Ethiopia: Multiple arrests in major crackdown on government critics

The Ethiopian government is tightening its suffocating grip on freedom of expression in a major crackdown which has seen the arrest of numerous independent, critical and opposition voices over the last two days, said Amnesty International.

Six members of an independent blogger and activist group and a freelance journalist were arrested yesterday 25 April. Another journalist was arrested this morning. Meanwhile 20 members of the political opposition Semayawi (Blue) party have been arrested since Thursday.

“These arrests appear to be yet another alarming round up of opposition or independent voices” said Claire Beston, Ethiopia researcher at Amnesty International.

“This is part of a long trend of arrests and harassment of human rights defenders, activists, journalists and political opponents in Ethiopia.”

Six members of the independent blogger and activist group ‘Zone 9’ were arrested on 25 April in Addis Ababa. Group members Befeqadu Hailu, Atnaf Berahane, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kiberet, Natnael Feleke and Abel Wabela were arrested from their offices or in the street on Friday afternoon. All six were first taken to their homes, which were searched, and then taken to the infamous Federal Police Crime Investigation Sector ‘Maikelawi’, where political prisoners are held in pre-trial, and sometimes arbitrary, detention.

At around the same time on Friday afternoon freelance journalist Tesfalem Waldyes was also arrested. His home was also searched before he was taken to Maikelawi. Another freelance journalist and friend of the Zone 9 group, Edom Kasaye, was arrested on the morning of Saturday 26 April. She was accompanied by police to her home, which was searched, and then taken to Maikelawi.

“The detainees must be immediately released unless they are charged with a recognisable criminal offence” said Claire Beston.

“They must also be given immediate access to their families and lawyers.”

The detainees are being held incommunicado. Family members of those arrested reportedly went to Maikelawi on the morning of Saturday 26 April, and were told they could leave food for the detainees, but they were not permitted to see them.

The Zone 9 group had temporarily suspended their activities over the last six months after what they say was a significant increase in surveillance and harassment of their members. On 23 April the group announced via social media that they were returning to their blogging and activism. The arrests came two days later.

It is not known what prompted Waldyes’ arrest, but he is well known as a journalist writing independent commentary on political issues.

In further arrests, the political opposition party, the Semayawi (Blue) Party, says that during 24 and 25 April more than 20 of its members were arrested. The party was arranging to hold a demonstration on Sunday 27 April. They had provided the requisite notification to Addis Ababa administration, and had reportedly received permission.

The arrested party members, which include the Vice Chairman of the party, are reported to be in detention in a number of police stations around the city, including Kazanchis 6th, Gulele and Yeka police stations.

The Chairman of the party, Yilkil Getnet, was also reportedly arrested, but was released late on Friday night.

Over the last year, the Semayawi party has staged several demonstrations, which have witnessed the arrests and temporary detention of organisers and demonstrators on a number of occasions.

In March, seven female members of the Semayawi Party were arrested during a run to mark International Women’s Day in Addis Ababa, after chanting slogans including “We need freedom! Free political prisoners! We need justice! Freedom! Don’t divide us!” The women were released without charge after ten days in detention.

“With still a year to go before the general elections, the Ethiopian government is closing any remaining holes in its iron grip on freedom of speech, opinion and thought in the country” said Claire Beston.

Jesus – Inspired Miracle Machine Turns Water into Wine

By Sumitra on March 10th, 2014 Category: Tech

Up until a few days ago, Jesus was the only one who could turn water into wine. Now it seems anyone can do it. All they need is one of these $499 miracle bottles, water and some special ingredients. The aptly named Miracle Machine is pretty straightforward – water goes in, wine comes out. And there’s a sachet of flavors for various types of wines, of course, as with all instant foods. Created by the founders of a California company called Customvine, Miracle Machine is currently up on Kickstarter for much needed funding.

To use Miracle Machine, all you need to do is add the ingredients sachet to the bottle, choose the type and style of wine from a menu, add water and start the machine. Then, all you need to do is wait. Thankfully, the waiting period isn’t a pain – you don’t have to keep opening the bottle to check if the wine’s ready. Instead, you can connect the bottle to your smartphone, and an app will monitor the progress for you. It will alert you when the fermentation is complete (a process that takes about three days), and the wine is ready to consume.

Kevin Boyer, CEO of Customvine, is a sommelier who also founded the Boyanci winery in Napa Valley. Miracle Machine is his brainchild, in collaboration with Philip James, a British entrepreneur and founder of the wine site Lot18. “Just like a Bible miracle, it literally turns water into wine, with just the addition of a few ingredients in a fraction of the time and cost it would normally take,” said Boyer.


