Trump Again Calls Leaders of China and Japan to Discuss North Korea

President Donald Trump has again made separate telephone calls from the White House to the leaders of Japan and China to discuss concerns about North Korea.

The 30-minute call between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meant to increase pressure on Pyongyang not to engage in further provocative actions, but was not prompted by any significant change in the situation, according to officials in Tokyo.

“We agreed to strongly demand North Korea, which is repeating its provocation, show restraint,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo on Monday.

“We will maintain close contact with the United States, maintain a high level of vigilance and firmly respond,” he added.

Abe also said he and Trump agreed that a larger role in dealing with Pyongyang should be played by China.

Trump subsequently spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about North Korea, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese president said he hopes all sides avoid doing anything to worsen the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Trump, in the phone call with Xi, “criticized North Korea’s continued belligerence and emphasized Pyongyang’s actions are destabilizing the Korean Peninsula,” according to a White House readout issued Monday. “The two leaders reaffirmed the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and committed to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

U.S. officials have repeatedly said all options remain “on the table” to deal with further North Korean provocations.

The conversations between Trump and two of his counterparts in Asia (where it was Monday morning) took place as a US Navy strike force, led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, is approaching the Korean peninsula.

Officials in Seoul announced Monday the USS Carl Vinson is scheduled to hold a joint training exercise with South Korean naval ships.

“Consultations are under way in connection with the exercise,” Ministry of National Defense spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told reporters. But he provided no additional details.

The approach of the American naval carrier strike group has not gone unnoticed in Pyongyang.

“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” read a Sunday commentary in the Rodong Sinmun, the Workers’ Party newspaper.

Such threats are common from the reclusive state.

North Korea on Tuesday celebrates the anniversary of the founding of its military, a key holiday in the country.

There are concerns Pyongyang, in conjunction with the anniversary, will demonstrate a show of force by possibly firing more ballistic missiles or conducting its sixth nuclear test.

Such activities by North Korea are prohibited under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

North Korea’ sole significant ally, China, also opposes Pyongyang’s programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.

President Trump has said that Chinese President Xi Jinping is applying pressure on North Korea to not engage in further provocations.

It is speculated by analysts in Washington and Beijing that China is threatening to cut crude oil supplies to its impoverished neighbor should it conduct another nuclear test.

US citizen detained

Meanwhile a third U.S. citizen was detained Friday by North Korean authorities as he was about to leave the country.

The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) confirmed the detention of Kim Sang-duk, who had been teaching accounting at the privately-funded school started by evangelical Christians.

“We cannot comment on anything that Mr. Kim may be alleged to have done that is not related to his teaching work on the PUST campus,” the university said in a statement on Sunday.

At least two other U.S. citizens are known to be held in North Korea.

The U.S. State Department said it is “aware of reports” that a third American had been detained and is working with Swedish diplomats on the case.

The United States and North Korea have never had diplomatic ties. Sweden’s embassy in Pyongyang represents the interests of American citizens in the country.

North Korea has a pattern of detaining and sentencing American visitors to prison in order to get high profile visitors to go there to obtain their release.

 

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BREAKING NEWS: The Federal Government Has Declared a State of Emergency

The federal government has declared a state of emergency as of Saturday, October 8, 2016. The cabinet of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has an emergency meeting on Saturday afternoon where the government declared the state of emergency at a time of deteriorating security situation in Oromia Regional State.

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Deafening Silence from Ethiopia -Human Rights Watch

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Since November, state security forces have killed hundreds of protesters and arrested thousands in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region. It’s the biggest political crisis to hit the country since the 2005 election but has barely registered internationally. And with the protests now in their fifth month, there is an almost complete information blackout.

A teacher arrested in December told me, “In Oromia the world doesn’t know what happens for months, years or ever. No one ever comes to speak to us, and we don’t know where to find those who will listen to our stories.”

Part of the problem is the government’s draconian restrictions on news reporting, human rights monitoring, and access to information imposed over the past decade. But restrictions have worsened in the last month. Some social media sites have been blocked, and in early March security officials detained two international journalists overnight while they were trying to report on the protests. As one foreign diplomat told me, “It’s like a black hole, we have no idea what is happening. We get very little credible information.”

With difficulty, Human Rights Watch interviewed nearly 100 protesters. They described security forces firing randomly into crowds, children as young as nine being arrested, and Oromo students being tortured in detention. But the Ethiopian media aren’t telling these stories. It’s not their fault. Ethiopian journalists have to choose between self-censorship, prison, or exile. Ethiopia is one of the leading jailers of journalists on the continent. In 2014 at least 30 journalists fled the country and six independent publications closed down. The government intimidates and harasses printers, distributors, and sources.

International journalists also face challenges. Some do not even try to go because of the personal risks for them, their translators, and their sources. And when they do go, many Ethiopians fear speaking out against government policies—there are plenty of cases of people being arrested after being interviewed.

Diaspora-run television stations have helped fill the gap, including the U.S.-based Oromia Media Network (OMN). Many students in Oromia told me that OMN was one way they were able to learn what was happening in other parts of the region during the protests. But since OMN began broadcasting in March 2014 it has been jammed 15 times for varying periods. Radio broadcasts are also jammed–as international broadcasters like Voice of America and Deutsche Welle have experienced intermittently for years.

