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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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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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