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  • New drought risks in Ethiopia may jeopardize recovery efforts -FAO

    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that new drought across parts of southern Ethiopia may put recovery efforts at risk, unless urgent efforts are made to shore up vulnerable households in rural areas.

    In a statement released on Tuesday, pastoral communities in these regions could suffer consequences of last year’s El Niño climate phenomenon, already witnessing forage shortfalls and water scarcity.

    Safeguarding recent gains requires responding to the livelihood-sustaining needs of fragile households that lost or sold livestock and other assets, to cope with the worst El Niño in modern history.

    The organization is now calling for an immediate response to support the food security and nutrition of households relying on animals, along with the provision of supplementary animal feed, especially along migratory routes.

    Targeted de-stocking interventions will be implemented to make protein-rich meat available for vulnerable pastoral communities.

    80 percent of the Ethiopian population depend on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods and an even higher share of the country’s arable land relies on seasonal rainfall.

     

     

     

    Source : africanews

     

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  • Analysis: Inside the controversial EFFORT - Addis Standard

    By Oman Uliah, Special to Addis Standard  

    Every authoritarian regime has its own symbol of economic exploitations and monopoly either in an individual face or in an organizational mask.

    Ethiopia, despite its success in persuading its western allies that it is combating poverty using its fast economic growth and democratization, remained to be one of the poorest and most closed countries where a group of few individuals control vast economic shares and absolute political power. Unlike many other authoritarian regimes, the most dominant ruling elite group in Ethiopia has a complex behavior in that it claims to represent a minority ethnic group from the northern part of the country, Tigray. In response it has gotten a relatively overwhelming legitimacy among the people of Tigray as compared to other regions; or at least many people, including myself, believe it receives better legitimacy only in that specific region.

    Moreover, this elite group has established a chain of several multi-billion dollar worth business firms under a home-grown umbrella called EFFORT, ‘Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray’, which was originally established to serve a harmless looking purpose of  ‘rehabilitating’ Tigray, a war-torn region deprived of a fair chance to prosper during decades of successive regimes. In the past 25 years of TPLF’s dominated political rule in Ethiopia, therefore, EFFORT has emerged as one of the leading economic powerhouses in the name of ‘rehabilitating’ the region.

     What is in the name?

    On the surface, EFFORT is an umbrella company for a group of businesses which are involved in major industrial activities in Ethiopia, such as banking and insurance, import and export, media and communication, construction, agribusiness, and mining, among others.

    Having started with an initial capital of around US$100 million, EFFORT’s worth has now reached more than a staggering US$3 billion in paid capital, creating more than 47,000 employment opportunities.

    EFFORT companies were first registered as private share companies owned by some of the top leaders of TPLF. Later on, however, the companies were re-registered as “endowment” companies whose profits will not be divided to individuals, according to the 1960 Ethiopian civil code. However, top officials of the TPLF, the most powerful member of Ethiopia’s ruling party EPRDF, remained as the CEOs and GMs of these companies; and some of whom reportedly own small shares designed to motivate them in helping EFFORT stay competitive.

    ‘The original sin’: How did TPLF accumulate its wealth?

     EFFORT’s official profile claims it was established by using seed money from the liquidated amount of capital of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), accumulated during Ethiopia’s 17 years civil war of the militarist Derg regime to establish these companies.

    In 2008, Aregawi Berhe, a former veteran of TPLF who later on left the party, did his Ph.D. dissertation on The Political History of TPLF’ for Vrije Universteit in Amsterdam, somehow corroborates the story. In his account of the party’s earliest times, Aregawi wrote about one of the first successful operations that the then guerilla fighters ever had: ‘Axum Operation’. It is a military operation that succeeded in raiding a police garrison and a bank in the historic city of Axum in the north during which the TPLF fighters made away with “substantial amounts of arms and ammunition and 175,000 birr (US$ 84,000)”, according to Aregawi.

    Having started by raiding public banks, members of the TPLF continued to accumulate wealth and went on to dominate the contested use of ‘aid money’ for political purposes before the party came to control power in 1991. TPLF had also founded the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), a humanitarian wing, during the civil war. “By June 1985,” wrote Aregawi Berhe, “REST had received more than US$100 million from donors in the name of saving famine victims. [… however] the late Meles [Zenawi’s] proposal for the allocation of the relief aid money was as follows: 50% for MLLT [Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray] consolidation, 45% for TPLF activities and 5% for the famine victims.” Predictably, Aregawi’s claim, especially that of aid money allocations, has been vehemently denied by the current TPLF leaders.

