World News

The jailed media mogul taking on Ethiopia’s leader

Having previously warned that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed risked turning into an “illegitimate” ruler, Jawar Mohammed, 34, has now become the most high-profile opposition politician to be detained since the Nobel Peace laureate took office in April 2018.

An ethno-nationalist with a Facebook following of nearly two million, Mr Jawar is accused of being linked to the murder of a policeman during the violence which erupted last week after music star Hachalu Handessa was gunned down in the capital Addis Ababa.

His allies deny his involvement in the murder, saying Mr Abiy ordered his arrest to neutralise the popular opposition politician.

Both Mr Abiy and Mr Jawar hail from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromos, but have differed sharply over the future direction of Ethiopia since Mr Abiy took power in 2018, with a promise to democratise and unite the ethnically divided nation after decades of authoritarian rule.

For government supporters, Mr Jawar’s arrest was vital to help quell the ethnic nationalism and violence that they accuse him of fanning to derail the prime minister’s “coming together” vision, aimed at forging a new sense of national unity in the country of more than 100 million.

But for Mr Jawar’s supporters, his arrest showed that the prime minister had become intolerant of the 34-year-old’s alternative vision, which revolved around the federal state giving self-rule to Oromos and other ethnic groups in regions where they constitute the majority.

‘I am an Oromo first’

Born in 1986 to a Muslim father and an Orthodox Christian mother, Mr Jawar established his credentials as an Oromo nationalist in a 2013 interview with the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera television station.

“I am an Oromo first,” Mr Jawar – then exiled in the US – declared, adding that Ethiopia had been “imposed” on him.

His comments unleashed what Keele University law lecturer Awol Alo described at the time as a “political tsunami”, with people either passionately supporting him or harshly criticising him in a highly polarised debate that swept through Ethiopia and the diaspora.

“I am an Oromo first” later grew into a political campaign, with the-then Minnesota-based Mr Jawar criss-crossing the US to rally the diaspora to oppose the regime back home and to win their “freedom”.

The campaign culminated with the launch later in 2013 of a satellite television station – along with social media accounts – under the banner of the Oromia Media Network (OMN).

“We’ve now liberated the airwaves of Oromia. We will liberate the land in the coming years,” Mr Jawar said at its launch.

As its then-chief executive officer, he turned the OMN into a powerful voice of the youth, whom he called “Qeerroo”, which literally means “young unmarried man” – a term first popularised in the 1990s by the-then banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebel group in its bid to attract recruits.

Having grown up in the small town of Dhumuga where the OLF had a strong presence, Mr Jawar often said: “I was born in the Oromo struggle,” as he recalled learning about the “oppression” of Oromos under the rule of emperors and autocrats alike.

Despite being the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, Mr Abiy was the first Oromo prime minister, while during the time of Emperor Haile Selassie, their language and traditional religion were banned.

A bright student, Mr Jawar left Ethiopia in his teens when he won a fellowship to study in Singapore in 2003. Two years later he moved to the US where he graduated with a political science degree from Stanford University and a masters degree in human rights at Colombia University in 2013.

‘Strategic blunder over Abiy’

As a university student, Mr Jawar distanced himself from the OLF he had revered as a child, writing in a blog that it was “broken beyond repair” because of leadership disputes and factionalism.

But he continued to rally the large number of Oromos in the diaspora to support the “struggle” back home, which gained momentum after mass protests broke out in 2015, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn three years later.

When Mr Abiy first emerged as Mr Hailemariam’s potential successor, Mr Jawar warned that it would be a “strategic blunder” to give him the premiership, indicating a preference for current Defence Minister Lemma Megersa, whose political vision, Mr Jawar felt, was closer to his own.

But once Mr Abiy became the first Oromo to ever secure the premiership, the 34-year-old supported him, especially after he embarked on a series of reforms that saw the unbanning of opposition groups, the release of thousands of political prisoners, and the dropping of terrorism-related charges against exiles, including Mr Jawar, who then returned home to set up the OMN’s headquarters in Addis Ababa as the voice of the “Qeerroo”.

Mr Jawar’s support for Mr Abiy, however, did not last long, as he maintained that self-rule was the key to stability and economic development for all ethnic groups, putting him on a collision course with the prime minister.

For Mr Jawar’s followers, his incarceration last week was further proof that Mr Abiy had betrayed their hopes – especially as his detention had come after much-awaited elections due next month had been indefinitely postponed. Election officials cited the coronavirus outbreak for the postponement.

