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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Roadside bomb targets Ethiopian forces in Somalia

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Unicef: Malnutrition Still Prevalent in Tigray, Other Regions] - [Ethiopia places 103rd on Global Peace Index] - [MAHMOUD AHMED of Ethiopia winner of World Music Award 2007] - [ACLU sues Boeing subsidiary on behalf of Binyam Mohamed of Ethiopia and others]

[U.N. Resists U.S. on New Sudan Sanctions] - [UN Security Council Approves Hariri Assassination Tribunal] - [Putin says test missile is signal to U.S.] - [U.S TB patient's name released] and more of today's top stories!


Kinijit Chairman Hailu shawel’s eye surgery a success
(The US embassy in Addis was instrumental in making this medical procedure possible)

Kinijit International Australia tour
(June 16 - 24)

Destruction Begins
(More than 205 residents in the Bole district have seen their dwellings destroyed as the city attempts to shape the Capital according to the Master Plan. FORTUNE chronicles the plight of those left in the wake of the operation)

Roadside bomb targets Ethiopian forces in Somalia

MOGADISHU -- A roadside bomb blast tore through a convoy carrying Ethiopian troops in a central Somali town on Wednesday, but it was not immediately clear if anyone was killed, witnesses said.

Baladwayne resident Osman Adan said he could see thick black smoke billowing from the scene of the explosion, which a security source said was caused by a remote-controlled landmine.

"An Ethiopian truck was blown up ... The Ethiopian troops immediately opened fire indiscriminately with heavy machine-guns ... I do not know if any soldiers were wounded or killed," Adan said, adding that two civilians were hurt in the shooting.(More...)

Also see:
-Five Ethiopians wounded in Somali attack: government
-Ethiopian troops kill 5 Somali civilians
-Five die in Somalia convoy attack
-Ethiopian troops killed dozens after blast-rebels

ACLU sues Boeing subsidiary on behalf of Binyam Mohamed of Ethiopia and others

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. on behalf of Binyam Mohamed of Ethiopia, Italian citizen Abou Elkassim Britel and Ahmed Agiza of Egypt

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. of San Jose, Calif., on behalf of alleged victims of U.S. government torture.

Jeppesen DataPlan is part of aviation-data provider Jeppesen Sanderson Inc. of Colorado. Based in Englewood, Jeppesen Sanderson is a subsidiary of aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co.

The ACLU alleges in its suit, filed in Northern California federal court, that Jeppesen knowingly provided flight services to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which enabled the secret transport of three terrorism suspects to overseas locations for interrogation and torture.

The terrorism suspects are Binyam Mohamed of Ethiopia, Italian citizen Abou Elkassim Britel and Ahmed Agiza of Egypt.(More...)

Also see:
-ACLU: Boeing offshoot helped CIA
-ACLU files suit against Boeing subsidiary
-Firm sued over secret CIA flights

Ethiopia places 103rd on Global Peace Index

In the first study of its kind, Ethiopia has placed 103rd on the Global Peace Index. The Index is a ranking of 121 countries - from Algeria to Zimbabwe - listed according to their peacefulness. It was compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit and is comprised of a broad range of 24 indicators measuring both the internal and external peacefulness of nations.

The publication of the Global Peace Index comes just a week before the leaders of the world’s richest countries gather for the G8 summit in Germany.

The Index has won the backing of an influential and distinguished group of supporters including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Queen Noor of Jordan, former United States President Jimmy Carter, and former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank Professor Joseph Stiglitz, who are today calling for an increased focus on peace.

African media on Blair's legacy

(BBC) ...Meanwhile, African interest in Mr Blair's Commission for Africa seems to declining three years after its launch.

Critics seem vindicated that one of the panel's leading commissioners, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, has come under international criticism over the deaths of dozens of opposition supporters during the disputed parliamentary elections in May 2005 as well as Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in December 2006.(More...)

Unicef: Malnutrition, Stunted Growth Still Prevalent in Tigray, Other Regions

More than 41 percent of children under five experience stunted growth in Tigray and an estimated 11.6 percent suffer from acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF-Ethiopia.

(Picture - Ethiopian child suffering from severe malnutrition. VOAnews)

In a press release sent to The Daily Monitor, the UN agency said the deplorable situation in the region was revealed during a visit by the Head of European Commission and Tim Clarke, Head of European Commission in Ethiopia to UNICEF - supported child nutrition sites in Tigray- Mekele on May 29, 2007.

UNICEF says the problem of malnutrition was the case with other regions of the country where it said a large scale intervention was needed to save millions of vulnerable children.

"We have just seen a child here who is 18 months old. Her normal weight should be 13 Kilos; but she is only five kilos-highly at risk and we can give her therapeutic feeding in order to give her a chance to survive," Tim Clark said during the visit.(More...)

Ethiopian elephants, lions face extinction

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - A thousand rare black-mane lions -- an Ethiopian national symbol -- and some 300 elephants are in danger after a swathe of forest that was part of their sanctuary was cut down, a wildlife expert said on Thursday.

(Picture - Black mane Ethiopian lion (Barbary), from a distinct but very rare sub-species thought to be extinct, but recently discovered in the region. Fortean Times magazine)

The land was cleared from a designated conservation area at Midiga Tola, adjacent to the Babile Elephant Sanctuary located 557 km (346 miles) east of Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Wildlife Association President Yirmed Demeke said.

Flora EcoPower Holding AG, a German biodiesel producer, cleared the forest after it was granted 10,000 hectares of land, Yirmed said.(More...)

Also see:
-Ethiopian wildlife at risk as forest cut

MAHMOUD AHMED of Ethiopia winner of Radio 3's Award for World Music 2007

(Video) Watch Mahmoud accepting Award

When Mahmoud Ahmed took the stage at Womad 2005 many looked at this grey bearded (yet regal) figure and wondered if he could still touch the heights of those immaculate recordings he cut from 1971-1975.

(Mahmoud Ahmed)

No worries: as his band locked into one of those rolling, eerie Horn Of Africa-grooves Ahmed opened his mouth and that great, mysterious horn of a voice sailed forth just as it had done all those years ago.

Mahmoud Ahmed is both a living legend and something of a mystery in the West. Undeniably Ethiopia’s most famous singer of its “golden era”, the three albums reissued of his recordings by French label Buda Musique as part of their Ethiopiques series have captured Western listeners in the same way that, say, the reissues of Robert Johnson’s Delta blues did a previous generation. Yet where Johnson was long dead Ahmed is alive and in fine voice.(More...)

UN Security Council Approves Hariri Assassination Tribunal

NEW YORK -- A sharply divided UN Security Council voted Wednesday to establish an international criminal tribunal to prosecute the masterminds of the February 2005 suicide-bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others.