In December OMN began transmitting on a satellite that is virtually impenetrable to jamming. But security forces then began destroying private satellite dishes on people’s homes. Eventually the government applied pressure on the satellite company to drop OMN, which has now been off the air for over two months.

Social media has partially helped fill the information gap. Photos of injured students and videos of protests have been posted to Facebook, particularly in the early days of the protests. But in some locations the authorities have targeted people who filmed the protests on their phones. At various times in the last month, there have been reports of social media and file-sharing sites being blocked in Oromia, including Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox. Website-blocking has been documented before – in 2013, at least 37 websites with information from Ethiopia were blocked. Most of the sites were operated by Ethiopians in the diaspora.

Independent non-governmental organizations that might be reporting what is happening face similar restrictions. The government’s Charities and Societies Proclamation of 2009 virtually gutted domestic nongovernmental organizations that work on human rights issues. The independent Human Rights Council released a report on the protests in March. It was a breath of fresh air, but the council released it at great risk. As the first report from Ethiopian civil society on an issue of great political significance, it was a damning indictment of the limits of freedom of expression in Africa’s second-largest country, with a population of 100 million.

The government may believe that by strangling the flow of information coming out of Oromia it can limit international concern and pressure. And so far the response from countries that support Ethiopia’s development has been muted. The deaths of hundreds, including many children, have largely escaped condemnation.

Yet the government’s brutally repressive tactics cannot be contained behind Ethiopia’s information firewall for long. The sooner the government recognizes this and acts to stop the mass arrests and excessive use of force, the better the outlook for the government and the affected communities.

The government—with the assistance of its allies and partners—needs to support an independent investigation of the events in Oromia, commit to accountability and justice for the victims, and start dismantling the legislative and security apparatus that has made Ethiopia one of the most hostile places for free expression on the continent. What’s happening in Oromia has long-term implications for Ethiopia’s stability and economic progress, and Ethiopians and the world need to know what is happening.

Ethiopia facing drought worse than 1984 crisis:

By Edmund Blair

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The drought relief effort in Ethiopia needs about $500 million to fund programs beyond the end of April to support 10.2 million people facing critical food shortages this year, the U.N. World Food Programme said on Thursday.

Ethiopia is battling one of its worst droughts in decades that in parts of the country eclipses the 1984 crisis, when rain failures and conflict caused famine that killed an estimated 1 million people.

This time, the Horn of Africa nation is at peace and has an economy that has grown rapidly for more than a decade, helping the government put in place agriculture, health and social programs to build resilience against lean periods.

But the scale of this drought, blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon, is even overwhelming those measures.

“We are really on the cliff’s edge as we speak,” WFP Country Director John Aylieff told Reuters, saying the $500 million had to be raised by the end of February so resources could be in place by the end of April.

“It’s a really tall order for donors to suddenly mobilize the immense amount of resources needed for the Ethiopian crisis this year. I would also say it is a tall order for the mother in the highlands of Ethiopia to watch her children waste away.”

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The government, WFP and a group of charities such as Save the Children are working on the relief effort. The government is already spending about $300 million and other funds have come from the United States, Canada, European states and others. About $38 million was committed this week, the WFP said.

But more is needed when international aid budgets are stretched by crises such as the Syria conflict.

An estimated $1.4 billion is expected to be spent in 2016 to cover relief food and other requirements in Ethiopia. But some experts say that estimate may prove inadequate, after rains failed in 2015 and with the 2016 outlook unclear.

Ethiopia has tried to prepare for such times, given 80 percent of its people rely on farming, mostly rain-fed.

One initiative is the Productive Safety Net Programme, which helps about 7.9 million people deemed to be chronically food insecure by providing food or cash transfers in return for community works. Now an additional 10.2 million are struggling.

The government has dug into strategic food reserves, but the cost of the effort is a major burden for a nation which is still one of the poorest per capita in Africa despite a fast growing economy.

Aylieff said the relief effort had stabilized the situation from August when there was a spike in new cases of malnutrition, with 43,000 children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition in a single month.

“Unless we can sustain a solid relief response in Ethiopia, we risk going back to a situation of spiking severe acute malnutrition,” he said.

የአሜሪካ መንግስት የኦሮሚያ ተቃውሞና ቀውሱ አሳስቦኛል ሲል መግለጫ አወጣ፡፡

(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) – United States government agencies and officials have begun openly reacting to the ongoing protests in many parts of the Oromia Region. On Friday night, the State Department said the United States is deeply concerned by the recent clashes in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that reportedly have resulted in the deaths of numerous protestors.

“We urge the government of Ethiopia to permit peaceful protest and commit to a constructive dialogue to address legitimate grievances. We also urge those protesting to refrain from violence and to be open to dialogue,” a statement by Mark C. Toner, Deputy Department Spokesman reads. “The government of Ethiopia has stated publicly that the disputed development plans will not be implemented without further public consultation. We support the government of Ethiopia’s stated commitment to those consultations and urge it to convene stakeholders to engage in dialogue as soon as possible.”

US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, on her part tweeted Friday saying: “The Ethiopian government must use restraint in response to Oromo protests and take immediate steps to decrease the tension.”

Violent clashes between security forces and student protesters in Ethiopia has entered into its fourth week. The two sides began the confrontation, which opposition figures say has caused the death of more than 70 people so far, after Oromo students in various parts of the country began protesting against the government’s new master plan for Addis Ababa which they call will incorporate lands into the capital city and displace thousands of Oromo farmers.

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