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Impeachment Process Divides Global Opinion, but Shows Democracy in Action

Trump Impeachment Drama Gets Attention, Mixed Reviews Around World

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Impeachment Process of Donald Trump
President Donald Trump waits outside the Oval Office of the White House before walking with first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump on the South Lawn in Washington, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump is traveling to Florida for a campaign rally and the Thanksgiving holiday. VOA
As the impeachment process against U.S. President Donald Trump unfolds, it’s not only Americans who are following every twist and turn. Millions of people around the world have been following the testimonies on Capitol Hill and are fascinated by the political warfare in Washington. Many observers say it shows American democracy in action.

Trump is accused of threatening to withhold $392 million in military assistance to Ukraine, unless Kyiv launched a public corruption investigation into the family of his political rival, the Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden. Soliciting foreign interference in U.S. democracy is unlawful and Trump strongly denies the allegations.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Britain is trying to break out of its own political crisis caused by the 2016 vote to leave the European Union. With a general election imminent, many Britons see their own recent political chaos mirrored across the Atlantic, says political scientist Thomas Gift of University College London.

“Both the U.S. and the U.K. [Britain] are rivaling one another for levels of dysfunction in government, or lack of ability to get things done,” Gift said. “Typically, the world, including the U.K., looks to the U.S. as a model of democratic governance and has had, for a long time, institutions of power and leadership that project integrity. And I think watching this, particularly from abroad, I think does to some extent undercut that belief that the U.S. is this kind of moral, ethical and democratic leader.”

Polls suggest less than one in five Britons have a positive opinion of Trump — and that’s echoed in the views of many watching the impeachment process play out.

View of the Arc de Triomphe
General view of the Arc de Triomphe as French President Emmanuel Macron attends a commemoration ceremony for Armistice day, 101 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France. VOA

“If it goes through the House, I really hope that the Senate really stand up and do something about it. He shouldn’t be president and he should be impeached,” London resident Dayo Thomas told VOA.

In Paris, there is mixed interest in Washington’s political battles. Jacques Grau, a physician, believes the impeachment process is a good idea. “It allows democracy to function,” he told VOA.

Student Selene Ay says many of her contemporaries are not that interested.

“I know a lot of people followed after [Trump] was elected. But I think it kind of died down, I guess. People don’t care that much.”

There appears to be greater interest in Russia — and seemingly, greater support for Trump. Moscow resident Mikhail says the Americans elected Trump, “but now they want to take the decision back. That is wrong,” he said.

Fellow Moscow resident Dmitri says it is a political struggle. “[Joe] Biden’s team is just looking for compromising information to make Trump step down.”

They may be strategic rivals, but Russia doesn’t necessarily welcome America’s political problems, according to Andrey Kortunov, director of the Russian Council on International Affairs.

Buildings in Cairo, Egypt
A general view of clustered buildings in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

“The only U.S. president who can fix problems with Moscow is a strong U.S. president,” Kortunov told VOA. “So if Trump is under impeachment it definitely weakens his position and it becomes more difficult for him to manage this very complex and very delicate relationship. We need to have predictable partners. Weakness makes leaders unpredictable.”

With 1.3 billion people, India is often called the world’s biggest democracy. In Delhi, there is admiration for principle of impeachment. “It means that it is a very fair, a proper democracy at work,” according to Dipika Nanjappa, who works at a local voluntary organization. Retired government official Ashish Banerjee agrees: “We need to be more accountable. Our leaders need to be more accountable,” he told VOA.

Cairo resident Sameh Ghoneim sees echoes of Egypt’s own leadership in the alleged actions of Donald Trump. “He is only interested in personal gain,” said Ghoneim, who works as a mining engineer outside the capital. “He will look for corruption in others when it helps him.”

ALSO READ: Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

In South Africa’s Johannesburg, opinion on Trump’s fate is again divided. “I think he’s doing just fine, so I don’t see the reason why he should be removed,” said local chef Khanyisile Shongwe. Cleaner Joseph Maisa is no fan of the U.S. president. “He doesn’t bring nice things in America. That is why he should be removed.”

The impeachment process could go on well into 2020, as the U.S. also gears up for the presidential election following what promises to be a bitterly fought campaign. Each twist and turn will be followed closely across the globe. (VOA)

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University Corruption EXPOSED: Retrenchment Was Like a COVID-19 Attack

For 69 lecturers of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the door was shut against them since May 11, 2018 – two years ago.