    Gebru Asrat, another former TPLF veteran who later on established an opposition political party Arena Tigray, has briefly raised this issue in his book, ‘Lualawinet Ena Democracy beEthiopia’, (Sovereignty and Democracy in Ethiopia), and said that the guerilla fighters used to get a lot of money in foreign aid and; ‘it was up to the TPLF [leadership] to allocate which money goes where.” Gebru neither confirmed nor denied Aregawi’s claim that aid money was used for political purposes. If anything, he is of the view that it is impossible to make such allegations.

    However, legally questionable ways of accumulating wealth seemed to have continued within the party even after it took control of state power. Ermias Legesse, a former Communication State Minister, who is now in exile, has recently published his second book, ‘Yemeles Leqaqit’, in which he raised multiple controversial points against the establishment and functions of EFFORT.

    In Chapter six of this 565 pages book, Ermias tells several stories on how EFFORT used to get its finances unfairly from the Ethiopian state and how it transferred it to its own account. Ermias went an extra mile to display a letter written in 1994 and was signed by the then Prime Minister, Tamrat Layne, demanding the Addis Abeba Health bureau to refund TPLF’s medical expenses of the civil war time. The money requested amounted to more than four million birr (almost 67% of the city’s annual budget at that time), but the total amount paid by the Ministry of Health was actually 17 million birr. Ermias also wrote that the medicines that TPLF had distributed to  the locals during the civil war, for which it had requested a refund, was actually robbed by the guerilla fighters from public pharmacies. The money that was paid back in such a bizarre demand by the then Prime Minister was put in TPLF’s accounts.

    Of continued sins & controversies

    Companies that are currently under the umbrella of EFFORT were originally established as PLCs having a few members of TPLF leaders as shareholders. Later on, in August 1995, they were re-registered as ‘endowment’ companies and still remained under the umbrella of EFFORT.

    The re-registration of these PLCs as ‘endowment’ companies was done to justify that these companies were established using the money donated by the shareholders of the preceding PLCs, which in itself portrays a picture that EFFORT, as a conglomerate of these companies, did not use public money to be established. According to the Ethiopian civil code, endowment companies are legally prohibited from distributing their profits to individuals. This fact effectively obscures the few individuals controlling these companies behind a party cover.

    In 2004, the Amharic version of the ‘Ethiopian Reporter’, a bi-weekly newspaper owned by a former member of the TPLF rebel group, published series of stories concerning EFFORT and its debt in public banks, including the controversial cancellation of the debt. (The copies of these publications are annexed in the latest book of Ermias Legesse, referred above.)

    According to this series of publication, EFFORT had borrowed 1.7 billion birr from the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) which later on has risen to 1.8 billion birr debt including the interests. First, CBE officials have denied and said that ‘they did not loan money to EFFORT’. But later on CBE had transferred the debts to yet another state-owned bank, Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE), for ‘better management’. Finally, DBE reported that the amount of money loaned to EFFORT was ‘none performing’ loan. Ermias claims that the CBE had loaned EFFORT the money with no collateral in the first place. The following year it was reported that DBE, the bank that took over the loan for “better management” was facing a bankruptcy of some 3.5 billion birr; certainly not exclusively attributable to the loan provided to EFFORT, but due in a significant part to it.

    The other controversy surrounding EFFORT lies in the manner in which its businesses affiliates operate. Its leaders claim that their extreme obedience to the rule of law and their refusal to bribe local officials often poses a great challenge to their operations, disadvantaging their businesses. However, EFFORT companies are generally known to enjoy a great deal of support from officials. A good example to prove this is a rare ruling by a federal court on the 19th December 2012. The federal First instance court at Lideta ruled that one of EFFORT’s companies, Mega Entertainment Center, which was led by the widow of the late PM Meles Zenawi, Azeb Mesfin, has been running its business in a fraudulent manner by reporting more expenses than the actual and without paying value-added taxes collected from its customers during the preceding eight years.

    But the secrecy of most of these companies is such that details like this come to the public’s knowledge only when there is disagreement between stakeholders; this time, it was between Azeb and another management member of Mega, Eqoubay Berhe.

    Still, just what is EFFORT?

