

The pace of vaccination in the U.S. is approaching 1 million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to 3 million a day.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans.

“We will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated,” Biden said.

Next Wednesday, when Biden is sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Biden Sworn in as America’s 46th President

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo via AP)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- n as a U.S. senator.

Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

Inauguration Live Updates: Biden Takes Power as Trump Leaves White House

Facing crush of crises, Biden will take helm as president

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

The very ceremony in which presidential power is transferred, a hallowed American democratic tradition, will serve as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces evocative of those in a war zone, and devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay home, Americans were exhorted, to prevent further spread of a surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States. Biden will look out over a capital city dotted with empty storefronts that attest to the pandemic’s deep economic toll and where summer protests laid bare the nation’s renewed reckoning on racial injustice.

He will not be applauded — or likely even acknowledged — by his predecessor.

Flouting tradition, Donald Trump planned to depart Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, stoked grievance among his supporters with the lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate.

Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. On his first day, Biden will take a series of executive actions — on the pandemic, climate, immigration and more — to undo the heart of Trump’s agenda. The Democrat takes office with the bonds of the republic strained and the nation reeling from challenges that rival those faced by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Biden will face a series of urgent, burning crises like we have not seen before, and they all have to be solved at once. It is very hard to find a parallel in history,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “I think we have been through a near-death experience as a democracy. Americans who will watch the new president be sworn in are now acutely aware of how fragile our democracy is and how much it needs to be protected.”

Biden will come to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he will be the oldest president inaugurated.

More history will be made at his side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president. The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

The two will be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony with few parallels in history.

Tens of thousands of troops are on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory.

The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II.

Despite security warnings, Biden declined to move the ceremony indoors and instead will address a small, socially distant crowd on the West Front of the Capitol. Some of the traditional trappings of the quadrennial ceremony will remain.

The day will begin with a reach across the aisle after four years of bitter partisan battles under Trump. Biden invited Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leaders of the Senate and House, to join him at a morning Mass, along with Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders.

Once at the Capitol, Biden will be administered the oath by Chief Justice John Roberts; Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The theme of Biden’s approximately 30-minute speech will be “America United,” and aides said it would be a call to set aside differences during a moment of national trial.

Biden will then oversee a “Pass in Review,” a military tradition that honors the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief. Then, Biden, Harris and their spouses will be joined by a bipartisan trio of former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony.

Full Coverage: Biden’s inauguration
Later, Biden will join the end of a slimmed-down inaugural parade as he moves into the White House. Because of the pandemic, much of this year’s parade will be a virtual affair featuring performances from around the nation.

In the evening, in lieu of the traditional glitzy balls that welcome a new president to Washington, Biden will take part in a televised concert that also marks the return of A-list celebrities to the White House orbit after they largely eschewed Trump. Among those in the lineup: Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at the Capitol earlier in the day.

Trump will be the first president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. He planned his own farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for the final time as president for the flight to his Florida estate.

Trump will nonetheless shadow Biden’s first days in office.

Trump’s second impeachment trial could start as early as this week. That could test the ability of the Senate, poised to come under Democratic control, to balance impeachment proceedings with confirmation hearings and votes on Biden’s Cabinet choices.

Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days that includes a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion virus relief package. On Day One, he’ll also send an immigration proposal to Capitol Hill that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.

He also planned a 10-day blitz of executive orders on matters that don’t require congressional approval — a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. Among the planned steps: rescinding travel restrictions on people from several predominantly Muslim countries; rejoining the Paris climate accord; issuing a mask mandate for those on federal property; and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the border.

The difficulties he faces are immense, to be mentioned in the same breath as Roosevelt taking office during the Great Depression or Obama, under whom Biden served eight years as vice president, during the economic collapse. And the solution may be similar.

“There is now, as there was in 1933, a vital need for leadership,” said presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, “for every national resource to be brought to bear to get the virus under control, to help produce and distribute the vaccines, to get vaccines into the arms of the people, to spur the economy to recover and get people back to work and to school.”

___

UPDATE: Biden Outlines ‘Day One’ Agenda of Executive Actions


President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.

The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.

On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.

Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.

“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”

“Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain wrote, including the $1.9 trillion virus relief bill he outlined on Thursday. Klain said that Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.

Providing a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally will be part of Biden’s agenda, according to people briefed on his plans. Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum and among those briefed, said immigrants would be put on an eight-year path. There would be a faster track for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields people from deportation who came to the U.S. as children, and for those from strife-torn countries with temporary status.

On Thursday, the new president’s second day in office, Biden would sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, Klain said. The following day, Friday, will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic.

In the following week, Klain said, Biden would take additional actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies.

More actions will be added, Klain said, once they clear legal review.

Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts.

Klain maintained that Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying “the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President.”

UPDATE: Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 & Economic Plan


President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: January 15th, 2021

Biden unveils $1.9 Trillion plan to stem COVID-19 and steady economy

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.

“We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Biden said in a nationwide address Thursday. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.”

Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.

And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it after Biden takes office next Wednesday. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress, and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

“Remember that a bipartisan $900 billion #COVID19 relief bill became law just 18 days ago,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. But Biden says that was only a down payment, and he promised more major legislation next month, focused on rebuilding the economy.

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s not time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

Still, he sought to manage expectations. “We’re better equipped to do this than any nation in the world,” he said. “But even with all these small steps, it’s going to take time.”

His relief bill would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus.

That squares with the judgment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobbying group and traditionally an adversary of Democrats. “We must defeat COVID before we can restore our economy and that requires turbocharging our vaccination efforts,” the Chamber said in a statement Thursday night that welcomed Biden’s plan but stopped short of endorsing it.

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 11 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 30 million doses have been delivered.

Biden called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure so far” and said he would provide more details about his vaccination campaign on Friday.

The plan also provides $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. It’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

The pace of vaccination in the U.S. is approaching 1 million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to 3 million a day.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans.

“We will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated,” Biden said.

Next Wednesday, when Biden is sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

WATCH: An Ethiopian Immigrant’s Perspective on Chaos at US Capitol

While most Americans have never seen anything like what happened at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, the scene was sadly familiar for some immigrants and refugees. “What just happened today in the Capitol, just kind of reminds me of what our parents went through... in the 70s,” said Endale Getahun, who immigrated from Ethiopia to the U.S. in the early 1980s, when he was 10 years old [and now] runs an immigrant and refugee-focused community radio station in Aurora, Colorado. (ABC News)

Channel 13, ABC News Now

AURORA, Colo. — Immigrants who came to America fleeing political upheaval and violence in their home countries saw political violence on American soil Wednesday.

For many, it was shocking.

“What just happened today in the Capitol, just kind of reminds me of what our parents went through… in the 70s,” said Endale Getahun, who immigrated from Ethiopia to the U.S. in the early 1980s, when he was 10 years old.

Getahun describes that as a time of political upheaval and conflict in his home country. Conflict continues today, with recent violence between the country’s government and the region of Tigray.

Like so many other immigrants, Getahun’s family came to America looking for peace and stability. Watching images of chaos on Wednesday was unsettling.

“I think it’s very shocking, to happen in this world, in a democratic country, which welcomes everyone to be safe from chaos – not just from Ethiopia but all over the world. The United States is a symbol of democracy, freedom, a dream to achieve,” he said.

Getahun runs an immigrant and refugee-focused community radio station in Aurora, KETO FM. He said Wednesday, the conversation covered the U.S. Capitol takeover.

Getahun can offer an immigrant’s perspective on those developments.

“The other side of the world has experienced this kind of chaotic government takeover and the U.S. was the one that comes back and helps those countries,” he said. “So I think this is a very testing moment for all of us, including the American citizens as well.”

Getahun said it’s up to U.S. leaders, specifically President Donald Trump, to calm the country and ensure people are safe.

“Words matter,” he said.

—-

The Latest:

Updated: January 7th, 2021

  • After chaos, calls for Trump’s removal as top officials resign
  • Congress affirms Biden’s presidential win following riot at U.S. Capitol
  • The grand finale of the Trump show: America watches farce devolve to horror
  • Explainer: How could Trump be removed from office before his term ends on Jan. 20?
  • Social platforms flex their power, lock down Trump accounts

    World Watches US Chaos with Shock, Dismay and Some Mockery

    The Associated Press

    PARIS (AP) — As the world watched American institutions shaken to the core by an angry mob, officials and ordinary citizens wondered: How fragile is democracy, and how much stress could their own political systems withstand?

    “If it can happen in the U.S., it can happen anywhere,” said Gunjan Chhibber, a 39-year-old who works for an American tech company in India, the world’s largest democracy. She stayed up all night, watching and worrying at her home in Delhi as the chaos unfolded many time zones away.

    In Germany, whose modern system of governance was nurtured by successive American administrations, Chancellor Angela Merkel was unusually blunt Thursday, drawing a direct line from President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede his election defeat to the atmosphere that made the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters possible.

    “A fundamental rule of democracy is that, after elections, there are winners and losers. Both have to play their role with decency and responsibility so that democracy itself remains the winner,” Merkel said.

    Eva Sakschewska, a German who followed the news closely, said the events in Washington were almost inconceivable.

    “You can only fear how far this can go when populists come to power and do such things,” she said. “You know that in the U.S., democracy has a long history and that it comes to something like that – yes one is afraid.”

    Even the United Nations offered up the kind of statement usually reserved for fragile democracies, expressing sadness and calling on unidentified political leaders to foster respect for “democratic processes and the rule of law.”

    In Iraq, where the violent U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 led to years of sectarian conflict and a deeply flawed democracy, many watched and marveled at the scenes unfolding in Congress.

    Iraqis have suffered for years under power-sharing arrangements among competing elites divided along sectarian lines. Backroom deals are common to avoid political paralysis, and democratic ideals have been tainted by an entrenched system of patronage through which state jobs are doled out in exchange for support. Political parties also have affiliated militias that wield significant power on the street. From afar, the violence in Washington had a contemptible familiarity.

    “Iraq calls on the U.S. regime to respect the principles of democracy, or it will intervene militarily to bring down the dictator,” said Mustafa Habib, a well-known Iraqi analyst and researcher, in a tweet that mocked Washington’s actions abroad.

