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Eng. Simegnew Bekele Ethiopia’s Nile Mega Dam manger assassinated in Addis Ababa

The assassination of Simegnew Bekele Engineer of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile Mega Dam is the second Simegnew’s death is the second of a high-profile company official gunmen ambushed and killed the country manager for Nigeria’s Dangote Cement, alongside two others in the Oromia region outside Addis Ababa.

Since the coming to power of PM Abiy, the impunity has overrun the country, ethnic cleansing is abundant in many of the Bantustan regions. In the recent explosion that wounded hundred and killed five in the day of support vigil of PM Abiy demonstrates the explosive situation in the country.

Ethiopia is pursuing “mega-projects” of megalomaniac proportion including dams, railways and industrial parks with the pretext of transforming its economy and pulling the country out of poverty rather drained the country out of any foreign reserve recently. Over 10 Million Ethiopians are famine situation in 2018.

Construction started in 2011, and two of its 16 turbines are scheduled to start producing power in 2018, the Ethiopian authorities said earlier this year. The dam dam has faced opposition from Egypt, which fears the $4-billion project on the Blue Nile will affect the river’s downstream flows.

TPLF massacre in Borana Moyale is not a Minute desperation rather modus operandi for the last 27 years.

In Ethiopia, TPLF regime in Ethiopia massacre in Borana Moyale is not a Minute desperation rather modus operandi last 27 years.

The regime soldiers shot and killed at least ten civilians and wounded more than a dozen others in an unprovoked attack in Moyale, thousands flee to Kenya.

Ethiopian regime declared a six-month state of emergency on February 16. On March 2, parliament approved the implementation of the nationwide decree in a rigged vote, which led to strikes and protests across Oromia.

TPLF AGAZi soldiers had instructed the regional police force to leave Moyale before perpetrating the killings.

Under Ethiopian second state of emergency, 30 civilians, including minors, have been killed by the military-run Command Post which oversees the emergency decree. More than 60 others have been wounded.

Ethiopia has been in a political turmoil and deadly protests for over two years.

Since the first state of emergency, hundreds were killed and tens of thousands detained. About a million people have been displaced.

 

Ethiopian State of Emergency and US Rex Tillerson’s visit, saves the situation, or advice the regime share or leave power?

Rex Tillerson’s visit, saves the situation, or advice the regime share or leave power?

Strikes protesting Ethiopia’s state of emergency spread across the restive Oromia region ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s arrival for talks with the Horn of Africa nation’s embattled government.

More than two years of protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions have left hundreds of people dead, while recent conflict between the Oromia and Somali regions has forced over 900,000 people from their homes. Combined, they pose the largest challenge to Ethiopia’s ruling coalition since it took power a quarter-century ago.

He was due to visit the African Union where many officials are still smarting from U.S. President Donald Trump’s reported dismissal of member states as “shithole” countries in January. Trump later denied making the comment.

The U.S. Secretary of State is visiting  Ethiopia, the home of the African Union, and Kenya – both key U.S. allies in the fight against al Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia.

He  scheduled to visit tiny Djibouti, host to sprawling U.S., French and Chinese military bases.

The state of emergency  in Ethiopia, forbids rallies and public meetings without permission, strikes and absence from work “without enough reason,” Fana Broadcasting Corp., which is funded by the ruling party, reported. The government also declared illegal any “intentional under-performance,” disruption of transport services, social-media posts and distribution of publications that could incite violence.

Richest 1 Percent Get 82 Percent of the Wealth 77 Ethiopians living below the poverty line Oxfam

Employees of the Eastern Industrial Zone, shoe manufacturing park at work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sept. 5, 2017. The visit was organized by Oxfam International's Africa-China Dialogue (ACDP) and Wits Africa-China Reporting Project as part of the Media Workshop on Reporting Africa-China Engagements: Agriculture Developments, Climate Change, Industrialization, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Agenda 2063. (Sharon Tshipa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) Employees of the Eastern Industrial Zone shoe manufacturing park at work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sept. 5, 2017. (Sharon Tshipa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The advocacy group claims the growing disparity shows that the global economy values wealth over work.

By Katelyn Newman , Digital Producer, Staff Writer |Jan. 22, 2018, at 9:10 a.m.

Oxfam: World’s Richest 1 Percent Get 82 Percent of the Wealth

Employees of the Eastern Industrial Zone, shoe manufacturing park at work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sept. 5, 2017. The visit was organized by Oxfam International’s Africa-China Dialogue (ACDP) and Wits Africa-China Reporting Project as part of the Media Workshop on Reporting Africa-China Engagements: Agriculture Developments, Climate Change, Industrialization, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Agenda 2063. (Sharon Tshipa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Employees of the Eastern Industrial Zone shoe manufacturing park at work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sept. 5, 2017. (Sharon Tshipa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The gap in income inequality grew in 2017 as the super rich got richer while the poorest witnessed no change in wealth, the charity organization Oxfam claimed Monday in its latest report.

