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  • U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia: Who Is Michael Raynor?

    The East African nation of Ethiopia will soon have an ambassador from the U.S. who has specialized in relations with Africa for 20 of the 24 years of his career. Michael A. Raynor, nominated by President Donald Trump on May 22, 2017, is currently director of the Office of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources at the State Department. Born in 1962, Michael Arthur Raynor earned a B.A. in International Affairs in 1984 at Lafayette College and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University in 1986. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service who joined in 1988, Raynor had several early career foreign postings, including service as general services officer at the U.S. embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, and consular officer at the embassy in Luxembourg. He later served as management officer at the embassies in Djibouti City, Djibouti; Conakry, Guinea; and Windhoek, Namibia. Raynor has also served at several desk positions, including desk officer for Zimbabwe, and legislative management officer and special assistant in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs. From 2004 to 2008, Raynor was the management counselor at the U.S. embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe. He then served as deputy executive director of the African Affairs Bureau from 2008 to 2010, and as executive director from 2010 to December 2011. As executive director, he wrote to the State Department inspector general regarding the tragic attack on the State Department compound in Benghazi, Libya. Raynor wrote that a federal law requiring the Department to hire foreign security based on the lowest cost bidder, “often results in poorly paid and motivated guards,” which not only raises security risks but also “undercuts our Missions’ broader engagement in championing human rights.” Read more

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  • Italy threatens to close ports to NGO migrant rescue ships

    ROME – Italy threatened Wednesday to close its ports to aid groups rescuing migrants off Libya's coast as it struggles to cope with the highest rate of rescues this year, officials said. Italy's ambassador to the EU, Maurizio Massari, raised the issue during a meeting with EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, as a half-dozen different ships offloaded some of the more than 10,000 migrants rescued in recent days. "Italy is right that the situation is untenable along the Central Mediterranean route," Avramopoulos said in a statement, adding that other EU members concurred and that the bloc was ready to increase financial assistance to help Italy manage the flows. Italy, however, is mulling a ban on non-Italian flagged rescue ships disembarking migrants in Italian ports, though not those participating in the EU's Frontex rescue operation, officials said. That would affect mostly European-based humanitarian rescue ships, which have flooded the waters off Libya's coast in the past year to pick up migrants. Some of those groups have also been accused by Italian prosecutors of alleged collusion with Libyan-based smugglers. On Wednesday alone, ships from aid groups MOAS and Doctors Without Borders, as well as Frontex ships, arrived in Italian ports with the more than 10,000 migrants rescued in recent days. "In the latest years, smugglers often launched a massive number of boats all at the same time, but this year we are witnessing levels never registered before in short periods of time," Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said in a statement. Italian coast guard reported that at least 2,400 migrants were due to arrive on Thursday aboard both Frontex and aid group rescue ships in ports in Sicily and mainland Italy. Read more

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  • Ten Commandments Monument Destroyed by Car Accident

        A man rammed his car into and destroyed a newly-installed monument to the Ten Commandments outside of Arkansas’ State Capitol — less than 24 hours after it was unveiled by politicians. Michael Reed, 32, allegedly shouted "Freedom!" after the collision, according to video posted to Facebook, authorities said. A spokesman for Arkansas’ State Capitol Police confirmed Reed’s arrest to NBC News, adding that the granite tableau had been “shattered” in Wednesday's incident. Police also said videos were found on Reed’s cell phone at the time of his arrest that he'd allegedly posted to Facebook before and after the incident. The first post allegedly shows Reed explaining to viewers why he felt the monument violated the Constitution’s establishment clause. “One thing I do not support is a violation of our Constitutional right … that guarantees the separation of church and state,” Reed allegedly says in the video. A second post allegedly captures the moment Reed destroyed the monument. According to NBC's Oklahoma affiliate KFOR, Wednesday’s incident is not the first time Reed has been arrested for destroying a statue of the biblical commandments. In 2014, Reed was also arrested in Oklahoma for vandalizing a Ten Commandments monument, the station reported.
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  • European Investment Bank confirms support for 6 billion Birr private enterprise financing programme