The vote will lead to the creation of the first United Nations-backed criminal tribunal in the Middle East, raising expectations that Hariri's killers will be held accountable.

But that has stoked fears among Lebanese authorities and some council members that supporters of Syria -- which has been linked to the assassination -- will plunge Lebanon's fledgling democracy into a bloody new round of strife.

Fearing unrest, authorities imposed a partial curfew in Beirut, leaving the streets deserted. Lebanese placed lit candles on boulevards and balconies to celebrate the outcome and sent congratulatory text messages countrywide.(More...)

Also see:
-Un Tribunal Condemned By Syria, Others
-Supporters Cheer UN Approval of Tribunal for Hariri Assassination
-Hariri son hails UN court move


*(Update)* When Bill Gates met Steve Jobs... (The hugely anticipated meeting was seen as a long overdue opportunity for two of the greatest pioneers in the industry to go head to head. But, The question and answer session turned out to be more of a love-in between old pals)

Bush names Robert Zoellick as next World Bank chief

US President George W Bush on Wednesday nominated former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick as the next World Bank head, replacing Paul Paul Wolfowitz, who was forced to resign over a favouritism scandal.

The formal announcement was made at the White House by the President who praised the former United States Trade Representative as a "committed internationalist" and a person "deeply committed" to the cause of defeating poverty.

"He is deeply devoted to the mission of the World Bank. He wants to help struggling nations defeat poverty, to grow their economies and offer their people the hope of a better life. Bob Zoellick is deeply committed to this cause" Bush said.(More...)

Also see:
-Zoellick has new agenda for World Bank
-A Diplomat for the World Bank
-Stiglitz calls new World Bank boss "protectionist"

Today's Top International Stories

-U.N. Resists U.S. on New Sudan Sanctions
-Blair urges G8 to keep African promises
-'Law & Order' star Thompson inches closer to Prez bid
-U.S TB patient's name released
-Putin says test missile is signal to U.S.
-Alexander Litvinenko was British spy, claims alleged killer


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Horror stories of torture hound Ethiopia as it proclaims commitment to reform

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[ION: Top officers meet in conclave] - [Ethiopian foreign minister says troops will stay in Somalia] - [Blast wounds Ethiopia regional leader; 11 dead] - [Roche agrees free AIDS drug technology transfer to Pharmaceutical Factory in Ethiopia]

[Bush announces new sanctions against Sudan] - [Bill Gates, Steve Jobs set for historic conversation] - [BP to announce a return to Libya] - [Contestants to vie for kidney on reality show] and more of today's top stories!


Democracy in Ethiopia, Unplugged:
Reflections on a Dream Deferred

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam’s speech at the Oakland Kinijit Support chapter town hall meeting, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the May 2005 elections

Horror stories of torture hound Ethiopia as it proclaims commitment to reform

Evidence suggests nation jails its citizens without reason or trial, tortures many of them and habitually violates its own laws

During the six months that 25-year-old Aman was detained in an Addis Ababa prison, he alleges, police kicked and punched him and kept him for weeks on end in a tiny cell with his hands bound as if always in prayer.

Then there was the day that Aman, a second-year law student at the time, went before a judge and found himself correcting her on the Ethiopian criminal code. She had granted prosecutors' request to detain him for three weeks of investigation, a week longer than the law allows.

“I could not have words to express the situation, it is so difficult,” said Aman, who was never charged with a crime and eventually released. “They appoint judges who have no legal knowledge of law, who learn about the law for six months and sit at the court.”(More...)




Top officers meet in conclave
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1214 25/05/2007

A group of top-ranking Ethiopian military officers have been meeting in a closed session at the ministry of defence in Addis Ababa for the past week. They were asked to check in their cell-phones at the cloakroom before being allowed into the meeting room. The subject of their meeting was not disclosed to the public.

However, according to information pieced together from a variety of sources by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, there was a considerable divergence of opinion during the meeting over the situation in Somalia and the continuing defections of Ethiopian servicemen who flee to Eritrea. The fourth army division is already showing signs of internal tension.

Furthermore, official banners have begun to appear in Addis Ababa displaying the words "betigil memot hiwot" which means to die struggling is to be alive. This is an odd hark back to an old revolutionary slogan of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP, opposition) dating from the 1970s.

In fact, the Ethiopian government wants to honour the victims of the red terror (under the reign of Haile Mariam Mengistu) on May 27 and the national radio station has started playing EPRP songs. The reasoning behind this government strategy of taking over symbols associated with this opposition party still remains somewhat obscure.

Blast wounds Ethiopia regional leader; 11 dead

ADDIS ABABA 05/29 - A grenade attack in Ethiopia`s volatile Somali region on Monday wounded the local president, killed five people at a packed ceremony and sparked a stampede that left a further six dead, witnesses said.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi`s government blamed the attack on the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist movement in the remote eastern area which last month attacked a Chinese-run oil exploration field, killing 74. But the ONLF denied involvement in the attack.(More...)

Also see:
-Ethiopia blames rebel Ogaden for killer blast
-Suspects held for Ethiopia attack
-Ethiopian Grenade Attack, Five Suspects Held

Roche agrees free AIDS drug technology transfer to Pharmaceutical Factory in Ethiopia

BASLE, Switzerland (Thomson Financial) - Roche Holding AG said it has agreed free technology transfers with two African laboratories concerning AIDS medication. The Swiss pharmaceuticals group said it has signed agreements with Addis Pharmaceutical Factory in Ethiopia and Varichem Pharmaceuticals in Zimbabwe.

Under the terms of the deals, the two African laboratories will receive free technical know-how enabling them to produce a generic anti-HIV treatment, based on the process for manufacturing Saquinavir, Roche's drug for the treatment of the AIDS.

Under Roche's technology transfer programme, which was initiated in January 2006, the company has so far signed deals with five African laboratories.(More...)

Ethiopian foreign minister says troops will stay in Somalia

Ethiopian foreign minister, Seum Mesfin, revealed that the thousands of Ethiopian military forces backing the tenuous Somali transitional government would not be withdrawn immediately, saying they rescued the Somali population from Islamic hardliners.

He made the remarks following his arrival in Mogadishu in early this week while he witnessed the resetting up of Ethiopian embassy in the war-torn country.

“Many Somali officials, civil society members and tribal elders asked that we should not leave Somalia while it is still vulnerable and we are determined to make sure that Islamists do not come back and traumatize the population,” he said.(More...)

Also see:
-Somalia Slipping Away
-Gunman kills judge in Mogadishu attack

Ethiopia begins 10-day population count

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Africa's second most populous country, Ethiopia, began a 10-day population count Tuesday, an exercise aimed at helping the government plan economic and social programs and help donors target their aid better.

