Sunday, June 24, 2018

COMESA Launches 50MWS Project in Malawi
By Southern Times
June 24, 2018

COMESA successfully launched the 50 Million African Women Speak (50MWS) project, a women’s economic empowerment initiative, in Malawi following the engagement of stakeholders in Lilongwe.

Over 30 stakeholders from the government, private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and women’s associations participated in the engagement sessions, which were conducted from 12 to14 June 2018 in Lilongwe, Malawi.

50MWS is a three-year project funded by the African Development Bank, jointly implemented by three regional economic communities (RECs), that is COMESA, East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) in 36 countries. The objective of the project is to empower women entrepreneurs by providing access to financial and non-financial information relevant to developing and growing business.

The project will create a networking platform to connect women entrepreneurs and encourage peer-to-peer learning, mentoring as well as information and knowledge sharing. The platform, which will be accessible on information and communication technology (ICT) gadgets including mobile phones, will enable women to access business training, financial services and locally relevant business information, and mentors among other services to support the overall goal of enhanced financial inclusion of women, leading ultimately to increased economic activity in Africa.

Addressing stakeholders during the official opening of the three-day programme, director in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Christina Chatima, underscored the commitment of the government of Malawi to ensure the project is a success.

“We are committed and indeed looking forward to the successful implementation of this project. It is our hope that the project will complement some of our interventions aimed at empowering women such as the establishment of the Women Economic Empowerment Platform (WEEP) and the Women Economic Empowerment Fund (WEEF),” she said.

“We also envisage the platform to assist women entrepreneurs penetrate regional markets by exporting products such as cabbages, tomatoes and onions given the opportunities presented by the Free Trade Area,” she added.

COMESA director for gender and social affairs, Beatrice Hamusonde, outlined the project background and explained factors which led to the conceptualisation and designing of the project. She highlighted that the African Development Bank conducted pilot studies, which identified challenges impeding women from growing their business. The studies, therefore, established that the development of an ICT platform could mitigate some of the gender-specific challenges affecting women entrepreneurs.

Similarly, COMESA conducted a study in selected member states on women’s access to finance and related services. The study resulted in the establishment of WEEF, which will be managed by the Trade and Development Bank, one of the COMESA institutions. COMESA explained to the participants how the platform would work and assist women entrepreneurs to establish their own digital identity (online marketplace) through the creation of profiles.

COMESA applauded Malawi for being active during the engagement process.

“It is pleasing to note that the engagement was a tremendous success. Active participation by all participants attests to your commitment to fully implement this project. I encourage you to remain in the same spirit during the process of information gathering and content development.”

The COMESA team, led by Hamusonde, paid a courtesy call on Malawi’s Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Dr Jean Kalirani, who also expressed government commitment to support the project. The team also held a meeting with Dr Ken Ndala, principal secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, who said the project was timely and would benefit women and other small and medium enterprises in Malawi.

COMESA is engaging member states to introduce the project, outlining the benefits as well as facilitating the establishment of project country teams at the national level. The country teams are responsible for gathering information and drafting content to be uploaded onto the platform, among other key duties. During the stakeholder engagement in Malawi a project country team, comprising representatives from the public sector, private sector, women’s associations, local and international organisations and UN agencies, was established.

From 25 to 27 June 2018, COMESA will be engaging stakeholders in Zimbabwe.
Eritrea to Send Delegation to Ethiopia for Talks
Move by Asmara comes after Addis Ababa said it will comply with peace deal and withdraw from contested border regions.

20 Jun 2018

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said the East African country will dispatch a delegation to Addis Ababa to "gauge current developments" in the region following peace overtures from Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

"We will send a delegation to [Addis Ababa] to gauge current developments directly and in depth as well as to chart out a plan for continuous future action," Isaias said on Wednesday during a speech in Eritrea.

"The events and developments that have unfolded in our region in general and in Ethiopia in particular in the recent period warrant appropriate attention," he added.

Addis Ababa announced on June 5 that it will fully accept the terms of a peace agreement with Asmara in a major step towards calming deadly tensions with its decades-long rival.

The agreement signed in 2000 ended a two-year war.

"The suffering on both sides is unspeakable because the peace process is deadlocked. This must change for the sake of our common good," Fitsum Arega, the chief of staff for the Ethiopian prime minister's office, said early this month.

Ethiopia became landlocked in 1993 after Eritrea, which comprised the country's entire Red Sea coast, voted to leave.

But the neighbours were soon at war over the demarcation of their shared border, a conflict that would leave 80,000 people dead and degenerate into a stalemate.

Hundreds would die in subsequent years in periodic border clashes after Ethiopia's refusal to accept the ruling of an UN-backed boundary commission that divided up contested territory between the two countries.

30 Suspects Arrested Over Ethiopia Grenade Attack
Second person succumbs to injuries from explosion at PM Ahmed's rally as nine police officials held over security lapse.

A second person has died after a grenade attack on a political rally attended by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the capital, Addis Ababa, as authorities arrested police officials and suspects.

Health Minister Amir Aman confirmed on Sunday that two people had been killed in the explosion on Saturday and 156 wounded.

"I'm so sorry to learn that we have lost another Ethiopian victim of yesterday's attack who was in ICU at Black Lion Hospital," Aman said on Twitter. "My sincere sympathy and condolences to the family, friends and all Ethiopians."

Abiy had just wrapped up his speech at the capital's Meskel Square before tens of thousands of people on Saturday when the explosion went off, sending droves of supporters towards the stage as the prime minister left hurriedly and was taken to safety.

Nine police officials, including the deputy head of the Addis Ababa police commission, have been arrested over alleged security lapses.

"Ethiopian police have confirmed that nine policemen have been arrested because of what they are calling gross negligence; for not putting enough security measures in place to make sure that such an incident did not occur," said Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow, reporting from Addis Ababa.

Thirty other suspects are also being held over alleged involvement in the attack, but no group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

In an address broadcast on state television after the attack, Abiy said the blast was orchestrated by groups who wanted to undermine the rally but did not name them.

"The people who did this are anti-peace forces. You need to stop doing this. You weren't successful in the past and you won't be successful in the future."

The blast has sent shockwaves across the country as the new prime minister, who enjoys a lot of political support, especially among the younger generation, seeks to enforce his reformist agenda.

Since assuming office in April, Abiy has introduced a number of reforms and has overseen the release of jailed dissidents and moved to liberalise the economy.

He has also made peace overtures with aggrieved opposition groups, as well as neighbouring Eritrea.

"Abiy's effort to move the country forward has angered those who for a very long time maintained a stronghold on the country's politics and economy," Mohammed Ademo, political commentator and founder of, an independent news website on Ethiopia, told Al Jazeera.

"They are trying to scare people and undermine the prime minister so they can send a signal that he is not capable of stabilising the country," Ademo added.

"Many Ethiopians are shocked that people would go to such lengths to stop what they see as a really positive move - the reforms they say this country really needs," said Al Jazeera's Adow.

Ethiopia was rocked by mass anti-government protests in 2015, which first broke out in the populous Oromia region, home to the Oromo, after the unveiling of plans for a controversial development project in Addis Ababa.

The rallies then spread to other parts of Ethiopia, including the Amhara region, with demonstrators demanding an end to human rights abuses as well as political reforms and greater freedoms.

Hundreds of people were killed and more than 20,000 others were arrested in a government crackdown that was widely condemned by human rights organisations.