    Venezuela, which is under U.S. sanctions, said the events showed that the U.S. “is suffering what it has generated in other countries with its politics of aggression.”

    Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has survived U.S.-backed opposition efforts to oust him despite accusations of human rights abuses, civil unrest and a humanitarian crisis that has forced millions to flee the oil-rich country.

    “We exported so much democracy that we don’t have any left,” American-Palestinian scholar Yousef Monayyer wrote on Twitter, the social network favored by Trump until he was locked out of it late Wednesday.

    His comment joined the growing strain of sarcasm bordering on schadenfreude from those who have long resented the perceived American tendency to chastise other countries for less-than-perfect adherence to democratic ideals.

    This time, however, it was an attempt by Americans to stop a peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden after a democratic election in a country that many around the world have looked at as a model for democratic governance.

    In China, which has had constant friction with Washington over trade, as well as military and political issues, people were scathing in their criticism of Trump and his supporters, citing both the coronavirus pandemic and the mob action.

    Communist-ruled China has long accused the U.S. of hypocrisy in its efforts to promote democracy and advocate for human rights overseas.

    The Communist Youth League ran a photo montage of the Capitol violence on its Twitter-like Weibo microblog with the caption: “On the sixth, the U.S. Congress, a most beautiful site to behold.” That appeared to mock House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her June 2019 comments in praise of sometimes- violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

    “The U.S. is not as safe as China, right? I think Trump is a self-righteous and selfish person,” said financial adviser Yang Ming.

    Iran, which faces routine U.S. criticism over violations of human rights and democratic values, jumped on the chaos as proof of American hypocrisy.

    The semiofficial Fars news agency called the United States a “fragmented democracy,” while Iran’s pro-government Twitter accounts gloated, circulating photos of the mobs with hashtags that included #DownfalloftheUS.

    The events tarnished the American insistence that it is a bastion of democracy for countries that have only in recent decades, in some cases, given up autocratic or military-controlled forms of government.

    “The beauty of democracy?” with a shrug emoji was the reaction tweeted by Bashir Ahmad, a personal assistant to the president of Nigeria, which has seen several coups since independence — including one led decades ago by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected to office in 2015.

    Some legislatures in Asia — South Korea and Taiwan, for instance — have at times been marred by brawls and screaming matches, but democracies throughout the region are normally staid versions of European and American lawmaking models.

    “This is shocking. I hope this will serve as chance for the Americans to review their democracy,” said Na HyunPil at the Korean House for International Solidarity, a Seoul-based NGO. “Trump is entirely responsible for this incident. After his four-year rule, the Americans find it difficult to tell other countries that their country is a good model for democracy.”

    Several countries, both U.S. allies and antagonists, issued travel warnings to their citizens, although with coronavirus infections soaring in the United States, arrivals from abroad are down to a trickle.

    Ally after ally expressed shock, followed by affirmations that U.S. democratic institutions would withstand the turmoil.

    “All my life, America has stood for some very important things: an idea of freedom and an idea of democracy,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “Insofar as he encouraged people to storm the Capitol, and insofar as the president has consistently cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I believe that was completely wrong.”

    But some, like European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, warned that the attempt to halt a peaceful transition in what many consider the world’s oldest democracy showed that no place is immune and that backsliding is reversed only with difficulty.

    “Democracy is never self-evident. It has to be worked on each and every day. It has to be won anew every day. And that applies to all democracies,” she told German news outlets. And that’s why we know that it starts as a very small thing.”

    For others, less friendly, it was portrayed as a last gasp and one that belonged solely to Americans themselves.

    “American democracy is obviously limping on both feet,” said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament. “I say this without a shadow of gloating. America no longer charts a course and therefore has lost all rights to set it — and even more so to impose it on others.”

    ‘Moment of Shame’: Former US Presidents Condemn The Violent Mob Spectacle in DC


    Obama, Bush, Clinton, Carter all condemn the Trump supporter riots. (Photos: AP and Getty Images)

    Politico

    Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter on Wednesday each condemned the mob of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol — and lawmakers who sought to delegitimize the presidential election results beforehand.

    “It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight,” Bush said in a statement. “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic.”

    Obama said the insurrection, in which at least one person died, will be remembered as “a moment of great dishonor and shame” and that his successor, President Donald Trump, is culpable. He also faulted the Republican Party and the right-wing media ecosystem for the role they played in casting doubt on the integrity of recent elections.

    “Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments,” Obama said in a statement. “Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.”

    Bush similarly said the rioters who breached the building and remained there for hours were “inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”

    “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement,” the 43rd president said.

    Clinton said the seizure of parts of the Capitol was the disastrous result of “poison politics” and the proliferation of misinformation. But he said it did not shake his fundamental belief in the decency of the American people.

    “If that’s who we really are, we must reject today’s violence, turn the page, and move forward together—honoring our Constitution, remaining committed to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Clinton said.

    Bush also urged people upset about the recent elections to stand down for the sake of American democracy.

    “Our country is more important than the politics of the moment,” Bush said. “Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety.”

    Carter denounced the day’s events as a “national tragedy” and “not who we are as a nation.” In a statement released by the Carter Center, the former president said he and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter were troubled by the violence and hoped for Americans to come together to resolve the conflict.

    Carter’s statement notably did not assign blame for the Capitol riots.

    “Having observed elections worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must,” the statement said. “We join our fellow citizens in praying for a peaceful resolution so our nation can heal and complete the transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.”

    The mass of rioters began to breach the Capitol earlier Wednesday, disrupting the vote certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump and further delaying what was already expected to become a days-long affair after Republican members of Congress challenged Biden’s win in several states. The building was cleared by the evening and Congress has returned to continue its duties.

    However, Bush and Carter did not mention Trump — who has promoted false claims of rampant election fraud and embraced anti-democratic attempts stay in power — or anyone else by name in their dispatch. Bush, the most recent Republican president prior to Trump, has largely been careful not to publicly criticize the party’s present standard-bearer.

    Obama and Clinton, both Democrats, were far more explicit in faulting Trump for his role in instigating the unrest.

    “The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost,” Obama said. “The election was free, the count was fair, the result is final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates.”

    Trump has continued to speak favorably of the rioters, calling them “very special” and “great patriots” in several tweets that have since been removed by Twitter.

    “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump wrote on Twitter in one such message. “Remember this day forever!”

    Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired

    The Washington Post

    As President Trump told a sprawling crowd outside the White House that they should never accept defeat, hundreds of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in what amounted to an attempted coup that they hoped would overturn the election he lost. In the chaos, law enforcement officials said, one woman was shot and killed by police.

    The violent scene — much of it incited by the president’s incendiary language — was like no other in modern American history, bringing to a sudden halt the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

    With poles bearing blue Trump flags, a mob that would eventually grow into the thousands bashed through Capitol doors and windows, forcing their way past police officers unprepared for the onslaught. Lawmakers were evacuated shortly before an armed standoff at the House chamber’s entrance. The woman who was shot was rushed to an ambulance, police said, and later died. Canisters of tear gas were fired across the Rotunda’s white marble floor, and on the steps outside the building, rioters flew Confederate flags.

    The Senate stopped its proceedings, and the House doors were closed. In a notification, U.S. Capitol Police said no one would be allowed to come or go from the building as they struggled to regain control. “Stay away from exterior windows, doors. If outside, seek cover,” police warned.

    All 1,100 members of the D.C. National Guard were activated, and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) imposed a citywide curfew. From 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, Bowser said, no one other than essential personnel would be allowed outdoors in the city.

    The mob had arrived hours earlier, charging past the metal barricades on the property’s outer edge. Hundreds, then thousands followed them. Some scaled the Capitol’s walls to reach entrances; others climbed over one another.

    On the building’s east side, police initially pushed the pro-Trump demonstrators back but soon gave up and fell back to the foot of the main steps. Within a half-hour, fights broke out again, and police retreated to the top of the stairs as screaming Trump supporters surged closer. After police perimeters were breached, the elated crowd began to sing the national anthem.

    For an hour, they banged on the doors, chanting, “Let us in! Let us in!” Police inside fired pepper balls and smoke bombs into the crowd but failed to turn them away. After each volley, the rioters, who were mostly White men, would cluster around the doors again, yelling, arguing, pledging revolution.

    Sometime after 2:10 p.m., a man used a clear plastic riot shield to break through the windows on a first floor to the south side of the building, then hopped in with a few others. Once inside, police suspect, rioters opened doors to let in more of their compatriots.

    A police officer yelled from a higher stairway at the intruders, ordering them to stop, but when they didn’t, the officer fired at a man coming at him, two law enforcement officials said. Amid shouts and people rushing to get away from the sound of gunfire, rioters saw a woman in their group collapse. Police believe she was unarmed, a law enforcement official said, but the officer who shot her did not know that. Capitol Police had already been warned by D.C. police that many in the crowds were secretly carrying weapons.

    “They shot a girl!” someone yelled as a group of Trump supporters ran out of the southeast entrance.

    A team of paramedics with a gurney soon arrived and a Capitol Police officer stepped aside to let them pass. “White female, shot in the shoulder,” the officer said as they hurried past. They emerged minutes later.

    On the gurney was a woman in jeans, gazing vacantly to one side, her torso and face covered in blood. As the gurney was loaded into the back of the ambulance, pro-Trump rioters swarmed around it, screaming, “Murderers!”

    Capitol Police officers with long guns pushed them back, and the ambulance drove off.

    Inside, where the lawmakers had donned gas masks kept under their chairs, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) could only think of his family as he and other lawmakers hid from the mob. Reeling from the loss of his 25-year-old son last week, Raskin had taken one of his daughters and his son-in-law to the Capitol to watch the debates unfold over certification of Biden’s election, he said, “because we wanted to be together.” Raskin was helping lead Democrats’ arguments against Republican objectors.

    “I thought I could show them the peaceful transfer of power in the United States of America,” Raskin told C-SPAN earlier. “What was really going through my mind was their safety because they were not with me in the chamber, and I just wanted us all to get back together.”

