Addis Ababa – Regional protests that began last year in Ethiopia have spread across the country, and despite successive crackdowns analysts say dissatisfaction with the authoritarian government is driving ever greater unrest.
Demonstrations began popping up in November 2015 in the Oromia region, which surrounds the capital, due to a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa.
The region’s Oromo people feared their farmland would be seized, and though the authorities soon dropped the urban enlargement project and brutally suppressed the protests, they badly misjudged the anger it triggered.
Protests have since swept other parts of Oromia, and more recently to the northern Amhara region, causing disquiet in the corridors of power of a key US ally and crucial partner in east Africa’s fight against terrorism.
“Since it came to power in 1991, the regime has never witnessed such a bad stretch… Ethiopia resembles a plane going through a zone of extreme turbulence,” independent Horn of Africa researcher Rene Lafort told AFP.
Despite what he described as the “state of siege” imposed on the Oromia region in recent weeks, the protests have refused to die down, and demonstrators have been challenging government more and more openly.
One rally was even held in Addis Ababa on Saturday, a rare event for the seat of power of a nation ruled by a regime considered among the most repressive in Africa.
More than 140 people were killed when security forces put down the original Oromia land protests, shot or tortured to death, according to rights groups.
A fresh crackdown over the weekend led to the deaths of almost 100 more, according to an Amnesty International toll, with live fire used on the crowds.
“This crisis is systemic because it shakes the foundations of the model of government put into place 25 years ago, which is authoritarian and centralised,” Lafort explained.
The protesters have different grievances but are united by their disaffection with the country’s leaders, who largely hail from the northern Tigray region and represent less than 10 percent of the population.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn heads the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which won all the seats in parliament in elections last year.
Although he comes from the minority Wolayta people, he is surrounded in government by Tigreans, who also dominate the security forces and positions of economic power.
Getachew Metaferia, professor of political science at Morgan State University in the US, described the state as “controlled by an ethnic minority imposing its will on the majority,” a crucial factor in understanding the protests.
More than 60% of the country’s almost 100 million people are either Amhara or Oromo.
“There is no fundamental discussion with the people, no dialogue… the level of frustration is increasing. I don’t think there will be a return back to normal,” the professor added.
The country’s rulers have cultivated the skyrocketing growth and rapidly improving health outcomes that have changed the face of a nation whose famines weighed on the world’s conscience in 1980s.
But their grip on civil liberties has tightened: Ethiopia ranked 142 of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index this year, and social media used to organise rallies is regularly blocked by the authorities.
The use of anti-terror laws to jail opposition critics has also provoked ire, combined with more local issues such as the targeting of Amharan politicians campaigning for a referendum on a district absorbed into Tigrean territory.
The West has largely avoided direct criticism of the country’s rights record because Ethiopia is credited with beating back Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab militants in Somalia, but the protests put its allies in an awkward spot.
“Ethiopia’s leaders have lost the vision of Meles. They are showing signs of nervousness and don’t place trust in their own people,” said one European diplomat on condition of anonymity.
After toppling dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, Meles Zenawi ruled with an iron fist until he died in 2012, and Hailemariam took over.
More used to its image as an oasis of calm in a troubled region, the government is swift to blame foreign “terrorist groups” for the unrest, usually pointing the finger at neighbouring Eritrea.
Hailemariam last Friday announced a ban on demonstrations which “threaten national unity” and called on police to use all means at their disposal to prevent them.
Merera Gudina, leader of the opposition Oromo People’s Congress, said the nebulous movements were not affiliated with traditional political parties and were focused above all on claiming back freedoms the government has long denied.
“We are nine months into this protest. I don’t think it will stop,” he told AFP. “This is an intifada,” he said, using a term which means uprising.
July 15, 2016
Bay Area CoRo Cupping July 29th
July 08, 2016
In Memoriam of Julius (Julie) Kahn
In Memoriam of Julius (Julie) Kahn
A veteran of the coffee industry for over 60 years, Julius (Julie) Kahn passed away on Sunday, July 3, 2016 at the age of 88. He was surrounded by his children, Debbie Kahn, Karen & Jeff Miller and Jason Kahn. He is survived by his grandchildren, Stephanie, Katie & Melanie Miller. His loving wife Isabel predeceased him in 2012.
