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  • China signs deals with Ethiopia as premier starts Africa tour

    Picture above: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn talk after a meeting at Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, May 4, 2014. China signed a raft of agreements with Ethiopia on Sunday as Premier Li Keqiang arrived for the first leg of his four-nation Africa tour aimed at shoring up burgeoning Sino-Africa ties that saw their trade top $200 billion last year. REUTERS/Stringer (ETHIOPIA - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS)

    ADDIS ABABA, May 4 (Reuters) - China signed a raft of agreements with Ethiopia on Sunday as Premier Li Keqiang arrived for the first leg of his four-nation Africa tour aimed at shoring up burgeoning Sino-Africa ties that saw their trade top $200 billion last year.

    This is Li's first visit to Africa since he became premier last year, and follows a trip to the continent by President Xi Jinping in March 2013, when he renewed an offer of $20 billion in loans to Africa between 2013 and 2015.

    Africans broadly see China as a healthy counterbalance to Western influence but there are growing calls from policymakers and economists for more balanced trade relations.

    In Ethiopia, Chinese firms have invested heavily in recent years with their worth swelling well over $1 billion in 2014, according to official figures.

    Beijing is also a key partner in Ethiopia's bid to expand infrastructure such as roads, railways and telecom services.

    Chinese ministers and company executives accompanying Li signed 16 deals with their Ethiopian counterparts, including loans and cooperation agreements for the construction of roads and industrial zones.

    "This right track in the relationship between us has been laid. I am sure it will lead us to stronger growth in our ties," Li told a press conference.

    Huawei Technologies Co Ltd - the world's second largest telecom equipment maker - and ZTE Corp are currently working to introduce a high-speed 4G broadband network in the capital Addis Ababa and a 3G service throughout the country.

    Officials said both firms have now signed an $80 million deal to lay optical ground cables to form a nationwide network.

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  • Ethiopian professor wins one of most coveted prizes in medicine

    Professor Solomon Tesfaye

    Ethiopian Professor who first described how diabetic nerve damage is caused by impaired circulation of the nerves has been awarded one of the most coveted international prizes in medicine in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field.

    Professor Solomon Tesfaye, a Consultant Physician/Endocrinologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, and Honorary Professor of Diabetic Medicine at the University of Sheffield, is the first person in the UK to be awarded the prestigious Camillo Golgi Prize since 2003.

    The international prize – which is bestowed by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes to one person across the world for extraordinary achievements in the treatment and management of diabetes – highlights the cutting-edge work impact Professor Tesfaye and his colleagues from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital have had in helping patients with diabetic nerve damage.

    Diabetic nerve damage is a distressing illness causing intolerable pains in the feet and legs which is often unresponsive to medical treatments. It affects up to a third of patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Patients often experience loss of sensation in the feet – making these vulnerable to inadvertent injury, infection and amputations.

    In some patients the loss of sensation in the lower limbs is paradoxically associated with chronic severe pain exacerbated by a vicious cycle of anxiety, depression and lack of sleep. The hospital costs of one major amputation followed by intensive rehabilitation is around £40K. However, the cost of the illness to individuals and relatives as well as society with time lost from work is incalculable.

    Professor Tesfaye and a team of researchers from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were the first to show the detailed structure of the peripheral nerves in people with diabetes.

    He then went on to lead a major European study highlighting that nerve damage in diabetes is caused not only by high blood sugar levels but also by traditional risk factors for coronary heart disease such as cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.The findings of this groundbreaking study were published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and have opened the potential for new treatments.

    More recently a number of studies led by Professor Tesfaye have shown that diabetic nerve damage is not just confined to the peripheral nerves in the legs but also involves the spinal cord and the brain – leading to better understanding and treatments of the disease in the future.

    Professor Tesfaye was mentored and trained in diabetes by Professor JD Ward, a previous Sheffield consultant.

    A number of new treatments have been developed as a result of research carried out by Professor Tesfaye including electrical spinal cord stimulation for persistent diabetic nerve pain which is unresponsive to drug therapy. Sheffield is only one of a handful of specialist Units that offers this treatment.

    Professor Solomon Tesfaye, of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, who described winning the prize as a “dream come true” said the international acclaim from the award would boost further funding and research into the illness: “Ever since I was a junior research fellow it has been my dream to win this prestigious prize, which to me is the highest honour in my field. However, the credit for this award should also go to the many excellent research fellows who worked with me, to our Diabetes Department and our Trust that supported me.

    "Since winning the award I have been overwhelmed by congratulations from some of the greatest creative thinkers and inspirations in my field, so I am truly honoured that the advances made in Sheffield have been recognised through this prestigious international award. The award is great news for patients, as it will help us attract even more funding to further improve treatment and management of this chronic illness.

    “I’d like to dedicate this award to the patients who’ve supported our research, as without them improvements in care wouldn’t be possible, and to my excellent research fellows and co-investigators for their dedication and commitment.”

    Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a richly deserved award, highlighting the fantastic advances in research and treatment made by Professor Tesfaye and colleagues at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

    “The diabetic neuropathy Unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital is recognised as one of the best in the world, so we are honoured and privileged that Professor Tesfaye’s extraordinary achievements have been singled out as having a significant global impact on the treatment and management of diabetes.”

    Professor Tony Weetman, pro-vice-chancellor of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health at the University of Sheffield, said: "I am thrilled that Solomon's outstanding work has been recognised by the award of this prize: he joins the ranks of major UK clinical scientists working on diabetes who have previously been recipients of the award. His work exemplifies the best of translational research, taking an important clinical problem and using novel techniques to identify new approaches to treatment, and it underlines how much can be achieved when clinical staff collaborate with those in the University."

    The Camillo Golgi Prize will be awarded to Professor Tesfaye by Professor Andrew J M Boulton, President of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. In addition to receiving the award, Professor Tesfaye will deliver the 29th Camillo Golgi Lecture at the 50th European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting on Tuesday 16 September, 2014 in Vienna, Austria. The lecture, which will be attended by around 10,000 eminent researchers from across the globe, will be posted on the internet for some years.

    source: Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

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  • Battling to integrate: The IDF’s misunderstood Ethiopian recruits

    One in every three soldiers of Ethiopian heritage serves time in the army’s jails. Slowly but not always surely, the IDF is trying to reverse a dire trend that, many argue, is rooted in wider Israeli ignorance and racism

    An Ethiopian-Israeli soldier, born in Israel — let’s call him Yitzhak — was drafted into a rear echelon role in 2012. At the time, he was not in touch with his father; his mother had passed away; and he shared a government housing project apartment with his sister, who had embraced ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Nonetheless, he wanted to serve.

    After several months in the Southern Command, his financial aid from the IDF — for help with rent and food and other necessities — stopped coming through, apparently because he failed to process the paperwork.

    Frustrated and serving under a career sergeant who took little interest in his predicament, Yitzhak left the base and did not return. For the first 21 days of his absence he was considered AWOL. After that, he was designated a deserter. And, not too long after that, the Military Police came and arrested him.

    Yitzhak was sentenced to 40 days in a military prison for Israeli soldiers — known in Hebrew as Kele Arba — located in the military police compound in Tzrifin. During that time, the army did not pay the financial aid, aka “tash,” and, worse, the other inmates accused the shy soldier of being a police informer. He was ostracized in jail and beaten up repeatedly. When he was released and returned to his army base, he was deep in debt. He turned to loan sharks and to friends and then, again, went AWOL.

    This time, when the MP came to take him back to prison, in August 2013, he cowered in a corner of his apartment’s third-floor balcony and, under somewhat ambiguous circumstances, tumbled to the ground. While he was recuperating in the hospital from multiple fractures and two hours of surgery, the military police returned, put him in a wheelchair, shackled his wrists to the armrests, and wheeled him back into custody.

    Eventually, Cpt. (res) Avtamo Yosef and another Ethiopian-Israeli officer in the IAF were able to intervene. Yosef, a former paratrooper who recently finished his army service and started an NGO that aids and empowers Ethiopian-Israeli soldiers — more on that later — testified on his behalf and managed to help set a precedent: Yitzhak received no jail time. Instead, he was given a year’s medical leave and is hoping to return to service in September 2014.

    Read more from timesofisrael

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  • Can the real St George please stand up?

    EVERY YEAR on April 23, Englishmen and women come together to celebrate England’s patron saint.

    Across the country, communities will gather to wave or raise the red and white flag of St George.

    Since the 14th Century, when George replaced Edward the Confessor as England’s patron saint, he has symbolised national ideals of honour and bravery.

    But a poll from think tank British Future found that just 61 per cent of people feel pride in the St George’s Flag, with a quarter thinking it holds ‘racist’ connotations.

    The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, once called for St George’s Day to become a public holiday, advocating it has the potential to promote unity in England.

    Perhaps he was on to something, as not only was St George not English, but a growing number of scholars say they have reason to believe that this great Christian soldier was, in fact, black.

    But little is said about his connections to Africa, in particular Ethiopia – the oldest Christian country in the world – where St George is one of the most important saints.

    Mark Simpson, co-founder of Black History Studies, told The Voice: “The figure, the bravery and the flag of St George has been claimed by certain right wing English groups as the foundation of what it means to be English but, contrary to popular belief, St George was not English.

    “At the time when St George lived the ‘English’ identity did not exist. It was in the 5th Century AD that Anglo Saxons crossed over to England and at the time were speaking German, which later evolved into the ‘English’ language. So why is this important? The story of St George is important because it shows how history can be distorted and will continue to be distorted unless it is challenged.”

    The small town of Lalibela, Ethiopia, is home to one of the world’s most sacred Christian sites – 11 rock-hewn churches, each carved entirely out of a single block of granite with its roof at ground level.

    The most spectacular is Bet Giorgis (St George’s). Cut 40 feet down and a roof that forms the shape of a cross, Bet Giorgis is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, and is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.