The advocacy group estimates that the world’s richest 1 percent reaped 82 percent of its wealth last year while the poorest half saw no increase at all. The reasons for the growing disparity boil down to tax evasion, firms’ influence on policy, erosion of workers’ rights and cost cutting, and it shows that the global economy values wealth over work, the organization stated.

Ethiopia

Leaflet | Map data © Google
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Ethiopia is one of Africa’s poorest nations with half of its 77 million people currently living below the poverty line and its level of child malnutrition is the highest in the world. In Ethiopia Oxfam focuses on sustainable livelihoods, water and sanitation, agriculture, climate research, gender and humanitarian issues.
After more than three decades of civil war, Ethiopia has been drained of its scarce resources and deprived of its regular agricultural production. Drought and environmental degradation have been major issues forcing large numbers of people to leave their homes.

Drought crisis – Oxfam is responding

Ethiopia has suffered erratic and failed rains for the past 18 months and the situation has been made worse by this year’s super El Niño. We are currently responding to the drought crisis in 5 regions: Fafan, Jarar, Dollo, Korahe and Afder (Somali Region). We have helped approximately 750,000 people so far. (October 2017). You can help now.

Oxfam in Ethiopia

We have been working in Ethiopia since the early 1970’s to address the underlying causes of poverty and marginalization.
Sustainable livelihoods
We focus on improving food and income security through better access to production technology and sustainable markets, especially for women, and by facilitating private and public sector engagement to enable access to markets.
Public services
We work to ensure people have access to improved public services as well as supporting women to lead decision making in service development and management. We work closely with communities and local government to build their capacity to manage their own public services and support government and donors to make investments in water, sanitation and hygiene services transparently and effectively.
Disaster risk reduction
We work to improve community preparedness to disasters, with a key to focussing on gender in emergencies. We work to enable more people in disaster affected communities to access life-saving assistance and support to rebuild and protect their livelihoods. Oxfam influences key duty bearers to ensure timely responses to humanitarian crisis in accordance with humanitarian law and standards.
Supporting women
We push to change attitudes and beliefs on gender based violence, and to empower women to act as leaders and to support their access to economic opportunities.

Ethiopia is called to democratise and stop ethnic clashes!

Image result for US calls for probe into Ethiopia ethnic clashes

US embassy in the capital Addis Ababa said it had received “troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people”.

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

“We believe Ethiopia’s future as a strong, prosperous, and democratic nation depends on open and inclusive political dialogue for all Ethiopians, greater government transparency, and strengthening the institutions of democracy and justice. These recent events underscore the need to make more rapid and concrete progress on reform in these areas.” the release concluded.

“We are disturbed by the troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people living along the border between the Oromia and Somali regions.”

The United States says “Ethiopia must open up its political space if its is to cement its place in the future as a “strong, prosperous and democratic nation.”

We urge the Ethiopian government to conduct a transparent investigation into all allegations of violence and to hold those responsible accountable. At the same time, on the local level, communities must be encouraged and given space to seek peaceful resolutions to the underlying conflicts,” the statement read in part.

Kenyan Court overturns 2017 presidential election

 

“A very historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension the people of Africa.”Raila Odinga

Supporters of the Kenyan opposition presidential candidate shout and gesture during a protest in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, a day after the presidential election. President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared headed for re-election but his rival Raila Odinga claimed a massive hacking attack had manipulated results, ratcheting up tensions in opposition strongholds.

The Kenyan court says the election was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution and has called for a new vote within 60 days. Odinga has claimed the results were hacked into and manipulated in favor of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had won a second term.The six-judge bench ruled 4-2 in favor of the petition filed by Mr Odinga, who had claimed that the electronic voting results were hacked into and manipulated in favor of Mr Kenyatta. The president had won a second term with 54 percent of the vote. Kenya’s Supreme Court has overturned the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, citing irregularities in last month’s election. The court has called for a new election within 60 days. Kenya’s electoral commission has said there was a hacking attempt but it failed. International election observers have said they saw no interference with the vote.

Police guard the Supreme Court building

Lawyers for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta are calling the Supreme Court’s nullification of last month’s election a “very political decision” but they say they will live with the consequences.

Mr Odinga has contested the last three elections and lost each time. Each time, he has claimed the votes were marred by rigging. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition.

Ancient Ethiopian genome reveals extensive Eurasian admixture throughout the African continent

Figure

This boy’s ethnic group, the Ari, is closely related to a prehistoric African who lived in the Ethiopian highlands.