Over 100,000 census officials fanned out across Ethiopia on Tuesday. The last census was in 1994 when officials found out there were 54 million Ethiopians in the country. Preliminary results of the population count will be released in five months, and final results in 1½ years.(More...)

Bush announces new sanctions against Sudan

WASHINGTON — President Bush ordered new U.S. economic sanctions today to pressure Sudan's government to halt the bloodshed in Darfur that the administration has condemned as genocide.

(Picture - Relatives mourn over the body of a one-year-old child who died of malnutrition in a refugee camp near a town in the Darfur region of Sudan)

"I promise this to the people of Darfur: the United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world," the president said.

The sanctions target government-run companies involved in Sudan's oil industry, and three individuals, including a rebel leader suspected of being involved in the violence in Darfur.

"For too long the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, murder and rape of innocent civilians," the president said. "My administration has called these actions by their rightful name: genocide. "The world has a responsibility to put an end to it," Bush said.(More...)

Also see:
-China Rejects US Sanctions Against Sudan For Darfur Conflict

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs set for historic conversation

SAN FRANCISCO - For more than two decades, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft chairperson Bill Gates have sparred over the issues that were crucial to the development of the technology industry.

Issues such as whether it's wiser for a company to partner or build everything itself. Or the primacy of software versus hardware in personal computers. Or which is more important: how easy it is to use a product or what it can do once you figure out how?

sometimes friendly but often not, has always been from a distance.

Until now.

Although Gates made a famous phone call to Jobs in 1997 and the two shared a stage briefly at a 1983 Apple promotional event, the two industry icons have never had a public conversation.

So when they sit down next Wednesday for a 75-minute joint interview in front of a gathering of tech executives, their long history and competing philosophies should make for an interesting - if not history-making - discussion.

The conversation at the fifth annual "D - All Things Digital" conference in Carlsbad, California, comes as Gates and Jobs are head in very different directions, and as the companies they co-founded both face big challenges.(More...)

Also see:
-Jobs & Gates, the Biggest Reunion Since Simon & Garfunkel
-Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on stage, unscripted

Miss Japan wins Miss Universe

MISS Japan, Riyo Mori, has been chosen as Miss Universe 2007. Australian entrant Kimberley Busteed was eliminated in the first cut.

Mori, 20, was overwhelmed when the Miss Universe crown valued at $305,604 was placed on her head by last year's winner Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza of Puerto Rico. First runner-up was Natalia Guimaraes of Brazil, second runner-up was Ly Jonaitis of Venezuela and third, Honey Lee of Korea.(More...)

Today's Top International Stories

-Nigeria's New President Calls For Reconciliation
-BP to announce a return to Libya
(Oil giant BP is set to announce that it has struck a deal to return to Libya after an absence of more than 30 years)
-Obama offers universal health care plan
-Five Britons 'seized in Baghdad'
(Five Britons are reported to have been kidnapped from Iraq's finance ministry in Baghdad)
-Iran Charges 3 Americans With Spying
-Thousands Flee Violence in Lebanon
-Contestants to vie for kidney on reality show


Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Week in review plus weekend news

Weekend Top Stories:
[ETHIOPIA’S MISSED CHANCES] - [Ethiopia opens embassy in chaotic Somali capital] - [NJ Man Held in Ethiopia Finally Back in U.S.] and more of the weekend's top stories!

The Week in Review



Kinijit International Australia tour

(Memorial Day - Celebrated on the fourth Monday of May, this holiday honors the dead. Although it originated in the aftermath of the Civil War, it has become a day on which the dead of all wars, and the dead generally, are remembered in special programs held in cemeteries, churches, and other public meeting places)

Bush pays tribute to fallen troops: WASHINGTON — President Bush urged Americans to use Memorial Day to rededicate themselves to fighting for freedom across the world and pray for the safety of U.S. troops serving overseas.(More...)

ETHIOPIA’S MISSED CHANCES—1960, 1974, 1991, 2005—AND NOW: I

Donald N. Levine
Speech at Ras Makonnen Hall A.A

It is a great pleasure for me to be back in this special land--ye’egziabher agar aybalem?--and a privilege to be speaking to you in this special Hall. I give thanks to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for organizing this occasion, and to Dr. Yaqob Arsano, Dean of the College of Social Sciences, for his truly gracious introduction.

The last time I spoke in Ras Makonnen Hall I had the pleasure of being introduced by a grand colleague and a great Ethiopian--Dr. Eshetu Chole. I’d like to dedicate my comments today to the memory of Dr. Eshetu, and to his inspiring model of unflinching engagement with the problem of Ethiopia’s missed opportunities in a spirit that combined unshakeable hope with enormous intellectual integrity.(More...)

Ethiopia opens embassy in chaotic Somali capital

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Ethiopia opened an embassy in the chaotic Somali capital next to the presidential palace on Sunday, the latest sign of the Horn of Africa military power's close ties with a Somali government it wants to sustain.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, a key player in Addis Ababa's efforts to bolster the government of Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, opened the embassy on the third day of his latest visit to Mogadishu.(More...)

NJ Man Held in Ethiopia Finally Back in U.S.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - May 26, 2007 - The family of a New Jersey man who had been held in Ethiopia for alleged ties to Islamic militants is celebrating his return tonight.

And although it's not clear why 24-year-old Amir Mohamed Meshal was finally released, his relatives say they're thrilled to have him back home in Tinton Falls.(More...)

Ethiopia honors victims of Marxist junta during ceremony in Meskel Square

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: Three decades ago, Ethiopian police brought Ahmed Hussein's younger brother home from jail and asked the family to gather outside.

"They shot him in front of us," Ahmed said Sunday, his eyes welling with tears. "We were not allowed to cry."

Ahmed and thousands of others gathered in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday to remember victims of the Dergue, a brutal Marxist junta that ruled from 1974 to 1991. The service marked the anniversary of the downfall of the junta's leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam — known as "the butcher of Addis Ababa" — who is living in exile in Zimbabwe.(More...)

Zimbabwe holds opposition members

(CNN) -- Police in Zimbabwe rounded up more than 200 members of the political opposition Saturday, according to a spokesman for the southern African nation's main opposition movement.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change, said the people were gathered in the capital, Harare, to "just discuss political issues." Then, police broke down doors and seized the people, now detained at the Central Police Station.(More...)

Radiation Eating Fungus found in Chernobyl

[Listen to NPR's report]

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AEC) have found evidence that certain fungi possess another talent beyond their ability to decompose matter: the capacity to use radioactivity as an energy source for making food and spurring their growth.

Detailing the research in Public Library of Science ONE, AEC's Arturo Casadevall said his interest was piqued five years ago when he read about how a robot sent into the still-highly-radioactive Chernobyl reactor had returned with samples of black, melanin-rich fungi that were growing on the ruined reactor's walls.