    Read more »

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  • UPDATE: Dems Win Control of U.S. Senate After Victories in Georgia

    President-elect Joe Biden campaigns in Atlanta, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, for Senate candidates Raphael Warnock, right, and Jon Ossoff, left. (AP Photo)

    The Associated Press

    Warnock, Ossoff win in Georgia, handing Dems Senate control

    ATLANTA (AP) — Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats — and with them, the U.S. Senate majority — as final votes were counted Wednesday, serving President Donald Trump a stunning defeat in his turbulent final days in office while dramatically improving the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s progressive agenda.

    Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, Democratic challengers who represented the diversity of their party’s evolving coalition, defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler two months after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.

    Warnock, who served as pastor for the same Atlanta church where civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, becomes the first African American from Georgia elected to the Senate. And Ossoff becomes the state’s first Jewish senator and, at 33 years old, the Senate’s youngest member.

    This week’s elections were expected to mark the formal finale to the tempestuous 2020 election season, although the Democrats’ resounding success was overshadowed by chaos and violence in Washington, where angry Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

    Wednesday’s unprecedented siege drew fierce criticism of Trump’s leadership from within his own party, and combined with the bad day in Georgia, marked one of the darkest days of his divisive presidency.

    Still, the Democrats’ twin victories in Georgia represented a striking shift in the state’s politics as the swelling number of diverse, college-educated voters flex their power in the heart of the Deep South. They also cemented the transformation of Georgia, once a solidly Republican state, into one of the nation’s premier battlegrounds for the foreseeable future.

    In an emotional address early Wednesday, Warnock vowed to work for all Georgians whether they voted for him or not, citing his personal experience with the American dream. His mother, he said, used to pick “somebody else’s cotton” as a teenager.

    “The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said. “Tonight, we proved with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.”

    Loeffler, who remains a senator until the results of Tuesday’s election are finalized, returned to Washington on Wednesday morning to join a small group of senators planning to challenge Congress’ vote to certify Biden’s victory. She didn’t get a chance to vocalize her objection before the violent protesters stormed the Capitol.

    Georgia’s other runoff election pitted Perdue, a 71-year-old former business executive who held his Senate seat until his term expired Sunday, against Ossoff, a former congressional aide and journalist.

    “This campaign has been about health and jobs and justice for the people of this state — for all the people of this state,” Ossoff said in a speech broadcast on social media Wednesday morning. “Whether you were for me, or against me, I’ll be for you in the U.S. Senate. I will serve all the people of the state.”

    Trump’s false claims of voter fraud cast a dark shadow over the runoff elections, which were held only because no candidate hit the 50% threshold in the general election. He raised the prospect of voter fraud as votes were being cast and likened the Republicans who run Georgia’s election system to “chickens with their heads cut off” during a Wednesday rally in Washington.

    Gabriel Sterling, a top official with the Georgia secretary of state’s office and a Republican, said there was “no evidence of any irregularities.”

    “The biggest thing we’ve seen is from the president’s fertile mind of finding fraud where none exists,” he said.

    Both contests tested whether the political coalition that fueled Biden’s November victory was an anti-Trump anomaly or part of a new electoral landscape. To win in Tuesday’s elections — and in the future — Democrats needed strong African American support.

    AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 3,700 voters in Tuesday’s contests, found that Black voters made up roughly 30% of the electorate, and almost all of them — 94% — backed Ossoff and Warnock. The Democrats also relied on the backing of younger voters, people earning less than $50,000 annually and newcomers to the state.

    The Republican coalition backing Loeffler and Perdue was the mirror opposite: white, older, wealthier and longtime Georgia residents.

    The coalition closely resembles the one that narrowly handed Georgia’s Electoral College votes to Biden in November, making him the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state in almost three decades.

    Trump’s claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election, while meritless, resonated with Republican voters in Georgia. About 7 in 10 agreed with his false assertion that Biden was not the legitimately elected president, AP VoteCast found.

    Election officials across the country, including the Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, as well as Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have confirmed that there was no widespread fraud in the November election. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, where three Trump-nominated justices preside.

    Publicly and privately, some Republicans acknowledged that Trump’s monthslong push to undermine the integrity of the nation’s electoral system may have contributed to the GOP’s losses in Georgia.

    “It turns out that telling the voters that the election was rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters,” said Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican and a frequent Trump critic.

    Even with Trump’s claims, voters in both parties were drawn to the polls because of the high stakes. AP VoteCast found that 6 in 10 Georgia voters say Senate party control was the most important factor in their vote.

    Turnout exceeded both sides’ expectations. Ultimately, more people cast ballots in the runoffs than voted in Georgia’s 2016 presidential election.

    Former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, issued a statement praising the election of Georgia’s first African American senator and his ability to improve divisions in Washington.

    “Georgia’s first Black senator will make the (Senate) chamber more reflective of our country as a whole and open the door for a Congress that can forego gridlock for gridlock’s sake to focus instead on the many crises facing our nation,” Obama said.

    Related:

    Bethlehem Fleming: Meet the Activist Working to Turn the U.S. Senate Blue


    Ethiopian American activist Bethlehem Fleming is organizing a critical constituency [in Georgia] in the races that will decide the Senate. “Bethlehem is a hero in this get-out-the-vote effort because she is looking for a needle in a haystack, those few thousand Ethiopian and Eritrean voters among 500,000 or so voters,” says Jana Miles, a DeKalb County Democratic Party committee member. “She is a remarkable story.” (Getty Images)

    OZY

    Ethiopian native Bethlehem Fleming is identifying and trying to turn out thousands of voters from her homeland in Georgia’s pivotal Senate runoff elections.

    Bethlehem Fleming, a native of Ethiopia, has carried around for almost three years President Donald Trump’s vulgar denouncement of African nations as “shithole countries.” It enraged her, but not as much as the president’s scornful sequel from the Oval Office on Oct. 23, when Trump said Egypt might just have to bomb Ethiopia’s $4.6 billion Blue Nile Dam to settle a water dispute.

    “I think that galvanized Ethiopians in this country to vote for Joe Biden,” says Fleming, 45, a hospital administrator who lives in DeKalb County, Georgia. “Trump says these things about other countries he has no idea about and makes people mad, and they use their vote against him.”

    Fleming, who has been an American citizen since 2008, settled her score with Trump on Nov. 3. Now she wants a more authoritative rebuke of his presidency. Fleming is aiming the grievance vote at his proxies, Republican candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, in the U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5. Her community could be crucial to deciding which party controls the Senate, as Democrats would take control if they win both races.

    Fleming will spend the next six weeks trying to make one-on-one contact with 4,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans in DeKalb County, which includes parts of Atlanta, and plead for them to vote for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the runoff. Fleming’s work is a specialized version of former gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams’ high-profile efforts to register and turn out voters of color throughout the state in recent years. These efforts are part of the turnout game required in these pivotal runoffs, which will be decided by which side can lure a bigger proportion of its November voters back to the polls.

    Ted Terry, who is on the executive committee of the Georgia Democratic Party, estimates there are 30,000 to 40,000 registered voters who emigrated from Africa, in a state Biden won by just 13,000 votes.

    Fleming has a daunting task over the next six weeks because the Georgia voter registration application, which is how most voter data is generated, has a box to check that simply says “Black.”

    Immigrants from Africa who are registered to vote may have black skin, but they identify as Ethiopians, Kenyans, Sudanese, Somalians and many other nationalities. That makes it hard for Fleming to connect with people from her country.

    The task is finding all those Ethiopian Americans, as well as voters from neighboring Eritrea. Fleming is working with Mike Endale, a Washington-based software developer of Ethiopian descent, who has created a software program to cull the names “most likely Ethiopian” from the half-million voters on the voter rolls in DeKalb. There are efforts underway in neighboring Fulton and Gwinnett counties to do the same.

    “Bethlehem is a hero in this get-out-the-vote effort because she is looking for a needle in a haystack, those few thousand Ethiopian and Eritrean voters among 500,000 or so voters,” says Jana Miles, a DeKalb County Democratic Party committee member. “She is a remarkable story.”

    Once she finds Ethiopians, Fleming’s cultural cachet — she can speak in her native Amharic when she calls — can stir them to vote, not just because of Trump’s put-downs, but on policy issues as well.

    “I can’t see their faces, but I can sense their faces light up by how they start talking to me,” she says. “We make a connection and they are excited, and then we start talking about issues like health care and immigration and how Senate Democrats can help them. A lot of immigrants depend on health care.”

    Fleming has also created election flyers with Ethiopia’s bright colors of red, yellow and green, and native script on one side and English on the other. The flyers are handed out at GOTV events, or pasted to poles in immigrant communities. Fleming appeared regularly on the radio during the general election to encourage her fellow naturalized citizens to get out and vote, and she’s stepped up her efforts considerably for the runoff.

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    TADIAS Year in Review: 2020 in Pictures

    Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Liben Eabisa

    Updated: December 31st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Our cover picture of Dr. Tsion Firew — who was one of the many brave healthcare workers who were on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic earlier this year in New York City — captures the kernel of the year that was 2020. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 300,000 people across America.

    Beyond the ongoing global health and social crisis, there were some optimistic moments in 2020 including the swift development of a vaccine as well as the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election.

    Some of the inspiring news stories we highlighted on our website this year include the recent naming of Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, who was voted “the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.”

    Equally exciting was the announcement in September that Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste’s blockbusters new novel The Shadow King was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world.

    Similarly two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew and Elizabeth Giorgis, were named winners of the 2020 African Studies Book Prize.

    In the art world there was our feature of Free Art Felega, a virtual Ethiopia exhibition organized by German-based Ethiopian artist Yenatfenta Abate, bringing together artists from Ethiopia and the Diaspora. As the announcement stated: The basic concept was “based on the focus of life and work of the participating artists in times of COVID-19 and the reflection of joint work in the context of the social challenge caused by the changing environment.”

    We wish our readers around the world a healthier and more prosperous 2021! Below are some of the top stories we’ve shared on Tadias this past year.

    Happy New Year!