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University of Trinidad and Tobago has declared that lecturers’ teaching load (as opposed to work-load, which would have included research and service) was the main criterion used to select teaching staff for retrenchment. (Representational Image). Flickr

By Dr Kumar Mahabir

University
Dr. Mahabir is a former Organization of American States (OAS) Fellow and the recipient of a Government National Award for Education.

Schools, colleges and universities worldwide have been closed since March 11, 2020 when COVID-19 was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global pandemic.

But for 69 lecturers of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the door was shut against them since May 11, 2018 – two years ago. Like the outbreak of COVID-19, there was no warning. These lecturers were ambushed with retrenchment letters in the middle of the semester while teaching students in class.

The dismissal letters gave them seven days to take their personal property and vacant the premises. They were caught off-guard with mortgages, loans, rent and bills to pay as well as families to feed. They were suddenly without a job and medical insurance.

The stay-at-home retrenchment order was triggered to these “surplus” lecturers who had become “redundant” in the university’s “restructuring exercise.” Was their forced quarantine justified? Let’s look at the facts and revelations, using my situation as a case study.

University
Lecturers at University of Trinidad and Tobago were ambushed with retrenchment letters in the middle of the semester while teaching students in class. (Representational Image). Pixabay

My teaching load was higher

In all its internal and external releases, University of Trinidad and Tobago has declared that lecturers’ teaching load (as opposed to work-load, which would have included research and service) was the main criterion used to select teaching staff for retrenchment.

UTT’s disclosure to my Freedom of Information (FOIA) application after I was dismissed states that I was carrying a teaching load of 70.8%, excluding Practicum. However, there were other Assistant Professors who had considerably lower teaching load percentages, but were not selected for retrenchment. 

Some of them had scores as low as 15%, 28%, 35%, 38%, etc. In fact, of the 20 Assistant Professors who were retained, only two (2) or 10% had higher teaching load percentages than mine. 

Although my teaching load percentage (70.8%) was higher than most of my former colleagues, who were retained, I should have earned yet a higher teaching score had it not been for an error and contradiction on the part of UTT. 

University of Trinidad and Tobago’s disclosure to me after I was fired reveals that the PRACTICUM courses I taught were not counted as part of my teaching load. However, the same PRACTICUM Term 2 courses (PRAC 1002 and PRAC 2002) were counted for my colleagues, Additionally, a PRACTICUM Term 3 course (PRAC 2001) was counted for others but not for me.

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These errors and contradictions by UTT are important to note because the university has declared that lecturers’ teaching load was the main criterion used to select teaching staff for retrenchment.

These errors and contradictions in computing the teaching load scores for me constitute bias, inequality, unfairness and injustice in selecting me for retrenchment. These mistakes and paradoxes resulted in my dismissal which caused me grave humiliation, pain, suffering, stress, trauma and rejection as well as loss of income, status, dignity, pride and institutional affiliation.

Was this Programme really being phased out?

In many of its releases and correspondences, University of Trinidad and Tobago has stated that I and other lecturers were retrenched because the Secondary School Specialisation courses which they taught were being phased out as part of the university’s restructuring exercise. 

At the dismissal meeting at the Centre for Education Programmes (CEP) at UTT, administrator Dr Judy Rocke also told the assembled lecturers that all Secondary School Specialisation courses were being phased out, resulting in us being “redundant” in the university’s “restructuring exercise.” The following facts reveal that this statement is not true.

University
Lecturers at University of Trinidad and Tobago were suddenly without a job and medical insurance. (Representational Image). Pixabay

These same courses were timetabled for a NEW cohort of students during the new semester which began in September 3, 2018. These Secondary School Specialisation courses are taught from Year 2. One of these courses which was not phased out for the new Year 2 student-intake was ANTH 2001- Caribbean Cultural Anthropology, which I taught. After my retrenchment, I was replaced by a lecturer who was not qualified to teach ANTH 2001. 

Substitute lecturers not qualified

The Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) made the following written disclosures to me, dated August 23, 2019.  Its Executive Director, Dr Eduardo Ali, stated that my substitute lecturer was “not qualified to teach” ANTH 2001.  Additionally, Dr Ali stated that another substitute lecturer teaching the course TVOC 2003: Job Task Analysis in Semester 1 during the Academic Year 2018-2019 at CEP was also “not qualified to teach the said course”.

Also Read- E-Learning Takes Over in the Times of Coronavirus Pandemic

I began my tenure at UTT as an Assistant Professor in January 2007 – longer than most of my former colleagues, who held Ph.D. degrees in CEP. My latest Performance Management and Appraisal Process (PMAP) appraisal score dated October 3, 2017 was 95 out of 100. This score was given, approved and endorsed by my immediate supervisor, Dr Judy Rocke, who paradoxically selected me for dismissal. 