Ramaphosa, Political Parties Slam Attacks in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia
2018-06-24 14:11
Derrick Spies, Correspondent

Attacks on leaders in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia have been strongly condemned by President Cyril Ramaphosa and political parties in South Africa.

This follows after an explosive device was detonated at a Zanu-PF rally in White City Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and a deadly blast occurred at a rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Saturday.

In the Zimbabwean attack, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had been addressing the crowds, escaped unharmed, but Vice President Kembo Mohadi was injured in the leg and taken to a local hospital.

Blast hits Ethiopia PM's rally as peace deal nears

A grenade attack has killed several people at a rally for Ethiopia's prime minister, after a wave of recent reforms and sudden move toward peace with neighboring Eritrea.

At least 15 people were injured, three seriously, and some lost limbs in the explosion, according to Zimbabwe's Health Minister David Parirenyatwa.

In Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Health Minister announced a total of two people died in the blast, while more than 150 people were injured.

The attacks have been condemned by the international community, with Ramaphosa and South African political parties adding their voices.


Ramaphosa said acts of violence and criminality had no place in the democratic process of any sovereign state in the SADC region.

He said it was vital that the political and security situation in Zimbabwe remain stable in the run-up to the general elections to be held on 30 July 2018.

Responding to the Ethiopia blast, he expressed his condolences to the loved ones of the two people who died and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

The ANC said the violent acts should be condemned and not be allowed to spread and to be assimilated.

"The ANC views these as barbaric and cowardice acts of assassination attempts and deliberate ploys to destabilise and create disunity and confusion in our sister African countries," said ANC national spokesperson, Pule Mabe.

"These coward and barbaric acts have no place towards a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa that is transforming and seeks to accelerate initiatives for growth and sustainable development.

Mabe said the ANC called on the police and security agencies in both countries to find the perpetrators and to bring them to book.

Mabe also called on South Africans to be vigilant and report any suspicious acts to the police and security agencies.

"We must not allow our countries to be taken back to the use of violence and assassinations as a means to silence political opponents and those who occupy different positions to us.

Taking to Twitter, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the party condemned the bombing in Zimbabwe.

"More than anything the country needs free and fair elections without violence. SA and [SADC] must conduct an investigation urgently to determine all causes. Violence is undemocratic," he tweeted.

The Economic Freedom Fighters also condemned the assassination attempt on Mnangagwa.

"Zimbabwe has undergone a number of structural changes and the recent removal of former president, Robert Mugabe was a peaceful and non-violent action by the people of Zimbabwe," said EFF national spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

"We have hoped that this peace remains in place until the upcoming elections and beyond, in order for Zimbabwe to return to its former glory as the bread basket of Africa."

Ndlozi said the violence that plagued many African countries had to be done away with.

"We need to rebuild the continent and, as a people, we must unite to rid ourselves of the colonial past, but first let us learn to use non-violent means to achieve democratic states," he said.
DRC Will Give Jean-Pierre Bemba Diplomatic Passport to Return
23 Jun 2018 at 20:48

Democratic Republic of Congo's government says it will give former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, recently acquitted on appeal at the International Criminal Court of war crimes, a diplomatic passport to allow him to return to the country.

Bemba's return likely would shake up DRC's political landscape as the long-delayed presidential election approaches in December. He remains a senator in DRC, and the general secretary of his Movement for the Liberation of Congo opposition party has said he should participate in the party congress early next month.

A letter from DRC's foreign affairs minister, Leonard She Okitundu, to the Senate speaker asks him to tell Bemba's protocol officer to submit an application for a diplomatic passport to Congo's embassy in Brussels. A copy of the letter was seen by The Associated Press.

ICC judges earlier this month ordered Bemba's interim release, days after he was acquitted on appeal of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His 18-year sentence was overturned.

Bemba had been found guilty in 2016 as a military commander of crimes against humanity and war crimes for a campaign of murder, rape and pillaging by his MLC troops in Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

 The reversal on appeal delivered a serious setback to ICC prosecutors by scrapping all the convictions in the court's first trial to focus largely on sexual violence and on command responsibility — the legal principle that a commanding officer can be held responsible for crimes committed by his or her troops or for failing to prevent or punish the crimes.

Bemba is still is awaiting a final sentencing at the ICC in another case in which he was convicted of interfering with witnesses. A hearing is set for July 4.

Congo is under pressure to ensure a fair election in December amid concerns that President Joseph Kabila, in office since 2001, will try to run again or hold on to power. He has remained after his mandate ended in late 2016, with officials blaming the delay in part on the difficulties of preparing for an election in the vast nation of more than 40 million registered voters.

While Kabila cannot legally stand for a third term, opposition parties worry that he will anyway. Already the election delays have been met with deadly protests.

The United States is among a number of Western countries that have expressed concern.
'Where's My Kid?' At Texas Border, Desperate Parents Turn to Attorneys to Find Their Children
"I’ve never seen a volume of people who are punitively separated from their children for no reason," said a civil rights attorney in Texas.

by Suzanne Gamboa and Gabe Gutierrez
NBC News
Jun.24.2018 / 5:45 PM ET

LOS FRESNOS, Texas — Near the end of a straight, two-lane stretch of paved road leading to the Port Isabel Detention Center, attorney Sirine Sheboya is choking back emotion over the lengths mothers and fathers are going to be reunited with their children.

“We have people in there who are considering not continuing on with really strong asylum claims,” she said stopping to catch her breath as the emotion breaks through, “because they think that maybe they will get reunified with their kids faster if they give up their claim. That’s just wrong.”

As mothers and fathers wait in the secured, remote detention center amid the chaos of the Trump administration’s "zero-tolerance" policy that led to forced separations of children from their parents, attorneys like Sheboya and others have been thrust into doing the detective work of helping the parents learn the whereabouts of their children and try to give them hope that they will be reunited.

Sheboya, a civil rights attorney whose work often overlaps with immigration, said she didn’t think the immigration system was necessarily fair and just in the Obama years, but she had "never seen anything like this."

“The immigration system has been harsh and enforced in a manner that lacks compassion, but I’ve never seen a volume of people who are punitively separated from their children for no reason when there is absolutely no reason for people to be separated from their kids," she said.

The Department of Homeland Security said late Saturday in a “fact sheet” that it has a well-coordinated process of reuniting families. But by Sunday, Trump was calling for all migrants to be deported without trial.

Attorneys have become a lifeline for migrants in detention, responding as would clergy to a disaster or tragedy, as the legal labyrinth of immigration has become all that more complicated.

Although many are accustomed to the immigration system’s complexities, they are finding the situation created by the Trump "zero-tolerance" prosecutions full of never-before-seen hurdles and restrictions that hamper their access to children and parents and are making their work to ensure those with valid asylum and other claims get to stay.

Ali Rahnama, an immigration attorney from Washington, D.C. who works on public policy and high impact litigation, said he woke up last Monday and felt he needed to be on the border. He found a private donor to pay for him and a few colleagues to fly to the border.

Rahnama said he and other attorneys expected Immigration and Customs Enforcement would have access to a database that would have information on where each child is, but no such database seems to exist.

“They are asking us (and advocacy groups) to give them that information,” Rahnama said.

An immigrant from Iran, Rahanama said he came alone to the U.S. and it was not easy to immigrate here, but he said he feels fortunate he is not going through what parents are telling him has been their experience.