Jawar quit TV job

Mr Abiy had planned to contest the poll under the banner of his Prosperity Party, which he launched last year by getting eight ethnically-based parties to rally behind his “coming together” vision.

In contrast, Mr Jawar joined the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), and stepped down as the chief executive of the OMN’s television station.

The OFC had planned to form an alliance with the OLF and the Oromo National Party (ONP) to contest the election on what was expected to be a strong ethno-nationalist ticket, threatening Mr Abiy’s support among Oromos in the ethnic group’s heartland of Oromia.

Following the postponement of the poll, Mr Jawar warned Mr Abiy that he would be an “illegitimate” prime minister once the term of the current parliament ended at the end of September.

Now, Mr Jawar finds himself incarcerated, with his party saying that both his lawyer and family had been denied access to him, and that he had embarked on a hunger strike.

Abiy’s book burnt

For their part, police say they are pressing ahead with investigations to put Mr Jawar on trial for the murder of an officer allegedly shot by one of his bodyguards during protests which broke out last week in Addis Ababa following the killing of Hachalu – a musician who often sang about the Oromo’s struggle for freedom.

Mr Jawar’s supporters said the policeman was killed by another officer, following a disagreement within their ranks over whether the opposition politician should be arrested.

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Police said Mr Jawar would also be prosecuted over protests that led to the deaths of 97 people last October after the politician released a video, alleging that the government was endangering his life by ordering the removal of his security detail.

The allegation – which police denied at the time – triggered a wave of protests that saw some of Mr Jawar’s supporters burn copies of a book that Mr Abiy had published, outlining his “coming together” vision.

While Mr Jawar denied inciting violence, the incident was seen as an attempt to embarrass the prime minister soon after he had won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending a border war with Ethiopia and for his efforts to democratise Ethiopia.

Police also raided the offices of the OMN in Addis Ababa last week, forcing its television station to once again start broadcasting from the US.

Whether Mr Abiy can now regain the political initiative – or whether Mr Mohammed’s detention galvanises the “Qeerroo” to step up their opposition to him – will become clear in the months ahead, leaving many Ethiopians anxious about the future.

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Coronavirus: Working from a holiday home! Barbados to offer year-long stays to remote workers

People working from home during the coronavirus pandemic could be given the opportunity to relocate to the Caribbean under a proposal from the Barbados government.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley is considering introducing a “Barbados Welcome Stamp” which would allow international arrivals to live on the island while working remotely for up to a year.

Ms Mottley has proposed the scheme as short-term travel has been become more difficult during the pandemic.

Tourism makes up 40% of Barbados’ GDP and 30% of its workforce is employed in the sector, according to Travel Market Report.

But the industry has been badly affected as the coronavirus pandemic has grounded airlines and berthed cruise ships.

Ms Mottley proposed offering the option of a year-long stay as Barbados is set to open its borders to international visitors again on 12 July.

The move would allow those who took up the offer to immerse themselves in the island’s Bajan culture and lifestyle in a way that holidaymakers are unable to.

Ms Mottley said in a statement: “You don’t need to work in Europe, or the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple months at a time; go back and come back.

“But in order for those things to truly resonate, what does it mean? It means that what we offer has to be world class and what we continue to offer is world class.”

She added: “The government is committed to working with you on the promotion of new concepts like the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, being able to open our borders to persons travelling and making it as hospitable as ever for all of us, and making it available for Barbadians from every walk of life to believe that for special occasions, or just for so, that they can come out and be a part of this wonderful exercise.”

All visitors arriving on the island will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result and must wear a face mask at the airport.

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US election 2020: Trump’s odds of winning SKYROCKET after Kanye West presidential bid

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And even though the US rapper is yet to decide whether his bid for the presidency is to go ahead, traders seem undeterred with Mr West’s own odds holding steady recently.

In an extensive interview with Forbes, Mr West revealed that he would make a final decision on whether he was running for president or not within 30 days – otherwise, he would miss the filing deadline for most US states, and risk not being able to have his name on ballots.

Indeed, the rapper has already missed this deadline in six states so far, according to reports, and betting officials say there is already much speculation about whether the rapper will step up to the task or not.

Darren Hughes, Betfair spokesman, told “There was intense speculation as to whether this was yet another hoax from West to announce an album, or the real deal.

“West’s announcement has been under intense scrutiny over the past few days, but news that he has failed to register as a candidate in many states before the deadline has done little to deter punters, with his odds holding strong for now.”

But even still, Hughes explains Mr Trump’s odds have been boosted since Mr West’s run for president would split the Biden vote, leaving Mr Trump with a higher proportion.

