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(Dr. Kumar Mahabir drafted this letter to address the issue of absence of election observers in the election in Trinidad and Tobago)
August 5, 2020
The absence of election observers in the election in Trinidad and Tobago
In light of the general election that will take place in Trinidad and Tobago in a few days, please publish the following item.
BRIEF REPORT on ICDN ZOOM public meeting last Sunday night (2/8/20) on the topic
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“The absence of election observers in the August 10th election in Trinidad and Tobago:
Can the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) be trusted?”
The speakers were RALPH MARAJ, DR INDIRA RAMPERSAD and PROFESSOR SELWYN CUDJOE with DR BAYTORAM RAMHARACK substituting for RAVI DEV as the discussant.
MARAJ said that he was concerned about the absence of foreign observers, particularly the Commonwealth mission. He added: “Whilst we have a tradition of free and fair elections, there is no guarantee it will continue. We must always remain vigilant. … We are told that the Prime Minister received a letter from the Commonwealth stating they cannot afford to send a mission under our quarantine arrangements. But when asked to show the nation the letter, Rowley retorted, ‘I am showing nobody any letter. I am telling you the people, and I know you will accept that from a Prime Minister who always tells you the truth.’ The uneasiness has increased among many citizens as we approach polling day.”
DR RAMPERSAD emphasized the role and importance of foreign observers in light of the historical experience, the recent elections in Guyana, concerns in the Reports of previous Observer Missions and predictions that the results would be a close fight. She cited the judgement of Justice Dean Armorer in the Opposition UNC’s election petition against the EBC. The Judge ruled: “Accordingly, it is my view and I hold that the extension of the poll on the 7th September 2015 was illegal, and election officers who failed to close the poll at 6 p.m. acted in breach of Section 27(1) of the Election Rules.”
PROFESSOR CUDJOE agreed with all the speakers that observers are important in overseeing the election process, but did not see it as necessary. He argued that developed countries such as the USA, Canada and the UK do not have election observers. He said that it is part of a colonial legacy in which white people must be invited to oversee how black people are voting: “It is time to strike for our own freedom.” A member of the audience pointed out that CARICOM observers are nearly all black.
DR RAMHARACK examined the role played by the many international and local missions in observing the March 2nd 2020 elections in Guyana. He noted that the three previous speakers were not averse to having observers in T&T’s election on August 10th. Ramharack argued that the presence of observers would add legitimacy and confidence in the election to ensure that it would be more democratic.
Also Read: A Long Dispute Comes To An End
MODERATOR DR KUMAR MAHABIR’S COMMENT: Justice Dean Armorer ruled that the decision of the EBC to extend the voting time past 6 p.m. in the 2015 election was not lawful. Yet, neither Ms. Fern Narcis-Scope, then EBC’s Senior Legal Adviser nor any of EBC’s public officers, have been charged for violation of the law or misbehaviour in public office, or suspended or expelled from the EBC. Narcis-Scope will again preside over the August 10th 2020 election, this time as the Chief Election Officer (CEO).
The ZOOM public meeting was hosted by www.icdn.today
Dr Kumar Mahabir, Coordinator & Moderator
Indo-Caribbean Diaspora News (ICDN)
Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
(AUTHOR’S BIO- Dr. Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books. He lives in Trinidad.)
With the festive season on in full swing, iconic brand Johnnie Walker, is all set to re-energize the country's after-hour culture. Through its one-of-a-kind campaign #RevibeTheNight, the brand brings together beloved music artists like Divine, Ritviz, Lisa Mishra, Taba Chake along with popular indie bands like When Chai Met Toast and Mad Boy Mink, among others to perform live across iconic community spaces in India.
The collaborative effort by Johnnie Walker aims to bring back the after-hour culture through live performances across popular hotspots in India. The brand's goal is drive social regeneration in India and bring back the vibe of socializing through local music artists and reignite the trade, driving social culture by executing the live events with Covid measures in place and a limited capacity audience capacity.