PHOTO: © BEN PIPE/ROBERT HARDING WORLD IMAGERY/CORBIS

Africa is the birthplace of our species and the source of ancient migrations that spanned the globe. But it has missed out on a revolution in understanding human origins: the study of ancient DNA. Although researchers have managed to sequence the genomes of Neandertals from Europe, prehistoric herders from Asia, and Paleoindians from the Americas, Africa’s hot and humid climate has left little ancient DNA intact for scientists to extract. As a result, “Africa was left out of the party,” says anthropological geneticist Jason Hodgson of Imperial College London.

Until now. A paper published online this week in Science(http://scim.ag/MGLlorente) reveals the first prehistoric genome from Africa: that of Mota, a hunter-gatherer man who lived 4500 years ago in the highlands of Ethiopia. Named for the cave that held the remains, the Mota genome “is an impressive feat,” says Hodgson, who was not involved in the work. It “gives our first glimpse into what an African genome looked like prior to many of the recent population movements.” And when compared with the genomes of living Africans, it implies something startling. Africa is usually seen as a source of outward migrations, but the genomes suggest a major migration into Africa by farmers from the Middle East, possibly about 3500 years ago. These farmers’ DNA reached deep into the continent, spreading even to groups considered isolated, such as the Khoisan of South Africa and the pygmies of the Congo.

Anthropologists John and Kathryn Arthur of the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, discovered the skeleton in 2012 at Mota Cave in southwest Ethiopia after local Gamo elders led the pair to the cave, a hiding place for the Gamo during wartime. The Arthurs unearthed the skeleton of an adult male beneath a stone layer and dated it to 4500 years ago using radiocarbon. The researchers analyzed the petrous bone of the inner ear, which can sometimes preserve more DNA than other bones.

Figure

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  • DNA had indeed survived in the ear bone, perhaps aided by the cool temperatures in the highland cave. Researchers were able to sequence each DNA base more than 12.5 times on average, considered a high-quality genome. When population geneticist Andrea Manica and graduate student Marcos Gallego Llorente at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom analyzed the sequence, they found that the Mota man had brown eyes and dark skin, as well as three gene variants associated with adaptation to high altitudes; some peaks in the highlands reach 4500 meters, as high as the Matterhorn.

By comparing 250,000 base pairs from Mota’s genome with the same sites in individuals from 40 populations in Africa and 81 populations from Europe and Asia, the team found that Mota was most closely related to the Ari, an ethnic group that still lives nearby in the Ethiopian highlands. They zeroed in on the DNA that the Ari carry but Mota doesn’t, which was presumably added during the past 4500 years. They found that Mota lacks about 4% to 7% of the DNA found in the Ari and all other Africans examined. This new DNA most closely matches that of modern Sardinians and a prehistoric farmer who lived in Germany. Hints of these early farmers’ DNA previously had turned up in some living Africans, but Mota helped researchers zero in on the farmer’s genetic signature in Africa, and to establish when it arrived.

Manica suggests that both the European farmers and living Africans inherited this DNA from the same source—a population in the Middle East, perhaps Anatolia or Mesopotamia. Some of these Middle Easterners headed into Europe and Asia starting 8000 years ago, and were the first farmers of Europe (Science, 20 February, p. 814). But other descendants of this population migrated into Africa, likely after Mota lived. This fits with traces of Middle Eastern grains found in Africa and dated to 3000 to 3500 years ago.

Because so many far-flung Africans still carry the farmers’ DNA, the study suggests a “huge” migration, Manica says. Farming had already been established in Africa by this time, but the newcomers likely had some advantage that explains why their genes spread. “It must have been lots of people coming in or maybe they had new crops that were very successful,” Manica says.

Population geneticist David Reich of Harvard University is struck by the magnitude of the mixing between Africans and Eurasians. He notes that “a profound migration of farmers moving from Mesopotamia to North Africa has long been speculated.” But, he says, “a western Eurasian migration into every population they study in Africa—into the Mbuti pygmies and the Khoisan? That’s surprising and new.”

Migrations into and out of Africa were likely complex and ongoing. “This study is significant on its own,” Hodgson says. “But hopefully it is only just the beginning of ancient African genomics”.

Libyan ISIS beheaded Ethiopian Christians in cold-blood

 

  • Video seems to show militants in Libya holding one group of at least 16 captive on a beach and 12 others in a desert
  • Before the killings a masked fighter in black brandishes a pistol as he vows to kill Christians if they do not convert 
  • Ethiopia unable to confirm its citizens were killed by militants in the footage but condemned the ‘atrocious act’
  • It comes two months after 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded by extremists in a similar video from Libya

 

A shocking new video appearing to show at least 30 Christians being beheaded and shot by ISIS in Libya has been released.

The 29-minute video, titled ‘Until It Came To Them – Clear Evidence’, shows dozens of militants holding two separate groups captive, thought to be in the south and the west of the country.

At least 16 men, described by Islamic State as the ‘followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church’, are lined up and shot in a desert area while 12 others are filmed being forced to walk down a beach before being beheaded.

This follows another video in February of the beheading of a group of 21 Coptic Christians on the beach in Libya, though that terrain was rockier than the one shown in the latest film.

