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Explainer: The coronavirus and US political conventions | USA News

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The United States political convention, a presidential campaign ritual dating to the 1830s, is being reinvented on the fly after being short-circuited by the coronavirus pandemic – much like the campaign itself.

Here is a look at how the Democratic and Republican conventions will be different this year – and maybe for campaigns to come. 

Seizing the spotlight

There will be no roaring crowds of delegates in a cavernous hall, no balloon drops or wall-to-wall parties.

Both Democrats and Republicans will offer mostly virtual programmes featuring speeches and events from around the country. Nevertheless, the August 17-20 Democratic National Convention could give presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden his first big, attentive audience in months, said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University.

Though Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump in opinion polls leading up to the November 3 election, the Democratic former vice president has been largely booted off the campaign trail by the pandemic.

Trump, meanwhile, has continued to command heavy media attention with his White House briefings and campaign events. That puts increased significance on Biden’s televised acceptance speech, the traditional starter’s gun for the final sprint to the election.

Vice President Joe Biden reacts to seeing his wife Jill Biden on stage during the third day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia [File: John Locher/The Associated Press]

“That could be more valuable this year than in other years, particularly for Democrats, because most people have not been paying as much attention to the nominee lately and he hasn’t been campaigning,” Zelizer said.

For Trump, his speech could be a chance to move beyond the debate about his handling of the coronavirus and allow him to present his broad vision for a second term, said Ford O’Connell, a former Florida Republican congressional candidate who consults with the Trump campaign.

“The campaign believes if they can get past that hurdle, it’s easier to make your other points,” he said. “This is the place for Trump to make his case about where he wants to take the country.”

The prime-time speeches will be more intimate. Biden will speak from his home state of Delaware, not Milwaukee, the host city for a mostly virtual convention. Trump, who will be renominated at a small Republican convention on August 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina, is expected to deliver his speech later that week from somewhere in Washington. 

Pushing party message

The reimagined format of the back-to-back conventions will force the parties to try to find a more compelling way to get their messages across. Speeches by party stalwarts and rising stars will be delivered remotely from around the country.

Democrats have designed a virtual video control room to take in hundreds of feeds, with the potential to interact with Americans nationwide.

“They aren’t confined to one stage or one place, so they will be forced to innovate,” said Kelly Dietrich, a Democratic strategist who has been running training programmes on virtual campaigning for political candidates and staff.

So far the Democrats’ convention has been a mixture of live and taped events, bringing in the voices of ordinary people alongside more traditional political speeches.

RNC in Cleveland 2016

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers his address during the final day of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio [Michael Reynolds/EPA]

The challenge will be to generate excitement and motivate the party faithful while encouraging independents and infrequent voters to take a look.

One plus for party unity: The virtual nature of the conventions will minimise the chance for signs of discord and unscripted moments, although the first night of the Democratic convention did have a few awkward pauses between segments with voices offscreen occasionally heard telling speakers to start.

In 2016, heckling from supporters of US Senator Bernie Sanders disrupted the first night of the Democratic convention that nominated Hillary Clinton. At the Republican convention that year, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Trump’s top rival for the nomination, drew boos when he refused to endorse Trump and told delegates from the stage to “vote your conscience”.

This year, “you don’t have to worry about booing”, Dietrich said. 

End of an era?

Critics have assailed conventions in recent years as tightly scripted party advertisements drained of political drama and relevance.

Predictions of the imminent demise of the traditional American political convention came true in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. Experts are uncertain whether that will be a permanent change.

US Democratic race: How it works

“There may still be conventions, but I don’t think they will fundamentally be the same,” Zelizer said.

Longtime Democratic strategist Robert Shrum said he expected to see them back as strong as ever.

“It’s the nominee’s one chance for totally unmediated communication with voters. I don’t think people will happily give that up,” Shrum said.

After the pandemic, he said, “people will want to return to the things they have done in the past.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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