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Pollsters missed the mark, says Georgian political science teacher

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That’s two straight American presidential elections the pollsters have gotten wrong, says Georgian College political science teacher Geoffrey Booth.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s six to 10 per cent lead — in several polls — has all but evaporated into a dead heat with Republican President Donald Trump in an election which might not be settled for days.

Approximately the same thing happened to Hillary Clinton’s lead against Trump four years ago.

“I was skeptically hopeful that the polls would get it right… but that’s the second time that they’ve got this wrong,” Booth said Wednesday.

“We’ve seen similar incidents in Canadian politics, but I thought because of what happened in 2016, that they would have drilled down more to make sure that what they were seeing was actually what was happening on the ground,” he added. “But some of the initial reactions to polls versus exit polls, there’s a total discrepancy.

“I think that maybe the Biden campaign just got the warm, fuzzy feeling that the polls were going to be accurate this time.”

Booth cited support for Trump among Latino males, by black men and women, groups of people that have seen what this president can do, what he has unleashed in U.S. politics that has disproportionately affected them negatively, including COVID-19, which has killed more than 230,000 Americans.

“There’s something more fundamental here,” he said. “I think it really does speak to an inability of the electorate at large to cope with the reality that faces everybody.

“You’d think the coronavirus would have (politically) killed that guy (Trump) in the water, dead, right?” Booth said. “And yet he has managed to turn the whole thing into a team sport. You know, wear my jersey, everything’s fine and so he’s realized now he can basically say anything and his base will follow him, regardless.

“But all of those others — the moderates, the skeptics, the independents, the undecided, the ones who voted for him in 2016, but really don’t like what they see — there’s something very warm and comforting about the vision that he paints,” said Booth.

“And that vision is ‘don’t worry about it, right, stay on the team and all the rest of this stuff will go away. It’s us against them’. It’s not about morality, it’s not about right or wrong, it’s about whether you’re going to wear the team jersey or not.”

What also struck Booth was Trump’s strategy of having four rallies in Pennsylvania on Monday, the day before the election. He said that depending on how that math breaks, if Trump takes Georgia and North Carolina, and Biden takes Nevada and Arizona, then it could come down to those Rust Belt states: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

“You’d have to feel pretty good about your chances if you’re a Trump supporter,” Booth said. “He’s been there four times in one day versus Biden, who’s born in Pennsylvania.”

But there are other reasons why America’s presidential election is a stalemate.

“I think it’s just this creeping inability of average Joes, people who sort of are tuned in but aren’t… they don’t want to have to sit down and pore over this stuff and talk about it. They just want a drink and a quick decision,” he said. “And Trump has as much said that (Tuesday) night. ‘It’s over, I won and let’s move on’.”

And if this dead heat isn’t troubling enough, what about Trump’s looming court challenge to the election results if he doesn’t win?

Booth says he has less fear for that because Trump would need hard evidence to make his case.

“Trump can do nothing if… in a perfect world, the votes all get counted and there’s no fraud, there’s no case to make, nobody found the 10,000 ballots in the garbage can. He has nothing to bring (to court),” he said.

But there’s also a possibility that this won’t matter.

“All he has to do is say it. If he says it, and the team hears him say ‘Hey, there’s been fraud,’ well, it’s a way more convenient way, first of all for him to avoid blame, but it’s also a way for him to say ‘Look, this is only reason I could have lost’,” Booth said.

Whatever its final result, the 2020 American election has shown the deep divide of its people.

“It really doesn’t matter, at the end of the day, who wins this,” Booth said. “I’m sad to say that polarization is alive and well. It’s not going away and I’d say it’s even worse.”

Electoral College at a glance

Americans voting for the next U.S. president — Trump or Biden — are actually casting ballots for a representative of that candidate’s party called an elector. These 538 electors then vote for president on behalf of people in their state.

A majority of 270 of these votes is required to win the American presidency.

The Electoral College almost always uses the winner-take-all system; candidates with the most votes in a state claim all of that state’s electoral votes. So winning California, which has 55 electoral votes, is more important than winning Hawaii, which has four.

Each American state is assigned a certain number of electoral votes based on their number of congressional districts, plus two additional votes representing their Senate seats. Washington, D.C., gets three electoral votes, despite having no voting representative in Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate).

The House of Representatives has 435 members and elections every two years, including 2020.

The Senate has 100 members who serve six-year terms, with about one-third of them elected every two years. This year there are 35 Senate races this year.