After serving his country in the U.S. Air Force, Julius joined J. Aron and Co. in New York during 1957, starting first as the driver for Jacob Aron, the firm’s owner. It was at J. Aron and Co. where Jules learned and mastered the art of the coffee trader and rose to the position of “consummate coffee salesman/merchant.”
For a period of time during the late 1980s and early 1990s, he moved to the metals division of J. Aron and Co. to lend his considerable sales expertise there. After a brief retirement, he once again returned to the coffee industry as a salesman for the coffee division of Cargill, Inc. In 2000, Cargill was acquired by Atlantic USA Inc./Ecom Group. There, he continued to exemplify all of the fine traits of a coffee salesman and also mentored the next generation until his retirement in 2014.
He truly left a mark on the business he loved.
On behalf of the GCA Board of Directors and the entire association, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and dear friends.
A celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, July 10th @ 11:00 a.m. at
The Brotherhood Synagogue
28 Gramercy Park South
(Lunch following services)
Shiva will be observed, and the family will receive visitors as follows:
130 East 18th St., Apt 17D
New York, NY
Sunday, July 10th
3 – 5 p.m. & 6 – 9 p.m.
Monday July 11th
1 – 8 p.m.
Donations can be made to BCRFcure.org
June 29, 2016
This is not about coffee..older news
One of the world’s rarest tigers has died in Indonesia’s infamous ‘death zoo’
Rama was born in captivity and had numerous health problems. The 16-year-old male tiger died this month at a zoo that has become notorious for animal deaths. (AFP)
There was a time when the Surabaya Zoo, on the island of Java, was celebrated as Indonesia’s oldest and largest zoo, a place that housed thousands of exotic birds, reptiles and large animals from around the globe.
In recent years, however, it has become known as something else: a “death zoo.”
The disturbing label originated after a wave of animal deaths that have turned the formerly prosperous destination into an internationally despised institution. Hundreds of animals have died, according to Agence France Presse, including multiple orangutans, a giraffe, a wildebeest and, most recently, a critically endangered male tiger named Rama.
Veronika Lanu, a zoo spokeswoman, told AFP that the 16-year-old cat died of heart failure. Lanu insisted that the animal had been properly cared for.
“The death was due to natural causes; we provided the best care we could,” she said.
[Many ‘retired’ NIH research chimps are seriously ill, government report says]
But AFP noted that Rama — who lived his entire life inside the zoo before dying April 10 — had a number of serious health problems and suffered from a bad cough and lethargy in the weeks before his death.
Sumatran tigers are the world’s most critically endangered tiger subspecies, with only 400 to 500 animals remaining in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The animals are threatened by poaching and clearing forests for palm oil, illegal coffee cultivation and timber, The Washington Post reported in 2014.
To critics, the tiger’s death fits a pattern of neglect and abuse at the Surabaya Zoo, which has more than 3,400 animals from around about 200 species, according to the BBC.
Plagued by overcrowded and filthy conditions, animals have been killed by malnutrition and disease, as well as freak accidents that hint at neglect, the BBC reported.
Other troubling deaths include a mountain goat that died from neck injuries and a giraffe that was found to have 44 pounds of plastic in its stomach at the time of its death, according to the BBC. Fox News referred the mound of trash as “a beachball-sized wad of plastic.”
In 2013, Fox reported, a 13-year-old male tiger named Rozek was found dead in his cage. A zoo spokesperson said at the time that an autopsy revealed that the tiger — which had been been plagued by respiratory and digestive problems for several years — was killed by complications from hepatitis and pneumonia.
Footage taken inside the zoo in 2013 shows animals wandering freely among patrons — some of whom feed them by hand — as well as animals chewing on plastic bags and playing with trash.
Multiple petitions have called for the Surabaya Zoo to be shut down.