While the pair have preferred to keep the exact science behind the product ‘top secret’, they have provided a basic explanation. They said that the fermentation chamber uses electrical censors, transducers, heaters and pumps to provide a controlled environment for the primary and, as needed, secondary fermentation stages. A digital refractometer measures the sugar content of the liquid during the fermentation process, while an air-diffuser passes filtered air through a ‘micro-oxygenated’ channel. An ultrasonic transducer under the chamber can speed up the flavor and development of the wine.


Well, that’s a whole lot of technical mumbo-jumbo to me; I’m still stoked that this thing can produce wine in three days. And not just one kind of wine – you can choose between six styles including Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from Napa, Pinot Noir from Oregon, Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma, a Tuscan blend from Italy and a red and white from Burgundy. Five to ten more styles will be added in the next three months. So far only a prototype has been made, but if the product can get enough funding, it is expected to go on sale later this year. The packaging will contain the Miracle Machine, grape concentrate, yeast and other sachets of ingredients.

Once you get the basic price of the unit out of the way, you’re basically going to be spending $2 on a bottle of wine with the Miracle Machine. It won’t last long though – only two weeks – because this wine is produced and bottled under air and not an inert gas. But hey, at $2 a bottle, who’s complaining?

Source: Miracle Machine via

Grads Remake China Workforce as High-End Threat to U.S.

By David J. Lynch  Apr 16, 2014

Barely 26 years old, Zhang Xi has studied at an elite American university, worked for an investment bank in Hong Kong and an oil company in Beijing and now may launch an Internet startup with two friends.

Zhang, a foreign movie buff who quotes lines from “Forrest Gump” in fluent English, symbolizes a transformation of China’s labor force that is minting college graduates in a country better known for its factory workers.

“We just don’t want to sit on the side while all the big things are happening,” she says. “There are tons of choices in front of young people right now.”

Some of those choices may shake the global economy. Close to 7 million Chinese this year will graduate college, up from 1.1 million in 2001. By 2020, China’s college-educated talent pool is expected to number 195 million people — more than the entire U.S. labor force that year.

The Chinese for more than a decade have been potent rivals to American and European manufacturers. China is giving Westerners something new to worry about: a generation of workers able to compete in higher-technology endeavors. The aim is to develop service industries and shift from producing simple exports — often assembled from parts made elsewhere — to making a larger share of more sophisticated products.

Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

Students throw their caps in the air as friends take photos following a graduation… Read More

To be sure, the emergence of tens of millions of additional college-educated workers will challenge China as well as its trading partners. Too many Chinese universities offer sub-par educations and too many students fail to find jobs after graduation, potentially imperiling social stability.

MIT Education

Well-educated workers such as Zhang, who earned a master’s degree in finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are essential to the government’s plans to reorient the world’s second-largest economy. As Chinese companies grow more capable – – what economists call “moving up the value chain” — they will encroach on markets now dominated by advanced economies.

“We’re going to have to compete with Chinese banks and Chinese insurance companies and Chinese software companies,” said William Overholt, president of the Fung Global Institute in Hong Kong. “We’re not used to thinking of China as a powerhouse in these areas.”

That change is already happening. More than half of China’s $4.2 trillion in trade last year involved significant value added by Chinese workers, while lower-value processing trade fell below one-third of the total, down from almost 39 percent in 2010, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Photographer: David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Graduates line up at MIT’s 146th commencement in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 08, 2012.

Complex Work

Yukon Huang, an economist who headed the World Bank’s China office from 1997 to 2004, says the proliferation of college graduates is lowering the cost of skilled labor and making China more competitive in a broader range of industries.

As rising factory wages push labor-intensive manufacturing to countries such as Vietnam or Bangladesh, Chinese manufacturers are taking on more complex — and lucrative — work, says Louis Kuijs, chief economist for China at Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong.

“We see a lot of upgrading of the manufacturing sector where companies do things that they didn’t do before,” Kuijs said. “People talk about will it happen? Forget it — it’s happening big time already.”

Reflecting that economic maturation, Chinese exports to the U.S. of industrial engines and related parts roughly doubled last year compared with 2007 before the financial crisis disrupted global trade, while toy shipments fell 11 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

China is advancing along a path blazed by countries such as South Korea, Huang said. Once derided for poor quality, South Korean companies such as automaker Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) now boast globally competitive products.

‘Outflank Us’

That’s only a hint of what’s ahead, according to Dan Breznitz, the Munk chair of innovation studies at the University of Toronto. Breznitz, co-author of “Run of the Red Queen: Government, Innovation, Globalization and Economic Growth in China,” says China soon will have a surplus of college graduates to devote to research on fields the West is neglecting, such as power grid improvements, and to innovate in the way many goods are produced.