"I found that very interesting and began discussing with colleagues whether these fungi might be using the radiation emissions as an energy source," explained Casadevall.(More...)


Friday, May 25, 2007

EPRDF Passes Bill Amending Electoral Law

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Africa Commemorates 'Africa Day'] - [United We Stand Divided We Fall] - [30,000 Runners to Hit the Road at Ethiopian 'Millennium Great Run'] - [Somali government rebuffs Amnesty's report on Somalia]

[Gunmen seize Nigeria oil workers] - [Al-Sadr Reappears In Iraq At Rally] - [Myanmar Extends Suu Kyi's House Arrest] - [The Surprising Realities of Mythical Creatures] and more of today's top stories!




Africa Commemorates 'Africa Day'

Africa Day is the annual commemoration on May 25 of the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was in July 2002 succeeded by the present African Union, while amalgamating with the African Economic Community (AEC), but kept the date and name of Africa Day. (Wiki)

African Heads of State at the inaugural summit of the Organization of African Unity. Africa Hall, Addis Abeba - May, 1963 (Click to Enlarge)

Inspiring letter, written to Emperor Haile Selassie by Oliver Tambo, Vice President of the African National Congress (ANC, South Africa), explaining why he was unable to attend the summit and on the wellbeing of Nelson Mandela (Click on picture to read the letter in its entirety)

In July 1964, Malcolm X attended the second meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), in Cairo, to distribute a press release on behalf of twenty-two million Afro-Americans in the United States. [See Video]

For more history and interesting insider facts on Ethiopia’s involvement in the creation of the OAU (Now AU), visit []

Also see:
-Africa Commemorates 'Africa Day'
-Celebrating Africa Day in style
-Millions unite to celebrate Africa Day
-Rastas to commemorate Africa Day

United We Stand Divided We Fall
Kinijit Support Group in Sacramento

...Non-violent struggle may be gradual, un-dramatic, and mostly be carried out by individuals whose names will never make the news headlines or be associated with any organization. Hence, its victory is a product of collective action of all citizens, not a heroic action of a single group. Above all, the results from non-violent struggles are long lasting; it is a definitive means of installing and preserving democracy.

After EPRDF lost election in May 15, 2005, it violently disrupted the peaceful transition of Ethiopia from despotic to democratic country. Since then, thousands of innocent citizens, renowned political leaders and human right defenders, independent journalists and students have been killed, suffered in prison and torture.

Uncountable numbers of innocent citizens are dislocated from where they have been living for generation and became fugitives in their own country and refugee elsewhere with little hope of returning to their home. This is the result of complete lack of political will of the incumbent EPRDF government to accept the people’s decision, abide by the results of the election and its strong desire to stay in power.

The election process and the May 15, 2005 election sparked the light of hope, the desire for peace and much eagerly awaited economic development for all Ethiopians. Unprecedented number of Ethiopians caste their ballot hoping that they would put government of their choice to power and in anticipation that they would eradicate conflict, starvation and poverty from Ethiopia. Kinijit and other opposition parties did run successful election campaigns.(More...)


Jonathan Dimbleby Interviews - PM Meles Zenawi (Do you think the interview was professionally conducted? Does it adhere to journalistic standards? Or was it one-sided and biased? Contact the producers at “” and let them know what you think)

Also see:
BBC: Meles Zenawi on HardTalk
(Stephen Sackur went to Ethiopia (2005), to ask Prime Minister Meles Zenawi the questions Ethiopian journalists could not)

EPRDF Passes Bill Amending Electoral Law

“the law is a threat to the fundamental principle of election and democracy which is the power of the people. The new law paves way for partiality in the election processes of the country,” Temesgen Gebru

"the law is made in a way to benefit the government" Bulcha Demeksa


ADDIS ABABA,Ethiopia- The Ethiopian parliament adopted a new election law with a majority vote on Thursday that will create a new structure for the national election board and add new practices in the nation’s future elections.

The new law which was presented to the house last March has been discussed by the ruling party and opposition parties in parliament for weeks. It is different from the privious law that it will give place for the opposition parties to participatre in the process of nominating the election board officials.

Three of the four major opposition voices in the Ethiopian parliament rejected the ratification of the law and asked for further discussions and amendment while EUDP MEDHIN said that the law has some contentious points but will accept the overall document.(More...)

Also see:
-Foreign media and observers to be banned from Ethiopia’s future elections

30,000 Runners to Hit the Road at Ethiopian 'Millennium Great Run'

(hint, hint)...Haile indicated that the race will be aired live on BBC, Supersport and other international media as well as TV stations

Some 30,000 runners will participate at the 2007 Ethiopian Millennium Run, the biggest mass ever run in Africa, to be staged for the seventh time in Ethiopia.

"This will be the first big mass run in Africa where 30000 thousand runners including world elite athletes are expected to take part," Founder and Coordinator of Ethiopian Great Run, World class Athlete Major Haile Gebresilassie told a press conference on Thursday.

Haile said this year's great run to be held on Sunday 9 September 2007 and dedicated for the Ethiopian Millennium, will be the biggest in Africa The 2007 TOYOTA Great Ethiopian Run is the 7th edition of Ethiopia's annual international 10km road race.

Haile indicated that the race will be aired live on BBC, Supersport and other international media's as well as other TV stations.(More...)

Somali government rebuffs Amnesty's report on Somalia

Mogadishu 25, May.07 - The Somali transitional government rebuffed Amnesty International report on human rights violations by several countries in the Horn and Eastern Africa.

Somali government spokesman, Abdi Haji Goobdoon, said Friday that the international human rights agency was exaggerating its report on human rights abuses in Somalia. He said Somali interim government has only recently been able to seize control of the country.

“Local human rights agencies are yet novices in their work because the whole country is recovering from the civil war and hardships that have not yet entirely evaded, so I believe Amnesty was quick to criticize Somalia on rights violations,” he said.(More...)

Myanmar Extends Suu Kyi's House Arrest

(AP) - Defying an outpouring of international appeals, Myanmar's military government Friday extended the house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi by another year, a government official said.

Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has spent 11 of the past 17 years in detention and the order will keep her confined to her residence for a fifth straight year.

Her current one-year detention order was due to expire on Sunday and the extension had been widely expected, although many international groups and world leaders had called for Suu Kyi's freedom. The government normally makes no official announcement of such actions.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the U.N.'s human rights expert for Myanmar, said the decision was ``counterproductive in terms of making a transition to democracy. They say they are moving ahead, but they continue to hold 1,200 political prisoners, including the main members of the opposition,'' he told The Associated Press by telephone from Cape Town, South Africa(More...)

