#COVID19Chronicles-238: December 2, 2020-Arizona’s Governor ‘drops the deuce’ on POTUS

In urban slang, drop the deuce’ means going for ‘No. 2’. The ‘deuce’ may mean lots of other things, too, including, just playing cards with 2 images, eg the 2 of Spades, so could also refer to games of chance and gambling. However, I like the urban slang meaning for what took place, yesterday.

Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey was certifying his State’s election results on Monday evening, in front of TV cameras. He explained that as a result of the close support he’d gotten from President Trump and Vice President Pence for his State’s needs, he’d changed his phone ring tone to ‘Hail to the Chief’, so that he’d not miss any direct calls from The White House. Almost, on cue, his phone rang with that tone. But, he took it out of his jacket pocket and turned it over, to ignore the call. That seemed like a real deuce dropped from a great height onto the head of POTUS.

Trump was trying to get him to reconsider his timely certification of his State’s result, which would give former Vice President Biden 11 Electoral College votes and a Democrat win in a presidential election vote in Arizona for the first time in over 20 years. He was also inserting himself again into State voting processes.

But, the Governor bit back hard:

POTUS was upset at certification:

Governor Ducey was having none of it. His long defence of voting procedures was made in 9 succinct tweets:

In-fighting is now brewing amongst Republicans in Arizona, as it has done in Georgia, as Trump forces his party to start feeding on itself, which is the logical conclusion of all the disinformation spread about the integrity of the vote.

#COVID19Chronicles-227: November 22, 2020-When will he throw in the towel? Disgracing the office of The President

Bloomberg wrote yesterday: ‘A federal judge in Pennsylvania threw out a lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign that aimed to block certification of the state’s election results unless it tossed out tens of thousands of mail-in ballots, rejecting the “startling” request due to a lack of evidence.’ It cited the judge’s ruling (my emphasis):

“This court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence…In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state.”

Bloomberg also wrote ‘It’s the latest and perhaps highest-profile courtroom defeat for Trump since the U.S. election Biden won by 6 million ballots. Suits filed by the campaign and its GOP allies have failed in Michigan, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona as judges declined to toss out millions of votes based on vague assertions by lawyers and sworn affidavits from voters who interpreted perceived irregularities as evidence of a Democratic conspiracy.’

In response, the Trump campaign said in a statement that it would seek an “expedited appeal” to the Third Circuit as a means to ultimately have the Supreme Court, and its 6-3 conservative majority, consider the case.

The court cases are now losing at a rate of 2 for 34.

Meanwhile, the president has checked out of governing, if he was ever checked in. As many noted, yesterday, instead of focusing on COVID with other G-20 leaders, he went golfing.

President Trump missed the virtual G20 summit’s “Pandemic Preparedness” event to visit one of his golf clubs on the same day that a record 195,500 new Covid-19 infections were reported in a 24-hour period in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins.

Much as I like being on a course, this is the metaphor that should stand as his legacy. His biggest care was about his golf score and handicap. The Guardian wrote: ‘According to a tally kept by CNN, Trump has visited one of his golf clubs on 303 occasions during his four years as president. During his 2016 campaign for the White House Trump regularly attacked his predecessor Barack Obama for hitting the links too often and insisted that he would have little time to play golf himself as president as he would be working too hard.’

Not surprisingly, this highlights yet another simple untruth uttered that has marked almost every day in office.

His biggest handicap was that he really doesn’t care for the people he is supposed to lead.

#COVID19Chronicles-224: November 19, 2020-Georgia on my mind: Recount and run-off elections driving the wheelless cart of presidential denial?

Ray Charles sang ‘Georgia on my mind’ live:

Right now, political double-think is on display in the state of Georgia, following the 2020 US general elections. President Trump is trying to contest the outcome of the presidential vote, where he trails by about 14,000 votes (0.3%).

At the same time the senatorial races were deadlocked with the Republican incumbent leading in one senate race, but no clear winner in the special senatorial vote, though the incumbent Republican is trailing; both seats will need run-off races. These races will determine the balance of power in the Senate.

The president is not trying to contest the senatorial votes. But, calling into question the outcome of the presidential vote must mean issues across the board, given that it’s a single ballot paper.