    Naomi Girma Voted 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year


    Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, has been voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. (Photo: Us Soccer)

    This year U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team captain Naomi Girma was voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. According to the sports news website U.S. Soccer, Naomi, “who played a major part in helping Stanford win the NCAA Championship in 2019 as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was the leader of the U.S. defense during the 2020 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship. As a team captain, Girma started six games during the World Cup qualifying tournament to help the USA earn a berth to the since-cancelled 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and win the regional title, defeating Mexico, 4-1 in the championship game. She finished third on the team in minutes played while marshaling a back line that played an instrumental part in allowing just one goal. The USA went 545 shutout minutes in the tournament before allowing that score.” U.S. Soccer added that Naomi, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and a first generation Ethiopian American, was “only the second pure defender to win the award in its 23-year existence. Fifteen U.S. Soccer Young Female Players of the Year have gone on to play in a senior level Women’s World Cup for the USA. The first winner, back in 1998, was current U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. Read more »

    Maaza Mengiste on Booker Prize Shortlist


    Maaza Mengiste is an Ethiopian-American writer and author of the novels Beneath the Lion’s Gaze and The Shadow King, the latter of which was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. (Courtesy photo)

    She did it again! In 2020 Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste, who released her best-selling book The Shadow King the previous year, was named one of the final candidates for the prestigious Booker Prize. The New York-based writer was among the six authors shortlisted for the esteemed Booker Prize. The shortlist was chosen out of 162 books and as organizers noted Maaza, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is “a Fulbright Scholar and professor in the MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation programme at Queens College, she is the author of The Shadow King and Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, named one of the Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her work can be found in the New Yorker, Granta, and the New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.” Read more »

    Two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew & Elizabeth Giorgis, Win the 2020 African Studies Book Prize


    The award, which was announced on November 21st, 2020 during the African Studies Association’s virtual annual meeting, “recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year.” (Photos: Elizabeth W. Giorgis/@AsiaArtArchive & Adom Getachew/Princeton University Press)

    Adom Getachew and Elizabeth W. Giorgis were declared winners in separate categories of the 2020 African Studies Association (ASA) book prize in November during the organization’s virtual annual meeting. Adom, the author of Worldmaking after Empire, was awarded the ASA Best Book Prize, while Elizabeth, the writer of Modernist Art in Ethiopia, was given the East African Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, which recognizes the best book on East African studies published in the previous calendar. Read more »

    Dr. Wuleta Lemma Among Top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes


    Dr. Wuleta Lemma is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks, an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa.” (Photo: BIA)

    Dr. Wuleta Lemma, an Ethiopian American health care entrepreneur representing Ethiopia, was among the top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes announced this past summer by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative. Dr Wuleta, who is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks — an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa’ – was chosen from a pool of 22,000 candidates across the continent. According to her bio shared with Tadias: “Dr. Wuleta is a Tropical Medicine expert working for the last 25 years mostly on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, MNCH and Communicable Diseases. In the last number of years, Dr. Lemma has been involved in health projects in more than 20 countries in Africa, The Caribbean and Europe. During the past couple years, She had conducted research/evaluations on endemic health problems, Human Resource for Health (HRH), Innovative Medical Education, Behavioral Surveillance on high risk populations in a number of countries; contributed to research on Health outcomes of countries of the Horn of Africa and Health System Strengthen in Ethiopia.” Read more »

    Ethio-American Scientist Sossina Haile Awarded 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship


    The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina Haile for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.” (Photo: ETHIOPIA 2050 – Keynote Address/YouTube)

    In December Sossina M. Haile, a Professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, was awarded the 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship, a prestigious accolade that recognizes the career contributions of scientists in her field. The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.” Dr. Sossina received the award on December 3rd during the 2020 Virtual MRS Spring/Fall Meeting, where she also delivered her lecture, Superprotonic Solid Acids for Sustainable Energy Technologies. Most recently Dr. Sossina and her team were behind a new discovery that converts ammonia to green hydrogen that’s being hailed as “a major step forward for enabling a zero-pollution, hydrogen-fueled economy.” Read more »

    Rebecca Haile Elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List


    Rebecca Haile, co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-based non-profit organization Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., has been elected as Board Chair of EMILY’s List, one of the largest women associations in the United States. (Photo: Rebecca Haile speaking at The Haile-Manas Academy Groundbreaking Ceremony & Luncheon in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia on December 30th, 2018/Tadias File)

    Also in December, entrepreneur and philanthropist Rebecca Haile was elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List, America’s largest resource for women in politics that helps to elect Democratic female candidates into public office. The press release added: “This change in leadership comes as EMILY’s List is at its strongest position yet, following two record cycles and the incredible growth of Democratic women running for office.” The organization noted that EMILY’s List’s new Board Chair Rebecca Haile is an entrepreneur in business and philanthropy. “She is the co-founder and executive director of Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., that seeks to provide world-class educational opportunities for talented Ethiopian students and has already started its first school in central Ethiopia. Rebecca is also a Senior Advisor at Foros, an independent strategic and M&A advisory boutique firm she helped establish in 2009. Rebecca is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She is the author of Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia, a memoir of her return to Ethiopia after her family’s forced exile following the 1974 revolution and 25 years in the United States. Rebecca is a board member of the Brearley School, an independent K-12 girls’ school in New York City and a former Trustee of Freedom House, a human rights organization.” In a statement Rebecca said: “I look forward to working with the staff, the board, and our next president to change the face of American politics for generations to come.” Read more »

    Marcus Samuelsson Named Guest Editor of Bon Appétit Magazine


    Marcus Samuelsson visits SiriusXM Studios on February 26, 2020 in New York City. (Getty Images)

    Celebrity chef, author and businessman Marcus Samuelsson, whose latest book The Rise was released in 2020, was also named guest editor of the holiday edition of Bon Appétit magazine, America’s leading food and entertainment publication since it was launched in 1956. The Editor-in-Chief of Vogue and Artistic Director of Condé Nast — the parent company of Bon Appétit — Anna Wintour said in a statement: “It’s an honor to welcome such a bold and brilliant culinary force like Marcus to the Bon Appétit team. He is a visionary and inspiration to so many in the food world and beyond, from aspiring entrepreneurs and home cooks to today’s most renowned chefs. We can’t wait for our audience to get cooking with him.” Marcus Samuelsson added: “Now is a time of seismic change not only within our culinary world but in our communities at large and we have a responsibility and opportunity to come together to show how food is a reflection of our cultures, our societal values, and our individuality. I learned from working in restaurants at a young age that you’re nobody without your crew. To make a meaningful impact means both empowering the incredible talents around you and enlisting those you admire to share their stories and lend their voice. l’m looking forward to joining forces with Sonia and the team to work toward this greater goal.” Read more »

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden


    Addisu Demissie who served as a Senior Advisor to then U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party that took place in August of 2020. (Photo: 50+1 Strategies)

    One of the most widely circulated and quoted stories that we did in 2020 was our interview with Addisu Demissie, who served as a Senior Advisor to the Biden campaign, and was the lead person behind the nominating convention for the Democratic Party last summer. Addisu successfully pulled off the first-ever nominating convention held online, introducing a major party ticket to American voters across the nation. Prior to the convention Addisu told Tadias: “It’s gonna be nothing like anything anyone has ever done before, but we have a mission – and that is to present Joe Biden to the country. He is somebody who has been in public life for 40 years, but still people need a better sense of who he is and what he’s fighting for.” As it turned out it was a winning strategy. Read more »

    Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, 2020 Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    During the closing days of the U.S. presidential election in late October 2020 Tadias hosted a well-received lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in the U.S.


    The highly competitive 2020 U.S. election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office, including Samra Brouk of New York and Oballa Oballa of Austin, Minnesota. (Courtesy photos)

    The 2020 highly competitive election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office including Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, who won a seat in the New York State Senate and Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Gambella, Ethiopia who captured a City Council seat in Austin, Minnesota. Samra and Oballa — who both became the first Black candidates to win their respective races — follow in the footsteps of other trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa of Nevada who two years ago became the first Ethiopian American to be elected into a statewide office; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, a Councilman in King County, Washington, as well as the late Mike Mekonnen who served as Councilor for the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts for more than a decade. Here are the bios of the current Ethiopian American office holders in the United States: Read more »

    Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

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    UPDATE: Electoral College Makes it Official: Biden Won, Trump Lost

    President-elect Joe Biden speaks after the Electoral College formally elected him as president, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP photo)

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Electoral College decisively confirmed Joe Biden on Monday as the nation’s next president, ratifying his November victory in an authoritative state-by-state repudiation of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede he had lost.

    The presidential electors gave Biden a solid majority of 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the same margin that Trump bragged was a landslide when he won the White House four years ago.

    Heightened security was in place in some states as electors met to cast paper ballots, with masks, social distancing and other pandemic precautions the order of the day. The results will be sent to Washington and tallied in a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which Vice President Mike Pence will preside.

    For all Trump’s unsupported claims of fraud, there was little suspense and no change as every one of the electoral votes allocated to Biden and the president in last month’s popular vote went officially to each man. On Election Day, the Democrat topped the incumbent Republican by more than 7 million in the popular vote nationwide.

    California’s 55 electoral votes put Biden over the top. Vermont, with 3 votes, was the first state to report. Hawaii, with 4 votes, was the last.

    “Once again in America, the rule of law, our Constitution, and the will of the people have prevailed. Our democracy — pushed, tested, threatened — proved to be resilient, true, and strong,” Biden said in an evening speech in which he stressed the size of his win and the record 81 million people who voted for him.

    He renewed his campaign promise to be a president for all Americans, whether they voted for him or not, and said the country has hard work ahead on the virus and economy.

    But there was no concession from the White House, where Trump has continued to make unsupported allegations of fraud.

    Trump remained in the Oval Office long after the sun set in Washington, calling allies and fellow Republicans while keeping track of the running Electoral College tally, according to White House and campaign aides. The president frequently ducked into the private dining room off the Oval Office to watch on TV, complaining that the cable networks were treating it like a mini-Election Night while not giving his challenges any airtime.