    St George was born in the 3rd Century to Palestinian Christian parents, in Cappadocia, an area now in Turkey. After his father died, George’s mother returned to Palestine, taking him with her.

    Once settled, George followed the path of young noblemen and enlisted as a cavalry soldier in the Roman army of Emperor Diocletian.

    Despite only being 17, he became a high-ranking officer due to his skills as a soldier and horseman. However, while serving in the army, the reigning pagan emperor Diocletian (245-313 AD) began a hate campaign against Christians.

    Staying true to his Christian faith, George resigned from the military in protest. He tore up the Emperor’s order against Christians, which resulted in him being imprisoned and tortured but he refused to change his perceptions or his faith.

    Eventually, he was dragged through the streets of Diospolis, now Lydda in Palestine, and beheaded.

    DEDICATION

    Since then, George’s bravery and dedication has touched the hearts of millions of Christians around the world. As well as England, he is the patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia (Spain), Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice.

    George is also regarded as a patron saint for soldiers, archers, cavalry, farmers, field workers, riders, saddlers, and in recent years, scouts.
    Due to St George’s bravery, paintings of him were taken into numerous battles ahead of the Ethiopian army, with the belief it would give them victory which it did.

    In 1896, a cathedral was built as a token of thanks to the saint, whose relic was carried to the Battle of Adwa, a conflict fought against invading Italians. The Ethiopians won the battle which is the only time an African army defeated Europeans in a major encounter.

    In 1930, this holy place was the site of the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie, who is the focus of Rastafarian devotion.

    The church is a place of pilgrimage for Rastafarians all over the world to this day.

    The Imperial flag of Ethiopia has green, yellow, and red horizontal stripes of equal size with a gold lion marching east, carrying a cross and wearing the Imperial Ethiopian crown. On the Imperial Standard flag there is an image of St George slaying the dragon on one side.

    This flag is only shown at royal occasions, such as the funeral of Emperor Selassie, or for military purposes.

    Simpson added: “St George is as important to Ethiopians as he is to English people, because they both regard him as an important saint. And not just Ethiopia and England, but many countries around the world have St George as their number one saint.

    “The question is, if the St George story has been distorted, how many other parts of history that are important to black people have been distorted? Knowledge is power, people.”

    So having learned the truth about our patron saint, perhaps black Britons no longer need to feel disconnected from St George’s Day and its traditions, but approach it with a new sense of pride and understanding.

    source: voice-online

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  • Addis Ababa Ranks 3rd Among 10 Fastest Emerging Megacities in the World 2014

    A report has detailed the cities that are catching up with their more developed counterparts in the First World.

    The Emerging Cities Outlook (ECO) report, released by Chicago consultancy AT Kearney, "measures the likelihood that cities in low and middle-income countries will improve their global standing over the next 10 to 20 years" in relation to the world's current largest cities, such as New York and London.

    The report analysed 34 cities and used business activity, human capital and innovation as indicators to predict the emerging cities most likely to progress in the near future.

    "As physical distances become less relevant and global competition intensifies, cities in low and middle-income countries will increasingly jockey for position with one another and with cities in higher-income countries," Andres Mendoza Pena, a coauthor of the report, said.

    The report also calculated the most "global" cities - based on a variety of indicators such as cultural experience and political engagement - with New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong making the top five. Beijing entered the top 20 for the first time, marking the Chinese capital's prominent rise as a global city.

    The report's top 10 rising cities:

    10) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur is set to catch leading cities in terms of "ease of doing business".

    9) Nairobi, Kenya

    Nairobi is described by the report as an "important centre of regional politics".

    8) Mumbai, India

    Mumbai looks set to take advantage of India's "booming global services industry and its greater openness to the global economy".

    7) Bogota, Colombia

    Bogota is progressing in human capital through vast improvements in "stability and security, respect for the environment, and healthcare".

    6) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Rio de Janeiro will enjoy the benefits of the World Cup this summer while the Olympics will be hosted here in 2016, demonstrating its rise as a global city.

    5) New Delhi, India

    New Delhi, like Mumbai, is set to enjoy the benefits of India's booming global services industry.

    4) Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Sao Paulo is set to catch the world's top cities if it continues to grow its business activity at current rates.

    3) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    The Ethiopian capital is one of the cities closing in fastest on the world leaders in "income equality, healthcare, and business transparency".

    2) Manila, Philippines

    Manila is one of the cities set to catch-up because of a notable improvement in healthcare quality and availability among other human capital indicators. 

    1) Jakarta, Indonesia

    Jakarta has topped the report's standing as the number one emerging city in the world because it is improving in areas of stability and security while "addressing income inequality and environmental concerns."

    The cities that make up the top 20:

    11. Bangalore, India

    12. Beijing, China

    13. Johannesburg, South Africa

    14. Kolkata, India

    15. Istanbul, Turkey

    16. Cape Town, South Africa

    17. Chennai, India

    18. Tunis, Tunisia

    19. Dhaka, Bangladesh

    20. Caracas, Venezuela

    source: IBT

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