Also see:
-US demands release of Myanmar's Suu Kyi
-UN rights envoy condemns Suu Kyi detention decision
-China will stay out of Myanmar's affairs

Explaining the Lebanese Crisis

Are you having trouble understanding what's going on in Lebanon? Last summer there was war with Israel, all winter and spring the country has been in a political crisis between the government and Hizballah, and now all of a sudden there is some mystery jihadi group staging an uprising in a Palestinian camp. What gives? What does it mean?

(Picture - Lebanese army soldiers patrol the outskirts of the besieged camp of Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon)

Lebanon has some 400,000 Palestinian refugees that originally came in two waves -- 1948 and 1967. That was a long time ago though, and the younger generations have never seen their home country, and still don't have citizenship in this one. Most of the residents of Nahr al-Bared hail from Nazareth in the Galilee.

The Palestinians brought a lot of trouble with them to Lebanon. Since most of them are Sunni Muslim, their arrival upset this country's fragile sectarian balance, pushing Lebanon towards the civil war that raged from 1975 to 1990. Nor did it help that the PLO turned Lebanon into a base for terror operations against Israel, which led Israel to invade in 1982 (they finally left Southern Lebanon in 2000).(More...)

Today's Top International Stories

-Gunmen seize Nigeria oil workers
-Women's rights key to Africa AIDS crisis: study
-Divided Congress approves Iraq war funds
-Al-Sadr Reappears In Iraq At Rally
-Ukraine: Yushchenko signs decree to take control over interior troops
-North Korea Fires Off Series of Missiles
-The Surprising Realities of Mythical Creatures

-Bob Marley - Africa Unite


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Somalia: The Dynamics of Post-Intervention Political Failure

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Reuters: Group demands info on 'African Guantanamo' detainees] - [Ethiopia's Orthodox Church blesses science & faith treatment] - [Eritrea blames U.S. for border impasse] - [Curfew in Mogadishu after shooting]

[Critical time for Iraq says Bush] - [Castro Says His Health Improving Well] - [Israel Chooses Arrests Over Bloodshed] - [UK Spy Photos of Hitler Published] and more of today's top stories!



Click on Picture to see flyer

Human Rights and Democratisation in Ethiopia
two years after 15 may elections

Committee on Development
Sub-Committee on human rights
5 June 2007


Is the International media in Ethiopia in Cahoots with the government?
oh how we miss Anthony Mitchell!


Somalia: The Dynamics of Post-Intervention Political Failure
Dr. Michael A. Weinstein

...After a year's political roller coaster ride attended by many casualties, Somalia now and for the foreseeable future appears to be running along a bumpy track that has become familiar in Afghanistan and Iraq, on which a weak and dependent central government imposed by external powers and insufficiently supported by them attempts to preserve itself against a fragmented opposition and disparate local power centers, and strives to concede as little as possible to its protectors and donors, each of which has its own interests and none of which has the political will to change the situation.

With no strong unifying domestic force on the horizon, PINR expects continued devolution accompanied by half-hearted efforts to arrest it. At present, the hopes of the West rest on the N.R.C., which will be the 15th attempt in as many years to bring stability to Somalia through a clan-based formula.

If the conference actually comes off and it is "inclusive," it will initiate a protracted process with uncertain results. If it is not held or it is not broadly representative, Somalia's political collapse will persist.

From the perspective of the West, the presence of radical Islamism in Somalia makes it more difficult to abandon the country as the great powers did after the fall of Siad Barre's dictatorship and the failure of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the early 1990s. Yet there is no sign that the new danger will trigger sufficient commitment to overcome it.(More...)

Reuters: Group demands info on 'African Guantanamo' detainees

NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) -- In a case some rights campaigners have dubbed an "African Guantanamo," a British-based group called on Kenyan, Somali and Ethiopian authorities to come clean over the whereabouts and fates of some 66 Muslim detainees unaccounted for in Ethiopia.

They were picked up in Kenya in January and February after a two-week war that saw allied Ethiopian-Somali troops oust militant Islamists from the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, and push many of their fighters south and across the border, the group, Amnesty International, said.

A total of 85 people were "unlawfully" sent from Kenya to Ethiopia via Somalia, but 19 have been released, the group said.(More...)

Ethiopia's Orthodox Church blesses science & faith treatment

Apparently, a combination of anti-retroviral medicine and holy water has long been a source of controversy in the Ethiopian Church, where many local leaders believe patients should not take both holy water and medicine.
For the past year, Yonas Tadesse has been trying to stave off the effects of HIV with a blend of science and faith, he takes anti-retroviral medicine but also drinks a liter of holy water, blessed by a priest.

The combination has long been a source of controversy in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, where many local leaders believe patients should not take both holy water and medicine. But on Wednesday, Ethiopia's top religious official gave the treatment his blessing in a country where an estimated 1.5 million people are infected with HIV.

"I am asking each and every one of them to swallow the medicine and the holy water together," Patriarch Abune Paulos told a crowd of about 250 worshippers at Addis Ababa's Entoto Mariam church. "They never conflict each other."(More...)

AP Exclusive: Somali Islamists produce martyr video

Sign that extremists are adopting tactics used by radical groups in Iraq

NAIROBI, Kenya: Islamic insurgents in Somalia have created a video showing a man reciting prayers from the Quran before apparently blowing himself up in a suicide blast, the latest sign that extremists are adopting tactics used by radical groups in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East as they carry out their guerrilla war.

The Associated Press obtained the video Thursday from a person associated with the Shabab, the militant wing of an Islamic group that ruled much of southern Somalia for six months last year. The Council of Islamic Courts was driven from power in December but has vowed to launch an Iraq-style insurgency until Somalia is ruled by the Quran.(More...)

Eritrea blames U.S. for border impasse

ASMARA, May 24 (Reuters) - Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said on Thursday a security buffer between the Red Sea state and arch-foe Ethiopia was "meaningless" and blamed the United States for a five-year border stalemate.

In a speech commemorating Eritrea's independence in 1991, Isaias said ultimate responsibility for the impasse and any "negative consequences that may unfold in the period ahead" rests with Washington.

"Eritrea's decision to show restraint and refrain from taking appropriate measures ... must be appreciated indeed," Isaias told thousands of Eritreans gathered in Asmara Stadium.(More...)

Ethiopian officials hope Bekele returns to form

Ethiopia's athletics chiefs hope Olympic and world 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele can put a series of poor performances behind him when he starts his track season on Saturday.

Bekele's loss of form since dropping out of the 12km race at the world cross country championships in March has worried the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF), which said it would see how he ran on Saturday before deciding what do next.

"The Ethiopian Athletics Federation will wait and see before making any decisions. He will start his season on Saturday when he runs over the two miles in Hengelo (Netherlands)," said EAF spokesman Elshadai Negash.(More...)

