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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Reports of US soldiers seized by Somali Islamists re-surfacing again, Fact or Fiction?

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news: [horrifying conditions for patients at the Black Lion Hospital] - [Foreign media and observers to be banned from Ethiopia’s future elections] - [Starbucks Funds New Community Development Programs in Ethiopia with $500,000 Contribution to CARE] - [My Faith in Africa is Not Blind - A Pan-Africanist View] - [Ethio-Zagol: More arrests and tortures at Mae'kelawi] - [Appeal for Mengistu death penalty]

International: [Mozambique floods kill 29, thousands left homeless] - [Deputy health minister arrested in U.S.-Iraqi raid] - [Iran will strike against US interests worldwide if attacked] - [EU job centres to target Africans] - [YouTube founders split $650M payout]and more of today's top stories!

[Capital Building at Night] There are plans to introduce a new bipartisan version of HR5680 in the house. HR5680 also known as the Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006 was stalled in the house last year due to a multi-million dollar lobbying effort launched by the government of Ethiopia. The bill would have helped in strengthening democratic institutions and human rights in Ethiopia. (More on this below)



'Free Ethiopia’s Prisoners of Conscience'

[Action Center] [Resource Center]


Reports of US soldiers seized by Somali Islamists re-surfacing again, Fact or Fiction?

Reports that more than 11 US soldiers were seized by Somalia’s routed Islamists in southern Somalia are once again surfacing.

According to Al-nedaa, a newspaper based in Yemen, the Islamic Courts Executive Council leader, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, has told the newspaper that his release by the Americans and Kenyan authority in Nairobi came after negotiations were made over the discharge of 15 US marines in the hands of the fugitive Islamists in south of the country.

Islamist groups based in some unidentified Arab countries are reportedly arbitrating the US agents in East Africa and the Union of Islamists over the release of the American soldiers.

Sources close to Sheik Sharif say that the Sheik stipulated the discharge of US captives with the condition that he should have his own freedom on which, sources said, the US agreed. The sources said at least 15 American soldiers were seized after they landed on the ground around Raskamboni near the Kenyan border where the US warplanes were striking. (More...)

Also see:
-Agence France press: Islamist number two arrives in Yemen
- BBC: Somali Islamist travels to Yemen
- Somalia: The story of US captives in Somalia gaining weight

Foreign media and observers to be banned from Ethiopia’s future elections

ETP - A bill introduced by the ruling party EPRDF aims to bar foreign observers and foreign media from the country’s elections unless and otherwise specifically invited by the government.

The bill also makes it illegal for domestic journalists to state their opinions regarding Election Day outcomes until an official result has been made available.

Under this bill, all types of Election Projections are strictly prohibited and perpetrators could be fined, or spend up to a year in Jail. The bill is almost certainly guaranteed to be law since EPRDF sponsored bills in Ethiopia’s parliament have never failed to pass in the past.

Most see this bill as a disturbing continuation of the government’s trend in taking Ethiopia towards total one-party despotism.



horrifying conditions for patients at the Black Lion Hospital


“There are things which much cause you to lose your reason, or you have none to lose”

I recently visited the pediatric casualty ward of Black Lion Hospital. The images I encountered there will remain with me forever.

Despite being one of the largest hospitals in the country, conditions are absolutely horrifying; the peeling white and yellow paint provides little contrast from the grey and dirty concrete floors and corridors marked by puddles of urine, vomit and other unidentifiable fluids. There are no fans in sight, and the foul stench of body odor, urine and disease is staggering. Though there seemed a minimum of 14 to a room, I saw no curtains or masks to divide those with malaria, HIV or dysentry from those with acute respiratory infections or other contagious diseases.(More...)

Starbucks Funds New Community Development Programs in Ethiopia with $500,000 Contribution to CARE

The international humanitarian and development organization, announced today that it has received a commitment in excess of $500,000 from Starbucks (Nasdaq:SBUX - News) to help fund a three-year program that will improve economic and educational prospects for more than 6,000 people in rural Ethiopia's coffee growing regions. Starbucks has supported CARE for 15 years with grants totaling more than $3 million to coffee growing regions including Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia and Ethiopia.(More...)

Washington Update

Mesfin Mekonen

It has been over eighteen months since the arrest of Ethiopians who publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the regime. The release of these Prisoners of Conscience has been rumored for months but they are still languish in misery in disease-ridden prisons. Our first priority must be helping these political prisoners, Journalists and civic group members.

We need to keep reminding the international community, the media, and Congress of the necessity to get the political prisoners freed. The prospects for getting legislation enacted that will commit the U.S. government to supporting human rights and civil society in Ethiopia are good. A new version of HR5680 will be introduced in the House soon.

It will be a bipartisan bill, and with a sufficient demonstration of commitment from the Ethiopian community, it could be enacted. The battle in the Senate will be more difficult, but if the House acts, it should be possible to achieve victory in the Senate as well.

As soon as legislation is introduced, it will be critically important to
launch a vigorous advocacy campaign.

My Faith in Africa is Not Blind - A Pan-Africanist View

(Dr Tajudeen Abdul Raheem)

Could it be because I am such an incredible optimist or I am so sentimental about Africa that I could not allow anything, including the very grim realities that surround us, to stand in the way of my enthusiasm? Nowhere does my Afro optimism come in for more hammering than in my support for the AU.

However, my faith in Africa is not because of blind faith in leaders (some of whom may occasionally inspire but often disappoint in the end, especially as they remain in power longer than their sell-by-dates) but a very selfish one. I have faith in myself. If an African believes that Africa is hopeless, it means you accept that you are a hopeless person too because Africa is you and I, our hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities and expectations.

IF Africa is such a hopeless continent, why is the Chinese leader crisscrossing this continent twice in the last six months? Why is the West so fearful of the Chinese aggressive eco-diplomacy in Africa? Why are there more foreign immigrants and companies (many of them doing very well) across the continent today than there were under colonialism? Many of us do not just trust or have faith in ourselves and trust even less anything that involves our governments.

The fact that Sudan was denied for the second time the opportunity to chair the Union was sniggered at by many critics because of other decisions taken by the summit. Chief among these is the election of Ethiopia’s increasingly authoritarian and sectarian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, as the chairperson of NEPAD, which also makes him the Chair of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee and responsible for the African Peer Review Mechanism. One can criticise this decision without losing focus of the significance of the progressive consensus on Sudan. (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Ethio-Zagol: More arrests and tortures at Mae'kelawi
-Appeal for Mengistu death penalty
-Mozambique floods kill 29, thousands left homeless
-Deputy health minister arrested in U.S.-Iraqi raid
-US to urge Nato spring offensive in Afghanistan
-Snow causes airport closures in Britain
-Rare optimism as North Korea talks reach crossroads
-Iran will strike against US interests worldwide if attacked
-Palestinian factions agree on key cabinet posts
-EU job centres to target Africans
-YouTube founders split $650M payout
-10 cars worth waiting for
-Norah Jones leads U.S. pop charts