“Animals are confined to trash-littered, barren, cramped cages that are measly fractions of the wild habitats that they would call home, and there is nothing in their cages and pens to occupy their keen minds,” says a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals petition with more than 213,000 signatures. “It is a virtual hell on Earth for animals — a former member of the zoo’s management estimates that 50 animals have died at the zoo in just the last three months, and this is just a small fraction of the animals who have suffered and died at the hands of this decrepit facility.”
The petition adds: “While it’s too late for many animals, hundreds of others endure the zoo’s hellish conditions every day. The Surabaya Zoo should be closed immediately, and the animals should be sent to sanctuaries or other facilities that are better able to care for them. The world is watching and waiting for officials to show their commitment to animal welfare.”
Administrators from city government have taken over the management of the zoo, according to AFP, but the stream of animal deaths continues.
With Rama’s death, three male Sumatran tigers and six females remain inside the zoo, AFP reported.
Countries close to the equator are renowned for growing the most delicious coffee on Earth.
But with surging temperatures across the globe, the zones which are currently ideal for growing coffee land may soon shift, Sam Lewontin, a KRUPS ambassador and champion barista told Tech Insider.
Eventually, the regions we typically think of as gold-standard coffee growing areas – including parts of Colombia, Costa Rica, and Brazil – may become so ravaged by sweltering temperatures and warm-weather diseases that they may no longer be able to harvest delicious, nutty, bold cups of java.
Shifting zones of viability
Coffee plants are finicky about where they grow best. The best crops typically come from the “Bean Belt” – a band of tropical regions that sit close to the equator.
High altitude and mountainous terrain is typical of these regions, which boast warm days and cold nights that are a boon for these delectable plants.
But once-productive coffee plantations along this belt are falling victim to the nasty effects of climate change.
Plant-killing diseases like “roya,” which thrive in warm weather, are eating coffee plants from the inside out. At the same time, intense heat is shrinking the zones of arable land best suited to grow coffee.
High-altitude land produces the best coffee plants because the warm days and cool nights “shock” natural chemicals into beans that make your brew taste extra delicious.
Yet as temperatures in high-altitude coffee-growing regions warm, Lewontin said, the range of altitude in places that have been considered to be strong coffee origins narrows: “So lower altitudes are staying the same, and the band in which you can grow tasty coffee is sort of moving up the mountain.”
As we see warmer weather push beyond the equatorial tropics, the best coffee-growing climates will follow and expand farther away from the belt.
This may seem like a good thing, but with the growing girth of the band, the regions in the center – those that once harbored ideal coffee growing conditions – will become too hot. This means that specific regions that are now perfect, such as those in Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Kenya, may soon become fallow.
In the future, the tropics may no longer be the best spot to grow tasty coffee.
So where will farmers grow the best coffee in the future?
Lewontin said if you look at the location of the current bean belt, regions expanding north and south of the equator will likely begin to see serious coffee cultivation (though it’s hard to say precisely where).
At the same time, many regions that currently produce commodity coffee, called robusta – a more disease-and-weather-resistant yet less-tasty variety, compared to delicate arabica coffee plants – will start putting resources into producing delicious specialty coffee. This includes regions of Vietnam, India, parts of East Africa such as Uganda, and Mexico.
This extra attention to detail in regions not traditionally known for their tasty beans is driven in part by climate change, but also by recent interest in specialty coffee from buyers and exporters looking to increase the production of quality brews there.
“It’s more a combination of different environmental and economic circumstances, which extend at least partially from the reality of climate change,” Lewontin said.
And if you’re worried that coffee is going to be wiped off the face of the planet entirely by rising temperatures, have hope.
Some regions are shifting the zones in which they cultivate coffee, and others are experimenting with new coffee hybrids that are delicious yet resistant to some of the nastiest warm-weather diseases.
It’s going to be challenging to thwart the – dare I say – “coffeepocalypse,” but Lewontin believes that we’ll have this delicious drink for years to come.
“We’re in kind of a tricky spot,” he says, “but I remain optimistic that these things will see us through and that we will still, in 20 years, have coffee.”