It raises fears that ISIS is consolidating its presence on the ‘doorstep of Europe’, as Libya is just a few hundred miles from the coast of Italy.

Scroll down for video 

Thirty Ethiopian Christians appear to have been beheaded and shot by ISIS in a sickening new propaganda video. Above, at least 16 men are marched down a beach in Libya by militants before they are killed

Thirty Ethiopian Christians appear to have been beheaded and shot by ISIS in a sickening new propaganda video. Above, at least 16 men are marched down a beach in Libya by militants before they are killed

Ethiopia was unable to confirm its citizens were killed in the footage but condemned the ‘atrocious act’, a government official said.

The video shows the men at the coast wearing Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuits and being held at the neck by fighters in combats with balaclavas covering their faces. The victims inland are forced to kneel as militants dressed in combats and green masks stand behind them holding rifles.

It starts with what it called a ‘history of Christian-Muslim relations’, which includes scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons.

A masked fighter in black then brandishes a pistol as he vows to kill Christians if they do not convert.

In an apparent reference to Ethiopia’s attacks on neighbouring Somalia, whose population is almost entirely Muslim, he says: ‘Muslim blood shed under the hands of your religions is not cheap. To the nation of the cross we are now back again.’

The footage, which was released on websites and social media accounts officially linked to ISIS, also cuts to Christians in Syria explaining how they were given the choice of converting to Islam or paying a ‘special tax’.

At the end it switches between the two sets of captives – thought to be mainly migrant workers – with one group shot dead at point-blank range and the others beheaded on the beach. The video has not yet been verified.

The men – wearing Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuits – are held at the neck and forced to kneel by fighters in combats with balaclavas covering their faces

The men, thought to be migrant works, are described by Islamic State in the video as the 'followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church'

The men, thought to be migrant works, are described by Islamic State in the video as the ‘followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church’

The footage also shows around 12 men being shot in a desert area, believed to be in the south of the country, by militants wearing green balaclavas and combats

The footage also shows around 12 men being shot in a desert area, believed to be in the south of the country, by militants wearing green balaclavas and combats

A masked fighter in black (right) brandishing a pistol vows to kill Christians if they do not convert, saying: 'Muslim blood shed under the hands of your religions is not cheap. To the nation of the cross we are now back again'

A masked fighter in black (right) brandishing a pistol vows to kill Christians if they do not convert, saying: ‘Muslim blood shed under the hands of your religions is not cheap. To the nation of the cross we are now back again’

The victims are forced to kneel in front of the militants (above) before being shot at point-blank range simultaneously. The video bore the official logo of the IS media arm Al-Furqan and resembled previous footage released by the extremist group

The militant in black - who is completely covered apart from his eyes - remains flanked by two people holding guns throughout the clip

The militant in black – who is completely covered apart from his eyes – remains flanked by two people holding guns throughout the clip

CHRISTIANITY IN ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian country with the religion being introduced in the country the 4th century, making it one of the oldest Christian states in the world.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is one of the oldest organized Christian bodies in the world, and more than 40 per cent of the population are members of the church.

Around 20 per cent of the population follow other branches of Christianity, a majority being Protestant.

Islam was not introduced in the country for another 300 years, and now about one third of Ethiopians identify as Muslim.

Initial reports did not make clear who the captives were or when they were captured.

The video bore the official logo of the IS media arm Al-Furqan and resembled previous footage released by the extremist group.

Redwan Hussein, an Ethiopian government spokesman, said officials were in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video’s authenticity.

He said he believed those killed were likely to have been Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives.

‘If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe though the dangerous route,’ Mr Hussein said.

He added that Ethiopia, which does not have an embassy in Libya, would help repatriate Ethiopians if they wanted to leave. Libyan officials were not immediately available for comment.

Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church’s Patriarchate Office, said he also believed the victims were likely to have been migrants.

‘I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous,’ he said.

‘No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion.’

Ethiopia’s options to retaliate remain slim, given its distance from Libya.

However, Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt Mohammed Edrees said his country could partner with Cairo to strike the militants.

‘That could be an option,’ Mr Edrees said. ‘We will see and explore what is possible to deal with group.’

It comes just two months after the extremist group in Libya beheaded 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a beach (above)

It comes just two months after the extremist group in Libya beheaded 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a beach (above)

The latest video mirrored a film released in February showing militants beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach (pictured above), which immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group's suspected positions in Libya

The latest video mirrored a film released in February showing militants beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach (pictured above), which immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group’s suspected positions in Libya

Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate for the Middle East Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: ‘The Islamic State in Libya is still focused on this consolidation phase of announcing its presence through these very high-profile executions. But they face some structural limits in terms of how much local support they can get because they haven’t captured real revenue streams.’

It comes just two months after IS militants filmed themselves beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a similar beach, which immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group’s suspected positions in Libya.