    According to a letter by former US ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald Yamamoto, which was one of the Wikileaks documents, Ex-TPLF veteran Seyee Abraha (who later on fell from favor and was subsequently jailed for corruption) was quoted as saying the objectives of EFFORT during its foundation were “to study, and then establish profitable companies that use locally-available resources and provide employment [opportunities] for Tigray.” In this sense, EFFORT, even though it also gets raw materials from and markets its end products to other regions in Ethiopia, mostly (though not exclusively) hires Tigrians.

    In principle, its profit should be used to rehabilitate the region. However, many Tigrians despair the fact that the “Endowment” is merely used by a few corrupt TPLF elites to enrich themselves. Former veteran and ex-president of the Tigray region for a decade, Gebru Asrat, in his book mentioned above admitted that the “endowment” was being exploited by a few TPLF top leaders; he suggested that there must be ways of diverting EFFORT’s profits/wealth to the people of Tigray as the endowment belongs to the Tigrians. His suggestion indicates a return, once again, of the endowment to a share company in which as many individuals could become shareholders. Many Tigrian pro-democracy activists agree with Gebru Asrat’s suggestions.

    What do ‘others’ own?

    Without a doubt, other regions of Ethiopia have also suffered significant social and economic devastations during the 17 years civil war before it ended in 1991. Military expenditure was Ethiopia’s biggest expense during the entire rule of the militarist Derg regime. Suffice to say, therefore, other regions also needed ‘endowments’ of their own.

    It seemed it was in response to this concern that TPLF ‘provided’ seed money for other rehabilitation funds.  In Oromia regional state is Dinsho endowment, which was established in 1992 and was renamed Tumsa Endowment for Development of Oromia in 2001. It is led by top officials of the OPDO, the party representing the region within the EPRDF coalition. In Amhara regional state is ‘TIRET’, first established in 1995 and went on to incorporate several pre-existing companies. TIRET is led by senior officials of ANDM, the party representing the region within the ruling EPRDF. And in Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) is WENDO trading, which was established in 1994 and is led by senior officials of SEPDM, the party representing the region within the ruling EPRDF.

    Seyee Abraha has admitted: “TPLF gave a portion of its capital to each of the three parties within the EPRDF to establish their own endowment funds”. However, the combined numbers of companies run by these three ‘endowments’ are less than twenty; whereas at least 24 companies are listed under EFFORT; (some put these numbers as high as 380). The nature of secrecy surrounding this delicate matter means one may never find out the real figures.

    Nonetheless, the three “endowments” run by OPDO, ANDM and SEPDM were supposed to create employment opportunities for more than 80% of Ethiopia’s population as compared to EFFORT’s targeting of 6% of Ethiopians in Tigray regional state.

    According to a research titled ‘Rethinking Business and Politics in Ethiopia’, published in 2011 by Sarah Vaughan and Mesfin Gebremichael, “[TIRET] companies employ only 2,800 staff, as compared with the more 14,000 permanent employees or 34,000 contract staff of EFFORT and its companies.” And the poorest regional states of Ethiopia, namely, the Somali, Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella regions do not have ‘endowment companies’ of their own to help them rehabilitate their respective regions, although they are politically administered by EPRDF’s sister parties.

    What’s not and what’s owned by EFFORT?

    There is a big deal of confusion in identifying EFFORT’s business complexities. Selam Bus Share Company is a good example. Established in 1996, 99.6% of this interregional transport service providing company share is held by Tigray Development Association (TDA); the rest is held by individuals. Although Selam Bus board members, as are EFFORT companies’ board members, are members of the TPLF, EFFORT has no registered share in Selam Bus. However, Selam Bus is a company many people name first when asked to list EFFORT’s businesses. This blurry ownership status is perhaps one of the reasons why Selam Buses were targeted by the last year’s widespread public protesters in Oromia and Amhara regions.

    Dejennna Endowment is another example. Established to ‘help promote development in Tigray,’ on the surface Dejenna Endowment is a part of the Relief Society of Tigray (REST). There are 11 companies listed under Dejenna Endowment in its website. In 2009, Dejenna has merged with EFFORT following the appointment of Azeb Mesfin, widow of the late Meles Zenawi, as head of the later. Companies under EFFORT usually hold shares in one another’s companies so that one pulls up when another fails. However, until today little is known about the merger of EFFORT and Dejenna. Besides, the information on the official websites of the two endowments mis-inform readers as if the two are independent of one another. But, some of the companies that are known to be under EFFORT are actually listed as the properties of Dejenna endowment.