However, the votes are being hand counted in an audit to verify the voting machines, under new state law:

The hand recount is being monitored by the Carter Center:

It was expected to end on Wednesday evening and results issued by midday Thursday :

So far, it has resulted in the a lead for Biden of 12,781 votes, a margin that had shrunk by 1,375 votes over the past week as uncounted ballots were found in Floyd, Fayette, Douglas and Walton counties through the recount. But, few other issues have emerged:

Absentee ballots for the senatorial run-offs started going out on November 18:

The Georgia electorate may be swollen by new young voters who can register by December 7 for the run-off vote on January 5:

Voter registration concerns exist, despite the recent general elections:

Advance in-person voting begins December 14:

The state secretary of state had refused to endorse Trump from January and feels he’s now feeling retaliation.

He’s also indicated pressure from senior GOJ figures, including Senator Lindsay Graham, to toss out valid votes.

He and his family and other officials have also received death threats:

To his immense credit, Brad Raffensperger has been firm in his view that is role is to be neutral though added that Trump lost in Georgia by casting doubts on mail-in voting, which cost him over 20,000 votes based on Republican voting in the August primaries.

#COVID19Chronicles-223: November 18, 2020-Shoot the messengers, hiding behind a keyboard

The reality TV man who’s been living his own reality in a big White House on Pennsylvania Avenue has never ceased to amaze. He’s aggressive, plain and simple, as when he lambasts certain nations as “sh*thole countries” or Mexicans as “rapists”. He’s also often passive aggressive. His favourite form of displaying that is how he dismisses people from his administration. For that, he has no place for face-to-face, which may lead to some physical interactions that would make him seem lesser for the weakness of his arguments or poor judgement.

Yesterday, President Trump fired Chris Krebs (who served as the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States Department of Homeland Security from November 2018 to November 2020) on Twitter:

This action comes after Krebs had certified that the recent elections were free from fraud. Krebs’s firing came after his agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, last week released a statement calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.” It added, in boldface, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Krebs did not back down and responded in fine form:

Then added a little drop of acid by retweeting Mark Hamill, who’d pointed out Krebs for being highly accurate and refusing to lie:

The Tweeter-in-Chief did the same last week with his defence secretary, Mike Esper, whom he “terminated”:

It’s clear that both of the Trump appointees committed the cardinal sin of doing their jobs properly and not as dictated by the president, on his whims.

I love what Krebs has since done with his Twitter account, which is just to show he’s going to chill, get back to his family and freewheel on his bike: 🙂

#COVID19Chronicles-213: November 8, 2020: PNP presidential race

So, while most eyes were on the US presidential elections, Jamaican eyes were also on the People’s National Party (PNP) presidential race. Mark Golding won with 1740 delegates votes, over Lisa Hanna with 1444 votes, with a 96% turnout. Voting took place yesterday, at various constituency locations nationwide, and results were declared by late-afternoon :). Golding will become the formal Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives.

Golding’s rebuilding message resonated better:

Hanna still has PNP people disliking her JLP antecedents, though her opponent has said that should not matter, even though all previous party leaders were PNP ‘purists’:

She also faces much party opposition in her constituency, with some councillors supporting Golding.

She’d denied such internal opposition.

#COVID19Chronicles-212: November 7, 2020-The world’s media call it for Joe Biden—‘president elect’ in Election 2020

The major media houses have reached their acceptance thresholds and called the US presidential election for Joe Biden:

The result in Pennsylvania took him past the 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim the title of ‘president elect’:

Steve Kornacki has been standing for a week analyzing charts and numbers for MSNBC and needs to sit down. He says the total may be 306 Electoral College votes, which would be the same as President Trump in 2016.

The president was playing golf at the time that media called it, so I hope he’s having a good round. Rain washed out my golf this morning, as torrential rain hit early.

Crowds are now gathering in celebration all over the US and elsewhere, including outside the White House. It’s occupant may object, but, let’s see what he does when he’s back from golfing. We know acceptance will not come immediately:

I’m taking nothing for granted, after four years of division being sown and lies become the currency of a president that is traded so readily by many supporters.

The fundamentals of the USA as a democratic place were deeply shaken and need to be re-established.

The Caribbean has the music for this moment: ‘Hold him. Joe’:

Analysts will pore over many details to see what went right and what did not, but a key point made earlier today was that Biden was more a man of the people than the incumbent could ever claim to be (coming from the elitist background that he does) and had the real ability to be empathetic, rather than confrontational.

