Monday, 01 June 2020

One of the main points of discussion around the various responses to the COVID-19 pandemic is governance. Different countries have reacted to the pandemic in different ways. These differences are informed by varying styles of leadership and governance around the globe.

Countries with open and transparent governing styles have taken a more hands-on approach by engaging diverse stakeholders. Scholars who examined the COVID-19 responses in China, Japan and South Korea, for example, found that there was systematic evidence that different governance decisions led to different results.

In the case of Tanzania, I argue that COVID-19 has revealed, rather than informed, the governance style under the current administration.

Writing about India’s handling of the new coronavirus, Amartya Sen – professor of economics and 1998 economics Nobel laureate – said:

tackling a social calamity is not like fighting a war, which works best when a leader can use top-down power to order everyone to do what the leader wants — with no need for consultation.

In line with this thinking, being transparent and engaging diverse groups, including both loyalists and critics, is crucial for governments in the fight against the virus.

In Tanzania, President John Magufuli has taken the opposite view. He has framed COVID-19 as a war and not a health calamity requiring scientific consultation. As a result the handling of the pandemic has been at the whim of the president.

Since Magufuli expressed his doubts on the professionalism of the national laboratory, no more updates on COVID-19 have been made. It’s no longer easy to tell if data being released by the government is grounded in science, or whether it is simply that the president wants lower figures reported.

Magufuli’s COVID-19 response is typical. He is a president who has always taken an idiosyncratic view of leadership. Since his election in 2015, he has acted unilaterally. This has divided the country, while consolidating power in the presidency. Even his own ruling party has become a casualty of his autocratic style of leadership.

Idiosyncratic response to COVID-19

Magufuli has downplayed the pandemic’s threat and encouraged the use of local and home remedies such as drinking ginger and lemon tea, and steam therapy as a way to prevent infection.

He publicly questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 tests used in Tanzania’s laboratories. He then promised to send a plane to collect Madagascar’s traditional remedy for the virus.

This statement marked the end of the health minister’s daily updates on the country’s COVID-19 response. It was followed by a presidential proclamation that that God was answering the prayers of Tanzanians against the pandemic.

The president then appointed a new deputy health minister, probably because the previous one had questioned the use of steaming therapy to manage the virus.

Two weeks earlier, the president had appointed a new Constitutional and Legal Affairs minister, following the sudden death of his predecessor. The new minister was given the unusual task of investigating the activities of the national laboratory and its handling of COVID-19 testing.

Both men had previously supported Magufuli’s response to the pandemic.

These appointments give the real impression that loyalty to the president is very important in Tanzania. Dissenters are not tolerated. It’s no surprise that the official leader of opposition in parliament was rebuffed when he extended an offer to work with the government to fight the virus.

Civil society organisations have also been sidelined. But faith-based organisations have been won over by the government’s decision to keep places of worship open. Religion has been framed as a more appropriate response to COVID-19 than science.

History of intransigence and excesses

In 2017, Magufuli banned pregnant school girls from continuing school despite calls to the contrary. As a result the World Bank delayed the release of a $500 million education loan.

Eventually, Magufuli bowed to the pressure and lifted the ban.

Another example of Magufuli’s intransigence was his reaction to a planned countrywide protest organised by the opposition Chadema party. The police threatened to use force to stop citizens from participating. Eventually, the opposition called off the demonstration after faith leaders and civil society called for dialogue.

To date, there has not been any dialogue between the government and Chadema.

The absence of dialogue, and discrimination against Chadema and other opposition parties, has led to further polarisation between the Magufuli administration and dissenters.

The state response to COVID-19 is well within Magufuli’s playbook. He acts unilaterally, while polarising the nation and consolidating power in the presidency. This is often to the detriment of the Chama cha Mapinduzi ruling party. Power is centralised in the executive. Party organs and members do not have the agency to hold the president to account.

Critics within the ruling party have been punished and expelled.

The executive’s autocracy has forced the opposition party to strengthen its institutions from the ground up. It now appears that Chadema is becoming a stronger party institutionally. In response, the ruling party has resorted to using force to maintain its grip on power.