    The Sheger vs Mekelle narrative

    By now, keen observers of the relationship between politics and business in Ethiopia can safely assume that business and politics in Ethiopia are radically divided into two major narratives in defining and perceiving the current TPLF dominated regime. I call these narratives ‘the Sheger narrative’ – a political narrative that is mostly advocated from here in the capital Addis Abeba, and ‘the Mekelle narrative’ – usually advocated by the people in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray regional state, home to the all too powerful members of TPLF.

    However, both narratives go beyond these respective centers depending on whose political view is solicited. The two narratives are only thoughts that do have majority acceptance in their respective centers. ‘The Sheger narrative’ (the most popular one) considers the TPLF dominated administration as a total failure that holds power by force; whereas ‘the Mekelle narrative’ generally sympathizes with the regime and considers it as a legitimate administration, albeit admitting some of its fault lines mostly due to the corrupt practices of some of its leaders.

    This definition makes it clear how and why Tigrians (in most cases driven by ‘the Mekelle narrative’) and non-Tigrians (driven by ‘the Sheger narrative’) view the relationship between TPLF and EFFORT differently.

    Tigrian pro-democracy activists’ criticism of EFFORT can be clearly seen by how they react to the manner in which former leaders of TPLF, who were expelled during the party’s infamous split in 2001, view EFFORT. Former top leaders of TPLF, Seyee Abraha, as we read him on wikileaks documents, and Gebru Asrat, from his book, both criticize EFFORT’s management. Both regret EFFORT’s failure to rehabilitate Tigray as was stipulated in its foundational principles. However, both believe the people of Tigray are the rightful owners of these ‘endowment’ companies under EFFORT.

    On the contrary, most non-Tigrian activists and politicians disown EFFORT and also the rest of ‘endowments’ that are being manipulated by EPRDF leaders. Lidetu Ayalew, former leader of the opposition Ethiopian Democratic Party, and Dr. Berhanu Nega, current leader of the outlawed Ginbot 7, both condemned EFFORT as a party business that monopolized the economy, and both concluded the “endowments” should be dissolved or privatized. Similarly, many other activists want to (and sometimes advocate) boycotting EFFORT services and products to stop TPLF’s hegemonic march.

    In the same manner, Tigrian activists claim other home grown charity organizations operating in Tigray, namely REST and TDA, are used to create grassroots networks to dictate the people of Tigray become loyalists of the TPLF, whereas non-Tigrian activists, such as Ermias Legesse, disagree and say these organizations are replicas of EFFORT to simply promote disproportionate social development of Tigrians at the cost of others.

    This leads us to conclude that ‘the Mekelle narrative’ generally portrays EFFORT as an organization that rightfully belongs to the ‘Tigrian people’ which is unfortunately being exploited by few members of the top management for personal gains. ‘The Sheger narrative’, on the other hand, defines EFFORT as ‘a tool to exploit the wealth of Ethiopian people and create economic monopoly for the benefit of a [small] group’.

     The red line

    What is indisputable is speaking truth in a country governed by the TPLF dominated EPRDF is always a dangerous exercise; speaking the truth about EFFORT is even more dangerous. A tax controller from Adama, 100kms south east of Addis Abeba, who is now in Qilinto prison on the southern outskirt of Addis Abeba suspected of ‘corruption’ has recently told me that ‘EFFORT trucks were known to be untouchables on their way to and from Djibouti port’. Similarly, investigating companies under EFFORT is normally a red line no journalist in Ethiopia would like to cross, contributing to the secrecy of the ins and outs of the giant umbrella.

    Concealed in this intimidating rubble are crucial facts about EFFORT such as details on tax returns. That is why this article cannot be taken as an exhaustive look into the functions of EFFORT and its affiliates, but just the tip of the iceberg to demonstrate in part some facts about the economic exploitations of the authoritarian regime currently governing Ethiopia.

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  • Eight men own more than 3.6 billion people: our economics is broken Mark Goldring - The Guardian

    Today, eight people have the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Stop and think about this. It is a mind-boggling concept.

    Last year we said we would have needed a double-decker bus to transport the 62 people we thought owned the same as the poorest 3.6 billion on the planet. In 2017, thanks to more accurate data, we find that in fact this group would fit in a single golf buggy.