My skills and qualifications are more diverse than those of most of my former teaching colleagues. My M.Phil. degree is in the Humanities (Literatures in English) and my Ph.D. is in the Social Sciences (Anthropology). 

Dr. Mahabir is a former Organization of American States (OAS) Fellow and the recipient of a Government National Award for Education.

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COVID 19: American Democracy Not Exhibiting Maturity

Perhaps, the citizens of America has a lesson or two to learn from the way that India has reacted to the COVID 19 crisis.

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USA COVID 19
The ongoing COVID 19 crisis has clearly exposed the weakness and shortfalls in American democratic culture, system and wisdom. Pixabay

By N.S.Venkataraman

The ongoing COVID 19 crisis has clearly exposed the weakness and shortfalls in American democratic culture, system and wisdom.

With around million Americans infected by the virus and more than 50000 people losing their lives, a healthy democratic country, that America claims itself  to be , should have gone into a near silent mode without airing counter productive critical views,  with  grim determination to overcome the crisis with cooperative spirit.

Counterproductive criticism in crisis period :

On the other hand, this crisis period has been marked in America by politicking, counterproductive arguments, use of abusive language about the duly elected American President and media’s comments losing sense of proportions and visual, print and social media  liberally  using  vituperative language and publishing sarcastic cartoons

Such scenario in America today gives an impression of a divided country, with various groups exhibiting  bitterness and hatred against each other, giving an overall impression to the outside world that American democracy lacks maturity.

USA COVID 19
With regard to the COVID 19 crisis in USA , there could be different views as to whether President Trump has failed to check the entry of virus into America. Pixabay

Limits of democratic system :

While there is no dispute with regard to the  superiority of democratic form of governance  over that of dictatorial regimes or communist governance , the  underlying factor governing the quality and merit of  democratic form of governance  is tolerance for opposite views and liberty  not being considered as  personal affair but recognized as social contract and adjustment of mutual interests.

While the entire world community is recognizing the fact that social distancing is immediate need to overcome the crisis, particularly since vaccines/drugs for treating the virus are now only  in the development stage, it is shocking that public protests and voices are being heard against the government’s directives to observe social distancing regulations in USA.  Further, it is even more shocking to see section of people protesting against American President and demanding his resignation by holding protest meetings with “body bags” in front of the White House, even as the country is facing grim crisis.

Further, the despicable terms such as idiotic, clown etc. are being freely used to criticise the actions of  American President.

The above condition indicates that the concept of personal freedom have been taken to ridiculous level , which make many people suspect that what America has today is not orderly democracy but chaotic democracy.

Need to rally behind the leader in crisis period :

In a matured democracy, while confronting with a severe crisis of COVID 19 that America faces today, what is important is that people of America should rally behind the American President , indulge in productive discussions and consultations and finally accepting the decision of the President in toto.

With regard to the COVID 19 crisis in USA , there could be different views as to whether President Trump has failed to check the entry of virus into America.  Nobody seems to have a clear answer to this vexed question.

Everybody in USA  seem to agree that WHO has failed in it’s duty  to forewarn the world about this COVID 19. Probably, if such forewarning has been issued, President Trump might have taken early steps to prevent the virus spreading,  on which one cannot comment conclusively at this stage.

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As it is known, no American President is a master  of all subjects and he is supported by an army of advisors with specialization in different fields and he is heavily dependent on them for taking crucial decisions. He receives advice and takes his decision by a process of consensus and finally President’s views being decisive.  In this process, there may be different style adopted by different Presidents to express their views.

 With regard to suggestions of Trump like use of Chloroquine drug for treating COVID 19 , there could be different alternate opinions.

In daily briefings, obviously President Trump has been airing various suggestions given to him by different experts and probably throwing it open for public debate and deliberations to understand the public perspective.

In America like so many other countries , President does not decide the drugs for treatment. But scientific bodies like Food and Drug Administration in USA (FDA) test the drug and  recommend it’s use.

All said and done, whatever one may think about the track record of Donald Trump in earlier days and as President of USA, it is necessary that in a matured democracy , people should realize the need to stand behind the duly elected leader in a democratic way, at the time of national crisis.

USA COVID 19
Everybody in USA seem to agree that WHO has failed in it’s duty to forewarn the world about this COVID 19. Pixabay

Even if criticisms were  to be aired , it has to be done in a dignified and healthy manner and without diverting the attention of the society to politicking rather than curative plans and strategies.