Source: – OrilliaMatters

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AMP Presents Round Table Discussion on Medical Cannabis in the Focus of German Politics with Dr. Wieland Schinnenburg, MdB (FDP) – Canada NewsWire

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ERFURT, Germany and BERLIN, Nov. 30, 2020 /CNW/ – AMP German Cannabis Group Inc. (“AMP”) (CSE: XCX) (FSE: C4T) (ISIN: CA00176G1028) is proud to present the second episode of its “Round Table” series with Dr. Wieland Schinnenburg, MdB of the FDP, who provides an up-to-date overview of the political issues and challenges facing the medical cannabis in Germany. In addition, the discussion panel will share their views on how the industry will change for companies operating in the sector over the next decade.

Episodes of the Round Table Series can be found on AMP’s website: www.amp-eu.de/roundtable (in German with English subtitles), AMP’s YouTube Channel and by all major podcast platforms (in German).

AMP Round Table Series, Episode #2: “Politics and Medical Cannabis in Germany

Medical cannabis has been an important political issue even before Germany legalized its use three years ago and is becoming even more relevant in current politics.

The majority of the political parties in Germany are in agreement that medical cannabis has a role in benefiting some medical conditions. However, German politicians and the public would agree that policies enacted since legalization have room for improvement. Open issues like patient access, medical conditions covered, guaranteed health insurance coverage for medical cannabis prescriptions and sources of supply still need to be addressed.

In AMP Round Table Episode #2, Dr. Wieland Schinnenburg, MdB, spokesman for drug and addiction policy of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and a well-respected medical cannabis expert joins Dr. Stefan Feuerstein to discuss the politics of medical cannabis as well as the opportunities and challenges facing medical cannabis companies like AMP.

Dr. Schinnenburg will discuss how the government will address the aforementioned issues in the near future in addition to:

Summary of Topics Discussed

  • How do the political parties’ views differ on medical cannabis in Germany?
  • How do the German federal government and the sixteen German states view medical cannabis?
  • Can supplying the growing demand for medical cannabis in Germany be better managed?
  • What can be learned from the first domestic cultivation tender in regard to how the process was conducted and in meeting the growing demand for medical cannabis?
  • What role can imported medical cannabis play in meeting the current and growing demand for medical cannabis?
  • Could an increase in imported medical cannabis improve competition in Germany and lower prices to health insurance companies and private patients?
  • How are policies at the Cannabis Agency at German’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfRaM) being made?
  • How will the medical cannabis industry develop in Germany over the next five to ten years from now?

Panel Members

Dr. Wieland Schinnenburg MdB, (FDP)

Dr. Schinnenburg studied dentistry from 1978 to 1984 at the Medical University of Hannover and the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster. After his state examination, he received his doctorate in 1985 and worked as an employed dentist from 1984 to 1987. From 1987 until his election to the German Bundestag in 2017, he ran his own practice in Oststeinbek near Hamburg.

In addition to his work as a dentist, he began studying law at the University of Hamburg in 1989, which he completed in 1994 with the First State Examination; in 1997, he took the Second State Examination at the Higher Regional Court of Celle. During his studies, he completed study visits and internships in Port-au-Prince, Los Angeles, Chiang Mai, Jerusalem and Washington, D.C. In 1998, Dr. Schinnenburg opened a law firm in addition to his dental practice. Since 2006, Dr. Schinnenburg has been a specialist lawyer for medical law and since 2007 a mediator.

Dr. Stefan Feuerstein (AMP)

Dr. Feuerstein is Director and President of AMP and has over three decades of experience in facilitating and leading investment opportunities from within and outside of Germany. Dr. Feuerstein served as managing director of IIC Industrial Investment Council GmbH, which acted as an investment promotion agency for the five Eastern German States, including Berlin. He also served as managing director of the TLW Thüringer Landeswirtschafts-Förderungsgesellschaft, Erfurt, or the German State of Thuringia Economic Department.

Mr. Holger Scholze (Round Table Moderator)

Mr. Holger Scholze is a German television stock market analyst, lecturer, and presenter. Mr. Scholze became known to a large audience primarily through his more than 5,000 live broadcasts as a correspondent for the German national news channel, n-tv. Mr. Scholze has been dealing with the international financial markets for thirty years and has been regularly assessing the current market situation for two decades for various TV and radio stations.