    Today nearly 800 million people – one in nine – across the world will go to bed hungry or undernourished. The adults will wake up uncertain when they will next eat, whether they will have work, fearful for their health and the costs that illness in the family might bring. The eight men – yes, they’re all men – and their fellow billionaires will wake up having slept rather better, and their wealth, invested across the world, will have increased by countless millions even as they slept.

    It would be easy to vilify the eight, to make each individual a poster boy of the growing chasm between the richest and the rest. But painting these individuals as the villains would be unfair. The eight include some of the world’s largest philanthropists and those, such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have spoken out against the shocking scale of inequality in the world. These eight men are not themselves the cause of the poverty so many still live in. But they are the most powerful representatives and beneficiaries of an economic system in which wealth accrues more wealth; where wealth means power and influence, which in turn leads to laws and practices that help the rich get richer.

    So this is not an exposé of eight people, but of a broken economics. Narrowing the gap between the richest and the rest requires us to take on a more challenging task than asking eight men to change their behaviour. It requires us to create a more human economy; one that does not result in 1% of the world’s population owning the same wealth as the other 99%. One that encourages and rewards enterprise and innovation, yes, but one that also offers everyone, regardless of background, a fair chance in life and ensures when individuals and businesses succeed, they do so for the benefit, rather than at the expense, of others.

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    Too often today, our economy rewards rather than discourages bad behaviour. Tax avoidance costs poor countries more than $100bn annually that could be used to provide clean water, lifesaving medicines or education. Rich countries, including the UK, lose countless billions more. Yet governments, anxious to defend their own corporate sectors and perceived national interests, have failed to adequately respond to companies’ use of tax loopholes, corporate power and new technology to avoid paying their fair share. Small, taxpaying businesses are forced to operate at a competitive disadvantage against multinationals, encouraging them to find their own dodges in a desperate effort to level the playing field.

    Nowhere is the old proverb “money begets money” more apparent than in how companies seem determined to stuff the pay packets of their top executives, whatever the economic weather. Here in the UK, a FTSE 100 director can expect to pocket about £5.5m a year. A leading UK CEO now earns almost 130 times the wage of their average employee, up from just 10 or 20 times as recently as the 1980s.

    Meanwhile, those without economic power feel the pain: the producer in a developing country, the low-paid UK worker, the woman juggling work and childcare, are squeezed until their pips squeak, all in the name of returning as much money as possible to predominantly wealthy shareholders. Last autumn, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that their fellow Britons were in the midst of decade of lost wage growth, the worst for 70 years. Justifying such a growing divide in terms of merit will be hard. A recent study by CFA, the global association of investment professionals, found the link between the pay and performance of 350 top executives to be negligible.

    In a survey of 700 experts, published ahead of its annual gathering in Davos this week, the World Economic Forum pinpointed inequality as the number one threat to the global economy during the year ahead. It also cited it as a key factor in continuing extreme poverty, political instability, violence and the polarisation of societies. Yet there appears little hope of substantive change being proposed by leaders at WEF. In the short-term at least, GDP growth will remain their answer to all ills.

    We have made huge progress in reducing global poverty, and wealth creation has played a major part. But the real incomes of the world’s very poorest have gone up by just $3 a year over the last 25 years. We need to recognise that economic growth and wealth creation are not in themselves enough to ensure decency and dignity for all.

    A properly functioning economy requires our companies to see themselves as vital contributors to society, rather than a means of extracting wealth from it. It demands that governments set the rules in a way that reward, rather than penalise, them for good behaviour. It requires us to better balance the important incentives for people to save, invest and create jobs with an approach to sharing the benefits that will allow countries to run the public services that all citizens need, the poor far more than the rich; that allows people to earn a real living; and that supports the most vulnerable.

    Moving towards a more human economy also means looking seriously at different approaches to corporate ownership – such as cooperatives and other forms of wider involvement – and how they can help in giving a greater number of people a greater stake in both the national and global economies. There are individuals and companies that are already trying to do it right but they are the exception not the norm.

    Responsible and responsive leadership – the theme of this year’s Davos conference – requires governments and companies to really step up if we are to eradicate extreme poverty as the world committed to so bravely in the sustainable development goals just 16 months ago.

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  • Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa finished 2nd at the Houston Half Marathon

    In a spectacular sprint finish, U.S. Army runner Leonard Korir edged out Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa for a victory at the Houston Half Marathon. It’s Korir’s second major win in two weeks, as he beat Mo Farah and a slew of top Americans in a cross country 8K in Edinburgh last Saturday.