“It’s not necessarily competing head to head,” Breznitz said. “They’re going to outflank us.”

If they do, it will be partly thanks to what globalized Chinese have learned at American universities. China sends roughly 200,000 university students to the U.S. each year, 10 times the number of Americans who study in China.

Luo Jiabei, 24, spent a semester at the University of Richmond in 2009. She grew up in a rural village in central China where more than a decade after the country’s economic opening every home still held a portrait of Mao Zedong.

Reading Mankiw

In Hunan Province, with a population larger than France, she earned the second-highest score on the national college-entrance exam. Luo then studied finance at Tsinghua University, where she devoured the economic textbook of Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw, once a top adviser to President George W. Bush.

Today, she works as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group in Beijing. Fluent in English and holding a master’s degree in accounting, Luo — like most of her friends — shunned China’ state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to work for multinationals such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Google Inc.

“If you went to an SOE, it is guanxi, or relationships, that determine how you’re going to be promoted,” she says. “But in foreign companies like Boston Consulting Group it is your ability that counts.”

Some multinationals in China are leaning more heavily on local talent. Jin Zhang, a recruiter with Russell Reynolds Associates in Beijing, says “a large percentage” of country head positions and executive slots one level down are filled by Chinese candidates.

Chinese Inroads

Though expatriates still occupy most of the top Asia-Pacific regional jobs, Chinese executives who have been educated and worked abroad are making inroads, says Zhang, who specializes in the energy, automotive and manufacturing sectors.

Coca-Cola Co. says it has “slightly increased” its use of Chinese professionals in recent years. Forty percent of the company’s China leadership team is Chinese as are almost all the unit’s managers, said spokesman Sharolyn Choy in Singapore.

Henkel AG, a maker of industrial and consumer chemicals based in Dusseldorf, Germany, says it’s tapping a “new talent pool” of Chinese students educated abroad. In September, the company opened the world’s largest adhesives factory in Shanghai.

“In the past year, more of our positions, from entry level to high-level positions, are being occupied by Chinese,” said Wilson Solano, a Shanghai-based Henkel spokesman.

‘Supply Bump’

Ultimately, the emergence of large numbers of highly educated Chinese workers will depress wages for many well-paid professionals in advanced economies, according to Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard University.

“Look at what this big supply bump has done in China,” he said. “It’s had an adverse effect on the university wage. Some of it will spill over to us.”

A growing surplus of educated, ambitious young people could be a problem for China, too. There aren’t enough jobs for the college graduates the country already has. Unemployment among recent college graduates is much higher than for workers with less education or those with both a diploma and several years of experience.

“China’s got to have more qualified schools, vocational schools in particular, to raise the people’s skills and to broaden their vision so they’re qualified for jobs,” Liu Mingkang, the country’s former top banking regulator, said April 16 in Washington.

Though the Chinese government doesn’t release detailed data, 16.4 percent of college graduates age 25 or younger were unemployed in 2011, according to the China Household Finance Survey.

Li Gan, the survey director and an economics professor at Texas A&M University, says the situation is no different today. There are still too many new graduates and not enough with the right experience and skills.

‘Difficult Year’

Evan Guo, chief executive of recruitment website, said in December that 2014 “will be an even more difficult year for job seekers than 2013, a year that had already been considered the most difficult year for employment so far.”

If China’s higher education push only succeeds in adding more educated young people to the jobless line, it could trigger social instability, some economists say. Producing ever-larger numbers of college graduates may meet government educational targets while missing the market’s need for workers with varying skills.

“You have this climbing up the value chain, but it’s not fast enough,” says Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist for China at Nomura International in Hong Kong. “There is this labor market mismatch problem. So down the road, you’ll just probably have to have more college workers cooking hamburgers than working in office buildings.”

Smart, Tough

Roger Olesen, 70, spent 27 years on Wall Street with firms such as Merrill Lynch and UBS AG before retiring to a new life teaching Chinese college students. At Tsinghua University, one of the country’s top schools, Olesen teaches English and literature, including the Bible.

He has seen a steady improvement in the quality of his students over the past six years. No longer do his incoming freshmen seem naïve or provincial. Almost all, he says, would be good enough to work in New York or London.

“They’re smart and they’re tough,” said Olesen. “It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of impact they have.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David J. Lynch in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow; Jonathan Kaufman at Justin Blum

Hackers, Coders And Designers, Come To The Disrupt NY Hackathon


It’s that time of year again. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and, soon, coders will be hacking together APIs at the Disrupt NY Hackathon.