    Small business across Ethiopia will benefit from a new 6.4 billion Birr (EUR 247 million) lending and leasing programme to be managed by the Development Bank of Ethiopia announced in Addis Ababa earlier today. The new initiative backed by the European Investment Bank and World Bank represents the first international support in the Ethiopian financial sector and the European Investment Bank’s largest ever engagement in Ethiopia. The new initiative will back financing for local companies by Ethiopian microfinance institutions, commercial banks and leasing firms. “The European Investment Bank has supported investment to improve energy, water, communications and private enterprise across Ethiopia for more than 40 years and is a key partner for sustainable development in Ethiopia. New support for investment by Ethiopian companies through the Development Bank of Ethiopia will increase access to finance and strengthen the role of the financial sector in this country. We welcome the increased engagement of the European Investment Bank since the opening of the EIB Addis Ababa office two years ago and look forward to strengthened cooperation in the years ahead.” said H.E Admasu Nebebe, State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation. “The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting long-term investment across Africa that improves infrastructure and strengthens economic activity. This project confirms the EU Bank’s increased backing for financial services and enterprise crucial for future generations of Ethiopians. Access to finance is essential for private enterprise to expand and innovate.This new initiative will support the local entrepreneurship and the creation of manufacturing jobs by hundreds of companies across Ethiopia. The strengthened partnership with the Development Bank of Ethiopia represents the European Investment Bank’s largest ever engagement in Ethiopia and demonstrates the European Union’s clear commitment to help unlock sustainable economic activity in this country.” highlighted Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President. The European Union supports Ethiopia's ambitious economic development agenda through financial and technical cooperation. The European Investment Bank has unique technical and financial experience that is helping to improve infrastructure and private sector investment across Ethiopia. The new Leasing and Lending for SME initiative will help to strengthen the economic resilience of vulnerable communities and reflectsEurope’s commitment to help Ethiopia improve access to finance.” confirmed Chantal Hebberecht, European Union Ambassador to Ethiopia.  Agreements for the new 70 million Euro European Investment Bank support for private enterprise, the European Investment Bank’s largest ever engagement in Ethiopia, were signed by Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President and Getahun Nana, President of the Development Bank of Ethiopia. The signature ceremony was attended by Abraham Tekeste, Ethiopia's Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, H.E. Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia and Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan, business representatives and European Ambassadors. The new financing scheme will support investment to expand manufacturing by small and medium sized companies across Ethiopia. Lending will be managed by both local branches of the Development Bank of Ethiopia and public leasing companies. The programme will also support financing of working capital by companies through loans managed by commercial banks and microfinance institutions. Technical assistance will also be provided alongside the new private sector financing initiate to improve preparation of business plans by local companies and to support capacity building at participating financial institutions. The European Investment Bank has operated in Ethiopia since 1976 and prior to today’s announcement provided more than 10.5 billion Birr (EUR 400 million) to support long-term investment in energy, communications and water infrastructure, as well as private sector investment. The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank, owned directly by the 28 European Union member states. Over the last 5 years the European Investment Bank has provided more than EUR 22 billion for investment in Africa.

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  • Travel ban 2.0 set to begin Thursday

    CNN)After months of winding through the courts, the so-called "watered down," revised version of President Donald Trump's fiercely litigated travel ban will finally go in effect at 8 p.m. ET Thursday. Here's what to expect for version 2.0: Who can't enter the US? The test for foreign nationals under the Supreme Court's ruling is whether one has a "credible claim of bona fide relationship" with either an entity (like a school or a job) or a person living in the US (such as a spouse). If you can't sufficiently establish such a close relationship, you are banned for 90 days if you are from Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, and 120 days if you are a refugee from any country. The new guidelines, sent to overseas posts on Wednesday, say that applicants must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the US, according to a senior administration official. They have not yet been posted by the State Department or the Department of Homeland Security and could be subject to change. Advocacy groups such as Amnesty International plan to send researchers to US airports, such as Dulles International Airport and John F. Kennedy Airport on Thursday, to monitor developments and observe implementation of the ban in case any disputes arise. Read more

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  • European Investment Bank Vice President to visit Ethiopia and announce largest ever engagement