    Korir and Lilesa both ran 61:14. For most of the last four miles, they were in a pack of four with Hiskel Ghebru and Fikadu Tsadik of Ethiopia. That quartet was together until maybe 300 meters to go, when Lilesa made the first move. But Korir was able to cover the move, and as the two jostled over the last 10 meters, Korir crossed in front.

    After Korir covered Lilesa’s move, he put his right hand on Lilesa’s hip in order to stay on his feet, then never gave up his miniscule lead. Both celebrated as they crossed but it was clear that Korir won. Watch:

    Less than ten minutes later, Jordan Hasay crossed in 68:40 in fourth place. Veronicah Nyaruai won the women’s race in 67:58. Hasay is now the sixth fastest American ever on a record-legal course, behind only legends Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Joan Samuelson.

    There was an amusing moment on the broadcast as Goucher, who was commentating said that Hasay’s time was the fastest American debut ever–before correcting herself and realizing that she actually still has the fastest American debut ever.

    Hasay’s clocking was particularly impressive, as the humidity inched up to 99% over the course of the morning in Houston.

    Korir’s win was worth $21,000–$20K for the win plus another thousand for breaking 62 minutes. Hasay’s fourth-place finish earned her $3,000.

    - See more at: http://ecadforum.com/2017/01/15/ethiopias-feyisa-lilesa-finished-2nd-at-the-houston-half-marathon/#sthash.GhgKvpWP.dpuf

     

     




    In a spectacular sprint finish, U.S. Army runner Leonard Korir edged out Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa for a victory at the Houston Half Marathon. It’s Korir’s second major win in two weeks, as he beat Mo Farah and a slew of top Americans in a cross country 8K in Edinburgh last Saturday.

    Korir and Lilesa both ran 61:14. For most of the last four miles, they were in a pack of four with Hiskel Ghebru and Fikadu Tsadik of Ethiopia. That quartet was together until maybe 300 meters to go, when Lilesa made the first move. But Korir was able to cover the move, and as the two jostled over the last 10 meters, Korir crossed in front.

    After Korir covered Lilesa’s move, he put his right hand on Lilesa’s hip in order to stay on his feet, then never gave up his miniscule lead. Both celebrated as they crossed but it was clear that Korir won. Watch:

    Less than ten minutes later, Jordan Hasay crossed in 68:40 in fourth place. Veronicah Nyaruai won the women’s race in 67:58. Hasay is now the sixth fastest American ever on a record-legal course, behind only legends Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Joan Samuelson.

    There was an amusing moment on the broadcast as Goucher, who was commentating said that Hasay’s time was the fastest American debut ever–before correcting herself and realizing that she actually still has the fastest American debut ever.

    Hasay’s clocking was particularly impressive, as the humidity inched up to 99% over the course of the morning in Houston.

    Korir’s win was worth $21,000–$20K for the win plus another thousand for breaking 62 minutes. Hasay’s fourth-place finish earned her $3,000.

    - See more at: http://ecadforum.com/2017/01/15/ethiopias-feyisa-lilesa-finished-2nd-at-the-houston-half-marathon/#sthash.GhgKvpWP.dpuf

    In a spectacular sprint finish, U.S. Army runner Leonard Korir edged out Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa for a victory at the Houston Half Marathon. It’s Korir’s second major win in two weeks, as he beat Mo Farah and a slew of top Americans in a cross country 8K in Edinburgh last Saturday.

    Korir and Lilesa both ran 61:14. For most of the last four miles, they were in a pack of four with Hiskel Ghebru and Fikadu Tsadik of Ethiopia. That quartet was together until maybe 300 meters to go, when Lilesa made the first move. But Korir was able to cover the move, and as the two jostled over the last 10 meters, Korir crossed in front.

    After Korir covered Lilesa’s move, he put his right hand on Lilesa’s hip in order to stay on his feet, then never gave up his miniscule lead. Both celebrated as they crossed but it was clear that Korir won. Watch:

    Less than ten minutes later, Jordan Hasay crossed in 68:40 in fourth place. Veronicah Nyaruai won the women’s race in 67:58. Hasay is now the sixth fastest American ever on a record-legal course, behind only legends Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Joan Samuelson.

