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Ethiopia asks U.S. to stop spreading false information on war

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Ethiopia’s government has asked the United States to stop spreading falsehoods against the country, the state minister of communication said on Thursday, after the U.S. State Department issued an alert about potential “terrorist attacks”.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and rebellious forces from the Tigray region in the north have been fighting for more than a year, in a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions in Africa’s second most populous nation.

This week the Irish government said Ethiopia had expelled four of six Irish diplomats https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/ireland-says-ethiopia-expels-four-irish-diplomats-2021-11-24 because of Ireland’s stance on the conflict. Ethiopian government spokespeople have also warned against unnamed external threats and criticised Western governments for what they say is inaccurate coverage of the war.

Kebede Dessisa, the state minister, said the U.S. government should refrain from disseminating “shameful fake news and defamation regarding Ethiopia,” state broadcaster EBC reported.

He referred to a U.S. embassy statement on Tuesday that urged its citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance due to “the ongoing possibility of terrorist attacks in Ethiopia.”

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Ethiopians rallied in the capital to denounce https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/rally-back-militarys-campaign-ethiopians-denounce-us-2021-11-07 the United States for alleged interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.

On Thursday, dozens of protesters took their anger to the U.S. embassy in the city, where they displayed banners saying “Interference is Undemocratic” and “Truth Wins”.

Asked for comment, a U.S. embassy official said the safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the State Department’s highest priorities, adding Washington continued to urge U.S. citizens in Ethiopia to depart using commercially available flights.

State-run Ethiopian Press Agency said a protest also took place outside the U.K embassy. It was not immediately possible to reach the U.K. government for comment. On Wednesday, Britain asked its nationals to leave Ethiopia immediately.

More than 400,000 people are facing famine in Tigray, the United Nations has said for months.

A convoy of about 40 trucks carrying relief supplies, including food, had left for Tigray from neighbouring Afar, the U.N. said on Wednesday. The U.N. estimates 100 trucks should be entering Tigray each day to meet humanitarian needs.

(Reporting by Addis Ababa newsroom, Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by George Obulutsa, William Maclean and Maggie Fick)

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Biden presides over National Christmas Tree Lighting at start of holiday season

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U.S. President Joe Biden and his wife Jill participated in the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony outside the White House on Thursday, helping to usher in the holiday season.

In a program that featured performances by singers Patti LaBelle, Billy Porter, and Kristin Chenoweth, the president presided over a countdown that ended with a brightly lit tree with a shining star on top.

Biden said the evergreen tree “reminds us that even in the coldest, darkest days of winter that life and abundance will return.”

The president, who unveiled hnew measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic during the winter on Thursday, cited those who had lost loved ones to the deadly coronavirus and paid tribute to members of the military and their families.

“Jill and I are especially grateful to our service members and their families,” Biden said. “We also keep in our hearts those who lost loved ones because of this virus or any other cruel twist of fate or accident.”

The Bidens are spending their first holiday season in the White House as president and first lady. Earlier this week, holiday decorations were unveiled.

On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, celebrated Hanukkah with the lighting of a menorah at the White House.

 

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Nandita Bose; editing by Grant McCool)

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CN aims to re-open crucial rail line in flood-hit province this weekend

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Canadian National Railway Co said on Wednesday that it was aiming to re-open its track in the crucial Kamloops-to-Vancouver corridor in the flood-hit province of British Columbia this weekend.

The Pacific province, trying to rebuild after devastating floods in November, received more rain over the weekend and this week.

CN operates one of the two critical rail lines in British Columbia that were forced to shut due to flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains.

CN, which restarted limited service in the region last week, has now diverted some traffic from the corridor to the Port of Prince Rupert, while moving some of its trains on other available rail lines in the region, the company said in a statement.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, the other main rail line operator, was also able to resume operations last week.

 

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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British armed forces to allow people with HIV to enlist

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Britain plans to allow people who have tested positive for HIV to join the armed forces if they no longer carry a detectable amount of the virus, its defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Military personnel who become infected with HIV after enlistment can already remain in the armed forces – though they are classed as not fully fit, a categorisation which the defence ministry said it planned to change too.

“Drug treatment has revolutionised the lives and outcomes of people diagnosed with HIV. As a modern and inclusive employer, it is only right that we recognise and act on the latest scientific evidence,” junior defence minister Leo Docherty said.

The United States also currently bans people with HIV from joining its armed forces, and has faced legal challenge over its policy not to allow enlisted personnel who are HIV positive to commission as officers.

With the right treatment, the amount of virus in the blood of people infected with HIV can be reduced to undetectable levels, which in turn effectively eliminates the chances of them passing the virus which causes AIDS on to others.

From early next year, serving British military personnel who have tested positive for HIV, but no longer carry a detectable viral load, will be classed as fully fit, meaning they can be deployed on military operations.

People taking drugs that reduce the risk of contracting HIV will also be able to join the armed forces. Historically anyone taking regular medication has been unable to join Britain’s armed forces, with limited exceptions such as contraceptives.

The planned changes were welcomed by Britain’s National AIDS Trust. “A career in the armed forces was the only career not open to people living with HIV in the UK, and with this much-needed change the military will be more able to meet its obligation to promote inclusivity within its ranks,” said Deborah Gold, the trust’s chief executive.

 

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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