“We have men and women saying, 'My 5- and 6-year-old was holding my leg and was taken away,'” said Rahnama, who visited parents and guardians being held in the Port Isabel Detention Center. “They go to court and are told their child will be there when they come back and they come back and there is no child,” he said.

The facility is obscured by foliage and can’t be seen until about halfway up the road leading to it, where officers stand guard, stopping media and others without prior permission to enter. Families who have appointments to visit with people in the detention center drive in and out.

Ofelia Calderon serves on the board of the Dulles Justice Coalition, a group of attorneys that formed when President Donald Trump signed an executive order that essentially banned people from seven mostly Muslim countries from obtaining visas to enter the U.S.

Calderon said in her interviews of 35 people over a day-and-a-half, 100 percent of them had their children taken from them, about 30 percent had made contact with their child. Of those able to contact their child, only some had a vague idea of the child’s whereabouts and little information on the conditions of where they were staying.

One person Calderon spoke to had a 10-year-old son who had been able to tell the parent “I think I’m in Miami,” but little else.

She said she encountered several women who were victims of sexual assault; but even with that experience, they were more focused in the interviews on finding out about their children than relaying their trauma.

“They are breaking down and saying, 'Where’s my kid?'” Calderon said.

Those who do have contact with their children get about one to two minutes on the phone with them, Calderon said. Some have found out where the children are through family back home. People in detention have to receive money from relatives to buy minutes on phone cards to speak with family members. The attorneys were uncertain whether the calls to their children were free.

The fears of parents who have yet to connect with their kids aren’t likely to be eased until reunification happens after a 15-year-old boy had run away from a shelter in Brownsville. A source with direct knowledge of the situation told NBC News the child ran away from Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas, run by Southwest Key.

The shelter had been in conversation with the man he calls his father, but there had been a discrepancy in a DNA test. Before things could be sorted out, the child left and is now in Mexico, according to the source. The man who the child said was his father is sending him money to return to Honduras.

The source said Southwest Key has 19,849 children in its care — of that number, 42 have left. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not return NBC News’ request for comment.

Southwest Key said in a statement that it is a child care center and not a detention center. “If a child attempts to leave any of our facilities, we cannot restrain them,” Southwest Key stated. “We talk to them and try to get them to stay. If they leave the property, we call law enforcement.

DHS said late Saturday that more than 2,000 children have been reunited with parents. More were expected before the weekend is up. Officials said Port Isabel would be its reunification center.

Sometimes it's not just children who attorneys have to locate, but some of the parents as well. Efrén Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project can no longer find three clients who were part of a group of five parents who complained in a petition filed with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, part of the Organization of American States, about the child separations.

“They were either released to the U.S. with notice to appear (at a court at a later date) or were deported. We are looking diligently to contact them. We gave them a number and asked them to contact us if they were released,” Olivares said. “We have not heard from them."
Trump Advocates Depriving Undocumented Immigrants of Due-process Rights
Turned away at the border and prosecuted for crossing illegally, Central American asylum seekers are feeling the brunt of Trump’s new ‘zero tolerance’ policy. (Jon Gerberg /The Washington Post)

By Philip Rucker and David Weigel
Washington Post
June 24 at 5:38 PM

President Trump on Sunday explicitly advocated for depriving undocumented immigrants of their due-process rights, arguing that people who cross the border into the United States illegally were invaders and must immediately be deported without trial or an appearance before a judge.

Trump’s attack on the judicial system sowed more confusion as lawmakers struggle to reach consensus on immigration legislation and as federal agencies scramble to reunite thousands of migrant children and their parents who were separated at the border under an administration policy that the president abruptly reversed last week.

The House is preparing to vote this week on a broad Republican immigration bill. Although the White House supports the proposed legislation, its prospects for passage appeared dim Sunday, both because Democrats oppose the measure and because Republicans have long been divided over how restrictive immigration laws should be.

Meanwhile, some GOP lawmakers were preparing a more narrow bill that would solely address one of the flaws in Trump’s executive order, which mandates that migrant children and parents not be separated during their detention. The 1997 “Flores settlement” requires that children be released after 20 days, but the GOP proposal would allow for children and their parents to stay together in detention facilities past 20 days.

At the center of the negotiations is a president who has kept up his hard-line rhetoric even as he gives contradictory directives to Republican allies. In a pair of tweets sent late Sunday morning during his drive from the White House to his Virginia golf course, Trump described immigrants as invaders, called U.S. immigration laws “a mockery” and wrote that they must be changed to take away legal rights from undocumented migrants.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump wrote. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents.”

The president continued in a second tweet: “Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit — we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!”

Trump also exhorted congressional Democrats to “fix the laws,” arguing that “we need strength and security at the Border! Cannot accept all of the people trying to break into our Country.”

After House Republicans failed to pass a hard-line immigration bill last week, they were preparing to vote on another broad bill this week that would provide $25 billion for Trump’s long-sought border wall, limit legal immigration and give young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

“I did talk to the White House yesterday. They say the president is still 100 percent behind us,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

But because that bill may not garner enough votes to pass the House, momentum was building over the weekend for a more narrow measure that would effectively end the Flores settlement. Should the broader bill fail, the White House is preparing to throw its support behind the measure, which is expected to garner wider support among lawmakers, according to a White House official.

Legislative negotiations are continuing behind the scenes despite Trump’s vacillations over the past week. The president began the week defending his administration’s family separation policy. On Tuesday night, he expressed support for two rival GOP bills in a muddled and meandering address to House Republicans in which he insulted Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) without prompting, drawing a smattering of boos. Then on Friday, he urged lawmakers to throw in the towel, tweeting, “Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November.”

That tweet demoralized Republicans as they headed home for the weekend, but it did not end talks about what the House might pass. Brendan Buck, counselor to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), said Sunday that a solution specifically dealing with family separation had been “a topic of discussion all week,” although he noted that there was not one policy or bill that Republicans had coalesced behind.

Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said Sunday that it was premature to announce which measures Trump would sign but urged Congress to act quickly to address the immigration issue broadly.

“The White House has consistently raised our concern about the Flores settlement with Congress,” Short said. “It’s, in fact, an issue that previous administrations grappled with also, and we anticipate Congress acting on that sooner rather than later.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s attack on the due-process rights of immigrants follows a week in which he has been fixated on the immigration court system, which he has called “ridiculous.” The president has balked at proposals from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and other lawmakers to add court personnel to help process more immigration cases.

Democrats and immigrant rights advocates sought to shame Trump for saying he wants to deny illegal immigrants their due-process rights.

“America rules by law,” tweeted Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), “not by presidential diktat.”

Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement: “What President Trump has suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional. Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally.”

And at least one GOP lawmaker spoke out against Trump’s threat. Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), a libertarian-leaning Republican who has often criticized the president, responded to the controversy by quoting the Fifth Amendment.

“No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” Amash tweeted.

Trump has been beating this drum for several days now. In a speech Tuesday, Trump said: “I don’t want judges. I want border security. I don’t want to try people. I don’t want people coming in.”

“Do you know, if a person comes in and puts one foot on our ground, it’s essentially, ‘Welcome to America, welcome to our country’?” Trump continued. “You never get them out, because they take their name, they bring the name down, they file it, then they let the person go. They say, ‘Show back up to court in one year from now.’ ”

Trump suggested in those remarks, delivered before the National Federation of Independent Businesses, that many immigrants were “cheating” because they were following instructions from their attorneys.