    The president had grown increasingly disappointed with the size of “Stop the Steal” rallies across the nation as well as efforts for the GOP to field its own slates of electors in states. A presidential wish for a fierce administration defense led to TV appearances early Monday by Stephen Miller, one of his most ferocious advocates, to try to downplay the importance of the Electoral College vote and suggest that Trump’s legal challenges would continue all the way to Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.

    Late in the day, he took to Twitter to announce that Attorney General William Barr was leaving the administration before Christmas. Barr’s departure comes amid lingering tension over Trump’s unsupported fraud claims, especially after Barr’s statement this month to The Associated Press that the election results were unaffected by any fraud.

    In a Fox News interview taped over the weekend, Trump said that “I worry about the country having an illegitimate president, that’s what I worry about. A president that lost and lost badly.”

    On Monday in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the six battleground states that Biden won and Trump contested — electors gave Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris their votes in low-key proceedings. Nevada’s electors met via Zoom because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Trump’s efforts to undermine the election results also led to concerns about safety for the electors, virtually unheard of in previous years. In Michigan, lawmakers from both parties reported receiving threats, and legislative offices were closed over threats of violence. Biden won the state by 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points, over Trump.

    Georgia state police were out in force at the state Capitol in Atlanta before Democratic electors pledged to Biden met. There were no protesters seen.

    Even with the Electoral College’s confirmation of Biden’s victory, some Republicans continued to refuse to acknowledge that reality. Yet their opposition to Biden had no practical effect on the electoral process, with the Democrat to be sworn in next month.

    Republicans who would have been Trump electors met anyway in a handful of states Biden won. Pennsylvania Republicans said they cast a “procedural vote” for Trump and Pence in case courts that have repeatedly rejected challenges to Biden’s victory were to somehow still determine that Trump had won.

    In North Carolina, Utah and other states across the country where Trump won, his electors turned out to duly cast their ballots for him. Electors in North Carolina had their temperatures checked before being allowed to enter the Capitol to vote. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes withdrew as a Trump elector and was in quarantine because he was exposed to someone with COVID-19.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated four years ago, were among New York’s 29 electors for Biden and Harris.

    In New Hampshire, before the state’s four electors voted for Biden at the State House in Concord, 13-year-old Brayden Harrington led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. He had delivered a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention in August about the struggle with stuttering he shares with Biden.

    Following weeks of Republican legal challenges that were easily dismissed by judges, Trump and Republican allies tried to persuade the Supreme Court last week to set aside 62 electoral votes for Biden in four states, which might have thrown the outcome into doubt.

    The justices rejected the effort on Friday.

    The Electoral College was the product of compromise during the drafting of the Constitution between those who favored electing the president by popular vote and those who opposed giving the people the power to directly choose their leader.

    Each state gets a number of electors equal to its total number of seats in Congress: two senators plus however many members the state has in the House of Representatives. Washington, D.C., has three votes, under a constitutional amendment that was ratified in 1961. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, states award all their Electoral College votes to the winner of the popular vote in their state.

    Related:

    Biden Taps Former Obama Official Susan Rice as Top Domestic Policy Adviser


    President-elect Joe Biden is naming Obama’s former national security adviser Susan E. Rice to serve as his top Domestic Policy adviser. As Ethiopian Americans we are as much interested in U.S. domestic policy that directly affects our lives here in America as we are about U.S. foreign policy towards Ethiopia. So it’s encouraging to see that as AP reports in choosing Rice, Biden is “signaling the importance of domestic policy in his early agenda” including immigration, heath care, education and racial justice. (AP photo)

    The Associated Press

    President-elect Joe Biden is naming Susan Rice as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, giving her broad sway over his administration’s approach to immigration, health care and racial inequality and elevating the prominence of the position in the West Wing.

    The move marks a surprising shift for Rice, a longtime Democratic foreign policy expert who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser and U.N. ambassador. She worked closely with then-Vice President Biden in those roles and was on his short list to become his running mate during the 2020 campaign.

    Biden is also nominating Denis McDonough, who was Obama’s White House chief of staff, as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, a sprawling agency that has presented organizational challenges for both parties over the years. But he never served in the armed forces, a fact noted by a leading veterans organization.

    In selecting Rice and McDonough, Biden is continuing to stockpile his administration with prominent members of the Obama administration. He will make the formal announcements Friday, along with his nominations of Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Katherine Tai as U.S. trade representative and Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary. Vilsack filled that same role during Obama’s two terms.

    “The roles they will take on are where the rubber meets the road — where competent and crisis-tested governance can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, enhancing the dignity, equity, security, and prosperity of the day-to-day lives of Americans,” Biden said in a statement.

    In choosing Rice to oversee the White House council, advisers said Biden is signaling the importance of domestic policy in his early agenda.

    Rice is expected to be more of a force, both inside and outside the White House, and her appointment creates a new power center in the West Wing. She’s discussed replicating some elements of the National Security Council in her new role, including a principals committee of Cabinet secretaries and others that could bring more structure to domestic policymaking, but also pull more power into the West Wing.

    She’s expected to play an active role in the Biden administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Health care, immigration and tackling racial inequality are also expected to be among the top issues for the domestic policy shop next year.

    The 56-year-old Rice will be among the most prominent Black women in Biden’s administration. Rice was also in the running to become Biden’s running mate before he picked California Sen. Kamala Harris.

    Since then, Rice has been discussing other roles with the Biden team and was initially seen as a contender for secretary of state. But as a longtime target of Republicans, her prospects for a Cabinet position faded after the election, given the close makeup of the Senate. A pair of runoffs in Georgia next month will determine which party has control, but either configuration will be exceedingly close.

    Rice’s role overseeing the council does not require Senate confirmation.

    Although Biden has insisted his administration will not simply be a retread of Obama’s presidency, he is bringing back numerous familiar faces. His team has defended the moves as a nod toward experience and the need to hit the ground running in tackling the pressing issues facing the nation across multiple fronts.

    Shirley Anne Warshaw, a professor at Gettysburg College who has studied the presidency and Cabinets, said following Obama as he builds out his team gives Biden an advantage.

    “This is a much better bench than Obama had because these people have the experience of serving in the Obama administration,” Warshaw said. “In that way, Joe Biden is the luckiest man in the world.”

    McDonough, the VA nominee, is an experienced manager who was chief of staff throughout Obama’s second term. McDonough was previously Obama’s deputy national security adviser, including during the Navy SEAL raid in 2011 that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and was a longtime congressional staffer.

    McDonough was credited with helping Obama try to bridge divides on Capitol Hill, including around one of his most substantial second-term legislative achievements: the Veterans Choice Act. The legislation, for which President Donald Trump tries to take credit, gave former service members more options to seek care and the VA secretary more authority to fire underperforming staffers.

    The bill came about following exposes during the Obama administration into mismanagement at some VA hospitals and mounting complaints by advocacy groups. As chief of staff, McDonough was also deeply involved in an overhaul of VA leadership after the scandals, which led to the ouster of the department’s secretary.

    “We are surprised by this pick. No way to deny that,” said Joe Chenelly, national executive director of AMVETS, or American Veterans. “We were expecting a veteran, maybe a post-9/11 veteran. Maybe a woman veteran. Or maybe a veteran who knows the VA exceptionally well. We are looking forward to hearing from President-Elect Biden on his thinking behind this nomination.”

    McDonough’s wife, Kari, co-founded the nonprofit group Vets’ Community Connections, which helps veterans and their families develop stronger ties to their communities.

    Biden is balancing numerous priorities as he fills out his Cabinet, including making good on his pledge to have a diverse group of top advisers. That’s created some tensions over top jobs, including agriculture secretary.

    Allies of Fudge made no secret of their desire for her to lead the department, given its oversight of food stamps and other programs meant to address food insecurity — one of her longtime priorities. Instead, Biden went with Vilsack, a longtime friend and advocate for Democrats paying more attention to rural America.

    A transition official said Vilsack and Fudge spoke Wednesday to lay the groundwork for cooperation between their two agencies on those and other initiatives.

    Related:

    Biden picks Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense


    President-elect Joe Biden will nominate retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin to be secretary of defense, according to four people familiar with the decision. If confirmed by the Senate, Austin would be the first Black leader of the Pentagon. (AP photo)

    The Associated Press

    President-elect Joe Biden will nominate retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin to be secretary of defense, according to four people familiar with the decision. If confirmed by the Senate, Austin would be the first Black leader of the Pentagon.

    Biden selected Austin over the longtime front-runner candidate, Michele Flournoy, a former senior Pentagon official and Biden supporter who would have been the first woman to serve as defense secretary. Biden also had considered Jeh Johnson, a former Pentagon general counsel and former secretary of homeland defense.

    The impending nomination of Austin was confirmed by four people with knowledge of the pick who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the selection hadn’t been formally announced. Biden offered and Austin accepted the post on Sunday, according to a person familiar with the process.

    As a career military officer, the 67-year-old Austin is likely to face opposition from some in Congress and in the defense establishment who believe in drawing a clear line between civilian and military leadership of the Pentagon. Although many previous defense secretaries have served briefly in the military, only two — George C. Marshall and James Mattis — have been career officers. Marshall also served as secretary of state.

    Like Mattis, Austin would need to obtain a congressional waiver to serve as defense secretary. Congress intended civilian control of the military when it created the position of secretary of defense in 1947 and prohibited a recently retired military officer from holding the position.

    One of the people who confirmed the pick said Austin’s selection was about choosing the best possible person but acknowledged that pressure had built to name a candidate of color and that Austin’s stock had risen in recent days.

    Austin is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served 41 years in uniform.

    Biden has known Austin at least since the general’s years leading U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq while Biden was vice president. Austin was commander in Baghdad of the Multinational Corps-Iraq in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president, and he returned to lead U.S. troops from 2010 through 2011.

    Austin also served in 2012 as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army, the service’s No. 2-ranking position. A year later he assumed command of U.S. Central Command, where he fashioned and began implementing a U.S. military strategy for rolling back the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

    Austin retired from the Army in 2016, and he would need a congressional waiver of the legal requirement that a former member of the military be out of uniform at least seven years before serving as secretary of defense. That waiver has been granted only twice — most recently in the case of Mattis, the retired Marine general who served as President Donald Trump’s first Pentagon chief.

