By Aaron Maasho ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - African Union observers said on Tuesday that Ethiopia's parliamentary election held on Sunday was credible except for a few irregularities, but the opposition dismissed the vote as marred by violations including ballot box theft. Provisional results in Africa' second most populous nation are due later this week and few expect anything but a landslide for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, in power since ousting dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who took over after EPRDF's long-serving leader Meles Zenawi died in 2012, has pushed on with EPRDF's highly-centralized statist economic model credited with turning around the fortunes of a country once ravaged by war and famine. But the opposition -- which has one seat in the outgoing 547-member parliament -- accuses the government of crushing dissent, limiting free speech, and muzzling the press. The EPRDF denies this, saying the political space is open for all. "The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) concludes that the parliamentary elections were calm, peaceful, and credible as it provided an opportunity for the Ethiopian people to express their choices at the polls," former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, the head of the AU mission, said. Pohamba said 59 members from 23 African countries visited 356 polling stations. Ethiopia did not invite Western observers to this election. About 37 million out of Ethiopia's 96 million people registered to vote. The observers said no major incidents occurred and that they could vouch for the secrecy of the vote in 95 percent of the polling stations it observed. However, the mission said that in 21 percent of all stations it visited, station officers violated rules by failing to display empty ballot boxes before the official start of the elections. It also noted that a few voting centers had opened ahead of time, though staffers claimed this was due to requests from voters. WITCH-HUNTS Merara Gudina, deputy chairperson of the opposition Medrek coalition dismissed the AU report, claiming the body had failed to report on violations in many constituencies. Merara told Reuters that security personnel had launched a "witch-hunt" on the eve of the vote by arresting his group's observers. He also said ballot boxes had been stolen in his constituency outside the western town of Ambo some 130 kilometers (81 miles) from the capital. "The whole process was a farce. In my constituency, we do not even know what happened to over 80 percent of the ballot boxes right after the polls closed, " he said. "It was organized robbery." The electoral board -- which is set to announce provisional results before the end of the week -- was not immediately available to comment on the claims. On the day of the vote Hailemariam rejected opposition claims of foul play. "They have been campaigning freely. There has not been any repression as far as this is concerned," Hailemariam told Reuters on Sunday in his constituency in Gununo, a town 330 kilometers southwest from the capital. Ethiopia's economy has been one of the fastest growing in Africa and beyond. The World Bank forecasts growth of 10.5 percent in the year starting in July. (Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Raissa Kasolowsky)
- Yahoo News
A fifth member of Congress has tested positive for COVID-19 following last week’s lockdown at the Capitol — a surge of cases that had been predicted as a result of the Jan. 6 occupation.
- Associated Press
A federal judge in Washington on Friday night halted a plan to release and put on house arrest the Arkansas man photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol. Richard Barnett will instead be brought to Washington, D.C., immediately for proceedings in his case, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered Friday night, staying a decision by another judge to confine Barnett to his home in Gravette, Arkansas, until his trial. Howell's ruling came hours after U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann in Arkansas set a $5,000 bond for Barnett and ordered that a GPS monitor track his location.
- NBC News
Jennifer Ryan faces charges of disorderly conduct and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged nations around the world to maintain a unified front against Chinese detentions of foreign citizens, saying every country was vulnerable. Trudeau made his remarks as China offered more consular access to two Canadian men it arrested in December 2018 and charged with spying. Canada has repeatedly called on its partners to press Beijing for their release.
- Associated Press
Pakistani authorities sacked a local police chief and 11 other policemen for failing to protect a Hindu temple that was set on fire and demolished last month by a mob led by hundreds of supporters of a radical Islamist party, police said Friday. The 12 policemen were fired over “acts of cowardice" and “negligence" for not trying to stop the mob when it attacked the temple, with some having fled the scene. Another 48 policemen were given various punishments following a probe into the attack, the police statement said.
The white woman caught on tape getting into a physical altercation with a Black female security guard the evening before the Capitol riots lost her job at UMass Hospital. The termination occurred after her daughter went viral for exposing her identity on social media. On January 5th, Therese Duke and a group of pro-Trump protesters that included other family members were filmed harassing Ashanti Smith, a security guard working at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C.
- The Week
Trump's team is reportedly trying to assemble a crowd for a 'major send-off' hours before Biden's inauguration
President Trump is planning to exit the White House on the morning of Jan. 20, a few hours before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in a short distance away, CNN reports. "Eager for a final taste of the pomp of being president, Trump has asked for a major send-off," and "as one of their final acts, Trump's team is working to organize a crowd to see him off on the morning of Biden's inauguration, when he plans to depart Washington while still president" for a flight to Palm Beach, Florida, where his term will officially end at noon.There are 20,000 National Guard troops currently deployed or en route to Washington, D.C., ahead of Biden's inauguration, because the last crowd Trump drew to the White House morphed into an insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol.Plans are still being ironed out, CNN says, but "Trump told people he did not like the idea of departing Washington for a final time as an ex-president, flying aboard an airplane no longer known as Air Force One. He also did not particularly like the thought of requesting the use of the plane from Biden." The Bidens will wake up on Inauguration Day at nearby Blair House, CNN reports, adding that "its use was offered to them by the State Department rather than the Trumps, who refuse to make contact with the incoming president and first lady.""Trump has expressed interest to some in a military-style sendoff and a crowd of supporters," CNN says, but it's unclear "whether that occurs at the White House, Joint Base Andrews, or his final destination, Palm Beach International Airport."Outgoing U.S. presidents almost always attend the swearing-in of their successors, Defense One notes, and "in recent decades, the outgoing president and first lady walk down the back steps of the Capitol to an awaiting helicopter, which then makes the short five-minute flight over to Joint Base Andrews in nearby Maryland. Upon arriving at Andrews, the former president and first lady are usually greeted by a military honor guard, former staffers, friends, and other well wishers." Two senior Pentagon officials confirmed to Defense One on Thursday that, in a break with recent tradition, no military farewell is being planned for Trump.More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future
- Yahoo News Video
A white military veteran shot and wounded a 15-year-old girl when he fired his gun into a car carrying four Black teens during a tense confrontation at a Trump rally near the Iowa Capitol last month.
