About: This is what happened this week, in our World.
“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” – Bruce Lee
The United States (US) of America.
The World is watching and even the most noisy democracies are looking in the mirror and finding a better reflection of them, over what’s happening in the US.
The US has finally decided to name Joe Biden as ‘President-Elect’ in a gridlocked, knife-edged, roller-coaster Presidential Election, with every vote riding single in a large saloon car, crowding the roads, where the signals are coming on too fast for too short a time.
It could take days, even weeks, before the US Presidential race is finally settled, and there is not much hope that the incumbent President, Donald Trump, will ever utter the great words, “I concede”. He showed the best of his worst behaviour shouting-out that he has won, and that the counting be stopped, in baseless allegations of a fraudulent election – under his watch, as President? Damn! He has showed enough red signs of ‘not accepting the results’. He has even threatened to go to the US Supreme Court and is tweeting lies every time he opens his beak to speak. Meanwhile, the news channels are humming with reports of ‘dead people’ coming alive to vote and markers, using ‘Sharpie pens’, that disappear on ballot papers.
Most of us in India are stumped by the US Election process and I have never followed an US Election this closely – learning the names of all the States! It’s a fact that Americans actually do not directly vote for the President – as many of us might have believed – Something called the ‘Electoral College’ chooses the President. Let me explain.
The winner of the US Presidential Election is determined through a system called Electoral College. Each of the 50 American States, plus Washington DC, is given a number of electoral college votes adding to a total of 538 votes. More populous states are get more electoral votes than smaller states. A candidate needs to poll 270 plus 1 to win. In every State the candidate that gets the most votes wins all of the states electoral votes except in two states of Maine & Nebraska. Hence a candidate can win an election without getting the most votes at the national level.
Americans are also electing members of the two chambers of Congress: House of Representatives and the Senate.
At the time of this Post, Joe Biden was leading with 253 Electoral College Votes (ECV) over Donald Trump’s 213 and has just been projected to win the 20 EVC of Pennsylvania taking his score to 273. Votes are being carefully and furiously counted and all eyeballs are on the battleground States where results are yet to be declared: Pennsylvania – 20 ECV, Biden projected to win; Georgia – 16 ECV, Biden leading by over 7200; Arizona – 11 ECV, Biden leading by over 29800; Nevada – 6 ECV, Biden leading by over 22,000 votes. Alaska – 3 ECV, Trump leading by over 51 000 votes.
It’s easy to see that Biden will win, but the twists & turns have been far more than anybody imagined, and the suspense lingers along with a heavily guarded opinion. Watch an Alfred Hitchcock film, we’ll have to wait this out.
History will be made when the Democratic Party candidates, Biden-Harris win the US Elections. Joe Biden, at 77, will be the oldest President of the United States ever to be elected to a first term in Office. He based his campaign on standing for two things: one, workers that built the US and, two, values that can bridge its divisions. I reckon he needs to work real hard, like a Worker, to build great spans of bridges that add iron & steel to his Presidency.
Kamala Harris would become the first Woman Vice President of the US, and the first Afro-American, and the first Asian American. Previously, only Geraldine Ferraro, a Vice Presidential candidate, running with Democratic Presidential candidate Walter Mondale, in 1984, came close. Mondale and Ferraro lost the general election in a landslide receiving only 41% of the popular vote compared to Ronald Reagan and Bush’s 59%.
The election shows that the US is so fractured that the New President will have to learn ‘black-white-brown’ magic, to cast a spell, to mend the broken parts, before he puts the bones to work. God Bless America.
If Donald Trump doesn’t accept the result he may have to be pulled out of the White House, kicking, screaming and screeching – Marshalls around? (Call Bruce Lee, from the Dead?)
Driving in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Women in Saudi Arabia were not allowed to drive a motor car, all these decades, until June 2018, when they were finally granted this right, in what appeared to be an opening-up of the Kingdom.
This was largely due to a successfully campaign by woman activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, who fought to sit on the drivers seat, and a demand to abolish ‘male guardianship’. But, she was arrested in May 2018 on charges of ‘attempting to destabilise the Kingdom’. A number of other activists who fought for women’s right to drive, alongside Loujain, have since been released, but two years on, she remains behind bars. She has, in end October 2020, began a hunger strike to try and urge Authorities to allow her to have regular contact with her family.
Loujain al-Hathloul was named one of Time magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People of 2019’.
What is male guardianship? Under Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, every woman must have a male guardian who has the authority to make a range of critical decisions on her behalf. Traditionally, a woman’s male guardian from birth is her father and once she is married her guardian becomes her husband.
Unbelievable that in this modern World a woman had to fight for such basic rights and then on the right being made right, be punished for being right.
The United Nations is sounding the horn, but it needs to drive Saudi Arabia – at Formula-One speeds – into ensuring ‘passenger comfort’ for its citizens – especially women. I’m hoping Loujain al-Hathloul is released at the soonest.
The third and final phase of the Bihar State Assembly Elections are happening this Saturday and counting Day is on 10th November.
Will this be another thrilling cliffhanger?