“They have professional lawyers,” he said. “Some are for good, others are do-gooders, and others are bad people. And they tell these people exactly what to say.”

Many immigration hard-liners see it differently. Asylum applications and deportation proceedings go before immigration courts, staffed by judges who can make rulings without consulting juries.

Cruz’s initial legislation on the border crisis proposed doubling the number of immigration judges, to 750 from roughly 375. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken steps to strengthen the immigration courts, allowing them to process many cases without trials and limiting their ability to delay other cases.

“I have sent 35 prosecutors to the Southwest and moved 18 immigration judges to the border,” Sessions told an audience in San Diego earlier this year. “That will be about a 50 percent increase in the number of immigration judges who will be handling the asylum claims.”

While wrestling with their own response, Republicans have shifted blame to Democrats, who have been critical of both Sessions’s moves and drafts of immigration legislation. In a Sunday afternoon tweet, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued for “a czar to break through the bureaucracy and get these kids out of limbo and back in their parents’ arms.”

On the Sunday political talk shows, Republicans echoed Trump in accusing Democrats of rejecting any serious solution in favor of inflicting political hurt — and charging that they want “open borders.”

“Chuck Schumer says, ‘No, no, no, we’re not going to bring it up,’ ” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a leader of the House Freedom Caucus, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “What they want is the political issue. They don’t want to solve the problems. They don’t want to keep families together and adjudicate this and have a go through the hearing process and do it in a way that’s consistent with the rule of law.”

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Sunday said the Defense Department is working on details of a plan to house migrants at two military bases in the United States. Speaking to reporters en route to a visit to Alaska, Mattis said the Pentagon had received a request from the Department of Homeland Security to receive migrants and is finalizing how many people would need to be housed and what they would require.

Mattis said the Pentagon’s role is limited, and compared it to the department’s housing of migrants from Vietnam and people displaced by natural disasters.

“We’re in a logistics support response mode to the Department of Homeland Security,” he said.

Missy Ryan contributed to this report.
Trump Slammed Over 'Illegal' Suggestion to Send 'Invaders' Back
US president says people entering country with no proper documents should be sent back without court cases or judges.

President Donald Trump has said undocumented people entering the United States should be immediately deported without any judicial process, drawing sharp criticism from rights groups who say such a step would be illegal and violate the constitution.

"We cannot allow all of these people to invade our country," Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday, as he reiterated his tough stance on immigration.

"When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came.

"Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and law and order. Most children come without parents," he said, adding that immigration must be based on merit.

In response, Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, called Trump's suggestion "both illegal and unconstitutional".

"Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally."

Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also condemned the US president's comments.

"This clear call for an end to the constitutionally-guaranteed right to due process is symptomatic of an administration that disdains both the Constitution and our judicial system, and would subject those who cross our borders to the whims of unaccountable officials acting on the twisted logic of white supremacy and racism," Nihad Awad, CAIR national executive director, said in a statement.

"All Americans should be outraged by this affront to our values and democracy."

'Zero tolerance'

Trump's latest remarks came as thousands of migrant children wait to be reunited with their parents after the right-wing president signed an executive order ending his administration's policy of separating families at the border.

Since reversing his policy on Wednesday, Trump has severely criticised the US immigration laws on Twitter and in speeches.

"Our immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years!" he tweeted.

The Trump administration has faced increasing criticism over what advisers have claimed is a conscious decision to take minors away from undocumented immigrant parents and guardians.

Roughly 2,300 children were separated from their families in recent weeks by US Border Control.

Following the latest executive order, a federal task force has been set up to reunite migrant children and their parents at detention facilities on the Mexican border.

A defiant Trump has, however, said that his "zero tolerance" policy on undocumented immigrants, in which all unlawful border crossings are referred for prosecution, will continue.

US immigration law provides certain rights for undocumented immigrants arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In most cases, they are allowed a full hearing before an immigration judge before being deported.

UN Condemns Trump Administration for Exacerbating US Poverty Levels
In damning report, UN’s poverty monitor hit back at criticisms by Nikki Haley, saying government policies would punish millions of low-income Americans

Ed Pilkington in Geneva @edpilkington
Fri 22 Jun 2018 12.16 EDT

 The UN’s monitor on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, visits residents of the Jobos, Guayama neighborhood in Puerto Rico on 10 December 2017.

The Trump administration has been castigated at the United Nations in Geneva for consciously exacerbating levels of inequality in America that are already the most extreme in the western world.

The excoriating report on the state of the US nation was delivered to a packed hearing of the human rights council on Friday by the UN’s monitor on extreme poverty, Philip Alston. In what is now turning into a battle of words between the US government and international observers, Alston hit back at criticisms that had been leveled at him the previous day by Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN.

Haley complained that it was “patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America”. She accused the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights of political bias and wasting UN money by carrying out a six-month investigation into poverty and inequality in America, saying he should have focused instead on countries like Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Addressing delegations from 46 countries gathered in the chamber of the human rights council, Alston fired back that “when one of the world’s wealthiest countries does very little about the fact that 40 million of its citizens live in poverty, it is entirely appropriate for the reasons to be scrutinized”. He said that the “massive tax cuts” promoted by Trump would “overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy” while other policies pursued by the US government would stigmatize and punish millions of low-income Americans.

In his most caustic comment, Alston threw back at Haley a term that she herself had used to deride the UN human rights council as a “cesspool of political bias”. Alston said that same council that he had seen with his own eyes real cesspools ­– in Alabama, during his tour of poverty hotspots in America.

“I witnessed raw sewage poured into the gardens of people who could never afford to pay $30,000 for their own septic systems.” He added poignantly: “Cesspools need to be cleaned up, and governments need to act.”

Such criticism of the world’s most powerful nation was all the more striking given the absence in the room. That morning, the chair normally occupied by the US delegation to the human rights council in Geneva was removed from the chamber following the decision of the Trump administration on Tuesday to withdraw from membership.

The departure of the US makes it the only country to have pulled out of the world entity since the council was founded in 2006.

Haley said the decision to depart was motivated by anger over the council’s perceived anti-Israeli bias, and about the continued membership within the body of human rights abusers such as Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But there was also growing speculation over whether the timing of the withdrawal had anything to do with Alston’s deeply critical report on poverty in America.

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, asked in a tweet: “Is it just a coincidence that the US withdraws from the UN Human Rights Council two days before it examines the Trump administration’s neglect of poverty in the United States?”

Had the US delegation been present in the council for the hearing, they might have been forgiven for wincing at Alston’s presentation. He accused Haley of wanting to exempt the US from precisely the kind of international accountability over human rights that the Trump administration demanded for other countries.

Turning to the findings of his tour of the US, he noted that maternal mortality rates among African Americans were now almost double those in Thailand. He cited new World Health Organisation data that shows that babies born in China today will live longer healthy lives than babies born in America.

While accepting that the US economy was enjoying a period of growth, Alston said: “But the question is, who is benefiting. The benefits of economic growth are going overwhelmingly to the wealthy.”

Since 1980, he said, the average national income before tax for the bottom half of US income distribution had stagnated at just $16,000, while earnings of the top 1% had soared. “In other words, the American dream of mobility is turning into the American illusion, in which the rich get ever richer and the middle classes don’t move.”

Most ominously, the UN monitor warned that the persistence of extreme poverty in the US would have a knock-on on the health of its democracy. He said such enduring problems “create ideal conditions for small elites to trample on the human rights of minorities, and sometimes even of majorities”.