    The Mattis period at the Pentagon is now viewed by some as evidence of why a recently retired military officer should serve as defense secretary only in rare exceptions. Although Mattis remains widely respected for his military prowess and intellect, critics say he tended to surround himself with military officers at the expense of a broader civilian perspective. He resigned in December 2018 in protest of Trump’s policies.

    Loren DeJonge Schulman, who spent 10 years in senior staff positions at the Pentagon and the National Security Council, said she understands why Biden would seek out candidates with a deep understanding of the military. However, she worries that appointing a general to a political role could prolong some of the damage caused by Trump’s politicization of the military.

    “But retired generals are not one-for-one substitutes of civilian leaders,” she said. “General officers bring different skills and different perspectives, and great generals do not universally make good appointees.”

    Austin has a reputation for strong leadership, integrity and a sharp intellect. He would not be a prototypical defense secretary, not just because of his 41-year military career but also because he has shied from the public eye. It would be an understatement to say he was a quiet general; although he testified before Congress, he gave few interviews and preferred not to speak publicly about military operations.

    When he did speak, Austin did not mince words. In 2015, in describing how the Islamic State army managed a year earlier to sweep across the Syrian border to grab control of large swaths of northern and western Iraq, Austin said the majority of Iraqi Sunnis simply refused to fight for their government.

    “They allowed — and in some cases facilitated — ISIS’s push through the country,” Austin said.

    He earned the admiration of the Obama administration for his work in Iraq and at Central Command, although he disagreed with Obama’s decision to pull out of Iraq entirely in December 2011.

    Austin was involved in the Iraq War from start to finish. He served as an assistant commander of the 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and oversaw the withdrawal in 2011. When Austin retired in 2016, Obama praised his “character and competence,” as well as his judgment and leadership.

    One person familiar with the matter said Biden was drawn to Austin’s oversight of the Iraq pull-out, especially given the military’s upcoming role in supporting the distribution of the coronavirus vaccines.

    Like many retired generals, Austin has served on corporate boards. He is a member of the board of directors of Raytheon Technologies.

    Word of Austin’s selection broke a day before a meeting between Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and civil rights groups, many of whom had pushed the president-elect to pick more Black Cabinet members.

    The Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, said Monday: “It’s a good choice that I think many in the civil rights community would support. It’s the first time we have seen a person of color in that position. That means something, in a global view, especially after such an antagonistic relationship we had with the previous administration.”

    Sharpton, who is set to be in the meeting with Biden on Tuesday, called the choice “a step in the right direction but not the end of the walk.”

    Biden Nominates Former Obama Official Antony Blinken as U.S. Secretary of State


    Antony Blinken (center) has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. (Photo: Biden with Tony Blinken, Susan Rice [Blinken's former boss] and John F. Kerry listen as President Barack Obama addresses reporters in November 2013. /Reuters)

    The Associated Press

    Antony Blinken has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

    Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances.

    In nominating Blinken, Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his short list to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons.

    Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

    Coons’ departure from the Senate would have come as other Democratic senators are being considered for administrative posts and the party is hoping to win back the Senate. Control hangs on the result of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.

    Biden is likely to name his Cabinet picks in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once. Advisers to the president-elect’s transition have said they’ll make their first Cabinet announcements on Tuesday.

    If Biden focuses on national security that day, Michèle Flournoy, a veteran of Pentagon policy jobs, is a top choice to lead the Defense Department. Jake Sullivan, a longtime adviser to Biden and Hillary Clinton, is also in the mix for a top job, including White House national security adviser.

    For his part, Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

    Biden’s secretary of state would inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.

    Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.

    A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.

    “Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day,” Blinken told The Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”

    Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top of the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

    Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said Sunday the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

    “We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

    Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to begin the transition. Joining the growing list were Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, told ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome and called Trump’s legal team seeking to overturn the election a “national embarrassment.”

    Meanwhile, planning was underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration Jan. 20. Klain said the Biden team was consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

    “They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

    Related:

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris


    In a Twitter post Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden Campaign)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 9th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


    Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

    Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

    The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

    Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    She adds:

    As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

    After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

    Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

    I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

    New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

    My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

    Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

    Let’s do this!

    Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    —-

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

    Related:

    ‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Biden’s National Security Adviser Warns of ‘War Crimes’ Risk in Ethiopia (UPDATE)

    President-elect Joe Biden's pick for national security adviser warned Wednesday about the risk of war crimes in Ethiopia. In one of his first tweets after being named, Jake Sullivan warned about "the risk of violence against civilians. (Photo: People read newspapers and magazines reporting on the current military confrontation in Ethiopia on a street in Addis Ababa Nov. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Samuel Habtab)

    NBC News

    In one of his first tweets after being named, Sullivan warned about “the risk of violence against civilians, including potential war crimes.”

    President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser warned Wednesday about the risk of war crimes in Ethiopia, where government forces are surrounding a city governed by rebellious regional leaders in what’s threatening to spiral into civil war.

    In one of his first tweets after being named, Jake Sullivan warned about “the risk of violence against civilians, including potential war crimes” in the East African country.

    Though brief, Sullivan’s tweet provided a taste of a new foreign policy tone adopted by the incoming administration. He urged “both sides” to engage with a plan by the African Union, which is deploying three former African leaders as mediating envoys.

    The conflict in Ethiopia started earlier this month when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, known as the TPLF, which rules the mountainous Tigray region.

    Hundreds, possibly thousands of people have already been killed, while around 40,000 have fled to neighboring Sudan. Aid agencies say they can’t access the region to provide food, water and medicine to civilians caught on the front lines.

    Sullivan’s take contrasted with that of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who last week focused on calling out attacks by the TPLF, while commending the “restraint” shown by government forces. Later in his remarks, Pompeo did go on to ask both sides “to take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict, restore peace, and protect civilians.”

    Jake Sullivan: Biden has ‘tasked us with reimagining our national security’

    President Donald Trump has often been less measured, causing rancor last month by suggesting Egypt might “blow up” Ethiopia’s $4.6 billion hydroelectric dam on the Nile. In 2018, he referred to African nations as “shithole countries,” a Democratic aide told NBC News at the time.

    International observers are watching Ethiopia with alarm.

    Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his deal with neighboring Eritrea, is calling the offensive a “law enforcement operation” in response to the TPLF attacking a military base, which he labeled “treason.” He also alleges the group has attempted to subvert democracy by “training, arming and financing criminal elements” who have carried out attacks.

    The TPLF, in turn, accuses Abiy of persecuting Tigrayans since he took office in 2018. It sees his attempts to centralize federal government power as an attack on their devolved regional rule.

    The government has issued a 72-hour ultimatum, which ends Wednesday, telling fighters to surrender and civilians to leave before it launches an assault on the region’s capital, Mekele, and its 500,000 people.

    “We want to send a message to the public in Mekele to save themselves from any artillery attacks,” military spokesman Col. Dejene Tsegaye said on state television according to The Associated Press. “After that, there will be no mercy.”

    The TPLF regional leader Debretsion Gebremichael told Reuters his fighters were “ready to die in defense of our right to administer our region.”

    Communications to the region have been severed, so it’s unclear whether civilians are aware of the government’s ultimatum.

    Sullivan isn’t the first to warn about possible war crimes. An investigation by the human rights group Amnesty International said that scores, likely hundreds, of laborers were hacked to death in Tigray earlier this month.

    “If confirmed as having been deliberately carried out by a party to the current fighting, these killings of civilians would of course amount to war crimes,” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement, calling for an investigation.

    On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s prime minister rejected these statements from abroad, saying he and his government “respectfully urge the international community to refrain from any unwelcome and unlawful acts of interference.”

    ETHIOPIA UPDATE: War, Fake News, Refugee Crisis & Crime Against Humanity

    Biden Nominates Former Obama Official Antony Blinken as U.S. Secretary of State


    Antony Blinken (center) has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. (Photo: Biden with Tony Blinken, Susan Rice [Blinken's former boss] and John F. Kerry listen as President Barack Obama addresses reporters in November 2013. /Reuters)

    The Associated Press

    Antony Blinken has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

    Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances.

    In nominating Blinken, Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his short list to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons.

    Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

    Coons’ departure from the Senate would have come as other Democratic senators are being considered for administrative posts and the party is hoping to win back the Senate. Control hangs on the result of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.

    Biden is likely to name his Cabinet picks in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once. Advisers to the president-elect’s transition have said they’ll make their first Cabinet announcements on Tuesday.

    If Biden focuses on national security that day, Michèle Flournoy, a veteran of Pentagon policy jobs, is a top choice to lead the Defense Department. Jake Sullivan, a longtime adviser to Biden and Hillary Clinton, is also in the mix for a top job, including White House national security adviser.

    For his part, Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

    Biden’s secretary of state would inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.

    Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.

    A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.

    “Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day,” Blinken told The Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”

    Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top of the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

    Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said Sunday the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

    “We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

    Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to begin the transition. Joining the growing list were Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, told ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome and called Trump’s legal team seeking to overturn the election a “national embarrassment.”

    Meanwhile, planning was underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration Jan. 20. Klain said the Biden team was consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

    “They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

    Related:

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris


    In a Twitter post Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden Campaign)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 9th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


    Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

    Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

    The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

    Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    She adds:

    As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

    After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

    Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

    I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

    New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

    My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

    Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

    Let’s do this!

    Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    —-

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

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    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Biden Nominates Former Obama Official Antony Blinken as U.S. Secretary of State

    Antony Blinken (center) has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. (Photo: Biden with Tony Blinken, Susan Rice [Blinken's former boss] and John F. Kerry listen as President Barack Obama addresses reporters in November 2013. /Reuters)

    The Associated Press

    Antony Blinken has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

    Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances.

    In nominating Blinken, Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his short list to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons.

    Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

    Coons’ departure from the Senate would have come as other Democratic senators are being considered for administrative posts and the party is hoping to win back the Senate. Control hangs on the result of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.

    Biden is likely to name his Cabinet picks in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once. Advisers to the president-elect’s transition have said they’ll make their first Cabinet announcements on Tuesday.