    There was an amusing moment on the broadcast as Goucher, who was commentating said that Hasay’s time was the fastest American debut ever–before correcting herself and realizing that she actually still has the fastest American debut ever.

    Hasay’s clocking was particularly impressive, as the humidity inched up to 99% over the course of the morning in Houston.

    Korir’s win was worth $21,000–$20K for the win plus another thousand for breaking 62 minutes. Hasay’s fourth-place finish earned her $3,000.

    - See more at: http://ecadforum.com/2017/01/15/ethiopias-feyisa-lilesa-finished-2nd-at-the-houston-half-marathon/#sthash.GhgKvpWP.dpuf

    Read more »
  • Tensions resurface in Ethiopia's Amhara region following hotel attacks blamed on 'anti-peace forces' - International Business Times

    Months of anti-government protests in Amhara and Oromia in 2016 led government to declare state of emergency.

    he Ethiopian government has blamed "anti-peace" forces for a grenade attack that killed one and wounded dozens in the northern city of Gondar on 10 January. The attack, occurred at the Entasol hotel, follows a bomb blast at a hotel in the city of Bahir Dar earlier in January.

    ''The attack might be a new tactic started by anti-peace forces as the strategy they had been pursuing in the past failed," Commander Assefa Ashebe was quoted by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate as saying.

    Police have launched a hunt for the perpetrators. Both attacks have sparked renewed tensions in the Amhara region, which was rocked by months of anti-government protests in 2016.

    Protests erupted when members of the Welkait Tegede, who identify themselves as ethnically Amhara – Ethiopia's second largest group – demanded their lands be administered by the Amhara region, instead of the Tigray state.

    Clashes with police during the demonstration resulted in the death of at least 100 people.

    Members of the opposition, activists and rights groups have repeatedly claimed the response to the protests in Amhara and Oromia – the country's largest state – resulted in the death of more than 500 people since November 2015, something the government later admitted.

    However, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has always maintained security forces had not reacted disproportionately and security forces intervened to quell violence carried out by "anti-peace" instigators.

    The unrest prompted the government to declare a six-month-long state of emergency in the two regions.

    Critics of the state of emergency, which restricts, among other things, freedom of movement and the use of social media – claimed it will be used to quell the ongoing unrest. The restrictive measures are expected to last until April 2017.

    The government, which often blamed "outside forces" including from Eritrea and Egypt for the protests, said it would use the new measures to coordinate security forces against elements that aimed to destabilise the country.

    Amhara region and Amhara people

    Amhara is one of Ethiopia's nine ethnic divisions. Its capital is Bahir Dar.

    With a population of 17m people, it is mainly inhabited by the Amhara (91%, as per 2007 census), followed by the Agaw, Oromo and Argobba ethnic groups.

    The region borders Tigray to the north, the Benishangul-Gumuz region amd Sudan to the west, Oromia to the south and Afar to the east.

    Numbering at least 20 million, the Amhara people are Ethiopia's second largest ethnic group and inhabit the Amhara region and the northern and central part of the country.

    They mainly speak Amharic, which has Semitic origin and is related to Geʿez, the language used in sacred literature in the Orthodox Church. Until the 1990s Amharic was the official language of Ethiopia and is still one of the most spoken in the country.

     

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  • Woman kidnapped from Florida hospital as newborn 18 years ago defends 'mother' who raised her

     

    A woman who was kidnapped as a baby just hours after she was born at a Florida hospital and was found 18 years later, has defended the woman who brought her up as her own child.

    'My mother raised me with everything I needed and most of all everything I wanted,' wrote 18-year-old Kamiyah Mobley on Facebook. 'My mother is no felon.'

    Ms Mobley was found in Walterboro, South Carolina some 18 years after she was kidnapped from the University Medical Centre in Florida on July 10, 1998 when she was just eight hours old. 

    Suspect Gloria Williams, 51 years old was arrested this morning in SCSuspect Gloria Williams was arrested on Friday morning

    Grainy footage, recorded on CCTV, showed pictures of a women dressed as a nurse, wearing scrubs and surgical gloves, leaving the hospital with the baby in her arms.

    On Friday, Jacksonville sheriff Mike Williams announced that police had charged Gloria Williams, 51, who had raised Ms Mobley, with kidnapping. 

    A police sketch of the suspect from the time of the kidnapping
    A police sketch of the suspect at the time of the kidnapping

    Ms Mobley had been given a different name by those who raised her, which police decided not to release. Mr Williams said that DNA testing had confirmed Ms Mobley's identity.