The warning was echoed by the ACLU, which told the human rights council that under Trump the US was suffering “the erosion of political participation. People living in poverty in the United States are being systematically deprived of their right to vote.”

The ACLU’s Jennifer Turner referred to the more than 6 million Americans who have been disenfranchised as a result of felony convictions. One out of four African Americans in Kentucky, for instance, have been stripped of their votes as a result of felony disenfranchisement.

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Trump Calls for Deporting Migrants 'Immediately' Without a Trial
"When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came," the president wrote.

by Daniella Silva
Jun.24.2018 / 1:24 PM ET

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that the U.S. “Cannot accept all of the people trying to break into our Country” and called for migrants to be "immediately" deported without a trial.

“When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came,” he said. His tweet did not mention people coming to the U.S. to seek asylum, which is legal to do.

"Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order," he said, adding in another tweet that legal entry to the country should be based on “merit.”

Immigration advocates pushed back on the comments. “What President Trump has suggested here is both illegal and unconstitutional. Any official who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws should disavow it unequivocally,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Late Saturday night, the Trump administration released a “fact sheet” noting more than 2,000 children have yet to be reunited with their parents and revealing some details about the reunification process.

The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) said that as of June 20, 2,053 separated children remained in HHS custody, waiting to be reunited with their families as a result of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy seeking to criminally prosecute all adults crossing the border illegally, leading to family separations.

The statement comes three days after Trump ended his policy that led to family separations, allowing families to be held together in detention centers, after an outpouring of protests.

Foster mom on trauma of separated migrant children: 'They are coming crying, almost hysterical'
The fact sheet released Saturday stated that the government had a “well coordinated” process of reuniting families “for the purposes of removal” — in contrast to criticism from attorneys and activists that the executive order ending family separations was creating confusion among agencies and the courts.

The statement added that children are given the opportunity to communicate with a “vetted” parent or relative within 24 hours of arriving at an HHS-funded facility, but advocates and an organization providing foster care for separated children have told NBC News it can take weeks for parents to be tracked down and able to communicate with their children by phone.

The fact sheet did not say how long the reunification process would take or whether families would be reunited while the parents' immigration proceedings were ongoing or only once they were subject for deportation. It also did not state if the process is different for families going through the asylum process.

Separately, Customs and Border Protection has reunited 522 children who were separated from their families as part of the "zero tolerance" policy.

The statement said a “small number of children” that were separated for reasons other than zero tolerance will remain separated, listing general reasons for that being if the familial relationship cannot be confirmed, if the adult is believed to be a threat to the child or if the adult is a “criminal.”

Migrants are first detained in CBP custody when they are apprehended at the border. The separated families were then split into different agencies, with adults sent to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the children sent to HHS custody.

The Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Texas is serving as the primary family reunification and removal center for adults in ICE custody, according to the fact sheet.

Meanwhile, another wave of protests against Trump’s immigration policies was planned in several cities nationwide on Sunday, following rallies from San Diego to New York that drew thousands on Saturday.
'Not My Time': Zimbabwean President Speaks About Explosion Inches Away From Him 
19:22 23.06.2018
Sputnik International

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa survived an explosion that occurred at a ruling ZANU-PF party demonstration on Saturday. The politician, who was immediately evacuated from the scene, has not been hurt and vowed not to let "cowardly act to get in our way".

"There has been an incident at Bulawayo (White City Stadium) where the president was addressing a rally. This is now a police issue but the president is safe at Bulawayo State House," the president's spokesman, George Charamba, said, as quoted by Reuters.

Constantino Chiwenga, one of Zimbabwe's vice presidents, and his wife were slightly wounded in the explosion, whereas the country's political commissar, Rugeje, has reportedly sustained injuries, Reuters reported, citing sources close to the president.

According to The Herald newspaper, Zimbabwe's other vice president, Kembo Mohadi, suffered leg injuries and the minister of water, environment and climate, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, was also wounded in the blast.

Reacting to the incident Mnangagwa stated that the blast took place just inches away from him, but "it wasn't his time". He noted that this is not the first assassination attempt he experienced, adding that there were "so many" of them.

"The campaign so far has been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and we will not allow this cowardly act to get in our way as we move towards elections," Mnangagwa stated in a Facebook post.

Footage shown by the state TV broadcaster depicts Mnangagwa who had just finished his speech and was ready to leave the stage. When the explosion occurred, the broadcast was interrupted by the provider.

The incident took place amid preparations for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in the country reportedly slated for July 30. The elections will take place for the first time since the end of the 37-year rule of former leader Robert Mugabe.

In November, Mugabe, 93, who served both as president and prime minister, stepped down.

Mnangagwa, who previously served as vice president, was sworn in as Mugabe's successor. One of Mnangagwa's key promises was to revive the country's ruined economy, as well as hold free and fair elections.

Earlier in the day, a similar blast hit a rally in Ethiopia where the country's prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, was addressing supporters.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Attempt on ED’s Life
23 JUN, 2018 - 15:06 
Zimbabwe Herald

First aiders attend to the injured following an explosion that rocked White City Stadium this afternoon where President Mnangagwa was addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters.

From Mabasa Sasa and Tendai Mugabe in Bulawayo

An explosion has rocked White City Stadium in Bulawayo where President Mnangagwa was addressing thousands of people at a campaign rally. President Mnangagwa is unhurt and has been successfully evacuated.

Presidential spokesman Mr George Charamba said: “President Mnangagwa has not been injured and is at Bulawayo State House. Investigations are underway and more details will be given to the public. There have been multiple attempts on the President’s life over the past five years.”

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is also reported to be safe. Several people are said to have been injured but the extent of the injuries has not yet been established. The area around the VIP stage has been cordoned off and security personnel are collecting evidence.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that Vice President Kembo Mohadi suffered leg injuries in the bomb blast. Minister of Water, Environment and Climate Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri was also injured. The two senior Government officials are admitted at a local hospital ( name withheld.)The Sunday Mail also has it on good authority that several security personnel attached to VIPs are also injured.

Officer Commanding Bulawayo province Senior Assistant Commissioner Learn Ncube told The Herald that they have already commenced investigations into the matter.

“I can confirm that there was an explosion at White City Stadium and that the President is safe. He was safely evacuated and investigations are already underway.
8 Injured in ED Assassination Attempt
23 JUN, 2018 - 18:06
From Tendai Mugabe in Bulawayo
Zimbabwe Herald

At least eight people including Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri were injured following an explosion at White City Sports Stadium where President Mnangagwa was addressing a rally.

The injured are whisked away from the scene

Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba told the Herald that most of the injured people have been attended to and discharged.

“Vice President Mohadi is nursing some leg injuries but he is in good spirit,” he said.

“Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri is still in a state of shock and she had some injuries around her chest.

National commissar Gen Rugeje had some shrapnel in his arm but he has been attended to and discharged. Mai Chiwenga had some lacerations on her face as she tried to rescue one of her aides who had shrapnel in her stomach.
Mnangagwa Visits Explosion Victims, Asks Zimbabweans to 'Remain United'
Africa News

Zimbabwe’s president has visited victims of the explosion that rocked a rally he had just addressed in Bulawayo, the second largest city of the country.

The president, who survived what is thought to have been an assassination attempt on his life has urged the country to ‘remain calm and address our differences peacefully’.