     Later this week, from 29th to 30th June, Pim van Ballekom, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, will lead a high level delegation on his first visit to Ethiopia this year. The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank, owned directly by the 28 European Union member states. “New investment is essential to enable small business across Ethiopia to expand, create jobs and harness new business opportunities. Over the last 40 years the European Investment Bank has supported crucial energy, water, communications and private enterprise across Ethiopia and our engagement in the country has been transformed since opening a permanent presence in Addis two years ago. As the Bank of the European Union the EIB is committed to supporting sustainable investment in Africa. This week’s visit will ensure stronger engagement in Ethiopia in the years ahead.” confirmed Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President, ahead of the visit. During the two day visit the European Investment Bank is expected to announce new support for investment by private business across Ethiopia in partnership with the Development Bank of Ethiopia and discuss strengthened engagement to support economic resilience, infrastructure and financial services investment in the country with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Finance Minister Dr. Abraham Tekeste. The new private sector leasing and lending initiative to be announced during the visit represents the first international support for financial services in the country in many years. The EIB Vice President will meet entrepreneurs at Blue Moon, Ethiopia’s first youth agribusiness incubator, representatives of Ethiopia’s first private equity fund, Cepheus, and see how mobile payments systems expected to be backed by future EIB support are transforming financial services across the country. Meetings with the African Union Commission will enable an exchange of views on future cooperation to support infrastructure, energy, agriculture and industrial investment across Africa. The European Investment Bank has operated in Ethiopia since 1976 and provided more than EUR 400 million (around BIRR 10 billion) to support long-term investment in energy, communications and water infrastructure, as well as private sector investment. Over the last 5 years the European Investment Bank has provided around EUR 10.1 billion (around BIRR 253 billion) for investment in Africa. 

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  • Draft Proclamation of “Oromia’s Special Interest” in Addis Ababa Approves

    (Addis Ababa) —The Draft Bill has been approved yesterday, June 27. A new law is adopted and implemented as per the constitution, according to EPRDF’s office statement. While addressing questions raised during a discussion held with elders three weeks ago in Nekemte City, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said, “activities are being undertaken to ensure the special interest of Oromia in Addis Ababa, by the constitution”. Hailemariam on the occasion said that discussions have been take pla with concerned bodies on how the region can benefit economically and socially from Addis Ababa. The draft bill that was approved on Tuesday by the council of ministers to ensure the special interest of the Oromia, will be presented to the House of Peoples’ Representatives for final approval in the near future. Here are some of the articles from the-expected-to-be-approved draft law; The official name of the city shall be Finfine/Addis Ababa; * The city boundary shall be determined by a agreement of the city administration and Oromia region. The demarcation shall be completed within six months of the enactment of this proclamation; * Afaan Oromo shall become “the working and official language” of Addis Ababa along with Amharic; * This proclamation shall not limit the general statements of Article 49 (5) of the Constitution regarding Oromia’s special interest in Addis Ababa; * Oromo residents shall be entitled to 25 percent of the city council, besides to their representation as residents of the city; * Oromia shall have criminal jurisdiction on crimes committed “within the premises of and on the affairs of Oromia governmental and public institutions” in Addis Ababa and the right to detain and prosecute suspects of crimes committed in Oromia who flee to the city; *Oromia’s administration will have the right to obtain adequate land, free of lease payment, in any section of the city for the construction of offices and facilities for governmental, public and development associations and other historical, cultural, social and economic purposes; * Officials and employees of Oromia, as well as residents, shall have “15% priority” to buy or rent condominium housing provided by the City Administration; * Oromia government and Oromo inhabitants in the city shall have priority right to use “public squares, centers, halls, stadiums, etc.” * The city shall establish schools that provide education in Oromo language for Oromo residents of the city; and * The city shall provide various services for communities living in the surrounding Oromia districts, among others.    

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  • Man with 176 children seeks govt support

