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  • U of T begins teaching ancient Ethiopian language

    The course in Ge’ez, which could be a first step to launching a larger Ethiopian Studies program, was helped made possible by a donation of $50,000 each from a prof, the school and the Weeknd.

    A language that hasn’t been spoken for more than 1,000 years is being taught this semester at the University of Toronto, a step perhaps towards decoding rarely understood excerpts of history.

    The ancient Ethiopian language of Ge’ez is written in a script that’s read left to right and has 26 letters. Letters have variations for the vowels that go with them, meaning students have to learn 26 characters in seven different ways.

    The goal of the class, which meets twice a week, is to get students on their way to reading.

    Milen Melles, a history major, said her parents immigrated to Canada from Eritrea in the 1990s and is taking the class as an opportunity to connect with her roots. She one day hopes to study texts from the region at a graduate level.

    “This is a huge step for western academia to be exploring African languages, ancient languages, because they usually only study Swahili,” Melles said, noting that African studies often get lumped together at universities, differently than other regions where specific areas or countries are studied independently of one another.

    “They treat Africa like a monolith, if they were to have an Ethiopian studies program that would clearly change that whole model of the way that they look at Africa.”

    U of T’s Scarborough library is working on digitizing tens of thousands of pages of historical manuscripts written in Ge’ez that hardly anyone can understand.

    The class’s professor, Robert Holmstedt specializes in Semitic languages and is one of only a handful of people teaching Ge’ez at a university level in North America.

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     Ethiopia plunged into a human rights crisis in 2016, increasing restrictions on basic rights during a state of emergency and continuing a bloody crackdown against largely peaceful protesters, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2017The state of emergency permits arbitrary detention, restricts access to social media, and bans communications with foreign groups.

    Security forces killed hundreds and detained tens of thousands of protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions during the year. Many of those who were released reported that they were tortured in detention, a longstanding problem in Ethiopia. The government has failed to meaningfully investigate security forces abuses or respond to calls for an international investigation into the crackdown.

    “Instead of addressing the numerous calls for reform in 2016, the Ethiopian government used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to suppress largely peaceful protests,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Vague promises of reform are not enough. The government needs to restore basic rights and engage in meaningful dialogue instead of responding to criticism with more abuses.”

    In the 687-page World Report, its 27th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seek to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights as an impediment to the majority will. For those who feel left behind by the global economy and increasingly fear violent crime, civil society groups, the media, and the public have key roles to play in reaffirming the values on which rights-respecting democracy has been built.

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  • Nigeria Raises Troops for Gambia, Ready to Remove Yahya Jammeh

    The Nigerian Army has raised an army battalion that would be deployed in troubled Gambia to forcefully remove President Yahya Jammeh from power if he fails to step down on January 19, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.

    The battalion, christened ECOMOG NIBATT 1, was drawn from the Army's 19th Battalion based in Okitipupa, Ondo State, military insiders have told PREMIUM TIMES.

    Personnel were also drawn from other formations and units across the country due to shortage of men at 19 Battalion which has a significant chunk of its troops deployed for internal security task force, Operation Delta Safe.

    This newspaper learnt that the Army Headquarters has instructed the nominated officers and men, put at over 800, to immediately report at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji, for a crashed course on counter terrorism and counter insurgency.

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  • Pakistani man who weighs 68-STONE and plays tug o' war against a TRACTOR eats 36 eggs for breakfast

    The Incredible BULK: 6ft 3in Pakistani man, 25, weighs 68-STONE
    Gentle giant Arbab Khizer Hayat has already been named Pakistan’s hulk man, and has gained fans throughout the country for his strongman stunts, which include stopping cars with his bare hands. 

    ‘My aim to become the champion. I am thankful to God for giving me this body. It is a matter of time before I get into the world weightlifting arena,’ said Hayat.
    Hayat’s daily diet is as fascinating as his massive build. He consumes an incredible 10,000 calories a day – a diet that includes 36 eggs for breakfast, 7lb of meat, five litres of milk and much more.

    Standing at 6ft 3in tall, Hayat adds that he faces no health issues because of his phenomenal weight.

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  • New York boy, 12, 'demands chicken nugget at gunpoint'

    A 12-year-old boy is accused of pulling a gun on a girl and demanding one of her chicken nuggets, New York police say.

    They say he asked for a nugget in a McDonald's fast food outlet in Harlem on Tuesday.

    When she refused, he is then alleged to have followed her to a nearby subway station and held the gun to her head.

    She pushed the gun away and boarded the train, and he was later taken into custody, police say.

    The New York Police Department says the gun has not been found, and it remains unclear whether it was real or a replica.

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  • Donald Trump promises report on election hacking

    Donald Trump has promised to issue a report within 90 days on allegations of Russian hacking during the US presidential election campaign.

    In a series of tweets, the president-elect called the claims "made-up facts by sleazebag political operatives".

    US intelligence agencies have accused Russia of interfering in the election by hacking party communications.

    They are also weighing claims that Moscow is holding compromising information about Mr Trump.

    On Thursday the president-elect said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had called him to "denounce the false and fictitious" reports of a Russian dossier against him, which were leaked to media earlier in the week.

    But Mr Clapper said he had told Mr Trump that no judgement had so far been made on the reliability of the reports.

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