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America’s got talent, just not political talent | USA

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The US presidential elections have the feel of the popular talent competition, America’s Got Talent (AGT).

Like the reality TV show, they are entertaining, emotional and highly competitive, and focus exclusively on the candidates’ talent and character or lack thereof, rather than anything that resembles political substance or agenda.

This is reinforced by the mainstream media’s “horse race journalism”, focusing mainly on the odds, through daily broadcasts of polls throughout.

The elections not only provide cost-free content for corporate media, but the windfall from campaign advertising makes it ever more profitable to treat them like a reality TV drama.

Today, the elections and their coverage are centred almost exclusively on whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden has the character, talent or experience to lead the country in trying times.

Trump insists that it all boils down to leadership, where “talent is more important than experience”.

He reckons, the choice could not be easier between himself, the strong and “stable genius”, and the “weak” and “cognitively challenged” Biden.

And so, in their efforts to anoint Trump the next president/king, the Republicans adopted an elephant and a crown as their 2020 convention logo.

However, it was Biden who had to go through the nomination’s loops and hoops, where like AGT, the gruelling primaries start with smaller auditions on the state level before going national.

While Trump was watching TV or playing golf, Biden was running a serious campaign against 28 other contestants/candidates, the largest number of nominees in recent memory.

And he was able to pull ahead early on, thanks in no small part to his coalition-building and connections within the Democratic Party.

Behind the scenes, party apparatchiks, consultants, and their financial backers, like the judges and producers of AGT, play a major role in vetting the candidates during the primaries, which make up the longest commercial reality TV show on television.

They decide on the schedule, makeup and shape of the highly produced debates and public appearances, where performances are scripted and practised well in advance to draw the loudest applause.

And like AGT, even emotions during the primaries seem rehearsed, packaged and edited for national audiences, to optimise support and participation.

Likewise, the dramatic spotlights on supportive family members beaming and cheering emotionally from the centre or edges of the stage are AGT par excellence.

But this year’s pandemic has disrupted much of the drama during the second half of the election process, frustrating Trump, who has been eager to “get the show back on the road” to catch up with Biden in the polls.

Even the parties’ conventions, which usually promise excitement before the elections, fell flat because of the absence of live-audiences shouting and cheering.

This was especially true for the populist Republicans, who attempted some bizarre stunts to manufacture drama by screaming and yelling at an audience of none.

The gimmickry and trickery reached a new low with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivering a speech from Jerusalem, trading Palestinian rights for evangelical votes for Trump.

Show me the talent

Whether live or virtual, entertaining or boring, the elections now depend on two old men with big egos and small talents of the required kind.

It is indeed tragic that the contest to choose the next leader of the world’s leading democracy is now between two septuagenarians, who espouse no fresh vision for America and its role in the world.

In fact, one is pressed to recall a single original idea, or even a memorable quote uttered by either man during their long careers.

Worse, Trump is unable to speak in full sentences or even read properly from a prepared script on a prompter. And the many who believe that Biden suffers from dementia are only looking for him to stumble on the next sentence.

But whatever the Republican and the Democrat lack in vision, speech and inspiration, they made up for in venom and indignation.

So instead of building themselves up, they have torn each other and the country apart.

Trump called Biden mentally unfit and anti-God, and Biden returned the favour, labelling Trump a racist and a fool.

Trump has inflamed the spirits of and appeals to the “demons of America’s worse nature”, while Biden has calmed the souls of and appeals to “the angels of its better nature”. 

Trump has cultivated an image of an aggressive, uncompromising warrior who will fight for his base come what may, while Biden nurtured the image of a caring, compassionate leader who heals wounds and restores dignity to the White House and respect to America.

Biden’s message seems to resonate more, for now. But America may still embrace the warrior over the therapist.

Either way, the decisive votes will be those against a candidate rather than for a candidate, which does not inspire much confidence whoever wins.

All of which makes one wonder why a country as remarkable as the United States, which produces the most talented artists, writers, scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs, ends up with two old, uninspiring leaders.

Politics as showmanship

Many claim the establishment elites and oligarchs have rigged the entire political system through undue influence and big money.

And there is a lot of truth to that.

But there is another crucial factor that has shaped these and the last elections.

The rise of populism in America, and in Western democracies in general, has opened the door for demagogy, disruption and showmanship in the person of Donald Trump.

His unparalleled talent for political and personal spin gives him an edge over Biden as it did over Clinton.

He has already succeeded during the past year in making the presidency and the party, and to some degree the country, all about him.

Indeed, the talented Mr Trump has turned his entire tenure as president into a long and determined campaign to win the next election.

And it is why Trump, who is behind in the polls, is already going far and wide to discredit the elections, threatening to reject an unfavourable outcome.

This promises to turn the elections from an entertaining show into a chaotic nightmare.

If Biden’s victory is anything less than sweeping, America may end up weeping well after the show.





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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