‘‘While we await further information, my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence,’‘ the president said in a tweet after confirming that he had visited some of the victims in the hospital.

Mnangagwa was speaking at his first rally in Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold where the ruling ZANU-PF has not won in national elections since 2000.

Mnangagwa said last August, when he was still vice president, that he had been poisoned at a rally outside Bulawayo and spent weeks receiving medical treatment in neighbouring South Africa.

In an interview conducted after Saturday’s explosion, Mnangagwa however insisted that he does not believe the people of Bulawayo are behind the attack, ‘they love him as much as he loves them’.

Zimbabwe holds its presidential election on July 30, with 75-year-old Mnangagwa and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the main contenders.

The vote next month is the first since Robert Mugabe’s downfall after a de facto military coup last November.

Unlike previous elections which were marred by violence, mostly against opposition members by ZANU-PF supporters, the run up to this year’s vote has been relatively peaceful.

Mnangagwa has promised a free and fair vote and if it is endorsed by international observers who are in the country for the first time since 2000, it could help Zimbabwe secure funding from international institutions for the first time in two decades.

Zimbabwe last had blasts at rallies in the 1980s, which had targeted Mugabe.
Zimbabwe's President Mnangagwa Survives Assassination Attempt at Rally in Bulawayo
Africa News

A rally attended by the Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa in Bulawayo, was rocked by an explosion as the president walked off the podium. His spokesman said the head of state was successfully evacuated.

“The president has been successfully evacuated. He is at the provincial headquarters in Bulawayo,” spokesman George Charamba told AFP by telephone.

“We think it was an explosion, which certainly happened very close to the podium where the personalities were,” Charamba continued, without further clarification.

A ZANU PF official tweeted a video clip that he says captured the explosion.

Nick Mangwana, the chairman of ZANU-PF in the United Kingdom says some of the injured include Dr. Engelbert Rugeje, Mrs Mabel Chinomona and Mrs Marry Chiwenga among other dignitaries.

According to several witnesses, the explosion was felt when the head of state, candidate of the ruling party, Zanu-PF, in the presidential election scheduled for 30 July, had just finished his speech in front of several hundred of his supporters.

The meeting was held in a stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, considered an opposition stronghold.

The presidential and legislative elections on 30 July are the first to be held since the November resignation of President Robert Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe with an iron fist since independence in 1980.

Released by the army and the Zanu-PF, Mr. Mugabe was replaced by Mnangagwa, his former vice president.

Mnangagwa is largely expected to win the presidential election against a divided opposition.
Ethiopia Explosion: Six Suspects in Custody, As Allies Express Support for Abiy's Reforms
Daniel Mumbere

Several allies of Ethiopia have condoled with Ethiopians following a grenade attack that injured over 100 people at a rally organised in Addis Ababa on Saturday to express support for reforms by the new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.

The Ethiopian health minister, Amir Aman confirmed that one person had succumbed to their injuries, while at least 156 people were receiving treatment for injuries sustained during the grenade attack that happened this morning, just after Abiy finished his speech to the hundreds of thousands gathered.

Media portal Addis Standard reported that six suspects have under custody and are being investigated, according to the Commissioner General of the Ethiopian Federal Police Commission, Zeynu Jemal.

Ethiopia’s allies express support

Messages of support have started pouring in from Ethiopia’s allies including the president of Djibouti, who described the attack as one done by people ‘who want to oppose the bold reforms to develop and strengthen national unity’ initiated by Abiy.

‘‘We reaffirm our commitment to Ethiopia’s stability as a strategic partner for the region’s economic development,’‘ president Ismail Omar Guelleh tweeted.

 We extend our deepest condolences to the victims of the explosion in Meskel Square and their families and wish the injured a quick recovery. Violence has no place as Ethiopia pursues meaningful political and economic reforms.

Addressing the nation on television shortly afterwards, Abiy said the attack was an “attempt by forces who do not want to see Ethiopia united.”

Abiy had promised in his rally speech to bring more transparency to government and reconciliation to a nation torn by years of protests. When speaking on television, he was still wearing a green T-shirt handed to him by rally organisers.

Eritrea, which has long been at loggerheads with Ethiopia over a border row that Abiy has sought to resolve, also condemned the incident.

Ethiopia PM ready to welcome Eritrean delegation for peace talks

Abiy took office after his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned following protests that erupted in 2015 in the nation of 100 million people. Emergency law was temporarily imposed to quell the unrest and was lifted this month.

Despite boasting one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, opponents say the benefits have not been shared fairly between ethnic groups and regions in the country, which has been run by the same ruling coalition for more than quarter of a century.
What Next for Ethiopia After Grenade Attack at PM's Rally?
Explosion at rally attended by supporters of reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed kills at least one and wounds scores.

by Fidelis Mbah
Al Jazeera

Tens of thousands of people descended in Addis Ababa's Meskel square on Saturday morning in a massive show of support for Abiy Ahmed, the new, reformist prime minister of Ethiopia.

Dressed in colourful attire displaying Abiy's image and carrying signs with slogans such as "One Love, One Ethiopia", the diverse crowd cheered on as the 41-year-old prime minister repeated his message of unity in a country rocked by violent unrest in recent years.

But the sense of jubilation didn't last for long.

Shortly after Abiy wrapped up his speech, an explosion went off among the demonstrators.

At least one person was killed and more than 150 others were wounded, in what is believed to be a grenade attack.

Abiy, who has announced a series of major reforms since taking office in April, was hurriedly escorted out of the rally as his supporters tried to come to terms with what had just happened.

"The people who did this are anti-peace forces," Abiy said in an address broadcast afterwards on state television.

"You need to stop doing this. You weren't successful in the past and you won't be successful in the future."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion. Later on Saturday, police said six people were being investigated for the attack.

The blast sent shockwaves across Ethiopia, a country at a critical juncture in its political history as it seeks to emerge from a tumultuous period of instability.

"Abiy's effort to move the country forward has angered those who for a very long time maintained a stronghold on the country's politics and economy," Mohammed Ademo, political commentator and founder of, an independent news website on Ethiopia, told Al Jazeera.

"They are trying to scare people and undermine the prime minister so they can send a signal that he is not capable of stabilising the country," Ademo added.

"The incident is going to unite the people more and put the hardliners who want to obstruct his changes in a more difficult position."

'Reformist agenda'

Ethiopia was rocked by mass anti-government protests in 2015, which first broke out in the populous Oromia region, home to the Oromo, after the unveiling of plans for a controversial development project in Addis Ababa.

The rallies then spread to other parts of Ethiopia, including the Amhara region, with demonstrators demanding an end to human rights abuses as well political reforms and greater freedoms.

Hundreds of people were killed and more than 20,000 others were arrested in a government crackdown that was widely condemned by human rights organisations.

In February, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned, citing ongoing "unrest and a political crisis" in the country as major factors in his decision.

He was replaced two months later by Abiy, who became the first prime minister from the Oromo ethnic group since the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power 27 years ago.

Since assuming office, Abiy has introduced a number of reforms and has overseen the release of jailed dissidents and moves to liberalise the economy.

Overall, thousands of prisoners, including several senior opposition leaders accused of charges such as incitement to topple the government, have been pardoned since January - even before Abiy's election by the EPRDF.

The pardons are part of reforms that the government pledged to undertake after the violent unrest broke out three years ago.

Ryan Cummings, a political and security risk analyst, said the attack on Saturday is unlikely to force Abiy to change course.