Hughes said: “Donald Trump’s odds also contracted off the back of the news, from 15/8 to 13/8, with many suspecting that were West to make true on his promise, he would split the vote with Joe Biden in many key swing states, pushing the election in Trump’s favour.”

In betting terms, Trump’s contracted odds mean that he is more likely to win than he was before.

Hughes continued: “Biden himself has seen his odds go in the opposite direction, from 4/6 late last week, to 8/11 this week, as punters try and make sense of what West’s announcement might mean for the election overall.”

According to BetFair, there has already been £64,000 traded on Mr West’s chance of victory in the presidential election, due to take place this November.

READ: Kanye West announces bombshell US presidential bid with backing from Elon Musk

His odds are slim, however. At the time of writing the betting market puts the rapper’s chance of victory at 129/1.

In comparison, current US president Donald Trump’s odds are currently set at 13/8, while main rival Joe Biden is odds on at 8/11.

Hughes added that despite the shake-up caused by West’s announcement, a presidential victory would be very unlikely.

He said: “Overall, a run would seem unlikely, and as his odds suggest, victory even less so.”

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“In a market that has already had £44m traded on it, and is on course to smash the record set by the 2016 election, West’s announcement is the latest in a series of twists, which have seen Joe Biden go from 99/1 in early March, right into odds on at 8/11.

“Trump has gone from 4/7 earlier this year, right out to 13/8, having been as big as 2/1 just days ago.”

In his interview with Forbes yesterday, Mr West set out what his administration would look like, including ties with China, his views on controversial issues such as abortion, and his support for Trump.

Mr West also criticised views that his presidential run would split the vote between Biden and himself, stating if Trump was not already running then he himself would run as a Republican candidate.

Mr West said: “That is a form of racism and white supremacy and white control to say that all Black people need to be Democrat and to assume that me running is me splitting the vote.”

However, the rapper said he would be dropping his support for Trump from now on.

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Melania Trump statue torched in Slovenia

A quirky wooden sculpture of US First Lady Melania Trump is reported to have been set on fire near her hometown in Slovenia, prompting its removal.

Brad Downey, the American artist who commissioned the statue, said it was targeted on 4 July, Independence Day in the US.

The Berlin-based artist arranged for the charred statue to be removed the next day.

Police told Reuters news agency they had launched an investigation.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sculpture of Mrs Trump, which could be described as only bearing a crude likeness to the US first lady, was carved out of a tree trunk on the outskirts of Sevnica, her hometown in central Slovenia.

The statue, which depicts Mrs Trump dressed in a blue coat similar to one she wore to her husband’s inauguration and with a club-like hand gesturing to the sky, received mixed reviews when it was erected in July 2019.

Some residents branded the statue a “disgrace”, complaining it looked more like the Smurfs character Smurfette than the first lady.

Mr Downey told Reuters he wanted to understand who targeted the statue and why.

He said he had hoped the statue would open a dialogue about the political situation in the US, including the fractious debate on immigration.

Mrs Trump, a model who grew up in Slovenia when it was part of Yugoslavia, came to the US as an immigrant in the 1990s.

The statue in Slovenia was targeted at a time when monuments of US leaders with links to slavery are being re-evaluated as a result of national reflection prompted by anti-racism protests.

In recent speeches, including his Independence Day address, US President Donald Trump has taken a hardline against those who vandalise or tear down statues.

Since Mr Trump was elected US president in 2016, Sevnica has become a tourist magnet, as visitors search for an insight into Mrs Trump’s early years

Residents have brought out ranges of Melania-branded merchandise, including slippers, cakes, and Trump-like burgers with fly-away cheese “hair”.

In August last year, a wooden statue of President Trump was constructed in Slovenia, east of the capital Ljubljana. Like the rendering of Mrs Trump, the statue of her husband divided opinion.

Standing nearly 8m (26ft) tall, the statue was burnt to the ground by unknown arsonists in January this year.

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Alberta small business owners shut down amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

A longtime Calgary business is the latest to shut its doors permanently amid mounting financial troubles.

Galleria Inglewood is a consignment shop for local, Albertan and Canadian artists to sell their work. In business for more than 40 years, it will shut down this September.

“I just can’t do this anymore. I just can’t do it,” owner Susan Copley said. “It’s too stressful. It’s too up in the air. It’s too many sleepless nights.”

Copley started out as an employee back in 1982 before buying the business in 2005. She’s ridden out many recessions and downturns, along with many other ups and downs.

But she told Global News this latest recession, along with the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent, devastating flood, have forced her hand.