About Jushi Europe (Round Table Sponsor)

Round Table Episode #2 is sponsored by Jushi Europe SA, the European subsidiary of Jushi Holdings Inc. (CSE: JUSH, OTCMKTS: JUSHF) and headquartered in Switzerland. Jushi Europe’s strategy is focused on building large-scale production in Portugal for export to the European medical cannabis market. Jushi Europe represents geographic diversification of the Jushi portfolio and an entrance into early-stage cannabis markets through long-term investments.

About AMP German Cannabis Group

AMP German Cannabis Group is licensed to import European Union – Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP) medical cannabis from Europe and elsewhere into Germany. AMP sources, stores, transports, delivers, and sells medical cannabis products to pharmaceutical distributors or pharmacists directly, the only point-of-sale for medical cannabis to German patients with a physician’s prescription. For more information, please visit: www.amp-eu.com

AMP social media links:

Media Kit: www.amp-eu.com/media-kit

Neither the CSE nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the CSE) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

This news release contains forward-looking statements that are based on the Company’s expectations, estimates and projections regarding its business and the economic environment in which it operates, including with respect to its business plans and milestones and the timing thereof. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to control or predict. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from those expressed in these forward-looking statements and readers should not place undue reliance on such statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update them publicly to reflect new information or the occurrence of future events or circumstances unless otherwise required to do so by law.

SOURCE AMP German Cannabis Group Inc.

For further information: Mr. Alex Blodgett, CEO and Director, Telephone: +1 236-833-1602, Email: [email protected]

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Conflict between Tigray and Eritrea — the long standing faultline in Ethiopian politics – The Conversation Africa

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The missile attack by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on Eritrea in mid-November transformed an internal Ethiopian crisis into a transnational one. In the midst of escalating internal conflict between Ethiopia’s northernmost province, Tigray, and the federal government, it was a stark reminder of a historical rivalry that continues to shape and reshape Ethiopia.

The rivalry between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the movement which has governed Eritrea in all but name for the past 30 years – the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front – goes back several decades.

The histories of Eritrea and Ethiopia have long been closely intertwined. This is especially true of Tigray and central Eritrea. These territories occupy the central massif of the Horn of Africa. The Tigrinya are the predominant ethnic group in both Tigray and in the adjacent Eritrean highlands.

The enmity between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front dates to the mid-1970s, when the Tigrayan front was founded in the midst of political turmoil in Ethiopia. The authoritarian Marxist regime – known as the Derg (Amharic for ‘committee’) – inflicted violence upon millions of its own citizens. It was soon confronted with a range of armed insurgencies and socio-political movements. These included Tigray and Eritrea, where the resistance was most ferocious.

The Tigrayan front was at first close to the Eritrean front, which had been founded in 1970 to fight for independence from Ethiopia. Indeed, the Eritreans helped train some of the first Tigrayan recruits in 1975-6, in their shared struggle against Ethiopian government forces for social revolution and the right to self-determination.

But in the midst of the war against the Derg regime, the relationship quickly soured over ethnic and national identity. There were also differences over the demarcation of borders, military tactics and ideology. The Tigrayan front eventually recognised the Eritreans’ right to self-determination, if grudgingly, and resolved to fight for the liberation of all Ethiopian peoples from the tyranny of the Derg regime.

Each achieved seminal victories in the late 1980s. Together the Tigrayan-led Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and the Eritrean front overthrew the Derg in May 1991. The Tigrayan-led front formed government in Addis Ababa while the Eritrean front liberated Eritrea which became an independent state.

But this was just the start of a new phase of a deep-rooted rivalry. This continued between the governments until the recent entry of prime minister Abiy Ahmed.

If there’s any lesson to be learnt from years of military and political manoeuvrings, it is that conflict in Tigray is unavoidably a matter of intense interest to the Eritrean leadership. And Abiy would do well to remember that conflict between Eritrea and Tigray has long represented a destabilising fault line for Ethiopia as well as for the wider region.

Reconciliation and new beginnings

In the early 1990s, there was much talk of reconciliation and new beginnings between Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Isaias Afeworki of Eritrea. The two governments signed a range of agreements on economic cooperation, defence and citizenship. It seemed as though the enmity of the liberation war was behind them.

Meles declared as much at the 1993 Eritrean independence celebrations, at which he was a notable guest.

But deep-rooted tensions soon resurfaced. In the course of 1997, unresolved border disputes were exacerbated by Eritrea’s introduction of a new currency. This had been anticipated in a 1993 economic agreement. But in the event Tigrayan traders often refused to recognise it, and it caused a collapse in commerce.