To understand how Magufuli centralised power, one structural move he took in the beginning of his administration is illustrative. He removed the Regional Administration and Local Governments office from the office of the prime minister and put it in the office of the president.

The office is responsible for administering education, health, and development projects within local districts across the country.

Thus, local government matters are reported directly to the president’s office and are managed from the very core of the executive branch. This structural change has diverted revenue collection to the central government. The president has also used local government political appointees to silence dissenters.

It is apparent, therefore, that he will decide whether cases of COVID-19 in Tanzania have declined or increased, no matter what the science says.

The real fate of the country, however, is in the hands of Tanzanians. Only they can take their power back.The Conversation

 

Aikande Clement Kwayu, Independent researcher & Honorary Research Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

The death of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has sparked protests across the country.

It has reignited a centuries-long conversation around racism in America and the horrendous ways black people are often treated by police. And it came amid a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting people of color.

On May 25, Floyd, who had recently lost his job as a restaurant bouncer due to coronavirus-related closures, died after being pinned down under a police officer’s knee for several minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, ignored Floyd’s pleas of distress as three other officers looked on and bystanders begged Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck.

A video taken by a bystander and posted online spread quickly on social media. It shows that by the time Chauvin stopped holding Floyd down, he was silent and motionless. According to a criminal complaint filed against Chauvin, an officer on the scene checked for Floyd’s pulse before Chauvin removed his knee and could not find it. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the incident were fired on Tuesday, and on Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The incident has rightly prompted outrage across the country, and thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Minneapolis — and in cities across America. While many of these protests have been peaceful, some have turned violent, with police clashes, burning buildings, and looting.

The protests have been focused on policing, but come during a 2020 that has been acutely painful for people of color. The coronavirus crisis has disproportionately affected black and Latino Americans, who have become sick and died of Covid-19 at higher rates than whites. The economic turmoil brought on by stay-at-home measures has also hit people of color especially hard — they’ve lost more jobs, and they were less likely to be financially stable in the first place.

Add to that a cascade of headlines of black Americans whose lives have been cut short by white violence and by police in recent weeks — Breonna TaylorAhmaud Arbery, and, most recently, Floyd. As Americans were grappling with these tragic headlines, a video of a white woman feigning an attack by a black man bird-watching in New York’s Central Park after he asked her to leash her dog went viral. It was a reminder that beyond concerns over state violence, systematic racism creates potentially dangerous situations for black Americans doing even the most mundane things.

The protests spawned by the deaths of Floyd and others are hardly a new development in the United States — the deaths of Trayvon MartinMichael BrownSandra Bland, and countless others have led to significant public outcry in recent years. Four years before Floyd’s fatal arrest in Minneapolis, Philando Castile was shot to death during a traffic stop in a nearby Minnesota suburb. Floyd told the officer who kept his knee on his neck, “I can’t breathe,” echoing the words of Eric Garner who died after being held in a chokehold in a police encounter in New York in 2014.

If it feels like we’ve seen this crisis before, it’s because we have. And still so many things haven’t changed.

Floyd died on Monday; Chauvin was charged on Friday

Floyd grew up in Houston and moved to Minneapolis in 2014 to look for work, according to CBS Minnesota. He got a position as a security guard at a Salvation Army store downtown, and then later began to work two jobs as a truck driver and a bouncer. He had a 6-year-old daughter who still lives in Houston with her mother. In the weeks before his death, he’d been laid off due to Minnesota’s stay-at-home order.

Vox’s Catherine Kim explained the circumstances of his May 25 encounter with police following a purchase at a convenience store and, ultimately, his death, as shown by video footage captured of the incident:

Although the video doesn’t capture the moments leading to the arrest, the Minneapolis Police Department said they were responding to a call that a man was trying to use a $20 counterfeit bill, according to the Star Tribune. In a statement, the police department said officers arrived at the scene to find Floyd — who matched the description of the suspect — sitting on a car and appearing to be intoxicated. They added that Floyd physically resisted the police and seemed to be “suffering medical distress,” which is why they had called for an ambulance.

