Monday, August 24, 2015

War on Terror? US proxies Ethiopia and Rwanda terrorize their own people -San Francisco Bay View »

by Ann Garrison

Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho says that Ethiopian and Rwandan dictators have been allowed to terrorize their own people because they provide troops for the U.S. War on Terror. Metho is a founder of the Soldarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.

The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia puts humanity before ethnicity and says that no Ethiopians will be free until all are free.

The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia puts humanity before ethnicity and says that no Ethiopians will be free until all are free.
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: Two hundred delegates from African governments and institutions met in Kigali, Rwanda, yesterday for a symposium on “democratization and development.” The symposium was organized by the Meles Zenawi Foundation and the African Development Bank.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, joined Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali, where both spoke of the primacy of state power and African agency in development. Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho spoke to KPFA’s Ann Garrison about what was wrong with this picture.
Obang Metho: Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. The whole picture is wrong. The whole picture is wrong being that Paul Kagame and then the former prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, these two gentlemen – we cannot talk about them and say that they can bring any new things to Africa.
Why? Because these are two men who came to power, not by the ballot, by the bullet. And if you look at it, these are people also who’ve been in power for long. Meles, he died in power. So the whole thing is wrong with the picture.

These are two men who came to power, not by the ballot, by the bullet.

Like they were talking about development democracy. Where is the democracy? Ethiopia is a country that, in just the election they had in May this year, the government won by 100 percent.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: I remember that. They won every single seat in Parliament. Now, are you saying that both these governments are minority dictatorships: Rwanda, dictatorship by the 14 percent Tutsi minority and Ethiopian dictatorship by the 6 percent Tigrean minority?
OM: Yes, yes, in Ethiopia the 6 percent is the Tigrean ethnic group.
KPFA: It seems that the United States military partnerships with Rwanda and Ethiopia, based on Rwanda and Ethiopia’s willingness to cooperate with American forces, insulates both regimes against criticism from the West.
Obang Metho, center, testifies at the U.S. House Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing – Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights – on June 20, 2013.

Obang Metho, center, testifies at the U.S. House Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing – Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights – on June 20, 2013.
OM: Correct. Correct. Yeah, because if you look at it now, Obama went to Ethiopia last month. When he was in Ethiopia, the speech he gave was that Ethiopia had the top soldiers. He went there for a specific reason. He said Ehtiopia had the top soldiers.
So, in other words, instead of sending the Marines over to die in Somalie to fight Al-Shabab or to fight these which they call the terrorists, actually they send the Ethiopians there, pretty much like a contract. So, in the name of security, the Ethiopians work for the West for what they call War on Terror, but these people are actually known for terrorizing their own peoples.
So for that, the Ethiopian government, the ruling ethnic apartheid regime in Ethiopia that terrorizes their own people, they are not being criticized because they are the darling of the West. They’re pretty much that from Bush till Obama. Anything that the West will ask of them, they will do that.

In the name of security, the Ethiopians work for the West for what they call War on Terror, but these people are actually known for terrorizing their own peoples.

And the hypocrisy, what Obama did when he went there! He called the Ethiopian government a democratically elected government. There’s no way – 100 percent – you know a group can’t win an election by 100 percent. There’s no way they can be democratic.
And then Obama called Burundi, the election there, illegitimate or not credible. Which one is that? The one that claims to win by 67 percent, or the one that claims to win 100 percent?
So my point is the Ethiopians, because of the so-called War on Terror, the regime has not been criticized in the West, not even by the media.
But in the long run, this thing will explode. So this kind of thing, where you side with a dictator and exclude the people, that will sooner or later haunt. If violence erupts in Ethiopia, and Ethiopians kill each other, that will be the legacy of Obama. There’s no doubt about it, because he’s the one who has supported this group that has isolated itself from Ethiopians.

So this kind of thing, where you side with a dictator and exclude the people, that will sooner or later haunt.

KPFA: That was Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho.
For PacificaKPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News,Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening NewsKPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ethiopian Dreamliner Fire Caused by Crossed Wires - The New York Times