ISIS has been able to gain a foothold amid chaos in Libya, where two governments backed by rival alliances of militias are battling each other as well as extremist groups.

The group is also advancing in Iraq, where it has captured three villages near the city of Ramadi.

 Islamic State fighters, pictured carrying flags and dressed in black, have been able to gain a foothold amid the chaos in Libya

 Islamic State fighters, pictured carrying flags and dressed in black, have been able to gain a foothold amid the chaos in Libya

More than 90,000 people have fled the ISIS’s advance in Anbar, a United Nations humanitarian agency said earlier this morning.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement that civilians are fleeing Ramadi as well as the three nearby villages captured by the IS group a few days ago.

Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said: ‘Our top priority is delivering life-saving assistance to people who are fleeing – food, water and shelter are highest on the list of priorities.’

Iraqi officials in Anbar have described Ramadi as a ghost town, with empty streets and closed shops.

Iraqi troops backed by Shiite militias and U.S.-led airstrikes managed to dislodge ISIS, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria and wants to redraw the map of the Middle East, from the northern city of Tikrit earlier this month.

But the troops have struggled against the militants in Anbar, which saw some of the heaviest fighting of the eight-year U.S. military intervention that ended in 2011.

Elsewhere today, the US-led coalition said Kurdish forces recaptured 11 villages in Iraq’s Kirkuk province from ISIS following days of intense clashes. The coalition said the area of about 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) was south of the city of Kirkuk.

Ethiopians in Israeli Army ambivalent integration

BY MITCH GINSBURG

Israeloriginal title – Mixed results for army’s Ethiopian integration program

IDF tells Knesset committee incarceration rates were down but that dishonorable discharge figures are rising.

The incarceration rate of Israeli soldiers of Ethiopian heritage has dropped considerably during the first half of 2014 as opposed to the same period in 2013, the army told a Knesset oversight committee on Sunday

The overall figures, however, are still troubling, the army conceded, with the community still severely over-represented in army prisons and the dishonorable discharge rate hovering at 22.8 percent for men and 10.6% for women – both figures that have risen slightly over recent years and which are well above the national averages of 16.5% and 7.5% respectively.
————–
“Although the figures do show a slight improvement, the gaps are still large and in certain realms there has even been a regression,” said MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor), a colonel in the IDF reserves and the chair of the subcommittee of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that heard the IDF report on Sunday. The committee is closely monitoring the army’s progress in integrating the Ethiopian community successfully into its ranks.

Motivation to serve in the IDF is high among the 130,000 or so Israelis of Ethiopian heritage, IDF data indicated, with 89% of teenage boys and 57% of teenage girls joining the army.
———–

The discrepancy between the desire to serve at the onset and the service record upon discharge has spurred the army into action. Early in 2013, the army’s first female major general, the recently retired commander of the IDF’s Manpower Division, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, set aside funds, despite across-the-board cuts in the army’s budget, for the establishment of a department devoted solely to the advancement of soldiers of Ethiopian heritage.

The army now runs a 24-hour call center in Hebrew and Amharic for soldiers, pre-draft teens and parents. It streamlined the process of requesting financial aid by requiring only the recommendation of an officer and an NCO, and not the bevy of bank statements required of other soldiers requesting assistance. It mandated yearly home visits by direct commanders, beginning no later than eight weeks after a soldier’s draft date. And, among a score of other measures, it launched a pre-army program solely for Israelis of Ethiopian heritage, AMIR, and began administering an alternative set of evaluation tests which gauge cognitive capacity rather than aptitude.

Maj. Hila Halpern, the commander of the new department, told the MKs that the new testing method had proven effective, enabling the army to post soldiers from the community to more challenging and interesting positions in the Air Force and the Intelligence Corps, among other units, and led to the corresponding drop in the incarceration rate, which fell over the past year from 10.8% to 9.1% – though the reduced figure is still more than double the community’s representation in the army at large.

The incarceration rate of Israeli soldiers of Ethiopian heritage has dropped considerably during the first half of 2014 as opposed to the same period in 2013, the army told a Knesset oversight committee on Sunday.

The overall figures, however, are still troubling, the army conceded, with the community still severely over-represented in army prisons and the dishonorable discharge rate hovering at 22.8 percent for men and 10.6% for women – both figures that have risen slightly over recent years and which are well above the national averages of 16.5% and 7.5% respectively.

“Although the figures do show a slight improvement, the gaps are still large and in certain realms there has even been a regression,” said MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor), a colonel in the IDF reserves and the chair of the subcommittee of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that heard the IDF report on Sunday. The committee is closely monitoring the army’s progress in integrating the Ethiopian community successfully into its ranks.

Motivation to serve in the IDF is high among the 130,000 or so Israelis of Ethiopian heritage, IDF data indicated, with 89% of teenage boys and 57% of teenage girls joining the army.