    If Biden focuses on national security that day, Michèle Flournoy, a veteran of Pentagon policy jobs, is a top choice to lead the Defense Department. Jake Sullivan, a longtime adviser to Biden and Hillary Clinton, is also in the mix for a top job, including White House national security adviser.

    For his part, Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

    Biden’s secretary of state would inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.

    Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.

    A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.

    “Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day,” Blinken told The Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”

    Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top of the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

    Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said Sunday the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

    “We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

    Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to begin the transition. Joining the growing list were Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, told ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome and called Trump’s legal team seeking to overturn the election a “national embarrassment.”

    Meanwhile, planning was underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration Jan. 20. Klain said the Biden team was consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

    “They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

    Related:

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris


    In a Twitter post Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden Campaign)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 9th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


    Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

    Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

    The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

    Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    She adds:

    As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

    After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

    Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

    I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

    New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

    My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

    Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

    Let’s do this!

    Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    —-

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

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    BOOK REVIEW: President Obama’s Memoir

    Former President Barack Obama’s highly anticipated memoir “A Promised Land” has finally been released. As CNN notes "this is Obama's third memoir -- the first was "Dream from My Father" in 1995 and his second was "The Audacity of Hope" in 2006. (Penguin Random House)

    CNN

    Obama memoir confronts role his presidency played in Republican obstructionism and Trump’s rise

    Washington (CNN) Barack Obama directly confronts the racist politics of President Donald Trump in the first volume of his post-presidency memoir, bluntly suggesting how he believes his historic election in 2008 opened a wave of bitter and divisive turmoil that fueled Republicans’ obstructionism and ultimately changed the party, according to a copy of the book obtained by CNN.

    “It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted,” Obama writes. “Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president. For millions of Americans spooked by a Black man in the White House, he promised an elixir for their racial anxiety.” The 768-page memoir, titled A Promised Land and due out on November 17, chronicles the future president’s childhood and political rise, before diving deeply into his historic 2008 campaign and first four years in office. Obama dedicates hundreds of pages to the fights and characters that colored his tenure, from his work to pass Obamacare in 2010 to the complexities of dealing with a slate of world leaders and finally his decision to approve the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.


    Barack Obama walks to deliver a speech at his inauguration celebrations, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington in 2009. Photograph: (Getty Images)


    First lady Michelle Obama brushes specks from the coat of then-Sen. Obama in Springfield, Illinois, just before he announced his candidacy for President in February 2007. Their daughters Malia, left, and Sasha wait in the foreground. (Getty Images)

    But some of his most thoughtful examination comes at the expense of the party that opposed him and how it evolved during his eight years in office, starting with the elevation of Sarah Palin to the Republican presidential ticket in 2008. “Through Palin, it seemed as if the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican Party — xenophobia, anti intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward Black and brown folks — were finding their way to center stage,” Obama writes.


    Obama stand on stage in Chicago with his family after winning the presidential election on November 4, 2008. (Getty Images)

    Throughout, Obama casts his presidency as comprised of hard choices, sometimes made more difficult by internal disputes, mismanagement by the previous administration and obstructionism by Republicans, which he suggests was rooted in an attempt to appeal to anxieties about the first Black president.

    Yet he also acknowledges his own shortcomings on a range of topics, like calling his failure to pass immigration reform “a bitter pill to swallow” and acknowledging that the economy “stank” as he headed into the 2010 midterms, where Republicans reclaimed the House of Representatives on the back of the Tea Party movement.

    “As far as I was concerned, the election didn’t prove our agenda had been wrong,” Obama writes of 2010. “It just proved that… I’d failed to rally the nation, as FDR had once done, behind what I knew to be right. Which to me was just as damning.”


    Obama is sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009. (Getty Images)

    The timeliest reflections, however, come when Obama delves into the politics of Washington, particularly the work he put into negotiations with Republicans like Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and then House Speaker John Boehner. But that introspection also offers a window into how Obama saw the opposing party change from his 2008 campaign to when he handed over the White House to Trump in 2017.

    Obama writes that he “wonder(s) sometimes” about whether 2008 Republican nominee John McCain would still have picked Palin if he had known “her spectacular rise and her validation as a candidate would provide a template for future politicians, shifting his party’s center and the country’s politics overall in a direction he abhorred.”

    “I’d like to think that given the chance to do it over again, he might have chosen differently,” Obama writes. “I believe he really did put his country first.”


    Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a visit to the Oval Office in May 2009. The boy wanted to know if Obama’s hair felt like his. (White Hosue)

    During an interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley that aired Sunday evening on “60 Minutes,” Obama said he titled the book “A Promised Land” because “even though we may not get there in our lifetimes, even if — we experience hardships and disappointments along the way — that I at least still have faith we can create a more perfect union.”

    “Not a perfect union, but a more perfect union,” he said.

    Obama and former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush at the White House, January 2010. (Getty Images)

    Obama’s views of his successor come through clearest in his recounting of the period in 2011 when Trump was fanning the racist lie that Obama was not born in the United States.

    Trump’s antics were seen initially in the White House as a joke. But Obama writes he came to regard Trump’s media ubiquity and characteristic shamelessness as merely an exaggerated version of the Republican Party’s attempts to appeal to White Americans’ anxieties about the first Black president — a sentiment he said “had migrated from the fringe of GOP politics to the center — an emotional, almost visceral, reaction to my presidency, distinct from any differences in policy or ideology.

    Trump, who Obama said phoned the White House in 2010 to offer his assistance helping plug an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (he was turned down), had determined that saying or behaving in ways previously seen as distasteful or unacceptable now earned him constant media attention.

    “In that sense, there wasn’t much difference between Trump and Boehner or McConnell. They, too, understood that it didn’t matter whether what they said was true,” he writes, adding: “In fact, the only difference between Trump’s style of politics and theirs was Trump’s lack of inhibition.”

    When Obama, against the advice of his advisers, released his long-form birth certificate during an appearance in the White House briefing room, he said he told young staffers afterward: “We’re better than this.”


    Obama delivers a speech after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, in December 2009. (Getty Images)

    ‘I could trust him. I wouldn’t be disappointed’

    Obama’s views on the changing Republican Party are infused into all aspects of the book. When the former president writes about his trip to India in 2010, he links the themes of rising illiberalism in a conversation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the rise of the Tea Party in the United States.

    Domestically, too, Obama writes that the more confrontational Republican Party impacted some of the day-to-day decisions he made as president, especially when it came to dispatching then vice president Joe Biden, now the President-elect, to Capitol Hill to negotiate on his behalf.

    “One of the reasons I’d chosen Joe to act as an intermediary — in addition to his Senate experience and legislative acumen — was my awareness that in McConnell’s mind, negotiations with the vice president didn’t inflame the Republican base in quite the same way that any appearance of cooperation with (Black, Muslim socialist) Obama was bound to do,” Obama writes.

    The Obama tome has been a long time coming, the length confounding even close aides who marveled as the former president wrote — freehand — on scores of yellow legal pads. Obama himself admits that the writing process “didn’t go exactly was planned,” evident by the fact that the book has been separated in two volumes and that it was delayed.


    Obama walks along the Great Wall of China in November 2009. (Getty Images)

    This is Obama’s third memoir — the first was “Dream from My Father” in 1995 and his second was “The Audacity of Hope” in 2006. Michelle Obama released her own memoir, “Becoming,” in 2018, selling millions of copies in under a year.

    The Obamas together were reportedly paid a $65 million advance for their memoirs by Penguin Random House.

    Despite writing the book before the 2020 election, there are clear echoes between the moments Obama describes and this current moment of political upheaval, especially when the former president describes his interactions with Biden, the President-elect.

    Obama recalls how Biden would offer differing opinions to many of his advisers, like when he was skeptical about the United States War in Afghanistan, leading other members of the Cabinet, like Defense Secretary Robert Gates, to consider Biden a naysayer. And how Biden would raise questions about how actions at the White House could impact Democrats in Congress.

    The most detailed recollections of the Obama-Biden relationship came when the former president described picking Biden as his running mate.

    “I liked the fact that Joe would be more than ready to serve as president if something happened to me — and that it might reassure those who still worried I was too young,” Obama wrote. “What mattered most, though, was what my gut told me — that Joe was decent, honest, and loyal. I believed that he cared about ordinary people, and that when things got tough, I could trust him. I wouldn’t be disappointed.”

    The memoir also details Obama’s relationship with his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, who welcomed him during the presidential transition despite the fact that Obama ran, in part, on a rejection of the Republican president during his 2008 campaign. The book’s release comes as Trump is fighting the results of the 2020 election and making the transition difficult for Biden, his successor.

    “Whether because of his respect for the institution, lessons from his father, bad memories of his own transition… or just basic decency, President Bush would end up doing all he could to make the 11 weeks between my election and his departure go smoothly,” Obama wrote, including noting that the Bush daughters, Barbara and Jenna, “rearranged their schedules to give Malia and Sasha their own tour.”

    “I promised myself that when the time came, I would treat my successor the same way,” Obama said, a nod to his transition with Trump.

    Assessing Trump’s behavior since CNN and other news outlets projected the presidential race for Biden, Obama told Pelley: “Well, a president is a public servant. They are temporary occupants of the office, by design.”

    “And when your time is up then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments,” he said.

    “My advice to President Trump is, if you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it’s time for you to do the same thing.”

    “Friends as well as lovers”

    While the book spends considerable time on some of the heaviest moments of Obama’s presidency, it also delves into lighter moments like Obama’s childhood — he describes himself as an “incessant, dedicated partyer” — and his early love life, like how he used intellectual curiosity to impress the “various women I was attempting to get to know.”

    “As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he writes. “I found myself in a series of affectionate but chaste friendships.”

    He writes, somewhat lightheartedly, about how the stress of the White House led to his bad tendencies, like smoking, noting that he would sometimes smoke eight or nine or ten cigarettes a day and look for a “discreet location to grab an evening smoke.” He said he quit smoking by “ceaselessly” chewing nicotine gum after his daughter Malia “frowned” after “smelling a cigarette on my breath.”


