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Friday, February 23, 2007

The Economist: Should the West go on helping a repressive govt. in Ethiopia?

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

-(New)EZ: The Meles adminstration plans Information offensive against Amnesty International

-(New)EZ: Team of lawyers to write decisions for judges in political trials

Also in the news: [Report: U.S. used airstrip in Ethiopia to mount strikes against ICU, Ethiopian Govt. says not true] - [Ethiopian court upholds death sentences over terror] - [AFP: Fierce fighting b/n Ethiopian forces and unidentified gunmen erupts in Somali capital] - [Uganda to start deploying soldiers in Somalia within two weeks] - [Surviving forced marriage in Ethiopia]

International: [Head of the UN's nuclear watchdog invited to North Korea] - [Prime Minister Tony Blair on Britain's foreign policy, BBC interview] - [Prodi poised to return as PM next week] - [Chimps in Africa seen making deadly spears] and more of today's top stories!


100,000 letters-in-ten-days campaign

Surely, by now you have heard of the 100,000 letters-in-10-days campaign, but have you participated yet?

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam in association with the Coalition for HR5680 has called on Ethiopian Americans and Ethiopians throughout the world, regardless of party affiliation, to deliver 100,000 letters to the White House asking for support for human rights reforms in Ethiopia.

Everyone who wishes to see human rights and democracy flourish in Ethiopia is encouraged to participate in this campaign. You can send your own letter to the White House, or endorse any of the letters provided on the website with your signature and send.

- [See LETTER]

- Also Visit: 100,000 LETTERS IN TEN DAYS Campaign site

Fierce fighting b/n Ethiopian forces and unidentified gunmen erupts in Somali capital

Agence France-Presse

MOGADISHU - Fierce fighting between Ethiopian forces and unidentified gunmen erupted Friday in Mogadishu after an attack on Ethiopian troops based in the south of the Somali capital, an AFP correspondent said.

"Some gunmen have attacked an Ethiopian base in the former ministry of defence building. They fired mortar shells and machine guns and the Ethiopians responded heavily with anti-aircraft weapons," witness Ali Nur Said told AFP.

"A mortar shell landed in a house that was near mine," said witness Ahmed Gobe. "It killed one person and wounded two children."

"There were many stray bullets flying around. I cannot confirm other casualties because I cannot get out of the house."(More...)

Dilemma in the Horn: Should the West go on helping a repressive govt. in Ethiopia?

THE second most populous country in Africa and one of the poorest, Ethiopia is a test case for the West in its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty on the continent.

But its government's undemocratic leanings have presented donor countries with a dilemma. Should they continue to funnel their taxpayers' money to a country that routinely jails and tortures its critics or should they turn off the tap and thereby hurt the blameless poor?

Most donors are keeping up or even increasing their giving. Britain, with qualms, is upping its aid from $180m last year to $260m this year. Some donors have harmonised and even pooled their support.

Many have signed up to schemes to promote transparency and hold the government to account. Whether the nastier bits of Ethiopia's government will co-operate fully is moot.

In any event, Meles Zenawi's government is finding it hard to run the show. Some 80% of the people in Addis Ababa probably back opposition parties. In response, the government has become harsher, muzzling free speech and forcing independent newspapers to close.

Many journalists are in jail on trumped-up charges. Dissidents have been disappearing, along with critical websites. Telephones are often tapped. For more than a year, text messaging on the country's small number of mobile phones has been hampered by “technical difficulties”.(More...)

CBS: U.S. used airstrip in Ethiopia to mount strikes against UIC, Ethiopian Govt. says not true

An Ethiopian official denied Friday a report in The New York Times that U.S. troops used Ethiopia as a staging ground for attacks against al Qaeda leaders in Somalia last month. "This is simply a total fabrication," Bereket Simon, special adviser to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, told The Associated Press.

The Times report, published Friday, cited unnamed American sources officials from several U.S. agencies with a hand in Somalia policy as saying the U.S. soldiers used an airstrip in Ethiopia to mount strikes against Islamic militants in Somalia. (More...)

Surviving forced marriage

23 February (IRIN) - Standing at the front of her classroom, Mulu Melka reads out of her English book in a shy voice like any other 13-year-old schoolgirl; betraying nothing of the fact that twice within two years, she has been abducted and forced into marriage.

A target of the traditional practice, known locally as "marriage by abduction", Mulu managed to escape on both occasions. "The first time I was 11," she recounts. "I was going to the mill, when a group of men grabbed me from behind. They took me by surprise. I fell on the ground, and when I woke up again I was in the house of my abductor. I stayed there three days."

In the meantime, her parents held a meeting with the abductor's parents, mediated by village elders. In exchange for a cow and two sheep, her parents agreed to her marriage with the abductor. But, Mulu ran away one night. "I escaped from the abductor's house while he and his friends were drinking and dancing. I went to the toilet and then I escaped through a fence and ran away." (More...)

Ethiopian court upholds death sentences over terror

ADDIS ABABA, Feb 23 (Reuters ) - The Ethiopian supreme court has upheld death sentences on five people convicted of attacks that killed 29 people and wounded 18 others during the past 11 years, state television reported late on Thursday.

"The criminal bench of the Federal Supreme Court upheld death sentence on Mohamed Mahamoud Farah, Mohammed Hassan Mahmoud, Ibrahim Hussein Nalaye, Mohammed Almi Liben and Mohammed Ibrahim," the television report said.

"(They) were convicted of terrorist attacks at various times and places in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa since 1996." (More...)

Chimps in Africa seen making deadly spears

Chimpanzees in Senegal have been observed making and using wooden spears to hunt other primates, according to a study in the journal Current Biology.

Researchers documented 22 cases of chimps fashioning tools to jab at smaller primates sheltering in cavities of hollow branches or tree trunks.

The report's authors, Jill Pruetz and Paco Bertolani, said the finding could have implications for human evolution. Chimps had not been previously observed hunting other animals with tools.

Pruetz and Bertolani made the discovery at their research site in Fongoli, Senegal, between March 2005 and July 2006.(More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Uganda to start deploying soldiers in Somalia within two weeks
-UK-US in talks on missile defence, "star wars"
-Analysis: Clinton-Obama tussle reveals some real issues
-Head of the UN's nuclear watchdog invited to North Korea for talks
-[Audio, BBC interview] Prime Minister Tony Blair on Britain's foreign policy
-Prodi poised to return as PM next week
-Former Mujahedeen Stage Rally in Kabul Supporting Amnesty for War Crimes
-Medieval Muslims made stunning math breakthrough
-Emotion robots learn from people