#COVID19Chronicles-211: November 7, 2020-Not quite a victory speech

Joe Biden has not yet gotten the 270 Electoral College (EC) votes needed to be officially ‘president elect’, but he signalled that he’s about to assume the duty of care for all Americans.

He spoke to the nation at about 10:45pm, with 253 EC votes according to some media house or 264 according to others (adding Arizona). He has over 74 million votes, some 4 million votes over his opponent. He’s leading in enough states to get about 300 EC votes, though some are close.

His words were soothing and sought to also praise electoral workers trying to uphold democratic rights. He set the tone for his coming administration: “We may be opponents but we’re not enemies.”

Ballots remain to be counted, some of which were legally unavailable for counting earlier. The patient waiting continues and the final numbers must await the weekend, after final voting took place on Tuesday.

#COVID19Chronicles-206: November 3, 2020-High anxiety over high stakes in US presidential elections

Today has loomed large on many calendars for months. It’s the last day for individual voting in the US presidential elections. However, remember the peculiarities of the US system. Voters will select presidential electors who in turn will vote on December 14, 2020, to either elect a new president and Vice President or reelect the incumbents Donald Trump and Mike Pence, respectively.

Voting has gone bananas, with 4 states recording higher early votes than their 2016 totals!

Nationally, 100 million people have voted already.

Millennials, in some states, have voted like there’s no tomorrow:

These early voters seem to favour the Democrats. But Republicans do better on voting day.

Polls have Biden ahead, but the race has tightened in the final days, as Trump has gone on a rally rampage, pulling sizable crowds:

But the popular vote could be close and Trump has ‘lawyered up’, in keeping with his efforts to view any outcome but a win as fraudulent.

But Dems are readying lawyers too;

Fears of unrest have led to cities boarding up:

In America! 👀😳🤔🇺🇸 It’s like some sh*thole country! Remember those?

Social media is ready for election results mischief:

Whoever wins, age matters:

Jamaicans have ‘skin in the game’, with about 1 million ‘Jamaican Americans’ at the 2010 census and large numbers in key states:

The U.S. states with the largest Jamaican populations are:

  • New York – 305,285.
  • Florida – 246,478.
  • New Jersey – 55,351.
  • Georgia – 53,603.
  • Connecticut – 52,185.
  • Pennsylvania – 30,708.

They also claim part of vice presidential candidate, Kamala Harris 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿👍🏾🇺🇸

It’s going to be a long day, with long lines of voters and a long night of counting and waiting. Watch parties-COVID-style using Zoom or Teams will be in vogue.

#COVID19Chronicles-200: October 28, 2020-NIDS: research by CaPRI and some personal thoughts on NIDS

I can see many advantages to having a single national identify document. However, I know that life can go on perfectly well without one, as mine has, living nearly 50 years in the UK and USA, neither of which has a national ID system (NIDS) and governments and institutions of neither of which has ever confused me with anyone else or misdirected any transaction with me, except through some mistaken address after I moved.

I’ve travelled in and spent extensive time in countries that have NIDS (eg Germany and France) and life goes on smoothly and with hiccups and is organized in ways to maximize State awareness of people and their particulars. However, good bureaucratic organization was not driven by NIDS, but rather NIDS built up them. Any country that has good organization knows how to deliver goods and services to citizens. Any country that has poor organization won’t become good at it because it has a way of knowing citizens’ particulars.

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Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) held a webinar yesterday on research they’d done looking at some general issues related to a national identity system, as well as some data regarding such a scheme in Jamaica. You can watch the recording, below:

They looked at the unbanked and if access to an ID was a major blockage in getting access to social programmes.

They considered young people (under 18), who in Jamaica only have access to a passport as an official means of ID.

Matters of data privacy were highlighted:

Interoperability is a basic problem with the official IDs that currently exist in Jamaica, though each functions well and securely in its own rights:

Independent oversight of a national ID system was discussed by one of the panelists, an expert on human rights:

Amongst comments from the panelists, it was stressed that data protection should precede the issuance of a national ID:

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Some of own views on NIDS in Jamaica are as follows:

Discussion of NIDS in Jamaica been based on several myths. The worst of these currently is NIDS is the gateway to a digital society. If that holds water, then why did Napoleon introduce ID cards in France in the 19th century? If it were a gateway to a digital society, how did the USA and UK launch themselves successfully on that path without national IDs? In the UK’s case, it famously introduced a NIDS in 2005 and scrapped it in 2010.