"[He] has instituted enough socioeconic and political reforms, [which makes it] unlikely to respond to the attack today by instituting some of the repressive measures which he has lifted since his tenure [began]," he told Al Jazeera.

"Instead, the prime minister may continue to enact reforms which he has promised to deliver to Ethiopia and which will be central to the country's long-term stability."

It is going to be people power versus the power of a few disgruntled established hardliners. I think people power will overcome in the long run. It is people power that brought him to power

The new prime minister enjoys a lot of political support, especially from the younger population.

He has also made peace overtures to aggrieved opposition groups, as well as neighbouring Eritrea.

On June 5, Addis Ababa announced that it will fully accept the terms of a 2000 peace agreement with Asmara which ended a two-year war, in a major step towards calming deadly tensions with its decades-long rival.

The move, however, has been met with criticism by groups opposing the deal.

"Rescinding conciliation with Eritrea could render his governance as weak and could incentivise further violence in response to his policy promulgation," Cummings said.

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki recently said the East African country will dispatch a delegation to Addis Ababa to "gauge current developments" in the region following Ethiopia's moves.
Blast at Rally in Support of Ethiopia's New PM Kills One, Injures 132
Maheder Haileselassie
10:06 23.06.2018
Sputnik International

The explosion happened in Meskel Square in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed finished addressing the crowd of his supporters and was prepared to leave the stage, waving to people.

"One person has passed away at Black Lion Hospital. I would like to pass my condolences to the family and Ethiopian people," Ethiopia's health minister Amir Aman said. The official added that 132 people were injured in a grenade attack during the pro-government demonstration.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister's chief of staff Fitsum Arega refuted previous reports that some people died in the blast, which disrupted a rally in support of the new prime minister, and confirmed 83 people injured. Previously, Abiy Ahmed in a televised address said that "a few people" had been killed and others got injuries as a result of the explosion.

According to the Prime Minister's chief of staff, the blast was caused by a grenade attack; however, no suspects have been identified yet.

"Some whose heart is filled with hate attempted a grenade attack. HE PM Abiy is safe. All the casualties are martyrs of love & peace. HE PM sends his condolences to the victims. The perpetrators will be brought to justice," Arega said.

Commenting on the blast later in the day, Ethiopian police stated that six suspects were under investigation for the attack.

Local media published alleged photos of the incident and reported that it was a hand grenade thrown at the police car.

Ambulances and emergency services immediately rushed to the scene.

The 42-year-old Abiy Ahmed, who took office only in April, already enjoys tremendous popular support as he's started an unprecedented wave of reforms in the country. The new prime minister has ordered the release of thousands of prisoners and negotiated a peace deal with Eritrea, Ethiopia's decades-long rival, as well as opened state companies to private investors.
Deadly Blast at Rally for Reformist Ethiopia PM
Explosion rocks venue shortly after Ahmad addresses gathering

15:34 June 23, 2018 Gulf News

Addis Ababa: One person died and scores of others were hurt after a grenade blast at new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad's first mass rally in the capital that sent crowds fleeing in panic.

Abiy had just wrapped up his speech before tens of thousands of people in the heart of Addis Ababa when the explosion went off, sending droves of supporters towards the stage as the prime minister left hurriedly, an AFP correspondent said.

Girma Kassa, deputy head of Addis Ababa’s police commission, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation that 100 people had been injured in the attack, 15 of them “severely”.

Addressing the country minutes after he was hurried to safety, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad said “a few people” had been killed and others injured.

He called the blast a “well-orchestrated attack” but one that failed. He did not lay blame but said police were investigating. An Associated Press reporter saw more than a dozen injured people.

“The prime minster was the target,” a rally organiser, Seyoum Teshome, told the AP.

Held back by the crowd

“An individual tried to hurl the grenade toward a stage where the prime minister was sitting but was held back by the crowd.”

Three suspects, two men and a woman, were immediately arrested, Seyoum said.

The attack was “cheap and unacceptable,” the prime minister said, and added: “Love always wins. Killing others is a defeat. To those who tried to divide us, I want to tell you that you have not succeeded.”

The explosion in packed Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa, came after weeks of sweeping reforms that had shocked many in Africa’s second most populous nation after years of anti-government tensions, states of emergency, thousands of arrests and long internet shutdowns.

Peace deal

The 42-year-old Abiy took office in April and quickly announced the release of tens of thousands of prisoners, the opening of state-owned companies to private investment and the unconditional embrace of a peace deal with rival Eritrea.

Websites were unblocked and opposition figures were invited to dinner. Ethiopians said they could hardly keep up with the pace of change.

Saturday’s rally began as a show of exuberance, with supporters wearing clothes displaying Abiy’s image and carrying signs saying “One Love, One Ethiopia.”

In a cowboy hat and T-shirt, Ahmad told the tens of thousands of supporters that change was coming and there was no turning back.

“For the past 100 years hate has done a great deal of damage to us,” he said, stressing the need for even more reforms.

After the explosion the state broadcaster quickly cut away from coverage of the rally, which broke up with people singing, chanting and going back to their homes.

“I’ve never thought this day will come in Ethiopia. I’m very emotional right now,” said Mulugeta Sema, a supporter of Ahmad who wore a T-shirt with the new leader’s image and spoke before the blast. “We should never get back to dictatorship. This is time for change.”

In a notable sign of the new effort at dialogue between bitter rivals after a deadly border war and years of skirmishes, one diplomat for Eritrea, ambassador to Japan Estifanos Afeworki, said on Twitter that his country “strongly condemns the attempt to incite violence” in Saturday’s attack.

The United States has been among those in the international community expressing support for the dramatic changes in Ethiopia, a key security ally in a turbulent region with neighbors including Somalia and South Sudan.

Not everyone has cheered the reforms. Some Ethiopians in the north near the border with Eritrea, one of the world’s most reclusive nations, have protested the embrace of the peace deal. And the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a party in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition that has been the dominant force in government for most of the past 27 years, said the announcement on the peace deal had been made before the ruling coalition’s congress met to discuss it: “We see this as a flaw.”

Abiy is the first prime minister from the Oromo ethnic group, the largest in the country, since the ruling party came to power in 1991. Ethiopia’s sometimes deadly protests demanding more freedoms began in the Oromia and Amhara regions in late 2015 and spread elsewhere, finally leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn early this year.

Abiy visited the restive regions shortly after taking office and stressed the importance of resolving differences through dialogue instead.
RALLY BLAST Shocking Moment Grenade Was Hurled Towards Ethiopia’s New Prime Minister Leaving Several Dead
The explosion may have been an attempt to assassinate new Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, according to reports

By Bradley Jolly
23rd June 2018, 10:53 am

THIS is the shocking moment an explosion rocked a massive rally by supporters of Ethiopia's new prime minister, leaving several people dead today.

The blast, believed to have been caused by a grenade, may have been an attempt to assassinate reformist leader Abiy Ahmed, according to reports.

Dramatic footage captures Ahmed being rushed from the scene in Ethiopian capital's Meskel Square as thousands of people panic in horror.

The 41-year-old, who became prime minister in April, says “a few people” are dead.

Dozens of others have been seriously hurt.

People on social media reported buildings and ambulances had caught fire after the explosion.

Others said "shots had been fired".

Mr Ahmed, who has three children, said: "Today was a day for unity, and the day love was raining, although forces who don't want to see this amazing day have tried to stop this.