The discrepancy between the desire to serve at the onset and the service record upon discharge has spurred the army into action. Early in 2013, the army’s first female major general, the recently retired commander of the IDF’s Manpower Division, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, set aside funds, despite across-the-board cuts in the army’s budget, for the establishment of a department devoted solely to the advancement of soldiers of Ethiopian heritage.

The army now runs a 24-hour call center in Hebrew and Amharic for soldiers, pre-draft teens and parents. It streamlined the process of requesting financial aid by requiring only the recommendation of an officer and an NCO, and not the bevy of bank statements required of other soldiers requesting assistance. It mandated yearly home visits by direct commanders, beginning no later than eight weeks after a soldier’s draft date. And, among a score of other measures, it launched a pre-army program solely for Israelis of Ethiopian heritage, AMIR, and began administering an alternative set of evaluation tests which gauge cognitive capacity rather than aptitude.

Maj. Hila Halpern, the commander of the new department, told the MKs that the new testing method had proven effective, enabling the army to post soldiers from the community to more challenging and interesting positions in the Air Force and the Intelligence Corps, among other units, and led to the corresponding drop in the incarceration rate, which fell over the past year from 10.8% to 9.1% – though the reduced figure is still more than double the community’s representation in the army at large.

Bar-Lev scolded the army at the outset for sending him a copy of the new figures “eight and a half minutes” before the start of the session, and insisted that the drop in the number of male officers and the rise in the number dishonorable discharges suggested the army was taking credit for the improvements but deeming as inexplicable the setbacks. “You keep finding the coin under the beam of the flashlight,” he said.

There are currently 10 times more soldiers of Ethiopian heritage being dishonorably discharged than attending officers’ training school, he added.

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) asked Halpern what had become of the committee’s earlier recommendation to change the way soldiers from the community are put on trial, with an emphasis on higher-ranking officers meting out justice. “That is the sort of change we are looking for,” said Hasson, a former deputy head of the Shin Bet. Halpern replied that the army was still weighing the matter.

Ziva Mekonen Degu, the executive director of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, lamented the army’s “segregationist” approach, adding that the solution to the problem can’t be based on skin color alone.

MK Penina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid) told The Times of Israel in May that the Amir course, which is solely for members of the community, “is an embarrassment and a disgrace and a certificate of poverty.” Can you imagine this happening in the US Army, she asked, “a course only for African-Americans?”

Seated at the head of the committee’s large oval table, Bar-Lev ignored the charges of segregation and instead asked the army to prepare a plan for the successful re-entry of the soldiers into the civilian world. “In the end, most of the years that these young men and women serve the state are after their discharge,” he said, adding that bridging the gaps for these teens “is a social and security imperative of the first order.”

 

US racial divide showed its ugly face in Ferguson

—-— It reminds   us  Baghdad war zone when American police attacks it own citizen with highly mechanized force.  The racial conflict that founds its root in African triangle slave trade seems slow down after the sacrifice of Martin Luther King Jr. in 60’s. US sleeping racial bar seemingly dead when Obama came to power, but today  surfaced   in Ferguson with a slogan  “My Hands are up”. Today the racial bar in the US is more alive than ever seen from the war front at Ferguson. The problems began on Saturday 9th August when Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American, was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson. For a week few details about the incident were made public, creating a cauldron of rumors and fury. We now know that Wilson shot Brown six times , including twice in the head. The question of why Brown was shot remains unanswered. Maybe it was in relation to the theft of a box of cigars, or maybe not. The police force has obfuscated in its responses  during press conferences, leaving the people of Ferguson confused.

“Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it’s about class warfare and how America’s poor are held back,” says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Will the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?

The lack of clarity over what happened appears to have been a key source of anger but the tensions have been stoked further by the highly militarized police presence. When we think of a militarized police in Europe , guns, batons and body armour come to mind. In America, a militarised police presence means ex-Pentagon military-grade equipment doled out to local police forces.

US still giving aid money to Africa’s dictators

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By Lorenzo Piccio04 August 2014


US and African Dictators

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and U.S. President Barack Obama converse at the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland. While Addis Ababa remains one of the largest U.S. aid recipients in sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. aid flows to Ethiopia have fallen sharply over the course of the Obama administration. Photo by:  Pete Souza 

Five years ago, during his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as U.S. president, Barack Obama memorably told Ghana’s parliament that “Africa does not need strong men. It needs strong institutions.” And months before his re-election, Obama stressed strengthening democratic institutions as one of four pillars of his administration’s sub-Saharan Africa strategy .

“Our message to those who would derail the democratic process is clear and unequivocal: the United States will not stand idly by when actors threaten legitimately elected governments or manipulate the fairness and integrity of democratic processes,” Obama said in the strategy.

Obama’s strident and lofty rhetoric on democracy in Africa may make for odd bedfellows this week as 50 African heads of state gather in Washington for the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

While sub-Saharan Africa as a whole has made marked progress toward democracy and institution building since the 1990s, more than a dozen of the African leaders expected in Washington can aptly be called strongmen — President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda included.