We’ve just released another batch of tickets. Registration is free. Grab a ticket here or on the form below.

The 24-hour event kicks off on Saturday May 3 and runs through the night until the teams take the Disrupt stage on Sunday to present their creations. TechCrunch and the Hackathon sponsors will of course provide food, plenty of caffeinated beverages and Nerf guns to keep everyone from falling asleep.

Spots are limited so register while you still can. We’ll release more tickets as the show nears. Good luck and happy coding!

Schedule of Events for TechCrunch Hackathon at the Manhattan Center

Saturday, May 3, 2014

12:30pm – Registration opens (come fed or bring a brown bag lunch, beverages served)
Dedicated area for people to…

View original post 121 more words

It’s Not Intentional, It’s Just Their Personality,  Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD April 10, 2014


Every workplace has its own unique cast of characters who drive the overall culture of the organization. Regardless of how harmonious this culture may appear, we must keep in mind that every cast member is different and has the ability to contribute to or detract from that harmony. The challenge is that when it comes to spotting what sets us apart, we tend to focus on superficial differences such as gender, race, and ethnicity. Although it’s natural to focus our attention on the obvious, it’s not always the right path, particularly when it comes to building relationships and fostering team cohesion.

The fact is one of the greatest drivers of misunderstanding and conflict between individuals is personality. One of the key reasons for this is that we often mistake personality for intent. In other words, we have the tendency to assume a colleague is intentionally acting different from us, when in fact she is actually different from us. For example, some people are more extroverted and assertive whereas others are more introverted and reserved. In meetings, this can be a challenge when the extrovert feels the introvert isn’t contributing as aggressively as desired, when in fact, the introvert is just processing, reflecting, and waiting for the right moment.

Other less obvious differences can include an individual’s need for structure, routine, and control vs. someone who is wide open, fluid, and collaborative or how agreeable someone is vs. someone who tends to stick to their guns. The key point to remember here is that these differences are natural preferences that will often drive behaviors counter to what is natural for you. They are not intentional acts designed to undermine you.

When it comes to understanding personality differences, one of the most researched models is the five-factor model also known as the Big Five. The theory is that there are five major trait categories that describe our personality. According to the Big Five, we all consistently fall somewhere along each of the following five continuums that many refer to as OCEAN: Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion/introversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

  • Openness to Experience: At the open end, individuals are highly interested in experiencing new things and are flexible in their thinking, where at the opposite end, individuals are more closed and rigid in how they approach new experiences.
  • Conscientiousness: Those who are high in conscientiousness tend to be diligent and dutiful in the way the approach work and life. Individuals who are lower on the conscientiousness scale tend to be big picture thinkers and less interested in the details of how things get done.
  • Extraversion/Introversion: Probably the most recognizable personality trait is extroversion because it’s easy to see. Extraverts are socially assertive and gain energy from performing for and interacting with others. Introverts draw energy from reflection and tend to prefer working alone or in small groups.
  • Agreeableness: This scale looks at the level of friendliness versus hostility that someone tends to display when interacting with others. Those high in agreeableness are more trusting and modest whereas those low in agreeableness are more suspicious and oppositional.
  • Neuroticism (Emotional Stability): Those who are highly neurotic tend to be less stable and frequently demonstrate negative emotions. Those who are more emotionally stable are generally more pleasant and tend to be more resistant to stress.

Diversity of personality is often a key component to building a successful team. Take the time to get to know and understand the personalities of those you work with. There are numerous personality assessments out there on the market, most of which are about as useful as taking the latest Cosmopolitan quiz. So, when looking for an assessment, be sure to work with a trained professional and seek out those assessments that have some foundation in or strong overlap with the Big Five.

Photo Credit: Flickr/hang_in_there

How to overcome making a bad first impression by Roz Usheroff

The Remarkable Leader

I can remember a couple of years ago reading a Forbes article on 5 Ways To Make A Killer First Impression, which had more than 541,000 views.

Needless to say, the subject matter is one that is universally recognized as being important.  In other words, and looking beyond the number of reads of this particular article, there is no shortage of  tip lists and expert advice on how to create a positive image out of the gate.

However, what was more telling to me beyond the fact that making a good first impression is “incredibly important” because you only get “one shot at it”, is the time frame in which that opinion is indelibly formed.   Specifically, the reference to a 2005 study by Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov and co-author Janine Willis.  According to the article, Todorov and Willis had people view a microsecond of video of a political candidate.  Based…

View original post 767 more words