However, it may appears, NIDS are form of central control of citizens. That’s not bad in itself, though how Nazis used it in the 1930s should not be the model. It’s way to organize society & usually separate citizens from foreigners; again, not bad in itself, but prone to abuse.

Jamaica needs social controls. Is NIDS the answer? It’s a hard sell. Most Jamaicans are known to the State in person and by residence (that latter isn’t so critical in dynamic society). People sometimes refer to the practice of many Jamaicans to be known by nicknames; this can be covered by NIDS. Some have concerns that not all locations have formal addresses. Again, that should not be a major problem for NIDS; many ways exist to determine if a stated location exists (with modern technology, it could be a geotag or GPS location).

Misidentification of people is rare in Jamaica: if one notes police reports, for example, it’s rare for them to state that the person has no name or is somehow unknown. As noted above, it’s irrelevant for NIDS if a person goes by ‘Supercat’ and is also known as ‘Delroy Francis’. Identity is not an issue.

Fraudulent use of ID documents is rare in Jamaica (according to CaPRI)—<500 cases 2014-18, noted above across passports, TRNs and voter IDs.

Nothing stops GOJ from issuing a special ID for people under 18, maybe with the proviso that this be exchanged for another ID when they become adults. Many countries have school IDs that serve such purposes. This could also have the benefit of ‘under age’ people not lying about their age and getting access to age-prohibited items, eg alcohol. (One reason Jamaican may have less fraud with IDs is that lying about your age to get a drink or smoke is not a real problem in Jamaica!)

If the government of Jamaica (GOJ) argues it has problems delivering services to people, it hasn’t shown that’s not its incompetence at work, or problems with financial institutions (pensions issues argue strongly that’s the case as many people wait year for payments), when banking access or identity are not problems. This was the case this summer when NCB had technical problems).

Banking access is a weak reason for NIDS: financial institutions have few problems with existing IDs. Customers have problems opening bank accounts because of references, complying with banks’ ‘know your customer’ rules, and minimum balance constraints. New bank accounts reduce the need for IDs and minimum balances. With NCB’s introduction of its new Quick Save account, individuals will only be required to present a Government of Jamaica-issued ID, a Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) and J$100 to become a bank account holder; maximum balances should not exceed $250,000.

The bigger problem is that current IDs aren’t interoperable. Can that be fixed? We hear nothing on that, relative to a totally new ID system. But, the question must be answered. Interoperability exists in other jurisdictions but is overcome by efficient operations amongst service and goods providers.

Another major problem is simply arbitrary practices across organizations. All GOJ issued IDs should have the same status. I point to the ludicrous situation where I am trained and certified by GOJ to be the trusted person to attest for others, and that is often essential when conducting many transactions. However, my GOJ-issued JP ID card is not accepted as proof of identification by Jamaican financial institutions! I also point out that my Jamaican driver’s licence is readily accepted as ID when I am overseas, if I choose to not present a passport: I’ve done it recently with banking transactions in the USA.

Digitization brings other problems & they’re not yet well addressed, namely how secure will be the database: systems in other countries have had recent data breaches as their major problems. This was the case in Estonia in late-2017, that affected around 750,000 people.

Accepted, nothing is perfect. But use right hammer and right nails to build the box.

#COVID19Chronicles-198: October 26, 2020–Down came the rain

Tropical Storm Zeta passed by and dumped a massive amount of rain on Jamaica on Sunday afternoon.

The following extract and thread (click link to see it all) from CVM-TV gives a summary of devastation and road damage that was repeated all over the island.

‘Cyaapet’ has now turned to Car-pit, as potholes and craters appear, plus some canals where roads used to be.

The ‘usual suspects’ for closed roads were in the picture, such as Bog Walk:

The heavy rains will be here through late-Monday afternoon:

No surprise, no politician has yet decided to hold the poisoned chalice of saying much about the shambolic repetition of extensive road damage after almost every heavy downpour of rain, and what that says about contract issuance and oversight of construction projects.