Germany puts African poverty on front burner

BERLIN, GERMANY (Reuters) -- African poverty has climbed to the top of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's agenda for a Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Heiligendamm next month amid concern pledges to help the continent remain unfulfilled.

(Picture - German Chancellor Angela Merkel REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz )

The summit meeting will be held June 6-8 in the Baltic coast city. The G-8 is composed of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Merkel's agenda harks back to the partnership forged in Kananaskis, Canada, in 2002. At that time, the Africa Action Plan was adopted, which set out specific commitments in support of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).(More...)

Has Fred Thompson Found His Role?

As former Republican Senator Fred Thompson ponders a late entry into the 2008 presidential race, the actor's biggest advantage just might be that people feel they already know exactly what he would be like as Commander in Chief.

(Picture - Actor and former Republican Sen. Fred Thompson )

Even before his Law & Order depiction of district attorney Arthur Branch, Thompson nearly always played variations on the same character — a straight-talking, tough-minded, wise Southerner — basically a version of what his supporters say is his true political self.

And he is often cast as a person in power — a military official, the White House chief of staff, the head of the CIA, a Senator or even the President of the U.S. It could be called the Cary Grant approach to politics. As the legendary actor once explained his own style and success, "I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be, and I finally became that person." (More...)

UK Spy Photos of Hitler Published

Photographs of Adolf Hitler taken by a British secret agent just before the start of World War II were published on Thursday.

(Adolf Hitler salutes Nazi troops during a military review on Wilhelmplatz in Berlin, Germany, April 19, 1937. At left is fieldmarshal Werner Von Blomberg, war minister with baton. In second row from left to right are, rear admiral Erich Raeder, Col-Gen. Hermann Goering and Gen. Werner von Fritsch. Hitler celebrates his 48th birthday tomorrow. AP Photo)

Charles Turner, a music composer who was recruited as a spy, took the photos at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany, in 1939, where he joined Hitler's entourage, his son David Turner said. He was one of the last Englishman to speak to the dictator before Nazi forces invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939.

The composer first attended the festival in 1934, and each year Hitler was also there. In 1938 when war seemed imminent Turner was recruited as a spy, his son said.

"The miraculous happened. My father was invited to join Hitler's entourage for the day, Wednesday, July 26. He was given carte blanche permission to photograph the fuehrer," David Turner said.(More...)

Also see:
-The British spy who captured Hitler
-Secret agent captured a day at the opera with Hitler

Today's Top International Stories

-Profile: Kenya's secretive Mungiki sect
-Critical time for Iraq says Bush(US President George W Bush has warned that the coming weeks and months will be critical for the success of the new security strategy for Iraq)
-Israel Chooses Arrests Over Bloodshed(Rounds Up More Than 30 Senior Hamas Officials In Bid To Stop Rocket Attacks From Gaza)
-Castro Says His Health Improving Well
-Lebanese Militants Told To Surrender
-Why Lebanon is Erupting Again
-IAEA: Iran 3-8 years from atomic weapons
-'Lost' season-ender offers surprises


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Swedes 'were tortured' in Ethiopia

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Ethiopia: Amnesty International Annual Report 2007] - [African countries in tariff move] - [East Africa attracts hunters for oil and gas] - [Rights group says EU should sanction instead of engaging Eritrea]

[Arrests Made In Kenyan Beheadings] - [Dems, GOP claim victory with Iraq funding bill] - [Germans outraged by "scent profiling" ahead of G8] - [AC Milan beat Liverpool 2-1 to win the Champions League ] and more of today's top stories!


By The Center for Public Integrity

Allegiance Rewarded:
Ethiopia reaps U.S. aid by enlisting in war on terror and hiring influential lobbyists


Press release

Meeting on the African Treaty on Freedom of Expression
(Ethiopia will be at the top of meeting's Agenda)

African freedom of expression advocacy organisations will organise a conference to plan for an African Treaty on Freedom of Expression in Accra on June 25 to 27, 2007, just days before the African Union heads of states Summit.

...The June meeting will involve most or all of NAFEO’s 20-plus members, representatives of other freedom of expression organisations, academics and legal experts. The African Union Commission and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of Expression of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights are expected to participate in the conference.

Issued by Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Accra, May 23, 2007
For more information, please contact
Tel : +233-21-242470
Fax : +233-21-221084
Email :


Ethiopia: Amnesty International Annual Report 2007

...Torture was reported by methods including electric shocks and beatings on the feet while tied upside down...Alemayehu Fantu, an engineer and supermarket owner in Addis Ababa, was reportedly tortured in October to make him admit to publishing or distributing the CUD calendar, and to name others. He was taken to court with visible injuries, which the judges did not investigate, but released on bail on November.

...Four prisoners of conscience were moved as punishment to the Central Prison (Karchele), which was in the process of demolition. CUD leaders Muluneh Eyuel and Amanuel Araya and journalists Eskinder Negga and Sissay Agena were kept for over two months in dark underground cells in solitary confinement.(See full Report)

Swedes 'were tortured' in Ethiopia

Three Swedish nationals detained in Ethiopia for several months and released last week were "tortured" and mistreated during their captivity, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

"They were imprisoned in isolation, in metal cages measuring one and a half square meters (16 square feet). They were handcuffed almost all the time, both their hands and feet," Björn Hurtig told Swedish public radio. He said the three slept with their handcuffs on.

"They were mistreated during interrogations and were physically and psychologically tortured," he said, providing no further details. The trio, two Swedish nationals and one permanent resident in Sweden whose identities were not disclosed, were arrested at the start of the year in connection with the conflict in Somalia.(More...)

Also see:
-Ethiopian Captives Say They Were Tortured

East Africa attracts hunters for oil and gas

a still largely under-explored region

PARIS: Oil companies, both western and Asian, are hunting in earnest for oil and gas in East Africa, a still largely under-explored region, as energy nationalism in Russia, Venezuela and the Middle East closes off opportunities in more proven areas.

"East Africa, for a frontier area, is experiencing one of the highest levels of investment in the world right now - but we're only seeing the beginning," said Chris Matchette-Downes, vice president of business development at Black Marlin Energy, an oil service company based in Dubai and specializing in the region. About $500 million is being spent on research but so far only about 479 wells have been drilled from Eritrea to Cape Town including Madagascar, compared with as many as 30,000 in northern and western Africa, he said.

Significant discoveries of oil could help some countries in the region reduce their dependence on aid and expensive imported oil and help wean their residents from chopping down trees for household fuel. Exploitation, however, could be difficult and require costly infrastructure development. Except for a rickety rail network, not rehabilitated since colonial times, most of the region lacks pipelines and ports to export oil.(more...)

African countries in tariff move

A group of African countries have agreed to adopt common external tariffs in an effort to boost trade and move towards a fully-fledged customs union.