    Kamiyah Mobley, now 18, was found living in South Carolina on Friday living under the name Alexis Manigo. Pictured with Gloria Williams who has been arrested for kidnapping
    Kamiyah Mobley, now 18, was found living in South Carolina on Friday living under the name Alexis Manigo. Pictured with Gloria Williams who has been arrested for kidnapping Credit: Facebooko

    "She's taking it as well as you can imagine," he said of the 18-year-old. "She has a lot to process. She has a lot to think about." It is now up to the teenager whether she gets in touch with her birth family. 

    Mr Williams said she appeared to be a "healthy" and "normal" young woman. She had only begun to suspect a couple of months ago that her past might not be altogether normal, he said.

    Ms Mobley got to spend a few emotional moments with Williams following her arrest. She cried "Momma" through the caged window of a security door after Williams, who is also charged with interference with custody, waived extradition to Florida, according to local TV station WXJT, which posted a video of the scene online

    Velma Aiken, the paternal grandmother of Kamiyah Mobley, who was kidnapped as an infant 18 years ago, gets a congratulatory hug from a family member after Mobley was found safe
    Grandmother Velma Aiken gets a congratulatory hug from a family member after news that her granddaughter has been found Credit: Will Dickey/AP/The Florida Times-Union

    Ms Mobley was found after a series of tip-offs to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children last year. The FBI assisted in the investigation.  

    The case was featured on America’s Most Wanted and a $250,000 reward was offered. Over the years, police received more than 2,500 tip-offs in connection with the case.

     

    On Friday, investigators called retired detectives who had tried to find the missing baby to tell them of the latest development in the case.

    The young woman's biological parents and grandmother were "extremely excited and overwhelmed with emotion" at the news, Mr Williams said. 

    Kamiya's biological mother pictured in 1998 after her daughter was abducted
    Kamiya's biological mother pictured in 1998 after her daughter was abducted

    They cried "tears of joy" after a detective told them their baby had been found. Within hours Friday, they were able to reconnect over FaceTime with Ms Mobley who has been provided with counselling in order to process the new reality of her life.

    "She looks just like her daddy," her paternal grandmother, Velma Aiken of Jacksonville, told The Associated Press after they were able to see each other for the first time. "She act like she been talking to us all the time. She told us she'd be here soon to see us."

    Ms Aiken said she was thrilled to know that they can speak with each other as much as they want. "I always prayed, 'Don't let me die before I see my grandbaby'," she said. "My prayer was answered."

    Craig Aiken, father of Kamiyah Mobley, who was kidnapped as an infant 18 years ago
    Craig Aiken, the father of Kamiyah Mobley Credit: Will Dickey/AP/The Florida Times-Union

    Her mother Shanara Mobley told The Florida Times-Union newspaper in 2008, on the 10th anniversary of the kidnapping, that on her daughter's birthday each years she had wrapped a piece of birthday cake in foil and put it in the freezer.

    Kamiyah Mobley, now 18, was found living in South Carolina on Friday living under the name Alexis Manigo 
    Kamiyah Mobley, now 18, was found living in South Carolina on Friday living under the name Alexis Manigo  Credit: Facebook

    "It's stressful to wake up every day, knowing that your child is out there and you have no way to reach her or talk to her," she said.

    Mr Williams said he did not know if or when Ms Mobley would reach out to her birth family. 

    "She's 18, an adult and clearly a victim in this case," he said. "A case like we have not seen in this country for a long time." 

    News moved quickly through the community of Walterboro (pop. 5,100)  early on Friday after police cars swarmed Williams' home.

    Velma Aiken said her prayers had been answered
    Velma Aiken said her prayers had been answered

    "She wasn't an abused child or a child who got in trouble, but she grew up with a lie for 18 years." a stunned Joseph Jenkins said of the young woman who lived across the street and awoke to see officers searching the house and the shed around back.

    "At the fish market, the hair dresser, the gas station, they're all talking about it," added Ruben Boatwright, who said he's known Williams for about 15 years.

    Lakeshia Jenkins, Joseph's wife, said Williams and the girl would often come over for cookouts in the yard, or join their family at a nearby water park. Kamiyah seemed to be well cared for, and "Ms. Williams, she seemed like a normal person," Jenkins said.

    "She went to work, came back here and went to church every Sunday," she said.

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