The 2013 fire of an Ethiopian Dreamliner at Heathrow airport was caused by trapped battery wires
The 2013 fire of an Ethiopian Dreamliner at Heathrow airport was caused by trapped battery wires
A fire aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at London’s Heathrow airport in July 2013 was caused by a short-circuit inside the battery of the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter, an investigation report revealed.
According to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the wires of the emergency beacon's lithium-metal battery were crossed and trapped under the battery cover – a latent fault also identified by the device’s manufacturers as the most likely.
The ensuing short-circuit led to an ‘uncontrolled release of stored energy from the lithium-metal battery’ causing ‘extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the aircraft’s rear fuselage’, the report said. As there are no other aircraft systems located in this area, the investigators were able to conclude the cause of the fire must have been within the ELT.
The aircraft, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, caught fire while parked on a remote stand with nobody aboard.
The AAIB further stated that ‘neither the cell-level nor battery-level safety features prevented this single-cell failure, which propagated to adjacent cells, resulting in a cascading thermal runaway, rupture of the cells and consequent release of smoke, fire and flammable electrolyte’.
The trapped battery wires subsequently provided a path for the flames and fumes to escape from the ELT into the surrounding structures, damaging the thermo-acoustic insulation in the immediate vicinity of the ELT.
The fire was further fuelled by the decomposing resin in the composite material. As a result, the fire continued to propagate even after the energy from the battery itself was exhausted.
The AAIB made 14 safety recommendations based on the investigation results including redesign of the ELT reflecting the findings.

The bio-fuel start-up that sells cooking gas by the rucksack - BBC News

Ethiopian woman carrying a B-Energy balloon rucksack
B-Energy has developed balloon rucksacks to allow people to deliver its biogas

Inside a large ramshackle shed a struck match is held to the end of a metal pipe, and a faint blue flame springs into life.
Zenebech Alemayehu smiles, puts her finger tips to her lips, then towards the flame, a symbolic kiss for her new biogas business.
A single mother with a nine-year-old son to look after, Ms Zenebech, 32, recently bought a local franchise from a company called B-Energy, which aims to provide households across Ethiopia with cheap, portable biogas for cooking.
The metal pipe leading into Ms Zenebech's shed comes from a 5m (16ft) long plastic tank, which is a sealed compost bag or "digester".
You add food waste or animal droppings to the bag, and it produces methane gas which can then be piped out.
To fuel her digester in a southern suburb of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Ms Zenebech collects cow dung for free from a nearby dairy farm.
When enough gas is produced, she transfers it into two metre-long, pillow-shaped inflatable balloons, which can be carried on your back like a rucksack.

Zenebech Alemayehu watches as a friend lights the gas supply from her digester
Zenebech Alemayehu previously made a living washing clothes and as a cleaner

Currently Ms Zenebech is using the biogas to cook snacks to sell at the police station next door, but her longer term aim is to sell the bags of gas to nearby homes, along the lines of the business model suggested by B-Energy.
Each balloon backpack holds 1.2 cubic metres of gas, enough for about five hours of cooking. Ms Zenebech plans to sell them for 10 Ethiopian birr (50 cents; 32 cents).
The heat and fire resistant bags come with a tap and pipe, which users simply attach to their gas stove.
When the balloon bag - which remains the property of B-Energy - is exhausted, users return it to their nearest franchisee for it to be refilled with gas.
Ms Zenebech says of her digester: "When I see it working I am so happy."

Cleaner alternative

B-Energy is the brainchild of German entrepreneur Katrin Puetz, 34.
With a masters in agricultural engineering, Ms Puetz began the project while working for Hohenheim University in Stuttgart.

Khartoum franchise owner Waleed Babiker (left) stands next to his digester in Khartoum
The sealed compost bag or digester produces methane gas from animal droppings and food waste

Realising its potential in Africa, as a clean, cheap alternative to cooking on smoky, polluting wood fires, she contacted Addis Ababa University, which invited her to move to Ethiopia for a year, and helped her develop the technology.
So in April of last year Ms Puetz launched B-Energy in the east African nation.
Although she was offered grants from global charities, she says she turned them down because she wanted to show that B-Energy could stand on its own feet.

Zenebech Alemayehu mixing cow dung with water to add to her digester
The digesters are typically covered with a tent to raise their temperatures

"My aim is not to just provide biogas, but to show it can be provided without aid," she says.
"This is not just about money, it is about pride - why do we always have to have aid and subsidies for something that can work on its own?"
As the business is still in an infant state it currently only has two franchisees in Ethiopia and one in Sudan.
Ms Puetz says that she has yet to determine how much money franchisees will need to pay to buy for their first digester and bags when the business is fully up and running.
However, she estimates a price of between 400 euros ($441; £281) and 800 euros, varying from country to country.

A boy carrying a B-Energy balloon rucksack
The balloons are light enough for children to carry them on their backs

Meanwhile, extra empty gas bags will each cost 43.50 euros.
For a country like Ethiopia these are high prices, but Ms Puetz says she is wants franchisees to be able to pay in instalments, and she is in talks with finance providers.
While it is hoped that franchisees like Ms Zenebech will make a profit on their part of the business, B-Energy itself is being run as a social enterprise, with profits reinvested into the business.
Araya Asfaw from Addis Ababa University's sustainable development agency, the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HOAREC), helped with the development of B-Energy.
He adds that it is essential that franchises are not given anything for free.
"When you give something for free, people do not value it, it may end up under the bed," he says.
"But make them pay and they then want the training, and use it properly."