"There are a few death, and wounded during this attack.

"This action will not derail the peace that is ongoing in Ethiopia right now."

He sent condolences to families of those who were killed.

The politician is the country's first leader from the ethnic Oromo group, which has been at the centre of nearly three years of anti-government protests.

However, today's demonstration was organised in support of the dad to three.

Authorities are still investigating the blast.

Friday, June 22, 2018

At Least Ten People Killed in Zambia Mine Dump Collapse
 22 JUN, 2018 - 00:06

LUSAKA. – At least 10 subsistence miners were killed when a mine dump collapsed in Zambia’s second-largest city and copperbelt mining hub Kitwe, police said on Wednesday.

“So far, we have retrieved 10 dead bodies and seven bodies of those injured,” said Copperbelt province police commissioner Charity Katanga.

Operations to retrieve bodies at the dump, known locally as Black Mountain, were ongoing, she added.

Zambia has some of the world’s largest copper reserves.

The metal accounts for 80 percent of the country’s export earnings.

High levels of unemployment have forced people to resort to illegal mining.

MSF Aid Workers in Africa ‘Used Prostitutes’: BBC Report
2018/6/21 22:43:42

Aid workers for charity Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) used prostitutes in Africa, a BBC report said Thursday citing anonymous whistleblowers who also reported boasts of trading medicine for sex.

The NGO said it took the allegations seriously but said it had been unable to confirm the claims and urged anyone with information to come forward.

The allegations follow a crisis at British charity Oxfam over claims that its workers used prostitutes while stationed in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

A former employee based in MSF's London office told the BBC she had seen a senior staff member bring girls back to MSF accommodation while posted in Kenya.

"The girls were very young and rumored to be prostitutes," she said, adding that it was "implicit" that they were there for sex.

She said some of the older, long-standing male aid workers took advantage of their positions. "I felt that, with some of the older guys, there was definitely an abuse of power," she said. "They'd been there for a long time and took advantage of their exalted status as a Western aid worker."

She questioned what the charity knew, saying: "There's definitely a feeling that certain predatory men were seen as too big to fail."

Another female employee who worked with HIV patients in central Africa said the use of local sex workers was widespread.

"There was this older colleague, who actually moved a woman into the (charity) compound. It was pretty obvious that she was a prostitute but he'd call her his girlfriend," she said.

In a statement, the agency said, "We do not tolerate abuse, harassment or exploitation within MSF."
Debate About Einstein’s Diary Misses Point of Discrimination Against Asians Today
By Liu Yan
Global Times
2018/6/21 18:43:40

Famed physicist Albert Einstein was thrust into media limelight when a series of travel diaries written in early 1920s were found to contain deeply racist and xenophobic views. In his diary, Einstein described the Chinese as "industrious, filthy, obtuse people… they are a peculiar herd-like nation, often more like automatons than people." The shocking revelation has somewhat tainted the image of this iconic figure.

Being Jewish, Einstein later devoted himself to the civil rights movement in the US and lent sympathy to the treatment of the black population. Though the diaries were written nearly 100 years ago before the concept of anti-racism was fully developed, the great physicist's inner world has shattered the expectations of many.

A heated debate has flared up among Chinese internet users as to whether Einstein was a racist and if it is fair to judge his views by today's human rights standards. When Einstein visited China, Japan and some other Asian nations in 1922, the gap between Western and Eastern civilizations was huge. China had barely recovered from the humiliation of World War I and was mired in battles among warlords. Feudal rule had been overthrown, but a republican system functioned poorly.

That was the background of Einstein's diary. Famous Chinese writer Lu Xun (1881-1936) had many of his novels written during the same period. He made his name by depicting the dark side of Chinese society of the time and yearning to bring the Chinese out of their stupor.

This is not to say that Einstein should be forgiven for his racist view. Struggle for racial equality has however been a long and hard fight. The scientist likely expressed the same views in daily conversation.

Had the political correctness against racism developed at the time, one couldn't dodge censure for such offensive remarks against an entire race. It is also doubtful that he wanted to record his thoughts in private diaries. But the reality is Einstein lived in a world with a lax attitude toward racism.

After all, xenophobic sentiment against immigrants from Asia was common in US politics during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Persecution of Jews reached unprecedented levels during World War II.

It is the public's intolerance of racism today that made Einstein's diaries a center of the storm a century later. There is a development gap among countries, but it is political suicide for any public figure to make offensive remarks against race openly or privately. Political correctness is perhaps top consideration for public figure when making comment.

Einstein's diary kindled the fiery debate probably also because of the lingering question - is racism prevalent subtly today? Some Western media outlets inaccurately reported that Chinese net users defended Einstein's racist remarks. It would have made more sense if these media outlets explored whether racism against Asian exists today.

Racism against Asians is seen from time to time. In many cases, it is forgotten with an apology. It could be an image printed on a T-shirt, or a supermodel making a slit-eye gesture, or a TV anchor making disheartening comments.

Despite excellent academic performance, Asian students face a discriminatory admissions policy in Harvard. Asians are striving for due respect and fair treatment even today. They have made huge strides from the time of their ancestors, but it seems there is a long way to go.

Racist sentiments still persist. It is better to examine ourselves than judging whether Einstein was racist. Will people 100 years later be shocked by incidents of racism today? It's hard to say, but this question will haunt us for a long time.

The author is a commentator of the Global Times.
‘Western Enablers of CPC’ An Absurd Label
Global Times
2018/6/22 22:53:40

The Washington-based Hudson Institute recently published a report entitled The Chinese Communist Party's Foreign Interference Operations: How the US and Other Democracies Should Respond, attacking the CPC's united front work and accusing it of interfering in US elections, damaging academic freedom, cultivating cooperative US elites, and making the Chinese diaspora serve the CPC.

Michael Pillsbury, director of Hudson's Center for Chinese Strategy, said this report raised a key concept of "Western enablers" of the Communist Party, whom he said not only sing high praises to China but also help China understand the debates that it wants to influence.

The warnings about China are nothing new in the West, but this time they have employed a more systematic and exaggerative method.

Every Chinese knows that China is still focused on "anti-penetration" rather than "infiltrating the West." The West is still aggressively trying to influence the Chinese society, while most Chinese concede that China at present still doesn't have the soft power to counter, and it's needless to build some phony "ideological stronghold" in the US.

China is indeed trying to influence some Westerners. However, the sole purpose is to boost friendly relations between the two sides and reduce the Western public's bias against China. Isn't this the way things should be done in international relations? Is there a single country that doesn't work on this mission or set aside a budget for it?

China's Confucius Institutes in Western countries are similar to the Goethe Institutes of Germany and Spain's Instituto Cervantes. China has sponsored the research of a few American scholars. But how many research projects have been funded by American foundations? While some people in China have called for better regulation of these projects, the Chinese public has not openly condemned those programs.

The logic of some Americans will lead to the belief that the Chinese should condemn the US move to establish Tsinghua University using the Boxer Indemnity, and that most China-US cultural exchanges should be canceled, including Hollywood collaborations. Starbucks will also be categorized as an under-the-table transmitter of American culture and values.

There hasn't been any advocacy in the Chinese government to "spread the Chinese model," as it's one of China's diplomatic principles to maintain cultural and political diversity. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hawked Western political systems in Africa just a few days ago. It is absurd that Pompeo's declaration and the denunciation of "Western enablers of Communists" both become "mainstream" voices in the US.