May 05, 2016
Awesomeness Mapped! Global Shipping Routes, Using 250 Million Data Points
The interactive map was created by data visualization outfit Kiln, along with the UCL Energy Institute. It counts emitted CO2 (in thousands of tonnes) as well as the running total of the maximum freight carried by each type of vessel. The map that the data is plotted on is also bathymetric, which means it uses shading to convey the depth of the ocean at any given point.
The more this map is explored, the more it rewards the viewer. The first thing a viewer may notice is the difference between the relatively quiet seas surrounding North and South America to the busy shipping routes nearby Europe, India, Southeast Asia, and especially China.
It’s also worth following the ships that go up some of the world’s biggest rivers. How do you get goods to Moscow? Through the Black Sea and up the Volga River. On the other side of Asia is the Yangtze River in China, which is loaded with ships from Shanghai all the way to Nanjing.
To cap it off, check out the global shipping chokepoints, where you can observe thousands of ships passing through the world’s tightest and most dangerous thoroughfares such as the Panama Canal, The Bosphorus (Istanbul, Turkey), the Strait of Hormuz, or the Strait of Dover (in the narrowest point of the English Channel). For the polar opposite effect, look off the coast of Somalia, were piracy is rampant and commercial ships venture at their own risk.
What can I see?
You can see movements of the global merchant fleet over the course of 2012, overlaid on a bathymetric map. You can also see a few statistics such as a counter for emitted CO2 (in thousand tonnes) and maximum freight carried by represented vessels (varying units).
What can I do?
You can pan and zoom in the usual ways, and skip back and forward in time using the timeline at the bottom of the screen. The controls at the top right let you show and hide different map layers: port names, the background map, routes (a plot of all recorded vessel positions), and the animated ships view. There are also controls for filtering and colouring by vessel type.
What the are types of ships shown?
The merchant fleet is divided into five categories, each of which has a filter and a CO2 and freight counter for the hour shown on the clock. The ship types and units are as follows:
Container (e.g. manufactured goods): number of container slots equivalent to 20 feet (i.e. a 40-foot container takes two slots)
Dry bulk (e.g. coal, aggregates): combined weight of cargo, fuel, water, provisions, passengers and crew a vessel can carry, measured in thousand tonnes
Tanker (e.g. oil, chemicals): same as dry bulk
Gas bulk (e.g. liquified natural gas): capacity for gases, measured in cubic metres
Vehicles (e.g. cars): same as dry bulk
Why do ships sometimes appear to move across land?
In some cases this is because there are ships navigating via canals or rivers that aren’t visible on the map. Generally, though, this effect is an artefact of animating a ship between two recorded positions with missing data between, especially when the positions are separated by a narrow strip of land. We may develop the map to remove this effect in the future.
Why are there fewer ships visible in the first part of the year?
Unfortunately the data we are using for the map is incomplete for the first few months of the year: roughly January to April.
Who created this map?
The map was created by Kiln and the UCL Energy Institute (UCL EI)
Visualization: Duncan Clark & Robin Houston from Kiln
Research & data: Julia Schaumeier & Tristan Smith from the UCL EI
Music: Bach Goldberg Variations played by Kimiko Ishizaka
How was the map created?
UCL EI took data showing location and speed of ships and cross-checked it with another database to get the vessel characteristics, such as engine type and hull measurements. With this information they were able to compute the CO2 emissions for each observed hour, following the approach laid out in the Third IMO Greenhouse Gas Study 2014. Kiln took the resulting dataset and visualized it with WebGL on top of a specially created base map, which shows bathymetry (ocean depth), based on the GEBCO_2014 Grid (version 20150318), as well as continents and major rivers from Natural Earth.
Where did you get the data and who paid?
Our data sources for shipping positions are exactEarth for AIS data (location/speed) and Clarksons Research UK World Fleet Register (static vessel information). We are very grateful to our funders, the European Climate Foundation.