The police’s excessive use of force seemingly has no excuse: The department does not permit the technique that was used to pin Floyd’s head to the ground, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

The four officers involved were fired on Tuesday, May 26, and the next day, Mayor Frey called for Chauvin to face criminal charges. Local officials on Thursday said they were investigating Floyd’s death “as expeditiously, as thoroughly, and as completely as justice demands” and asked for patience from the public. On Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and the Justice Department said it would investigate Floyd’s death as well. Chauvin’s wife has filed for divorce, and his bail has been set at $500,000.

The day the officers involved were fired, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said in a statement that all video of the incident should be reviewed, and called for waiting on the medical examiner’s report. “Officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements,” the federation said.

According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin released on Friday, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, including two minutes and 53 seconds during which Floyd was “non-responsive.” Officer J.A. Keung — another of the four officers fired — tried to find Floyd’s pulse shortly after he became unresponsive, and could not.

The county medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy findings say there were “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” and said that the “combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.” Floyd’s family is seeking an independent autopsy.

The reaction to Floyd’s death has been massive

The public reaction to Floyd’s death has been swift and enormous.

Politicians, celebrities, athletes, and multiple other public figures have spoken out. Former President Barack Obama released a lengthy statement calling for the country to work for a “new normal” for black Americans. “This shouldn’t be normal in 2020 America,” he wrote.

Former Vice President Joe Biden called the moment a “national crisis” and one that necessitates “leadership that will bring everyone to the table so we can take measures to root out systemic racism.” President Donald Trump expressed his condolences to Floyd’s family and said he spoke with them.

Even members of law enforcement spoke out condemning the circumstances in which Floyd was killed. “To be honest with you, it was very difficult to watch,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told local news outlet WBRC. He continued, “It degrades the trust in all law enforcement, not just one area. When things like this happen, it spreads throughout the country. It makes all of us go back and check our relationships and make sure we are doing things the right way.”

Protests have been ignited in Minneapolis — and across the country — as people express their outrage not only about Floyd’s death, but about the underlying racism and inequality that renders being black in America dangerous, particularly at the hands of police.

Minneapolis has seen days of unrest. There have been a number of peaceful protests, but some businesses there have also been looted, including Target and TJ Maxx; other businesses have been vandalized, and police stations and other buildings burned down. Demonstrations have become increasingly volatile as local officials have asked the public for peace. The governor has called for the full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard.

Uprisings have also spread across the country. On Friday, protests in Atlanta grew tense and violent — cars were set ablaze, and windows at the CNN building were smashed in. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pleaded with protesters for calm: “If you care about this city, then go home,” she said at a press conference.

Rapper Killer Mike, in a speech at the same press conference, struck a similar tone. “I am duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn down your own house for anger with an enemy,” he said.

Protesters and police also clashed in Brooklyn on Friday evening. Cars were set on fire and windshields were smashed, and both protesters and police were harmed. According to ABC 7, there were more than 200 arrests reported. Some disturbing videos emerged online of the evening, including one of an officer pushing a woman to the ground and another of a police car door hitting a protester.

In San Jose, California, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and dozens of cities across the country, protests and arrests are taking place. Crowds of protesters have gathered outside of the White House as well. In Louisville, police officers shot pepper balls at a reporter.

Some of the details of the protests have been a little bit murky. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday said that about 80 percent of people arrested were from outside the region, and Mayor Frey said many people protesting are not from the city as well. But media reports cast doubt on claims that most of those arrested were from out of state. There has been some suggestion that white supremacists or cartels may be involved, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

“Let’s be very clear, the situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said on Saturday.

New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who took part in the Brooklyn, New York, protests on Friday, noted he saw “non-black allies in particular” escalating the situation. “That decision should not be yours to make,” he warned. He also spoke out about the “heavy police presence” at the outset of the protests on Friday, before anyone was outside. “We are dealing with people who are grieving and who are angry. The response to that cannot be a show of force,” he said.

Some states have mobilized the National Guard to respond, and mayors have enacted curfews to try to tamp down demonstrations. It is not clear how effective these will be at stemming the protests — a Friday night curfew in Minneapolis was ignored by many, for example.