Angola, Ethiopia and Uganda are among those currently sitting on the sidelines, citing concerns about the possible impact on their economies. Countries such as Kenya and Zimbabwe see tariff harmonisation as a crucial step towards establishing a full customs union next year.

"We must harden our resolve to desist from engaging in practices aimed at protecting our individual markets," said Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.(More...)

Rights group says EU should sanction instead of engaging Eritrea

ASMARA (Reuters) - A press freedom group urged the European Union on Wednesday to adopt sanctions against Eritrea instead of engaging "one of Africa's most brutal dictators".

The European Commission's decision this month to embrace the isolationist Red Sea state in the search for peace deals to a range of conflicts in the Horn of Africa has sparked criticism from some members states and rights groups.

"Aside from reflecting a double standard, the EU's new policy towards Eritrea is disastrous for those who are exposed to the government's terror," Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.(More...)

ABC News: Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.

"I can't confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether the president signed it, but it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find ways to put pressure on the regime," said Bruce Riedel, a recently retired CIA senior official who dealt with Iran and other countries in the region.(More...)

Also see:
-New Covert Action against Iran
-Ross Report About Covert Action In Iran Attracts Hundreds Of Comments

China Requiring Bloggers to Register

(BEIJING) — New rules by a Chinese government-backed Internet group maintain strict controls over the country's bloggers, requiring them to register with their real names and identification cards.

The guidelines from the Internet Society of China, a group made up of China's major Internet companies, contradict state media reports this week claiming that China was considering loosening registration requirements for bloggers to allow anonymous online journaling.

The society's new draft code of conduct seen on its Web site Wednesday says Web log service providers must still get their users' real names and contact information. Critics say the requirement violates a blogger's right to freedom of expression and puts them at risk of punishment or imprisonment if they post controversial opinions about politics, religion or other issues.(More...)

Litvinenko film to premiere at Cannes

A documentary about Alexander Litvinenko, the poisoned Russian ex-spy, will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend, organisers said this morning. The last-minute announcement comes a day after British prosecutors sought the extradition of a former KGB agent for his murder.

Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case will screen at the prestigious festival on Saturday, a decision the film’s director, Andrei Nekrasov, said was made at least three weeks ago – well before Britain named Andrei Lugovoy as a suspect in Litvinenko’s murder and demanded his extradition from Russia.

Mr Nekrasov said it was the festival organisers’ idea to keep the film a secret until now. “I can’t say the reason was political pressure,” he said. “They do this sort of surprise screening sometimes.”(More...)

Today's Top International Stories

-Arrests Made In Kenyan Beheadings(Police Believe Shadowy Religious Sect Behind Executions Of 6 People)
-Zimbabwe slum evictions 'a crime'
-Dems, GOP claim victory with Iraq funding bill
-Germans outraged by "scent profiling" ahead of G8
-More Flee as Cease-Fire Holds at Lebanon Camp
-IAEA: Iran Continues to Defy U.N.
-Does Alcohol Slow Dementia?

-AC Milan exact Champions League revenge(AC Milan have beaten Liverpool 2-1 with two goals from Filippo Inzaghi to win the European Cup for the seventh time and avenge their defeat by Liverpool on penalties in the final two years ago)


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

NY Times: New York Times Journalists detained, beaten and threatened By Ethiopian Military Personnel


A NEW YORK TIMES report says Ms. Vick (journalist) was kicked in the back, and all three reporters were repeatedly threatened!

NEW YORK TIMES, May 22, 2007 -- Three journalists for The New York Times were arrested by the Ethiopian military on May 16 in the Ogaden region of the country, held for five days and interrogated at gunpoint, and then released on Monday without any charges being lodged against them, The Times said today.

(Picture - New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman)

The three journalists — Jeffrey Gettleman, 35, Nairobi bureau chief; Vanessa Vick, 43, a photographer; and Courtenay Morris, 34, a videographer — were reporting on the conflict in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia when they were detained by soldiers in the town of Degeh Bur.

While in detention, they were moved to three different jails before being released from a prison in Addis Ababa on Monday. The three journalists, who have now left Ethiopia, said they were never told why they were detained, and that Ethiopian military officials refused to notify the American embassy of their arrest. During questioning, Ms. Vick was kicked in the back, and all three were repeatedly threatened.(More...)

Ethio-Zagol, as usual, was the first to break this story. Excellent Job EZ

Also see:
-CPJ: Ethiopia frees New York Times journalists after five-day detention
-'NY Times' Staffers Released After Being Held In Ethiopia
-Ethiopian military held 3 New York Times journalists for 5 days

Professor Lyons: He would just laugh at us

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:

[NY Times: New York Times Journalists detained, beaten and threatened By Ethiopian Military Personnel]

[IPI to Keep Ethiopia on Watch List] - [Energy-hungry Beijing suffers a backlash in Ethiopia] - [Was Satellite Radio Invented by way of Ethiopia?] - [New Continent-Wide African Aviation Agency Aims to Boost Air Safety]

[Aid convoy under fire in Lebanon] - [New York cabs to go green by 2012] - [British prosecutors accuse former KGB agent In Litvinenko Death ] - [Poll: Most U.S. Muslims reject suicide bombings] and more of today's top stories!


Ethiopian millenium in Atlanta, Georgia: Bringing africans together


NY Times: New York Times Journalists detained, beaten and threatened By Ethiopian Military Personnel


A NEW YORK TIMES report says Ms. Vick (journalist) was kicked in the back, and all three reporters were repeatedly threatened!

NEW YORK TIMES, May 22, 2007 -- Three journalists for The New York Times were arrested by the Ethiopian military on May 16 in the Ogaden region of the country, held for five days and interrogated at gunpoint, and then released on Monday without any charges being lodged against them, The Times said today.

(Picture - New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman)

The three journalists — Jeffrey Gettleman, 35, Nairobi bureau chief; Vanessa Vick, 43, a photographer; and Courtenay Morris, 34, a videographer — were reporting on the conflict in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia when they were detained by soldiers in the town of Degeh Bur.

While in detention, they were moved to three different jails before being released from a prison in Addis Ababa on Monday. The three journalists, who have now left Ethiopia, said they were never told why they were detained, and that Ethiopian military officials refused to notify the American embassy of their arrest. During questioning, Ms. Vick was kicked in the back, and all three were repeatedly threatened.(More...)

Ethio-Zagol, as usual, was the first to break this story. Excellent Job EZ

Also see:
-CPJ: Ethiopia frees New York Times journalists after five-day detention
-'NY Times' Staffers Released After Being Held In Ethiopia
-Ethiopian military held 3 New York Times journalists for 5 days

...He would just laugh at us

The Center for Public Integrity

Meles, the prime minister, is "the victorious-against-terrorists" said professor Lyons. "He is not worried if the [U.S.] ambassador says we are concerned about prison conditions. He would just laugh at us."