April 27, 2016
Economist Article – Burundi & Echoes of Rwanda
WHEN a Hutu politician says it is time to “pulverise and exterminate” rebels who are “good only for dying”, outsiders should sit up. When he talks of spraying “cockroaches” or urges people to “start work”, it is hard to miss the old codewords for massacring Tutsis. When the politician is not some obscure backbencher but the president of the Burundian Senate, the world should be alarmed.
History does not always repeat itself in central Africa, but it rhymes cacophonously. Rwanda and Burundi, two small countries with Hutu majorities and Tutsi minorities, have seen large-scale ethnic massacres in 1959, 1963, 1972, 1988, 1993 and 1994. These were not, as some outsiders imagine, spontaneous outbursts of tribal hatred. They happened because those in power deliberately inflamed ethnic divisions. The Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which perhaps half a million Tutsis were hacked to death, was meticulously planned by Hutu army officers and politicians. They did it to avoid sharing power with Tutsi rebels after a peace accord to end a civil war. They raised a militia, cranked up the genocidal propaganda and imported hundreds of thousands of machetes in advance. The outside world barely noticed until it was too late. The genocide ended only when a Tutsi army swept in to stop it, led by Rwanda’s current president, Paul Kagame.
Today in Burundi, many people hear echoes of 1994. Since last April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza, a Hutu, declared that he would seek a (probably unconstitutional) third term in office, the country has been plunged into turmoil. Bujumbura, the pretty capital on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, has endured a botched coup and street fighting. Its cobbled streets are deserted after dark and ring to the sound of gunfire. In recent months repression has gathered steam. Mr Nkurunziza’s youth militia terrorises his opponents, many of whom are Tutsis. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people, mostly young men, have been “disappeared”. Torture is rife. Maybe 250,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries; more are displaced internally. The economy is collapsing.
Tutsis have cause to be afraid. They are quietly being purged from the army. On the radio, they hear murderous rhetoric of the sort that preceded the Rwandan genocide. As was the case in Rwanda in 1994, today’s Burundian government feels besieged. Several of its members have been assassinated, and rebels have launched attacks into Burundi from foreign refugee camps. It is far from clear that genocide is looming. But even if the worst is unlikely, it makes sense to take precautions. History shows that calamity can happen very quickly: Rwanda’s genocide lasted a mere 100 days. And conflict can often spread across borders: the ripples from Rwanda started a great war in Congo that eventually claimed even more lives.
A short fuse
What can be done to defuse Burundi? The European Union is cutting aid to its government, but Mr Nkurunziza has simply redirected spending from health and education to the security forces, leaving the UN and charities to look after children and the sick (see article). The African Union considered sending 5,000 soldiers—but then backtracked when Burundi objected. The UN has suggested sending peacekeepers but has done nothing. This is not good enough.
More targeted sanctions, which hurt the president’s cronies personally, are needed. If things get worse, outsiders should be ready to send in troops, under the aegis of the African Union or the UN. There are 19,000 UN blue helmets just across the border in Congo. They should be prepared to step in, and the great powers should make sure that Mr Nkurunziza knows it.
April 05, 2016
Economist Article – Kenya Coffee, A Bitter Harvest
COFFEE was once Kenya’s biggest foreign-exchange earner, but these days the industry looks less perky. The country’s record, 127,000-tonne crop was all the way back in the 1987-88 season. Output plunged by 40% the following year, after the global coffee cartel axed its quotas, exposing the industry to competition. It has been falling ever since: last year it was less than 45,000 tonnes, a mere 0.5% of coffee production worldwide.
That is not for lack of quality. Kenya’s arabica coffee, grown in the highlands around Mount Kenya, is world-renowned, unlike the robusta produced in places like Vietnam and Brazil and used in instant granules. Domestic consumption is tiny, but growing by as much as 20% a year, as coffee-shop chains expand to cater to Kenya’s growing middle class.
That middle class also craves better housing, however, generating an insatiable thirst for land among developers. Nairobi’s property market is bubbling. The road between the capital and Thika, a town on the brink of being swallowed by its northern suburbs, is lined with coffee plantations that have been sold to developers. No one has bothered to pull up the weeds overtaking the coffee bushes on one hill-top outside Thika that is destined to become 500 homes.