    A 65-year-old man, Mustafa Magambo Mutone, wants the Government to support some of his 176 children. “I have tried to feed my 13 wives and over 170 children and it is not easy. I request the Government to at least sponsor 30 of my children in secondary schools and tertiary institutions,” Mutone, a businessman and a resident of Kyaterekera trading centre in Kagadi district, said. He added that he has over 40 children in primary school and has plans to establish his own nursery and primary school in Kyaterekera subcounty. He says he has about 10 children in the universities (Makerere, Mbarara and Kyambogo), most of them on private sponsorship. Mutone has five pairs of twins among his children. His children will hit the 180 mark by the end of the year because six of his wives are pregnant. Mutone, a Mubwisi by tribe, is the chairman of Kyaterekera A village. He says he was born on January 1, 1952 in Kiryabwenju, Nyamiti parish, Muhorro town council in Kagadi district. His first marriage was in 1968 at 16 years of age. He explained that he is still strong enough to marry more wives and bear more children, since he does not drink alcohol, smoke or take sugar. Mutone, who deals in produce (beans, maize and coffee), also owns a wholesale shop at Kyaterekera trading centre. Mutone said some of his wives are working as midwives at Mulago Hospital and Mbarara Hospital and in Rwanda. “Two of my wives who gave birth to twins are in Kampala and Isingiro, working as midwives, while another two — Haniffer Kabasomi and Jane Tuhaise — work as nurses. My youngest wife is 25, and the eldest is 50, but I had about 10 girlfriends before I married officially and they all delivered the same year,” Mutone said. He added that his first born child is 49 years old, while the youngest are four-year-old twins. He further noted that he has over 90 grandchildren. The grey-haired Mutone, said he has a special book where he records every child born whether within the country or outside, because he has some wives in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. He said one of the challenges he faces is the long distance as some of his women live in different parts of the country. ‘’I receive about 10 calls every day from different wives who want attention but I cannot be everywhere. I have seven wives in Kagadi alone,” he said. “I do not have any challenge of supporting them because some of them support themselves since they work,” Mutone said. Madina Tibasiima, 45, one of his wives who has nine children, said she has not faced any problems with a big family because most of her children are working as soldiers, civil servants and nurses. She, however, said her younger children need school fees; some are in primary school and others in secondary school. One of Mutone’s sons, Kyaise Suwedi, 40, the Gombolola internal security officer of Kyaterekera, said his monthly salary caters for some of his brothers’ education. “We were groomed by our father to be responsible, have good morals and work hard. The only challenge is the big number of dependants of other wives who have children aged between four and 13 years,’’ Kyaise said. Muhamad Byarufu, 45, also a son of Mutone, said he owns a business and helps pay school fees of some of his younger brothers. Read more

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  • Google hit with record EU fine over Shopping service

    Google has been fined 2.42bn euros ($2.7bn; £2.1bn) by the European Commission after it ruled the company had abused its power by promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of search results. The amount is the regulator's largest penalty to date against a company accused of distorting the market. The ruling also orders Google to end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days or face a further penalty. The US firm said it may appeal. However, if it fails to change the way it operates the Shopping service within the three-month deadline, it could be forced to make payments of 5% of its parent company Alphabet's average daily worldwide earnings. Based on the company's most recent financial report, that amounts to about $14m a day. The commission said it was leaving it to Google to determine what alterations should be made to its Shopping service rather than specifying a remedy. "What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules," declared Margrethe Vestager, the European Union's Competition Commissioner. "It has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merits and to innovate, and most importantly it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation." Read more  

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  • China's top legislature wraps up bi-monthly session

    BEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) closed its bi-monthly session Tuesday. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the closing meeting of the session. INTELLIGENCE LAW At the closing meeting, lawmakers passed the National Intelligence Law, which will enter into force Wednesday. The 32 articles cover general provisions, organization and duty of the intelligence agencies, and punishments for misconduct. The law requires agencies and their staff to safeguard human rights and to protect the legal rights and interests of individuals and organizations. AMENDMENTS A revised Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law was adopted after a second reading to strengthen government responsibility and supervision. The current Water Pollution Prevention Law was enacted in 1984 and has been amended twice in 1996 and 2008, respectively. The Standing Committee also passed amendments to the civil and administrative procedure laws to allow prosecutors to institute public interest litigation. Prosecutors are to be allowed to file civil lawsuits against any act that infringes public rights and interest in protection of environment and resources, as well as food and drug safety, according to the amendment to the Civil Procedure Law. They can also file an administrative lawsuits for abuses of power or nonfeasance in cases concerning protection of the environment and resources, food and drug safety, preservation of state assets, and transfer of state-owned land use rights, according to the amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law. REVIEWING DRAFTS, REPORTS At the session, lawmakers reviewed draft laws on national supervision, the national anthem, public libraries and prevention of soil pollution. They also deliberated draft amendments to the Law Promoting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and the Law on Farmers' Specialized Cooperatives. On Tuesday, the Standing Committee approved the State Council's final accounts for 2016. By the end of last year, combined debt of central and local governments in China stood at 27.3 trillion yuan (about 4 trillion U.S. dollars), with a debt-to-GDP ratio at around 36.7 percent, official data showed. Two reports on the implementation of the Product Quality Law and the Drug Administration Law were also deliberated during the week-long session. INTERNATIONAL TREATIES An agreement on the establishment of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Institute was ratified at the closing meeting. The proposed inter-governmental organization is expected to enhance economic cooperation in the CAREC region by providing information and training. The Standing Committee also ratified extradition treaties with Argentina and Ethiopia, which specify extradition obligations, crimes that extradition will apply to, possible reasons for refusing extradition, costs, and dispute resolution procedures, among others. Read more

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