- The Telegraph
Government must 'get a grip' of what is now a full-blown crisis in the fishing industry, say fishermen
Scotland's fishermen have told Boris Johnson his Brexit trade deal leaves them with the "worst of both worlds" amid export delays and collapsing market prices. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) said the industry was facing "mounting financial losses" and the only way to ensure a fair price was a 72-hour round trip to land catch in Denmark. Elspeth Macdonald, the trade group's chief executive, said there was "huge disappointment and a great deal of anger about your failure to deliver on promises made repeatedly to this industry." She accused him of having "spun a line" about a 25 per cent uplift in the UK's quota and demanded urgent details of promised compensation for the disruption. Her concerns were echoed by Scotland's seafood processors, who said ministers in both London and Edinburgh need to "get a grip" of the long delays exporters are facing. A third of fishing boats in Scotland are tied up at harbours and the industry is estimated to be losing £1 million per day. Exporters warned they face possible bankruptcy amid a suspension of road deliveries due to border delays. Transport company DFDS stopped exports last week after delays in getting new paperwork introduced following the expiry of the Brexit transition period for EU border posts in France. It aims to resume the service on Monday. Paperwork has to be approved before consignments can be sent to DFDS's warehouse in South Lanarkshire and then on to English Channel ports. In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms McDonald said: "Many fishing vessels are tied to the quay wall.” She added: "This industry now finds itself in the worst of both worlds. Your deal leaves us with shares that not only fall very far short of zonal attachment, but in many cases fail to ‘bridge the gap’ compared to historic catches, and with no ability to leverage more fish from the EU, as they have full access to our waters. "This, coupled with the chaos experienced since 1st January in getting fish to market means that many in our industry now fear for their future, rather than look forward to it with optimism and ambition."
- Associated Press
A Florida waitress who noticed bruises on an 11-year-old boy flashed him a handwritten note asking him if he needed help, and when he nodded yes, she called the police, authorities said. Orlando police credited Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress at Mrs. Potato Restaurant, with coming to the boy's aid on New Year's Eve when the child’s parents weren’t looking. Police took the boy to a hospital where doctors found bruises on his face, earlobes and arms.
- The Independent
National Guard authorised to use lethal force at Capitol as they prepare for potential inauguration protests
Thousands of troops with lethal weapons will be guarding the inauguration as threats of pro-Trump demonstration and attacks intensify
- Architectural Digest
When it came to the lighting in his home, Pardo drew inspiration from the insides of fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as sea creatures and machine parts.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Food has become so expensive in Turkey that some people are spending what money they have to stock up on rice and pasta to avoid swallowing even higher prices in the months ahead. With surveys showing pantries are thinning out, Erdogan may need to do more about basic living costs even after installing a new central bank chief who in November pledged to tame inflation.
- Miami Herald
“I thought, ‘This could be the end,’” the D.C. police officer said.
- Associated Press
No criminal charges will be filed against a former temporary elections worker authorities have said mistakenly discarded nine military ballots ahead of the November presidential election, a federal prosecutor announced Friday. Officials have previously blamed the decision to toss out the ballots on an unidentified and improperly trained contract worker who had been handling mail-in ballots for the county for two days. The ballots were later retrieved from the trash and were counted with other mailed ballots after the Nov. 3 election.
The number of U.S troops in Afghanistan has been reduced to 2,500, the lowest level of American forces there since 2001, the Pentagon said on Friday. In November, President Donald Trump's administration said it would sharply cut the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January, stopping short of a threatened full withdrawal from America's longest war after fierce opposition from allies at home and abroad. "Moving forward, while the Department continues with planning capable of further reducing U.S. troop levels to zero by May of 2021, any such future drawdowns remain conditions-based," acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said in a statement on reaching 2,500 troops.
- NBC News
As blizzard conditions impacted parts of the Midwest, two Southern California coastal locations registered a national high temperature of 94.
The man accused of throwing a fire extinguisher during the Washington, D.C. riots last week has been arrested. Robert Sanford, a retired Chester Fire Department firefighter, was arrested on Thursday and charged with assault on a police officer, among other offenses. Attorney Enrique Latoison argues Sanford went on a free bus to the rally for Trump at the Capitol, but he did not enter the government building.
- Associated Press
With a chainsaw in his car, Ahmed Abdelal tours the Gaza Strip, asking around for people wanting to cut down trees, regrow orchards or make way for construction. One of the few remaining woodcutters in the Palestinian territory, Abdelal, who learned woodcutting from his father, is struggling to scratch out a living in a traditional job that is less and less in demand. Job opportunities are rare in this Palestinian enclave wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, and so are green spaces.
- Yahoo News Video
A 16-year-old boy has admitted to fatally shooting his newborn daughter and leaving her body inside a fallen tree in the woods in Wisconsin, according to prosecutors.