Full-scale war erupted over the contested border hamlet of Badme in May 1998. The fighting swiftly spread to other stretches of the shared, 1,000 km long frontier. Air strikes were launched on both sides.

It was quickly clear, too, that this was only superficially about borders. It was more substantively about regional power and long standing antagonisms that ran along ethnic lines.

The Eritrean government’s indignant anti-Tigray front rhetoric had its echo in the popular contempt for so-called Agame, the term Eritreans used for Tigrayan migrant labourers.

For the Tigray front, the Eritrean front was the clearest expression of perceived Eritrean arrogance.

As for Isaias himself, regarded as a crazed warlord who had led Eritrea down a path which defied economic and political logic, it was hubris personified.

Ethiopia deported tens of thousands of Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean descent.

Ethiopia’s decisive final offensive in May 2000 forced the Eritrean army to fall back deep into their own territory. Although the Ethiopians were halted, and a ceasefire put in place after bitter fighting on a number of fronts, Eritrea had been devastated by the conflict.

The Algiers Agreement of December 2000 was followed by years of standoff, occasional skirmishes, and the periodic exchange of insults.

During this period Ethiopia consolidated its position as a dominant power in the region. And Meles as one of the continent’s representatives on the global stage.

For its part Eritrea retreated into a militaristic, authoritarian solipsism. Its domestic policy centred on open-ended national service for the young. Its foreign policy was largely concerned with undermining the Ethiopian government across the region. This was most obvious in Somalia, where its alleged support for al-Shabaab led to the imposition of sanctions on Asmara.

The ‘no war-no peace’ scenario continued even after Meles’s sudden death in 2012. The situation only began to shift with the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn against a backdrop of mounting protest across Ethiopia, especially among the Oromo and the Amhara, and the rise to power of Abiy.

What followed was the effective overthrow of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front which had been the dominant force in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition since 1991.

This provided Isaias with a clear incentive to respond to Abiy’s overtures.

Tigray’s loss, Eritrea’s gain

A peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, was signed in July 2018 by Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki. It formally ended their 1998-2000 war. It also sealed the marginalisation of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Many in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front were unenthusiastic about allowing Isaias in from the cold.

Since the 1998-2000 war, in large part thanks to the astute manoeuvres of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Eritrea had been exactly where the Tigray People’s Liberation Front wanted it: an isolated pariah state with little diplomatic clout. Indeed, it is unlikely that Isaias would have been as receptive to the deal had it not involved the further sidelining of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, something which Abiy presumably understood.

Isaias had eschewed the possibility of talks with Abiy’s predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn. But Abiy was a different matter. A political reformer, and a member of the largest but long-subjugated ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Oromo, he was determined to end the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s domination of Ethiopian politics.

This was effectively achieved in December 2019 when he abolished the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and replaced it with the Prosperity Party.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front declined to join with the visible results of the current conflict.




Read more:
Residual anger driven by the politics of power has boiled over into conflict in Ethiopia


Every effort to engage with the Tigrayan leadership – including the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – in pursuit of a peaceful resolution must also mean keeping Eritrea out of the conflict.

Unless Isaias is willing to play a constructive role – he does not have a good track record anywhere in the region in this regard – he must be kept at arm’s length, not least to protect the 2018 peace agreement itself.

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Has digitisation weakened democracy's defences? | British Politics and Policy at LSE – British Politics and Policy at LSE

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The overall digitisation social process involves more and more information and activities moving into digital formats, then going online, and potentially securing global distribution via the cloud. This is not a neutral process for liberal democracies’ working. Melissa-Ellen Dowling argues that while digitisation may enable new forms of participation, and cut some of the costs of citizens organising, it opens liberal democracies to new threats from hostile foreign powers and so far unregulated waves of disinformation.

As digitisation progressively permeates democratic political structures, democracies around the world are becoming more vulnerable to foreign interference. The advent of ‘digital era governance’ in post-industrialised democracies has led to the adoption of a range of electronic processes for public participation in politics. In particular, we are seeing digital mechanisms beginning to infiltrate traditionally analogue forms of democratic participation in decision-making. From ballot paper scanning, electronic voting machines, online petitioning, virtual consultation hubs, to the widespread digitisation of the public sphere – public participation in decision-making is becoming increasingly digital.