'Too bulky'

To help promote B-Energy after its launch last year, the company came up with a novel idea in the town of Arsi Negele, 200km (124 miles) south of Addis Ababa.
Yodit Balcha, who owns the national B-Energy franchise for Ethiopia as a whole, explains: "Rather than just tell people, we connected a digester to a local cafe so people could see how it worked.

Katrin Puetz (left) and Yodit Balcha
Katrin Puetz (left) is in talks for B-Energy to be part of Ethiopia's National Biogas Program

"The technology is easy and simple, which helps acceptability."
Within weeks Ms Yodit says 26 households were buying E-Energy's gas sacks.
Yet despite B-Energy's optimism and enthusiasm, biogas is nothing new in Ethiopia and across Africa as a whole.
In fact in Ethiopia a government-backed scheme called the National Biogas Program is already rolling out biogas production across the country, and is funded by millions of euros from a Dutch charity.
B-Energy says its novel difference is its inflatable bags, which make the biogas far more portable, and therefore much easier for people to buy and sell. It is in talks to join the National Biogas Program.
However as Mr Araya admits, the large size of the bags may make them unsuitable for some cramped urban settings.
He says: "In the rural areas you have plenty of room, but it will be harder in the cities. The system is too bulky."
Despite such concerns about the size of the bags, Ms Zenebech is not deterred.
Having previously worked washing clothes and cleaning buildings, she is determined to be her own boss as she pushes ahead a fledgling business plan.
Up to her elbow in slurry as she mixes cow dung with water to add to her digester, she says: "I have done harder labour than this."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

‘Sleeping beauty’: 2,000-year-old remains found in biblical city | New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV

The 2,000-year-old remains of a sleeping woman, dubbed 'sleeping beauty' have been found in Ethiopia in the former biblical kingdom of Aksum.

The 2,000-year-old remains of a sleeping woman, dubbed ‘sleeping beauty’ have been found in Ethiopia in the former biblical kingdom of Aksum.
ETHIOPIA —It was the Queen of Sheba that first drew Louise Schofield — an archaeologist and former curator at the British Museum — to the Gheralta plateau in northern Ethiopia. She’d heard tell of a 20-foot stone stele carved with an inscription and a symbol often linked to the biblical queen: a sun and crescent moon.
“The story of the Queen of Sheba has a central place in the heart of all Ethiopians, so I became interested in the story myself,” she recalls (Sheba is thought to be located in parts of Ethiopia).
It was this initial visit that ultimately led her to discover the 2,000-year-old remains of a character she fondly refers to as “sleeping beauty.”
The grave was discovered at the stone stele, in an area that was once part of the ancient kingdom of Aksum, which today encompasses Ethiopia and Eritrea. Inside, Schofield’s team found the skeleton of a woman posed in a resting position, with her chin laid gently on one hand. A Roman-era bronze mirror was placed before her face. The corpse was surrounded with glass vessels (to catch the tears of the dead), as well as a bronze cosmetics spoon and a lump of kohl eyeliner.
“She must have been very wealthy, and probably well-loved to be placed in this position, and judging by all the items of finery around her,” surmised Schofield.
The dig also uncovered several other graves, all of which had several bodies buried beneath. In some, she found the remains of large warriors clad who each wore an iron bangle.
“We think they were warriors from a battle,” she says.
The unusual find suggests trade between Rome and Aksum started at least 200 years earlier than previously believed.
As the dig is less than a month old, there’s still a lot of information yet to come in about this restful lady. A bone expert wasn’t able to ascertain her age at the time of death because the pelvis — which usually provides a close approximation — had been consumed by termites. Schofield hopes that analysis of the teeth will provide some answers.
“There was something very personal about the way she was lying,” Schofield says. The remains were also found surrounded by clay containers that likely contained food or drink (these have also been sent off for analysis).
“The food, drink and cosmetics were all presumably left for her to use in the afterlife. She was pre-Christian and that’s how people buried their dead then,” says Schofield.
Shofield has a bit of the Midas touch when it comes to extraordinary finds. She also recently uncovered a Roman-era perfume flask in the same cemetery, although by chance. The archaeologist is also the director of London-based NGO The Tigray Trust, and the item was first brought to her attention by a local farmer she knew through the organization.
“I had been showing around a member of the Peace Corps who had been working in a nearby town (around the site), and we’d been out in the blazing sun for 18 hours, when a farmer I knew said his friend found something old, and he’d been keeping it for me,” she recalls.
“I was apologizing to the Peace Corps guy. I told him, ‘it could be an old coffee pot, but you never know, it could be the Queen of Sheba’s perfume flask.'”