Freedom House classified 20 of 49 sub-Saharan countries as “not free” in its  2014 Freedom in the World index , the think tank’s annual assessment of political rights and civil liberties around the world. Nineteen countries were classified as “partly free,” while only 10 were classified as “free.”

Fiscal 2015 U.S. aid to countries rated “partly free” and “not free” by Freedom House. View larger version .

As the graphic above shows, the United States is a significant donor to 28 of those 39 “partly free” or “not free” countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, of the 10 largest U.S. aid recipients in sub-Saharan Africa, only one is rated “free” by Freedom House: South Africa, which is seeing asharp decline in funding under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Like administrations before it, the Obama White House has come under fire from some quarters for keeping the aid tap on in countries that routinely trample upon human rights and civil liberties. These advocates argue  that the steady flow of U.S. aid money to Africa’s autocrats only prolongs their hold on power.

The prevailing bipartisan view, however, is that it would be foolhardy for the U.S. aid program to tie U.S. foreign aid flows entirely to democracy and human rights considerations. U.S. foreign aid is regarded by many in Washington as a key tool in the U.S. democracy and human rights promotion toolbox — one that can be used to promote and encourage reform not only within the government but also in civil society. Funding civil society groups directly is a strategy routinely employed to avoid giving money to these strongmen.

At the same time, it’s not clear whether the administration or Congress is willing to take the strategic blowback should the United States cut aid to some of its key African partners that happen to have strongmen at the helm.

“The question is how and when to promote democracy when the U.S. has multiple competing national interests. It’s easy to talk about democracy, but what do you do when an ally shows authoritarian tendencies?” said Todd Moss, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development who was deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Bush State Department.

Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies echoed this sentiment.

“The conundrum is in those countries that are authoritarian but which the U.S. regards as important security partners,” said Cooke, who cited Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda as examples.

Below, Devex examines U.S. aid engagement with four authoritarian regimes that are also among the largest recipients of U.S. aid in sub-Saharan Africa: Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Ethiopia. In particular, we looked at three key questions that shed light on the administration’s approach to these regimes:

1. To what extent is the Obama administration’s aid engagement tied to progress on democracy and human rights?

2. Is the administration robustly supporting democracy and governance aid programming?

3. Is aid being channeled directly through the government or through nongovernmental channels?

(A previous Devex analysis found that democracy and governance accounted for roughly 5 percent of the Obama administration’s aid spending in sub-saharan Africa.)

Uganda

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East Africa’s longest-serving ruler, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for nearly three decades.

Freedom House rates Uganda as “partly free” in its latest assessment, citing Museveni’s increasingly repressive style of leadership. Critics charge  that since abolishing term limits in 2005, Museveni’s “constitutional dictatorship” has persecuted dissidents and militarized the country’s civil institutions. Uganda’s human rights record has deteriorated even further following its passage of a highly controversial law — annulled Friday — that criminalized homosexuality.

Averaging nearly $470 million over the course of the Obama administration, U.S. aid spending in Uganda had been slated to remain fairly steady in the administration’s fiscal 2015 budget request. Signaling a change in direction, however, the White House  announced  in June plans to discontinue or redirect funds for “certain additional programs” involving Ugandan government institutions such as the Ugandan Police Force, Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute. It remains to be seen whether the Ugandan constitutional court’s annulment of the anti-homosexuality law will prompt the administration to reevaluate its decision.

Devex analysis reveals, however, that only 1 percent of USAID local spending in Uganda flows through the Ugandan government — reason to believe that the impact of the announcement on the Ugandan government may be minimal.

In contrast to many other major donors to the East African country, the United States has historically refrained from channeling budget support to Kampala, which helps explain whyUSAID did not suspend aid to Uganda in the wake of a high-profile aid embezzlement scandal back in 2012.

The vast majority of U.S. aid spending in Uganda is coursed through PEPFAR. While USAID’scountry strategy for Uganda elevated democracy and governance as one of three key objectives for the agency’s programming in the East African country, the sector will account for only 1 percent of U.S. aid spending in fiscal 2015, which is down from 2 percent in 2010. In the run-up to Uganda’s next national election in 2016, however, the Obama administration has revealed plans to bolster its support for political parties and civil society.

Zimbabwe

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After a period of power sharing with the opposition, Zimbabwe’s longtime president Robert Mugabe is once again firmly in control in Harare; Mugabe won a seventh term in office in last July’s widely disputed election. Freedom House assessed Zimbabwe as “not free,” citing restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, state-sponsored political violence, as well as serious irregularities in the July 2013 election. At the helm of one of Africa’s most repressive regimes, Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.