...thanks to a concerted lobbying effort on behalf of the Ethiopian government and objections from the State Department, supporters of the Ethiopian government managed to stop a bill in Congress that would have cut off security assistance on human rights grounds.

The Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act, introduced by Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., in June 2006, proposed to put limits on military aid to Ethiopia — with the exception of peacekeeping and antiterrorism programs — until the government released all political prisoners and provided fair and speedy trials to other prisoners held without charges.

The bill swiftly passed the House International Relations Committee with bipartisan support. That's when both advocates and opponents of aid to Ethiopia became active.

The Ethiopian diaspora in the United States launched a letter and e-mail campaign to push the legislation in Congress. To counter that grass-roots effort, the Ethiopian government hired a well-established law and lobbying firm in Washington, DLA Piper, to quash the bill; DLA Piper says its work on Smith's bill was only part of its $50,000 per month representation of the Ethiopian government.

The lobbying team included former House Republican majority leader Dick Armey and 12 other lobbyists. DLA Piper also produced and distributed a nine-page memo highlighting the Ethiopian government's opposition to the bill.(MORE...)

IPI to Keep Ethiopia on Watch List

At the Board Meeting of the International Press Institute (IPI), in Istanbul, Turkey on 12 May 2007, the IPI Board voted unanimously to keep Ethiopia, Nepal, Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe on the IPI Watch List.

Commenting on the Ethiopia situation, IPI Director Johann P. Fritz said, "While I welcome the release of imprisoned journalists in Ethiopia, a number still remain in detention. I hope the Ethiopian authorities will immediately release these journalists and refrain from introducing a press law that contains a number of clauses that undermine freedom of the press."

Energy-hungry Beijing suffers a backlash in Ethiopia

Chinese state companies have been expanding across the African continent in pursuit of raw materials at an accelerating pace and with apparently far less attention to risk than some of their western peers.

Their push for minerals and mineral rights began in southern Sudan where the Chinese oil company CNOOC began building oil pipelines in the late 1990s - long before separatist rebels struck a deal with the Khartoum regime to end decades of civil war.

Despite the growing presence of Chinese workers in far-flung corners of Africa there have been relatively few reports of them falling victim to violence or becoming ensnared in localised conflicts.(More...)

UN in row over crisis in Somalia

The United Nations is in deep disagreement with Somalia's interim government over the scale of the crisis in the capital, a top UN official says.

UN aid chief John Holmes says the dispute complicated his talks in Mogadishu with government officials.

The UN says some 300,000 people fled the city during recent clashes but the government says less than 30,000 left. Some 1,300 people died during the fighting between Ethiopian-backed government troops and insurgents.(More...)

Also see:
-UN, Somali govt disagree over crisis in Mogadishu

New Continent-Wide African Aviation Agency Aims to Boost Air Safety

DOUALA, Cameroon (AP) -- When a brand-new Kenya Airways Boeing 737 crashed into a jungle swamp seconds after take-off from Douala airport this month, killing all 114 people aboard, authorities mistakenly thought it had plunged 100 miles to the south.

Two days passed before they found out from local villagers that the wreckage was just 3.4 miles from the terminal building, almost within view of the airport's southern boundary.

The absence of radar at Douala International Airport, the initial lack of concern at the plane's failure to report to air traffic control after take-off and the seemingly lackadaisical search effort renewed apprehensions about the safety of African air travel.(More...)

Was Satellite Radio Invented by way of Ethiopia?

The answer is yes. The same country that has brought the world the likes of the world’s richest person of African descent Mr. Mohammed Al Amoudi has also brought the world Noah Samara.

Mr. Samara is indeed the founder and CEO of WorldSpace, which pioneered the satellite radio technology, thereby being the first to introduce the technology to the market.

Noah Samara was born in Ethiopia and comes from a very diverse background. He was born to an Ethiopian mother and a Sudanese father. At the age of 17, Noah left Ethiopia and the familiar East African coast for America, in search of a better education.

He found the education that he was looking for, while in America and his educational sojourn ended with him receiving his law degree from Georgetown University.

The area that he chose to specialise in was satellite communications law. Prior to the launch of World Space, Noah embarked on career that was heavily weighted towards satellite technology.

In 1990 he resigned from his job and began working towards the launch of WorldSpace. And $USD 2.5B later World Space was up and running with it’s first satellite-AfriStar. The company has been lauded for it’s ability to reach remote area’s of the world with vital information, via satellite transmission.(More...)

British prosecutors accuse former KGB agent In Litvinenko Death

Tuesday of murder in the radioactive poisoning of fellow ex-operative Alexander Litvinenko and sought his extradition from Russia. The case is sure to challenge already-tense relations between London and Moscow.

(Picture - Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko left, and at right, former KGB officer Andrei Lugovoi, now charged by British authorities with Litvinenko's murder)

Andrei Lugovoi had met with Litvinenko at a London hotel hours before the former agent turned Kremlin critic fell ill with polonium-210 poisoning.

Lugovoi has repeatedly denied any involvement in interviews with the police and media, and he reiterated that position on Tuesday.

``I consider that this decision to be political, I did not kill Litvinenko, I have no relation to his death and I can only express well-founded distrust for the so-called basis of proof collected by British judicial officials,'' Lugovoi was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti and other agencies as saying.(More...)

Also see:
-Russia says cannot extradite Lugovoy to Britain
-The radiation trail
-Timeline: Alexander Litvinenko

Biographer delves into life of Einstein

The scientist whose name became synonymous with "genius" was certainly that, blessed with a gift for innovative, creative thinking and endless reserves of determination.

But there were other sides to the legendary physicist. There was the celebrity, thrust into the limelight by his theories of special and general relativity, treated by the press as dignitary and spokesman. There was the quotable wit whose image has lent itself to every avuncular movie scientist since the advent of sound.

And there was the sometimes diffident family man, capable of both shocking coldness and gentle humility. He was, in short, quite a human being.

He not only had a rebellious creativity that was unmatched by anyone since Isaac Newton, he also had an engaging personality, passionate beliefs and a sparkling humor that made him a celebrity rivaled by only Charlie Chaplin," Isaacson says in a phone interview from a West Coast book tour stop.(More...)

Today's Top International Stories

-Son fights Amin's bloody legacy (Former Ugandan leader Idi Amin Dada's son wants a truth and reconciliation commission to probe alleged atrocities committed during his father's rule)
-New York cabs to go green by 2012
-Aid convoy under fire in Lebanon
-Israel and Militants Trade Deadly Attacks in Gaza
-American Academic Accused of Plotting Revolution in Iran
-Poll: Most U.S. Muslims reject suicide bombings
-Museum offered head for shrinking