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Ethiopian journalist jailed for 18 years

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An Ethiopian court on Friday jailed a journalist for 18 years for “terrorism” and 23 others, reporters and activists, for between eight years and life, after a trial condemned by rights groups.

Journalist Eskinder Nga was jailed for 18 years, while opposition member Andualem Arage got life because of “the heaviness of the case” after he was convicted of participating with an outlawed group, Judge Hussein Yimer said.

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Both men were found guilty of “participation in a terrorist organisation” and “planning…(a) terrorist act”.

Andualem was also found guilty of serving as a “leader or decision maker of a terrorist organisation”.

The life sentence was without the possibility of parole, the judge added.

Eskinder was convicted of working with the outlawed Ginbot 7 group, considered a terrorist group under Ethiopian law.

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“He (Eskinder) has been working with the Ginbot 7 organization…,” which had aggravated his sentence, the judge added.

“After taking into consideration how the criminal offence was committed, the court decided on 18 years imprisonment without parole.”

Judges found the 24 defendants guilty of terrorism charges last month.

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Although 16 of them were convicted in absentia, having fled into exile, both Eskinder and Andualem were in court on Friday to hear their sentence.

Dressed in suits, they waved to family members as they filed into the court room, filled with friends and family of the activists, as well as journalists and diplomats.

Andualem, a member of the opposition party the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), smiled tightly and bowed his head when handed his sentence.

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Defence lawyer Abebe Guta said his clients had not received a fair trial.

“In my personal opinion, we rebutted the prosecution’s evidence beyond reasonable doubt, I think it’s been not reasonably considered,” he told reporters.

Eskinder would appeal the sentence, he said, adding that Andualem and his other clients were also considering filing appeals, which they have 45 days to do.

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2020 Election

Warren narrowly beats Sanders to take over second place for first time in new poll of 17,000 Democratic voters

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U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has narrowly taken second place in a new, just-released Politico/Morning Consult nation-wide poll of more than 17,000 registered voters. Warren beat Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for the first time in this specific poll. Former Vice President Joe Biden maintains his first place position.

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Breaking Banner

Republicans keep dragging trolls, wackos and conspiracy theorists before hearings — are the Democrats finally fed up?

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Republicans in Congress returned to Capitol Hill following their August recess last week and immediately set out to make a mockery of their constitutional obligation — inviting discredited witnesses to provide expert testimony in a manner that only served to derail, dismiss and diminish otherwise serious subject manners.

Former Turning Point USA communications director Candace Owens was again invited by Republicans to appear before a House Joint Oversight Subcommittee on combating white supremacy. Owens, who previously argued that the 2018 mail bombings targeting Democrats actually resulted from a conspiracy plot orchestrated by liberals, claims the NRA was founded as a civil rights organization (it was actually started by Civil War veterans to improve soldiers' marksmanship), and has said, "Black Americans are doing worse off economically today than we were doing in the 1950s under Jim Crow,” to downplay the threat of white supremacy.

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DC Report

Now Betsy DeVos is telling colleges what to teach

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I’m delighted to learn that everything must be fine with America’s public schools, with student loans and debts, with the growth of community colleges, with affirmative action in our school communities, with a healthy diversity, school assaults and shootings, fair pay, teacher satisfaction and childcare issues.

I know this because otherwise, I would have no explanation for why Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would have time to interfere with the content of college abroad classes.

Last week, the Education Department ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake their Middle East studies program run jointly by the two schools because it isn’t offering a positive-enough image of Judaism and Christianity in that part of the world.

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