The collaborative effort by Johnnie Walker aims to bring back the after-hour culture through live performances across popular hotspots in India. | Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Unsplash
Prior to the world going into lockdown, the after-hour culture in India bloomed at celebrated community hubs, that eventually became a safe-haven for individuals, a place where they found their sense of self-expression and belonging, that fuelled progress. This community was driven through the culture of live music and enthralling performances that created their very own vibe, a vibe that built extraordinary, forever-lasting relationships. Through #ReVibeTheNight, one can reconnect with this community bringing music curated by artists who have a history of captivating crowds with their one-of-a-kind live experiences. Catch the gigs and live performances for artists in these venues/cities for the live performances.
(Artiicle originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: johnnie walker, social, #revibethenight, performances, community, artists, culture, festivity, begin
By Nikhila Natarajan
In a continuing study on the effects of machine learning (ML) on public conversation, Twitter has confirmed that its algorithms amplify right-leaning political content. "In six out of seven countries - all but Germany - tweets posted by accounts from the political right receive more algorithmic amplification than the political left when studied as a group," Twitter blogged.
"Right-leaning news outlets, as defined by the independent organisations, see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-leaning news outlets." Since 2016, Twitter users are able to choose between viewing algorithmically ordered tweets first in their home timeline or viewing the most recent tweets in reverse chronological order.
"An algorithmic home timeline displays a stream of tweets from accounts we have chosen to follow on Twitter, as well as recommendations of other content Twitter thinks we might be interested in based on accounts we interact with frequently, tweets we engage with, and more. "As a result, what we see on our timeline is a function of how we interact with Twitter's algorithmic system, as well as how the system is designed."
The new research is based on tweets of elected officials of House of Commons members in Canada, the French National Assembly, the German Bundestag, House of Representatives in Japan, Congress of Deputies of Spain, House of Commons in the UK, and official and personal accounts of House of Representatives and Senate members in the US, as well as news outlets, from April 1 to August 15, 2020.
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. | Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
The study was conducted by Ferenc Huszar (Twitter, University of Cambridge), Sofia Ira Ktena (now at DeepMind Technologies), Conor O'Brien (Twitter), Luca Belli (Twitter), Andrew Schlaikjer (Twitter), and Moritz Hardt (UC Berkeley).
The questions probed were:
How much algorithmic amplification does political content from elected officials receive in Twitter's algorithmically ranked Home timeline versus in the reverse chronological timeline? Does this amplification vary across political parties or within a political party?
Are some types of political groups algorithmically amplified more than others? Are these trends consistent across countries?
Are some news outlets amplified more by algorithms than others? Does news media algorithmic amplification favour one side of the political spectrum more than the other?
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: algorithmically, timeline, algorithmic, tweets, political, survey, twitter, study, germany, skew
Even as India celebrates reaching a milestone of 100 crore Covid vaccine doses, Snapdeal co-founder and COO Rohit Bansal on Friday lauded a man who facilitated 64 registrations for the vaccine on the CoWin portal. In a video shared on his Facebook and Twitter page, Bansal hailed Sonu Kumar as a "citizen celebrity".
Bansal said that Kumar not only helped "just co-workers and family but complete strangers too. With patience, empathy and uncanny jugaad". He added that Kumar joined him "many moons ago" and completed his open school from a parking lot.
"Education has helped this wonderful man enable others to get India back on track. Bravo! The CoWin portal on Thursday mentioned that a total of 100 crore vaccine doses has been administered so far to the eligible population under the vaccination drive in India, nine months after the nationwide inoculation programme was started to protect the people against Covid-19.
"It's a cause of significant celebration and happiness," Bansal said in the video. He said that while people just help a few around them, Kumar "bridged the digital gap" for 64 people, who were finding it difficult to register themselves online on the vaccine portal. Kumar said he doesn't feel that he has contributed much towards the 100 crore vaccine dose count. "I have been able to help only 64 people, if I was able to help more I would have been happier." (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: cowin, covid, india, people, Rohit bansal, Sonu kumar, vaccine, snapdeal, registrations