President Trump isn’t exactly helping the situation. Overnight on Thursday, Trump tweeted out an apparent threat to protesters declaring, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” mirroring language used by segregationist law enforcement officials during the civil rights era. In the same tweet, the president called demonstrators “THUGS.” Twitter put a warning on the tweet saying it glorifies violence, fueling the fire of the president’s battle with the social media platform.

Trump later walked back the tweet, saying he was trying to warn that looting could lead to shootings because it intensifies the situation.

Into the weekend, the president weighed in online on the protests, suggesting they’re driven by antifascists and the “Radical Left,” and lashing out at CNN for its coverage of the demonstrations. He also commended the Secret Service for protecting him from White House protests — and suggested Saturday night should be “MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE.”

The professionally managed so-called “protesters” at the White House had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble. The @SecretService handled them easily. Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???

79.6K people are talking about this
 
 

This isn’t about the protests, it’s about what the protests are about

Beyond the debates about the tactics demonstrators are using and who is and isn’t involved, there is a much deeper issue here that must remain in focus: the way black people are treated in the United States.

As Vox’s Dylan Scott put it, violent protests aren’t the story right now, police violence is:

Of course the protests are about George Floyd’s death. Political leaders fear violence at the protests — and any destruction of property or bodily harm is, of course, worrisome — but their concerns actually demonstrate the fundamental asymmetry that the protesters are pushing back against. The state has a monopoly on legitimate violence, and it is often directed at young black people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice — the list goes on. When they die, the police officers responsible too frequently face no repercussions because they are protected by the law. If the men who killed George Floyd go to prison for their actions, they will be exceptions that prove that longstanding rule.

As Scott lays out, there are countless data points on how black Americans are targeted and mistreated by law enforcement. Black men have 1 in 1,000 odds of being killed by the police. Black people are twice as likely as whites to be pulled over by police, and they’re likelier to be searched. When they’re murdered, their murders are less likely to be solved. They’re sent to prison more often, and they are given longer prison sentences.

And for black Americans, these aren’t data points — they are real and lived situations each and every day.

And racial disparities are not just limited to criminal justice. Inequities are present in so many aspects of American life. Just look at the coronavirus crisis: The disease is disproportionately sickening and killing people of color, and it’s hitting in areas where minorities live harder. That’s true in Minnesota, where Floyd lived. Women of color are disproportionately essential workers who are putting themselves at risk, often for low-paid jobs with no health insurance. Black and Hispanic people are likelier to be laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. That’s what happened to Floyd.

In the flurry of news around the protests of Floyd’s death, on top of everything else, it can be easy to lose sight of the real problem: The centuries of racism in the bedrock of American society continue to do enormous damage. And that damage is borne in large part by black Americans.

Credit: vox.com

Published in World

Zoom is working on end-to-end encryption to protect privacy on its increasingly popular video chat service, but the company will make it a premium feature not available to free accounts. 

Alex Stamos, a Zoom security consultant and former chief security officer for Yahoo, told Reuters the company could include exceptions like nonprofits or political dissidents, though.

Zoom encrypts connections between the company's servers and the devices of people using its service. End-to-end encryption, though, secures connections all the way from each device to every other device on a call. It's available in some Zoom alternatives, like Apple FacetTime.

The company's business has surged with the coronavirus pandemic and resulting orders to stay home that increased the demand for online work and personal videoconferencing. However, the increased scrutiny revealed several Zoom security problems and the fact that an earlier Zoom boast of end-to-end encryption was baseless.

Zoom's end-to-end encryption approach "is very much a work in progress -- everything from our draft cryptographic design, which was just published last week, to our continued discussions around which customers it would apply to," the company said in a statement.

End-to-end encryption will only be for paid accounts, Zoom said in a blog post this week. Even where that protection isn't being used, though, Zoom is moving all its users to stronger encryption, 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) using GCM, or Galois/Counter Mode.

Zoom 5.0 added GCM encryption as an option in April, but on Saturday, it became mandatory for anyone to join a Zoom meetings to improve security. The earlier Zoom approach, in contrast, was a "bad idea," according to Citizen Lab security researchers who found some of the earlier Zoom shortcomings.

 

Credit: cnet.com

Published in Telecoms
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