Learn from India :

Perhaps, the citizens of America has a lesson or two to learn from the way that India has reacted to the COVID 19 crisis.

When Indian Prime Minister Modi wanted the country men to clap on one occasion and on other occasion  switch off power for a few minute and light a lamp to applaud the medical professionals  and express national solidarity,  the entire country responded , though some could have questioned the need for such symbolic gestures.

Also Read- Indian Farmers’ Woes Amid Covid-19 Lockdown

Media and think tank in Amrica  need to introspect :

It is high time that media in USA should  introspect  about commenting on any issue or views in a crisis period  that would degrade to the present level of hate mongering. Media in USA has a lot to answer and explain to the people about the behavior during this severe COVID 19 crisis.

It is also high time that think tank in America should examine whether American democratic system and practices is now going astray.

 

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Transparency Documentary Series Review: Unique and Talks About the Working of AAP

The impact of the film might have been much greater if writer-director Munish Raizada had shortened its length and focused on a single issue

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Transparency
One must congratulate Munish Raizada for making Transparency: Pardarshita. Twitter

By Suyog Zore

First of all, one must congratulate Munish Raizada for making Transparency: Pardarshita. Making a documentary film, let alone a six-part documentary series, on politics in India is not an easy task.

Raizada has made a documentary series on one of the biggest uprisings India has seen after the freedom movement and the Emergency, the Jan Lokpal andolan, also known as the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement. He tries to find answers to how the uprising was planned, how it gave rise to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and how the party that came to power in the national capital territory of Delhi with the promise of transparency slowly went off track.

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Transparency is a six-part documentary series written, directed and produced by Munish Raizada, who was himself a member of AAP at one time. In the documentary, he traces AAP’s journey from its inception to now. In this process, he meets old colleagues of party founder and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as well as others who joined and then left the party.

The first episode, titled Dream Game, deals with how the Anna Hazare movement was organized by people like Kumar Vishwas, Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and some other activists. The episode is very informative and tells us how no movement takes place on the spur of the moment. It takes a lot of time, dedicated people and a lot of effort to create a successful movement like Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Andolan.

Transparency
Transparency is a six-part documentary series written, directed and produced by Munish Raizada, who was himself a member of AAP at one time. Twitter

The third episode focuses on how the IAC came to be formed and what it did. Both these episodes focus on how Arvind Kejriwal used the popularity of the movement as a launch pad for his own political career. Raizada interviews Kejriwal’s former friends and activists like Shazia Ilmi, Kapil Mishra and Kiran Bedi who testify that Kejriwal harboured political ambition from the start. It should be noted, however, that all of these former friends are now part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the foremost rival of AAP in Delhi.

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Raizada uses real footage from the Jan Lokpal movement and from AAP’s formation and victory in the Delhi assembly election of 2015. He juxtaposes visuals of the euphoria among Delhi’s citizens when AAP came to power for the first time with the current situation and tries to find out where things went wrong.

The most important episode of this documentary is number 4, which is titled The Mask. The episode is split into two parts, 4A and 4B. In this two-part episode, Raizada meets many long-standing associates of Kejriwal and tries to dissect his personality. The documentary claims that Kejriwal, who has a proven track record as an activist in the public domain, has a different personality for insiders of the Anna agitation and the Aam Aadmi Party.

Raizada also tries to find answers to many questions like why did AAP stop showing its list of donors on its website and why the party never implemented an internal Lokpal. However, Raizada expects the viewer to be familiar with the Indian political scenario and how things were in those days and that’s why the episode may not interest those who have not kept themselves up-to-date with politics in India. But then, someone who isn’t familiar with Indian politics may not invest six hours of his life in this documentary either.

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The length of the series is the biggest problem with this documentary. Almost six hours long, it is stuffed with too much information to process. By the time you reach the final episode, you are likely to have forgotten some important information from earlier episodes. Maybe if Raizada had focused his effort more sharply on the issue of transparency in AAP and dug out more information, it might have made greater impact.

Also Read- Social Distancing and Lockdown are The Strongest Vaccine: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Another problem is Raizada’s fixation with dramatization. As he mentioned in an interview with Cinestaan.com, he had initially planned a feature film on the subject but later dropped the idea. Perhaps he could not completely let go of the thought, however, because he uses elements from the typical commercial template, like a melodramatic background score, to hammer his message home. All it does is dilute the authenticity of the documentary.

Despite these flaws, Transparency: Pardarshita is a brave and praiseworthy effort. 

You can watch Transparency series here: https://transparencywebseries.com/

Copyright: Cinestaan.com