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This Happened

This Happened—November 2: A Modern Emperor

Do you know the man who fought Mussolini and is still an icon for rastafari around the world?

Laure Gautherin

The emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, Haile Selassie sought to modernize the country, most notably by introducing its first constitution and abolishing slavery. But he also became a modern Messiah for the likes of Bob Marley.

​Why did Mussolini invade Ethiopia?

Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini sought to build a new empire, in an attempt to restore the power of the ancient Roman empire. The invasion of Ethiopia in 1936 was central to this ambition.

Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations. While the majority of the league recognized Italy’s occupation, China, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, Spain, Mexico and the United States did not.

In 1941, with help from the British forces, Ethiopia was liberated from Italian rule, paving the way for the country to join the UN after the war.

Who attended the coronation of Haile Selassie?

Crowned at Addis Ababa's Cathedral of St. George on Nov. 2, 1930, Salassie welcomed guests of royals and political leaders from all around the world: King George V's son, The Duke of Gloucester, France’s Marshal Louis Franchet d'Espèrey, and a representative of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.

Dignitaries were also sent from the United States, Egypt, Turkey, Sweden, Belgium, and Japan. British author Evelyn Waugh was also there to write a piece about the ceremony. One report said the celebration cost more than $3,000,000.

When was the African Union founded?

Selassie was one of the rare African leaders who also had a popular following in the West, and maintained personal relationships with many Western leaders including President John F. Kennedy.

While he understood and took part in the alliances which united Western countries, Selassie also had experienced the exclusivity firsthand in 1936. So, in 1963, Selassie presided over the formation of the Organization of African Unity, which has now become called the African Union (AU), creating a forum for African leaders to build the same sort of alliances that bind the west.

Why do Rastafarians worship Haile Selassie?

Perhaps more than anywhere else outside of Ethiopia, Selassie became an icon in Jamaica, where the Rastafari movement was born. In 1966, he made a visit to the country, where members of the Rastafari movement believed that he would be the one to lead Africa and the African diaspora to freedom.

Legendary reggae singer Bob Marley dedicated several songs to Selassie. To this day, some Rastafarians consider the late Ethiopian leader to be the Messiah, and worship him as such.

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Why Crimea Is Proving So Hard For Russia To Defend

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, claiming Monday that a missile Friday killed the head of Russia's Black Sea fleet at the headquarters in Sevastopol. And Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in smoke after a Ukrainian missile strike.​

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram on Monday.

Responding to reports of multiple missiles strikes this month on Crimea, Russian authorities say that all the missiles were intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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