The risks of digitisation to democracy stem largely from three core digital deficiencies, or what otherwise might be termed, ‘digitally-amplified problems’: inauthenticity, data insecurity, and disinformation. Digitisation not only provides a veil behind which malign foreign entities can shield their identities to covertly disrupt another country’s politics, but also enables interference to occur at unprecedented levels. Take for example, the US 2016 presidential election – the Mueller Report concluded that Russia’s Internet Research Agency and the GRU used a range of digital tactics to target the election: hacking, leaking, bots, trolls, deep fakes, and more on a mass scale reaching significant portions of the population.

However, it is not all bad news. Digitisation has improved public access to politics which strengthens the fundamentals of democracy such as participation, inclusion, and tolerance. This raises a dilemma. On the one hand, do we resist digitisation in the governance and voting space to protect our processes and institutions from foreign interference and digital risks, but in doing so put democracy at additional risk from within? On the other hand, by eschewing digitisation (e.g. sticking with paper and pencil methods in Westminster systems), we risk reducing the scale and scope of  public political access and engagement – thereby creating a public sphere monopolised by the legacy media. This makes the political sphere look dated, over-attached to traditional methods. And it causes its own problems with respect to the information ecosystem and democracy.

In fact, we already have some answers to the digital democracy dilemma: strike a balance between digital and analogue mechanisms of public participation in politics. As the UK’s Intelligence Security Committee found in its Russia Report, paper ballot papers in the Brexit referendum effectively safeguarded the process from direct interference such as ballot tampering. Similarly, in Australia, hard-copy ballots continue to be used in the smaller constituencies used for federal elections for the House of Representatives, while digital mechanisms for counting state-wide Senate votes are employed in conjunction with human cross-checking. Meanwhile, in the US, problems with electronic voting machines has led to the restoration of supplementary paper trail procedures in some states. Retaining certain analogue processes can therefore protect against the digital deficiency of data insecurity, while allowing us to reap the benefits of digital technology.

The disinformation malaise

Unfortunately, there is one digitally-amplified deficiency plaguing democracies that is not so easily overcome: disinformation. Although disinformation is nothing new, it has become more prevalent and harder to detect in the digital era. The rise of social media that partly characterised the ‘second wave’ of digital era governance, improves access to the public sphere not only for a polity’s citizens and enterprises, but also potentially for malign foreign entities. Government agencies are necessarily now far more active on social media, because they recognise that if government’s nodality is to be preserved, then their messages must reach citizens in locations where they are active anyway. The COVID-19 crises in the UK and many countries also focused on governments’ use of digital apps to try to personalise notifications to citizens.

But what if factual and objective social media messages (including, hopefully, those from government) are in danger of being swamped by tainted, misleading or inaccurate information? Digitally-enabled disinformation poses a particularly challenging risk because of the very nature of liberal democracy as a system enshrining free and open communication and political expression. It is insidious in the way that it targets human cognitive beliefs and attitudes, rather than administrative physical processes that we see in cases of data breaches.

Companies such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit have been criticised for their slow and imperfect response to disinformation spreading via their platforms. While some argue that increased social media regulation is necessary to curb the problem, extensive regulation of such instruments of the public sphere may inadvertently jeopardise the open discussion fundamental to liberal democracy. These tensions make the problem even more difficult to resolve.

One of the most concerning consequences of disinformation for democracy is that it has the potential to create a crisis of legitimacy. Disinformation can reduce the legitimacy of policy outputs, election outcomes, government, democratic processes, and democracy as a belief-system through:

  • Tainting the preference formation phase of decision-making, potentially generating a trust deficit, or boosting an existing one, not just in government and governance processes, but also in fellow members of the polity. This may jeopardise crucial ingredients of democracy.
  • Stimulating widespread distrust of the veracity of information, leading to a ‘post-truth’ order where either anything goes, or correct information is disbelieved, resulting in political apathy.
  • Undermining political culture more broadly by corroding collective belief in democracy as an ideology.

Conclusions

In some respects, digitisation has enhanced democracy through improving access to politics via electronic forms of public engagement. Yet the current social progress to ever-more-digital  nonetheless presents an acute challenge to democracy on a practical and ideological level. Retaining analogue components of democratic processes is relatively effective in mitigating risks posed by data insecurity in formal participatory contexts. However, as the informal public sphere continues to digitise, the critical point at which the public forms political preferences is vulnerable to disinformation propagated by malign foreign entities. The fabric of liberal democracy is inherently vulnerable by its own design.

___________________

About the Author

Melissa-Ellen Dowling is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Politics and International Relations in the University of Adelaide. She is the lead researcher on the University’s Countering Foreign Interference project. Her main research interests are digital democracy and malign influence, foreign interference, and national security policy.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

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