    Obama and his daughter Sasha swim in Panama City Beach, Florida in August 2010. (Getty Images)

    Obama explores his marriage to Michelle Obama throughout the book, recalling when they “became friends as well as lovers” and describing her as an “original.”

    But there are passages throughout the book that exemplify the toll a life in politics, especially in the White House, can take on a marriage.

    “And yet, despite Michelle’s success and popularity, I continued to sense an undercurrent of tension in her, subtle but constant, like the faint thrum of a hidden machine,” Obama writes about his marriage. “It was as if, confined as we were within the walls of the White House, all her previous sources of frustration became more concentrated, more vivid, whether it was my round the clock absorption with work, or the way politics exposed our family to scrutiny and attacks, or the tendency of even friends and family members to treat her role as secondary in importance.”

    Obama adds that there were nights “lying next to Michelle in the dark, I’d think about those days when everything between us felt lighter, when her smile was more constant and our love less encumbered, and my heart would suddenly tighten at the thought that those days might not return.”

    ‘They’re scared of you’

    The most personal and powerful recollections come, however, when race intersects with Obama’s reflections, particularly when the former president recalls how, in high school, he would ask why “Blacks play professional basketball but not coach it” and what it meant when “that girl from school mean when she said she didn’t think of me as Black.”

    It wasn’t until his time in Chicago as a community organizer that he “resolved the lingering questions of my racial identity,” Obama writes, adding that the years under Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, that made him “think for the first time that I wanted to someday run for public office.”

    But even in Chicago, Obama writes, questions about his race would linger. When he unsuccessfully ran against Rep. Bobby Rush in 2000, Obama notes that some asked the question, “Is he even black?”


    Jay Leno interviews Obama on the “Tonight Show” in August 2013. (Getty Images)

    The most powerful self-examinations about race come during Obama’s years in the White House, though.
    When describing his decision to criticize the arrest of Henry Louis Gates in 2009, Obama recalls how then White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs asked if he would consider clarifying his statement. Obama writes that he told his top aide it will “blow over,” but he was wrong, learning later from his polling director that the incident caused a huge drop in support among white voters that he never recovered.

    “The reaction to my comments on Gates surprised us all,” Obama writes. “It was my first indicator of how the issue of Black folks and the police was more polarizing than just about any other subject in American life.”

    Those feelings just continued during the rise of Palin and the Tea Party, Obama writes, recalling how Michelle Obama “caught a glimpse of a Tea Party rally on TV.”

    “She seized the remote and turned off the set, her expression hovering somewhere between rage and resignation,” Obama writes. “‘It’s a trip, isn’t it?’ she said. … ‘That they’re scared of you. Scared of us.’”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris

    In a Twitter post Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden Campaign)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 9th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


    Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

    Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

    The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

    Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    She adds:

    As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

    After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

    Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

    I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

    New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

    My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

    Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

    Let’s do this!

    Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    —-

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

    Related:

    ‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District

    Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that's currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn't run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 9th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

    Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

    The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

    Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    She adds:

    As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

    After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

    Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

    I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

    New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

    My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

    Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

    Let’s do this!

    Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris (UPDATE)


    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    —-

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

    Related:

    ‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota

    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


    Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

    Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

    The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

    Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    She adds:

    As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

    After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

    Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

    I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

    New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

    My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

    Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

    Let’s do this!

    Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris (UPDATE)


    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    —-

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

    Related:

    ‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! ‘Welcome Back, America’: World Congratulates Joe

    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris (UPDATE)


    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Biden wins White House, vowing new direction for US

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by a historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.

    His victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed processing. Biden crossed the winning threshold of 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.

    Trump refused to concede, threatening further legal action on ballot counting.

    Biden, 77, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. The strategy proved effective, resulting in pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Pennsylvania, onetime Democratic bastions that had flipped to Trump in 2016.

    Biden’s victory was a repudiation of Trump’s divisive leadership and the president-elect now inherits a deeply polarized nation grappling with foundational questions of racial justice and economic fairness while in the grips of a virus that has killed more than 236,000 Americans and reshaped the norms of everyday life.

    Biden, in a statement, declared it was time for the battered nation “to unite and to heal.”

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” he said. “There’s nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”

    Biden was on track to win the national popular vote by more than 4 million, a margin that could grow as ballots continue to be counted.

    Nonetheless, Trump was not giving up.

    Departing from longstanding democratic tradition and signaling a potentially turbulent transfer of power, he issued a combative statement saying his campaign would take unspecified legal actions. And he followed up with a bombastic, all-caps tweet in which he falsely declared, “I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES.” Twitter immediately flagged it as misleading.

    Trump has pointed to delays in processing the vote in some states to allege with no evidence that there was fraud and to argue that his rival was trying to seize power — an extraordinary charge by a sitting president trying to sow doubt about a bedrock democratic process.

    Kamala Harris made history as the first Black woman to become vice president, an achievement that comes as the U.S. faces a reckoning on racial justice. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

    Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

    He was golfing at his Virginia country club when he lost the race. He stayed out for hours, stopping to congratulate a bride as he left, and his motorcade returned to the White House to a cacophony of shouts, taunts and unfriendly hand gestures.

    In Wilmington, Delaware, near a stage that has stood empty since it was erected to celebrate on Election Night, people cheered and pumped their fists as the news that the presidential race had been called for the state’s former senator arrived on their cellphones.

    On the nearby water, two men in a kayak yelled to a couple paddling by in the opposite direction, “Joe won! They called it!” as people on the shore whooped and hollered. Harris, in workout gear, was shown on video speaking to Biden on the phone, exuberantly telling the president-elect “We did it!” Biden was expected to take the stage for a drive-in rally after dark.

    Across the country, there were parties and prayer. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. Among the loudest cheers were those for passing U.S. Postal Service trucks.

    People streamed into Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, near where Trump had ordered the clearing of protesters in June, waving signs and taking cellphone pictures. In Lansing, Michigan, Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter demonstrators filled the Capitol steps. The lyrics to “Amazing Grace” began to echo through the crowd, and Trump supporters laid their hands on a counter protester, and prayed.

    Americans showed deep interest in the presidential race. A record 103 million voted early this year, opting to avoid waiting in long lines at polling locations during a pandemic. With counting continuing in some states, Biden had already received more than 74 million votes, more than any presidential candidate before him.

    Trump’s refusal to concede has no legal implications. But it could add to the incoming administration’s challenge of bringing the country together after a bitter election.

    Throughout the campaign, Trump repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, arguing without evidence that the election could be marred by fraud. The nation has a long history of presidential candidates peacefully accepting the outcome of elections, dating back to 1800, when John Adams conceded to his rival Thomas Jefferson.

    It was Biden’s native Pennsylvania that put him over the top, the state he invoked throughout the campaign to connect with working class voters. He also won Nevada on Saturday pushing his total to 290 Electoral College votes.

    Biden received congratulations from dozens of world leaders, and his former boss, President Barack Obama, saluted him in a statement, declaring the nation was “fortunate that Joe’s got what it takes to be President and already carries himself that way.”

    Republicans on Capitol Hill were giving Trump and his campaign space to consider all their legal options. It was a precarious balance for Trump’s allies as they try to be supportive of the president — and avoid risking further fallout — but face the reality of the vote count.

    On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had not yet made any public statements — either congratulating Biden or joining Trump’s complaints. But retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is close to McConnell, said, “After counting every valid vote and allowing courts to resolve disputes, it is important to respect and promptly accept the result.”

    More than 236,000 Americans have died during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 10 million have been infected and millions of jobs have been lost. The final days of the campaign played out against a surge in confirmed cases in nearly every state, including battlegrounds such as Wisconsin that swung to Biden.

    The pandemic will soon be Biden’s to tame, and he campaigned pledging a big government response, akin to what Franklin D. Roosevelt oversaw with the New Deal during the Depression of the 1930s. But Senate Republicans fought back several Democratic challengers and looked to retain a fragile majority that could serve as a check on such Biden ambition.

    The 2020 campaign was a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which has shuttered schools across the nation, disrupted businesses and raised questions about the feasibility of family gatherings heading into the holidays.

    The fast spread of the coronavirus transformed political rallies from standard campaign fare to gatherings that were potential public health emergencies. It also contributed to an unprecedented shift to voting early and by mail and prompted Biden to dramatically scale back his travel and events to comply with restrictions. The president defied calls for caution and ultimately contracted the disease himself.

    Trump was saddled throughout the year by negative assessments from the public of his handling of the pandemic. There was another COVID-19 outbreak in the White House this week, which sickened his chief of staff Mark Meadows.

    Biden also drew a sharp contrast to Trump through a summer of unrest over the police killings of Black Americans including Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minneapolis. Their deaths sparked the largest racial protest movement since the civil rights era. Biden responded by acknowledging the racism that pervades American life, while Trump emphasized his support of police and pivoted to a “law and order” message that resonated with his largely white base.

    The third president to be impeached, though acquitted in the Senate, Trump will leave office having left an indelible imprint in a tenure defined by the shattering of White House norms and a day-to-day whirlwind of turnover, partisan divide and Twitter blasts.

    Trump’s team has filed a smattering of lawsuits in battleground states, some of which were immediately rebuffed by judges. His personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was holding a news conference in Philadelphia threatening more legal action when the race was called.

    Biden, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and raised in Delaware, was one of the youngest candidates ever elected to the Senate. Before he took office, his wife and daughter were killed, and his two sons badly injured in a 1972 car crash.

    Commuting every night on a train from Washington back to Wilmington, Biden fashioned an everyman political persona to go along with powerful Senate positions, including chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. Some aspects of his record drew critical scrutiny from fellow Democrats, including his support for the 1994 crime bill, his vote for the 2003 Iraq War and his management of the Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court hearings.

    Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign was done in by plagiarism allegations, and his next bid in 2008 ended quietly. But later that year, he was tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate and he became an influential vice president, steering the administration’s outreach to both Capitol Hill and Iraq.

    While his reputation was burnished by his time in office and his deep friendship with Obama, Biden stood aside for Clinton and opted not to run in 2016 after his adult son Beau died of brain cancer the year before.

    Trump’s tenure pushed Biden to make one more run as he declared that “the very soul of the nation is at stake.”

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018