Early on in his administration, Obama had pledged $73 million in fresh assistance to Zimbabwe — an olive branch to the then months-old power-sharing government. That same year, USAID also reinitiated programming in agriculture and economic growth, which had been on hold for much of the decade. USAID Zimbabwe had redirected the vast majority of its resources toward humanitarian programming in the aftermath of Mugabe’s systematic expropriation of white-owned farms in the early 2000s.

Until recently, the Obama administration had also begun to channel aid to select ministries aligned with the opposition and its leader, then-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — further evidence of a thaw in aid relations between the United States and Zimbabwe. According to Cooke, U.S. assistance to the public sector in Zimbabwe has been largely limited to health, particularly HIV prevention and treatment, as well as education.

Now that Mugabe has tightened his grip on power once more, the Obama administration, by most accounts, appears to have pulled back on the U.S. aid program’s reengagement with Harare. Very little of the administration’s robust $159 million aid budget for Zimbabwe in fiscal 2015 — which is on a par with recent levels — will likely be channeled through the central government. But the administration has left the door open to continued aid engagement with reform-minded institutions, including the parliament.

Strikingly, the share of U.S. aid to Zimbabwe directed to democracy, human rights and governance is on course to decline even further to just 7 percent in fiscal 2015, compared with 12 percent in fiscal 2010. According to the Obama administration, its programming in the sector will now be focused on safeguarding democratic gains made during the power-sharing period, including the new constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by Zimbabweans in a March 2013 referendum.

Rwanda

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Since assuming the presidency in 2000, Paul Kagame has presided over Rwanda’s rapid development progress — no small feat for a small, landlocked country devastated by genocide only two decades ago. At the same time, the African strongman has come under intense criticism from human rights groups for his authoritarian — some would say, repressive — style of leadership. Freedom House assessed Rwanda as “not free,” citing the country’s flawed electoral process and the Kagame regime’s targeting of human rights organizations.

Despite persistent questions over Kigali’s human rights record, Rwanda has emerged as adarling of Western donors — including its single-largest bilateral donor, the United States — during the past decade. Over the course of the Obama administration, however, U.S. aid flows to Rwanda have declined noticeably — proof perhaps that Kigali’s standing in the U.S. aid portfolio may not be quite where it used to be.

The administration has requested $171 million in foreign aid to Rwanda in fiscal 2015, which is nearly a fifth below fiscal 2010 levels. These cuts appear to have been driven in part by the Obama administration’s reservations over the Kagame regime’s commitment to democracy and human rights. Most notably, in October of last year, the Obama administration announced plans to restrict aid to Uganda’s military over its support for a Congolese rebel group believed to be using child soldiers.

Military aid, however, accounts for only a small portion of U.S. aid to Rwanda, which, much like in Uganda, is mostly in support of PEPFAR programming managed by nongovernmental organizations. Only 3 percent of the administration’s fiscal 2015 aid request for Rwanda has been allocated for democracy, human rights and governance, which is unchanged from fiscal 2010 levels.

Ethiopia

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Since taking office upon the death of the Ethiopian strongman Meles Zenawi two years ago, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has, by most accounts, governed the one-party state with the same iron fist. Freedom House assessed Ethiopia as “not free,” citing the Desalegn government’s harassment and imprisonment of political opponents. Just last month, Addis Ababa came under fire from human rights groups — and lawmakers in Washington — for its detention of Ethiopian opposition leader Andargachew Tsige.

While Addis Ababa remains one of the largest U.S. aid recipients in sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. aid flows to Ethiopia have fallen sharply over the course of the Obama administration. The administration has requested $483 million in foreign aid to Ethiopia in fiscal 2015, down by almost half since fiscal 2010. The vast majority of U.S. aid spending in Ethiopia is channeled toward PEPFAR. U.S. aid officials have said that the budget slashes are part of an effort to transfer PEPFAR resources to countries with higher HIV prevalence.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, is poised to ramp up loans, credits and guarantees for the country’s energy sector. The administration has named Ethiopia as one of six focus countries for its $7 billion Power Africa initiative. With the backing of Power Africa, the Ethiopian government and Reykjavik Geothermal, a U.S.-Icelandic private developer, recently signed a landmark deal to construct a 1,000-megawatt geothermal plant in Corbetti Caldera valued at $4 billion.

Despite the USAID country strategy for Ethiopia’s assertion that democracy and governance is the one sector that has “demonstrably deteriorated,” programming in this area will garner less than 1 percent of U.S. aid spending in Ethiopia in fiscal 2015, which is flat from fiscal 2010. At the same time, there has been little to no indication from the administration that the PEPFAR budget slashes are tied to U.S. concerns over Ethiopia’s democracy and human rights record.

Strikingly, USAID channels roughly a third of its local spending through governmental channels — a share that’s higher than all but five of the agency’s bilateral missions in sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia’s harsh NGO laws, which is one of the most restrictive in the world, likely helps explain USAID’s reluctance to channel more funding through nongovernmental organizations.

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