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

America is on the wrong side of history | Business | The Guardian

US secret service agents and members of Ethiopian security on guard at Addis Ababa for President Barack Obama’s visit.
 US secret service agents and members of Ethiopian security on guard at Addis Ababa for President Barack Obama’s visit. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Third International Conference on Financing for Development recently convened in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The conference came at a time when developing countries and emerging markets have demonstrated their ability to absorb huge amounts of money productively. Indeed, the tasks that these countries are undertaking – investing in infrastructure (roads, electricity, ports, and much else), building cities that will one day be home to billions, and moving toward a green economy – are truly enormous.
At the same time, there is no shortage of money waiting to be put to productive use. Just a few years ago, Ben Bernanke, then the chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board, talked about a global savings glut. And yet investment projects with high social returns were being starved of funds. That remains true today. The problem, then as now, is that the world’s financial markets, meant to intermediate efficiently between savings and investment opportunities, instead misallocate capital and create risk.

There is another irony. Most of the investment projects that the emerging world needs are long term, as are much of the available savings – the trillions in retirement accounts, pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds. But our increasingly shortsighted financial markets stand between the two.
Much has changed in the 13 years since the first International Conference on Financing for Development was held in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002. Back then, the G7 dominated global economic policymaking; today, China is the world’s largest economy (in purchasing-power-parity terms), with savings around 50% larger than that of the US. In 2002, western financial institutions were thought to be wizards at managing risk and allocating capital; today, we see that they are wizards at market manipulation and other deceptive practices.
Gone are the calls for the developed countries to live up to their commitment to give at least 0.7% of their GNI in development aid. A few northern European countries – Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and, most surprisingly, the UK – in the midst of its self-inflicted austerity – fulfilled their pledges in 2014. But the US (which gave 0.19% of GNI in 2014) lags far, far behind.
Today, developing countries and emerging markets say to the US and others: if you will not live up to your promises, at least get out of the way and let us create an international architecture for a global economy that works for the poor, too. Not surprisingly, the existing hegemons, led by the US, are doing whatever they can to thwart such efforts. When China proposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to help recycle some of the surfeit of global savings to where financing is badly needed, the US sought to torpedo the effort. President Barack Obama’s administration suffered a stinging (and highly embarrassing) defeat.
The US is also blocking the world’s path towards an international rule of law for debt and finance. If bond markets, for example, are to work well, an orderly way of resolving cases of sovereign insolvency must be found. But today, there is no such way. Ukraine, Greece, and Argentina are all examples of the failure of existing international arrangements. The vast majority of countries have called for the creation of a framework for sovereign-debt restructuring. The US remains the major obstacle.

Private investment is important, too. But the new investment provisions embedded in the trade agreements that the Obama administration is negotiating across both oceans imply that accompanying any such foreign direct investment comes a marked reduction in governments’ abilities to regulate the environment, health, working conditions, and even the economy.
The US stance concerning the most disputed part of the Addis Ababa conference was particularly disappointing. As developing countries and emerging markets open themselves to multinationals, it becomes increasingly important that they can tax these behemoths on the profits generated by the business that occurs within their borders. Apple, Google, and General Electric have demonstrated a genius for avoiding taxes that exceeds what they employed in creating innovative products.
All countries – both developed and developing – have been losing billions of dollars in tax revenues. Last year, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released information about Luxembourg’s tax rulings that exposed the scale of tax avoidance and evasion. While a rich country such as the US arguably can afford the behaviour described in the so-called Luxembourg Leaks, the poor cannot.
I was a member of an international commission, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, examining ways to reform the current tax system. In a report presented to the International Conference on Financing for Development, we unanimously agreed that the current system is broken, and that minor tweaks will not fix it. We proposed an alternative – similar to the way corporations are taxed within the US, with profits allocated to each state on the basis of the economic activity occurring within state borders.
The US and other advanced countries have been pushing for much smaller changes, to be recommended by the OECD, the advanced countries’ club. In other words, the countries from which the politically powerful tax evaders and avoiders come are supposed to design a system to reduce tax evasion. Our commission explains why the OECD reforms were at best tweaks in a fundamentally flawed system and were simply inadequate.
Developing countries and emerging markets, led by India, argued that the proper forum for discussing such global issues was an already established group within the United Nations, the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, whose status and funding needed to be elevated. The US strongly opposed: it wanted to keep things the same as in the past, with global governance by and for the advanced countries.
New geopolitical realities demand new forms of global governance, with a greater voice for developing and emerging countries. The US prevailed in Addis, but it also showed itself to be on the wrong side of history.
Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics and University Professor at Columbia University, was chairman of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and served as senior vice-president and chief economist of the World Bank.

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.