“I devoted 39 years of my life,” Copley said. “It’s just really sad that it’s just going to go away.”

Copley is one of a growing number of Alberta business owners shutting down across the province — or at least thinking about it.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) told Global News that Alberta’s numbers are very concerning.

“Our most recent results revealed that 19 per cent of Alberta small businesses are either actively considering winding down their business or bankruptcy,” said Annie Dormuth, the CFIB’s provincial affairs director for Alberta.

“That’s nearly one-in-five small businesses in Alberta.”

The national average is 14 per cent.

The CFIB said despite Alberta’s economic relaunch a few weeks ago, business just hasn’t been the same.

“We really haven’t seen the numbers increase on the number of businesses fully open. It’s kind of maintained around that high 50 per cent mark,” Dormuth said.

“And we also haven’t seen a large increase in the number of businesses seeing their revenues returning to normal, or even their hiring levels returning to normal.”

The CFIB said a number of sectors have been particularly hard-hit, and it is calling for a number of what it terms “critical fixes” to several federal programs. Those include changes to financial loan and wage subsidy programs, as well as a fix for the rental relief program.

“We are hearing far too many small businesses are not able to access the the program, mainly because their landlord is refusing to participate in it,” Dormuth said.

The CFIB would prefer that eligible tenants be able to access the funds directly.

All of those asks are too, little too late for Galleria Inglewood, as well as the artists that rely on the business.

“It’s going to be gutwrenching I think for a lot of artists,” potter and part-time employee Marilyn Suttles said. “I don’t think this is replaceable. There won’t be anything like this.”

Copley is emotional about the loss to the community as well. As for her plans, she’s been doing crafts herself and may take that business online.

Still, she told Global News she’s worried about the other business owners out there.

“I have no idea what the economy is going to look like in Alberta,” she said. “It’s going to be something that is a whole new world. And I don’t know if it’s going to be a good one.”

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Body of child found in Eagle River last week is identified

The body of a child found last week in the Eagle River has been identified as that of 3-year-old Sebastian Rodriguez Castro.

His cause of death is drowning and the manner has been ruled accidental by the Eagle County Coroner’s Office, according to a news release.

Sebastian went missing on June 5 and hundreds of volunteers and emergency personnel searched for the missing child.

“I thank the community for being patient as we followed this Office’s process for confirming the identity of a recovered body,” said County Coroner Kara Bettis in the release. “We hope this announcement brings closure to the family and a measure of healing to our caring community.”

Sebastian’s family expressed gratitude for the massive search efforts and they asked for privacy in their time of continued grief, according to the release.

His body was found on Friday between Eagle and Dotsero.


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Foreign ministers of Five Eyes group nations discussed HK on call: official

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Foreign ministers from the Five Eyes intelligence sharing group discussed the situation in Hong Kong during a conference call on Wednesday, a Canadian government official told Reuters.

The official declined to elaborate. The Five Eyes groups Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Separately, Canada’s Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted on Wednesday that he discussed with his counterparts from the other countries many issues regarding international peace and security.

Beijing imposed a new national security legislation on Hong Kong last week despite protests from residents of the island and Western nations, setting China’s freest city and a major financial hub on a more authoritarian track.

Since then Canada has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and said it could boost immigration from the former British colony.

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Global coronavirus cases rise to more than 12 million

(Reuters) – Global coronavirus cases exceeded 12 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as evidence mounts of the airborne spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

The number of cases is triple that of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organization.

Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the novel virus, while others, such as China and Australia, implement another round of shutdowns in response to a resurgence in infections. Experts say alterations to work and social life could last until a vaccine is available.

The first case was reported in China in early January and it took 149 days to hit 6 million cases. It has taken less than a third of that time – just 39 days – to double to 12 million cases, the tally shows.

There have been more than 546,000 deaths linked to the virus so far, within the same range as the number of yearly influenza deaths reported worldwide. The first death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China before infections and fatalities surged in Europe and then later in the United States.

The United States reported a daily global record of 56,818 new COVID-19 infections on July 3 when global cases reached the 11 million mark. The United States recorded a total of 3 million cases on Tuesday, and accounts for more than a quarter of both global cases and global fatalities putting President Donald Trump’s pandemic strategy under scrutiny.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus after downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic. The country has reported between 20,000 and 50,000 new cases daily since July 1. Brazil has more than 1.7 million cases and nearly 68,000 deaths.

The Reuters tally, which is based on government reports, shows the disease is spreading the fastest in Latin America. The Americas account for more than half the world’s infections and almost half its deaths. Brazil and the United States account for around 45% of all new cases since the beginning of July.

