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Performance proceeds democracy?

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Mr. Friedman seems to think so.

Friedman supports the military coup in Egypt.

The logic goes, Morsi, the Islamist guy who was toppled by the military, wasn’t good for Egypt and neighbors, and the situation dictated that there was no time to spare for the next round of elections, three years down the road. Damn with the process; damn with democratic principles, if the guy ain’t good and isn’t performing as expected, he has got to go by any means necessary, is the thinking, outlined by Mr. Friedman.

Written by ethioblog

July 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Posted in News and Politics

Bad Choices

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I was having a conversation with a person, in the lower socioeconomic scale – per her own distinction – than most, and was talking about purchasing expensive TV cable package for her grandson. And the sad part is that, she took it as a necessity. What kind of stupidity is that?

I’m pretty sure there are a whole bunch of high net worth individuals who think having a Ferrari or something is a necessity. But I would bet the poor gets screwed more, way more, on prices than the rich. Simple example of that would be prices of Groceries in low income neighborhoods, versus their equivalent in affluent ones. The poor pays way more.

In a way, no wonder the poor is poorer and the rich is richer – aside from this being the only reason – paying excessive prices for goods and services.

Written by ethioblog

June 5, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Posted in News and Politics

Bottom up

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I had a chance to be with a whole bunch of Ethiopians earlier tonight. And debates ensued, as is typical of such gatherings.

The discussion revolved around, what else, Ethiopian Politics.

One thing I heard, this time around, out of the ordinary is the idea of change, not of the government, but oneself. As one of the guys explained it, it should be so that, we all look ourselves in the mirror and ask what is it that I can do to change the situation, rather than always pointing fingers at the government.

But, others said, how is it that my changing is going to make a difference when the environment is so hostile. Though, they said, changing oneself is good and dandy, it is not as much of a factor to make a change in such a scale to impact millions of lives in a country. Do a good doer, but that ain’t going to help tens of millions, they said.

Where do I fall in this discussion? I kind of like the ‘changing oneself’ idea, as part of an overall activity that needs to happen. A couple of arguments for it: a) An individual can make a difference in scale and scope that would make a sizable difference. and B) Bottom up, grassroots advocacy, is a valid one, if done properly. There are numerous examples – the American Civil Right struggle being one that come to mind right now – that validates the importance of an individual.

Looking inward isn’t a bad idea, especially, when most discussions are blaming others for all the wrongs. What is it that I can do to change situations for the better without being violent against anyone, isn’t a bad question to ask.

Written by ethioblog

May 28, 2013 at 3:14 am

Posted in News and Politics

Bono remembers…

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I have been meaning to write about this for days, and just didn’t get to it.

Here you go …

I watched an interview on Charlie Rose with Bono about his activism and a whole bunch of other topics, and 2/3rd into the interview, he, Bono, recalled the late Prime Minister Meles. He said Meles told him once, in one of their conversations, that the smartest people in Ethiopia are the farmers. Meles reasoned, if they weren’t smart, they would be dead.

Interesting take, I thought.

Corollary to that thought is probably: why are most of them are so damn poor if they were so blazin’ smart? (This is not to say all poor people are dumb or all rich folks are smart.)

Smart / not smart debates are often ugly, and stupid, when applied to groups of people. That said though, if he were to be pressed, does that road leads to self recrimination (they were smart and doing what they are suppose to do but the root of all of their problems is management, i.e. government)?

Again, I’m not saying one way or the other. Just wondering …

Written by ethioblog

May 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Posted in News and Politics

Ethiopia Technology Park

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I read about this scheme – setting aside a place in Addis suburbs purely for technology companies, with all its conveniences like office space, high speed internet and the likes – which sounds good on the face of it, but hard to imagine how it will work in practice.

I don’t know what other countries experiences have been on applying such a model, but, though it is, again, a good thing, I’m pretty sure it requires unrelenting commitment on the part of the government. Fanatical leaders, whose total focus is to create jobs, increase the poor’s prospects, could make it work. China is probably a good example. But my sense is that, when it comes to Ethiopia, they probably expect the approach to work in on of itself, to sit back and count double digit GDP growth without doing much of the work it requires. Do they really know the insane level of effort it requires to get it to fly? Doubt it. It kind of reminds me of shop keepers around downtown Addis, frowning at customers who come to purchase their goods.

Are the chances zero? No. But, though the idea is good, they are going to probably fuck it up on implementation. Good ideas are, mostly, cheap; What counts is implementation; Getting it to work successfully.

Written by ethioblog

May 8, 2013 at 12:33 am

Posted in News and Politics

Happy Ethiopia Easter, Everyone

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Written by ethioblog

May 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Posted in News and Politics

Free Calls

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To fellow ‘yager lejoche’ out there, here to share the latest on phone and text communication.

Do you still buy phonecards or use for fee online or phone based applications or some other system that charges money to place long distance calls? You should stop – so long as you and your beloved ones, regardless of where they are on the globe, have smartphones.

It is an application you can install on your phone. It is called Viber. You can get it from Appstore for iPhone users and its equivalent – I think it is MarketPlace – if you own a droid phone.

The nice thing about it is all calls made and received from and to phones that have the viber application is totally free. There may be some minimal local charges for people in Ethiopia, for instance, but here in the States, nothing. It can not get better than that.

The call quality is mostly dependent on the network quality the phones are on. Often, it requires multiple tries, usually for overseas calls, for e.g. to Ethiopia to get a clear line. This only affects voice, however; Texting mostly works just fine.

What is the catch, you ask? They download all your contacts in your phone contact list. Part of the configuration after installing the application is asking you access to your contacts. That is a critical path; if you don’t give it access, it won’t work. God knows what they do with that information, though they have ‘privacy policy’ document, which is a legal mambo jumbo, in my opion, probably seem to assure in part, to take away few paragraphs later. Nonetheless, that, for now, seems to be the ticket for free calls when it comes to Viber. If that is unpalatable, try skype.

Written by ethioblog

May 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Posted in News and Politics

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