For many smallholders, who account for 60% of the country’s coffee production, there just isn’t enough money in beans anymore. Some small farmers have abandoned the crop altogether for vegetables or other, more lucrative export crops, such as macadamia nuts. It doesn’t have to be this way. Coffee production in neighbouring Uganda has more than doubled since 1990, to 285,000 tonnes. In 2010, the most recent year for which comparative data are available, Kenyan coffee farmers received 20% of the export price of their crop, compared with more than 80% in Uganda.
Mismanagement has played a part in the Kenyan industry’s decline. The Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU), which owned 70% of the country’s milling capacity at its peak as well as providing its smallholder members with loans and cheap fertiliser, went bust in 2009. It came out of receivership in 2014, but allegations about its past were aired last autumn and led some farmers to threaten to leave their harvests on the bushes in protest. These included stories of a boardroom fistfight over the purchase of new computers, and of the theft of all the machinery from the KPCU’s Nairobi mill, as well as unconfirmed reports that some of the organisation’s directors had looted loans and coffee-sale proceeds meant for its members for nearly two decades before it went under.
Regulation has left the industry with a Byzantine structure that presents many opportunities for skimming off money. Only 10% of beans are bought directly from farmers. Most smallholders belong to a co-operative, which skins, ferments and dries the coffee beans before passing them on to a miller that finishes the processing and grading. The bags then go to one of eight licensed marketing agents, which sell the coffee to 60 local and international dealers at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange.
The exchange’s auctions, which take place in the bowels of a half-empty building in a rundown area of the city, had to introduce a $1,500 dealer registration fee after marketing agents withheld coffee in 2012 in protest at buyers that existed solely to resell the free coffee samples to which they were entitled. Disgruntled participants claim that “cartels” rig the bidding, suppressing prices. One Kenyan journalist claims to have witnessed dealers whistling to each other as a signal to hold down prices. The only noises your correspondent heard in the dimly-lit room, which resembles a 1960s lecture theatre, were hushed murmurs and bleeps as traders pressed buttons to place bids, and polite applause when one lot of coffee sold at a record price for the season.
Nonetheless, many of the mills, marketing agents and dealers are sister companies, which probably reduces competition to buy the wares of farmers. The multi-layered system has been further complicated by the decision of some local governments to set up their own mills and marketing agents. Further government meddling of this sort, needless to say, is unlikely to solve the industry’s problems.
In Uganda, in contrast, the industry has been completely liberalised since 1992. There are no auctions: middlemen compete vigorously to buy directly from farmers and sell on to exporters. If Kenya’s government wants to make good on its promise to double coffee production by 2020, it should wake up to the smell of its neighbour’s success.
February 19, 2016
Inventor of Moka Pot … buried in Moka Pot
Renato Bialetti, the man behind the iconic octagonal coffee pot from Italy, has died, and his freshly ground ashes were buried in a fitting urn — a giant version of the Moka that made him famous.
The 93-year-old’s children, Alessandra, Antonello and Alfonso, brewed up the plan to bury their dad’s remains in a stovetop espresso maker on Monday, La Stampa reported.
The pot was blessed by a priest at a church in his hometown of Casale Corte Cerro in Piemonte, then buried next to his wife, Elia, in nearby Omegna, The Local of Italy reported.
Bialetti didn’t invent the classic pot, but he turned it into a must-have object in kitchens around the globe.
His dad, Alfonso, an aluminum vendor, acquired a patent for the gizmo in 1933 — but it failed to catch on with the espresso-savvy Italian public.
In fact, by the time Renato took over the company in 1947, a mere 70,000 pots had been made.
The younger Bialetti pumped a major marketing campaign into the Moka. Among his ideas was adorning all the pots with the caricature of himself, a mascot known as “L’omino con i baffi” — the little man with the mustache.
Business perked up quickly. As of today, some 330 million of the pots have been sold worldwide.