India – the country with the third highest number of infections – is battling an outbreak of more than 20,000 new cases each day.

In countries with limited testing capacity, case numbers reflect only a proportion of total infections. Experts caution that official data likely underrepresents both cases and deaths.

(To see a Reuters interactive, open this link in an external browser:

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Some CEOs decline White House dinner for Mexican president amid coronavirus surge

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House CEO dinner on Wednesday evening with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will have some notable absences among corporate invitees – one because of a positive coronavirus test.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, after he experienced a fever and a cough, and will not attend the dinner, a spokeswoman for the trade group said.

The dinner, in the White House’s East Room, is the most prominent state-level social event hosted by the Trump administration since coronavirus lockdowns began in March. It comes as several states report record new COVID-19 cases, the United States crosses here 130,000 deaths, and New Jersey on Wednesday ordered face masks to be worn in public.

President Donald Trump has declined to wear a mask in public and his administration has shunned nationwide guidance on their use, leaving it up to states and local authorities despite increasing calls for mask use from within his own Republican Party.

His re-election campaign ahead of the Nov. 3 election will “strongly encourage” masks at Trump’s next rally in New Hampshire on Saturday. The District of Columbia is currently requiring the wearing of masks in businesses and other public places and is prohibiting mass gatherings of more than 50 people

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable CEO group and other business groups called on the White House and the National Governors Association last week to issue clear, consistent guidance requiring the wearing of masks in public to slow the disease’s spread.

“Absent stronger measures to prevent transmission, communities across America risk another round of shutdowns, broad restrictions on non-essential activities, and irreparable economic harm,” the groups wrote in a letter here


Detroit automaker CEOs Jim Hackett of Ford Motor Co, Mary Barra of General Motors Co and Mike Manley of Fiat Chrysler will not attend the dinner, with representatives for the companies saying that they were not available.

All three companies stand to benefit from the launch of a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal that replaces the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ford is sending its North American operations chief, Kumar Galhotra, and GM plans to send another senior executive, the two automakers said.

Some company officials said that they only learned about the dinner invitations on Monday.

Many companies are in non-disclosure periods ahead of reporting second-quarter earnings, while Detroit automakers are in the midst of annual summer plant shutdowns, when some executives take vacations.

An Intel Corp spokesman confirmed that its chief executive, Bob Swan, would attend the dinner.

A Mexican business source said that other companies expected to be represented – although not necessarily by CEOs – included: Sempra Energy, Blackstone Group, Royal Dutch Shell, Nucor Corp, Dairy Foods International, Cabot Oil and Gas Corp, Lockheed Martin Corp and United Parcel Service Inc.

A number of prominent Mexican CEOs were expected to attend, according to a press release here issued by Grupo Empresarial Angeles CEO Olegario Vazquez, who is attending. They include Grupo Financiero Banorte Chairman Carlos Hank Gonzalez and Grupo Televisa co-CEO Bernardo Gomez.

The Farm Bureau’s Duvall is quarantined at his Georgia dairy farm, and “is feeling strong and in good spirits,” Farm Bureau spokeswoman Terri Moore said.

Duvall had traveled only once within the past two weeks in an official capacity within Georgia, and hosts of those events and others he had come in contact with were being notified, she said.

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David Attenborough in appeal to save charity behind London Zoo

LONDON (Reuters) – Veteran broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough has appealed for donations to save the conservation charity behind two leading British zoos, London and Whipsnade, which has been hammered financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

The short video clip, which will air on British television on Thursday, draws attention to the scientific work of the Zoological Society of London and features images of animals both in the two zoos and their native habitats.

“The Zoological Society of London has made an outstanding contribution to conservation and our understanding of wildlife for 200 years,” said Attenborough, noting that the two zoos are home to over 20,000 animals, some of them endangered.

“The national institution is now itself at risk of extinction,” said Attenborough, 94, who is famed worldwide for his documentaries on the natural world.

The ZSL has lost vital income after the coronavirus pandemic forced its zoos to close for the first time since World War Two, he said, urging people to make donations via the link

In a separate press release, ZSL director Dominic Jermey said the zoos would be unable to recoup the money lost even though they have now been allowed to reopen, due to social distancing measures and heavily restricted visitor numbers.

“Unlike any other UK zoo, our zoos are the lifeline for ground-breaking research at the world-renowned ZSL Institute of Zoology and fund our global conservation projects – work that has never been more vital,” he said.

The research includes looking into how diseases such as coronaviruses transfer from wildlife to humans, he added.

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