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is back in action, this Saturday, with the successful launch of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) -C49 in its 51st mission, lifting-off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, India. The PSLV put into orbit India’s own Earth Observation Satellite (EOS)-01 as primary satellite, along with nine International customer Satellites, a grand total of ten, at one blast.
This is one space the World is cheaply looking up to.
The Pandemic in India
While the World is seeing new waves of the COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic, India after making a slow steady climb in the number of infections, is gradually, but surely mixing all the waves into one and rolling down a declining slope.
I must appreciate India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having the foresight to lockdown very early, saving tens of thousands of lives and brutally locking people in their homes to learn their coronavirus lessons. So much so that every Indian has become fluent, like Donald Trump, and many have confidently declared that they have seen the back of this virus. They shout, ‘Stop the counting. Remove the masks’. I think it’s still too early to call a win as the Festive Season, could ‘un-mask’ new battlegrounds. Let me tell you a story.
On Tuesday evening, after over seven months of strictly adhering to COVID-19 prevention Rules, I reluctantly accepted an invitation to a small Family gathering in a small village near where I was born. My cousin called saying he is putting a knife to the throat of a few goats to propitiate the Gods and cook us all a good meal. This for the well-being of his father, who is struggling to walk again, after a stroke.
I wonder what the poor Goats can do? Maybe if a surgical knife is put to the Father he may recover!
It was late evening and I travelled alone in my Honda City Saloon on a largely ‘signal-less’ State Highway, with my Driver at the wheel. Both of us were masked-up tight, and fully- armed to the teeth with sanitisers, back-up masks, and other virus fighters. We reached the dinner spot, a Farmstead on the outskirts of the nearest Town, by 7.30pm just as the evening was running the last mile, to hand over the baton to Night.
I was welcomed by a few giggling ‘mask-less’ nephews, who when asked about wearing masks ushered us in to see for ourselves a ‘supremely coronavirus-free gathering’ huddled together, holding hands and making small conversation. Welcome to the party, they said.
I was the only one (repeat, only ONE) wearing a mask in the about 100 group.
I told everybody, of the family, either wear a mask, keep physical distance, or I leave. They were stunned for a moment – an Aunt pulled out a mask hanging at her sari folds and waved it. Others said they have no masks. And there is no coronavirus living in these parts, they laughed.
I then thanked the host, my cousin, and promptly walked out! The smell of dinner cooking on the fire was irresistible, but I held my ground.
The pandemic isn’t over as yet. Follow the Rules. I wish my cousin well and hope the day is remembered for the right reasons.
A friend of mine, an evolving Monk, trying to grow his beard to Sadhguru lengths, who drove all over India on a ‘Parikrama’, in his blue Suzuki car, believes the pandemic is a sham and a scam. Says he watched the cash flowing in all kinds of directions, in close quarters. Maybe, we should put him on a new Parikrama flight to the hotpots of Spain, Italy, or the US and hope for a safe return. Some people simply don’t get it!
The IPL 2020 Cricket Tournament is counting the balls in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the last ball will be played on 10th November, to decide the winner, in the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai.
Mumbai Indians have kept-up their lead in the points table and have reached the finals. They will play the winner of second Qualifier Match, scheduled on Sunday, 8th November, between Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have risen, over the week, to get here.
There’s a close fight at the very bottom with Rajasthan Royals pushing up Chennai Super Kings – slightly – to occupy the last position.
KL Rahul of Kings XI still has the most runs to his name, 670 in fourteen games. David Warner of Sunrisers Hyderabad is the closest with 546 runs in fifteen games. Ishan Kishan of Mumbai Indians has hit the most sixes – 29. Easy to understand how Mumbai Indians gained those points. He has pushed down last week’s Sixer, Rajasthan Royals’ Sanju Samson – 26 sixes.
While humans are expanding their sex orientation from the basic two of male and female, the Birds are fast catching up. In fact they are mixing it up.
Scientists have found a half-male, half-female songbird at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve, USA in what’s being described as a ‘once in a lifetime’ discovery. This songbird is a rare species and is only the fifth such songbird to be discovered out of the nearly 800,000 birds that the Nature Reserve has seen. Well, someone’s counting, for sure. The ‘mixed-up’ bird was identified as a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Male and female Grosbeaks are distinguished by their colour: males have pink ‘wing pits,’ while females are yellow-brown. And, you guessed it: the sides of this songbird’s body were of different colours, typical of the male, and female.
How does this happen? It’s the result of a genetic error when an unfertilised egg with two nuclei fuses with the sperm, and produces an embryo with both male and female cells.
Now, if the female-side has a functional ovary – not known as yet – it could attract a male and make and egg, to reproduce, while the other part can also get to do its job of impregnating ‘other halves’.
Every single day we Humans are discovering something new and it only shows the endless possibilities of life on Earth. Male and Female is ‘two narrow’?
Keeping the conversation flying with the Birds, I read in the local Newspapers that three new rare migratory birds, Whimbrel, Pacific Golden-Plover (both are Shore Birds), and Eurasian Wryneck (Woodpecker family) have been recently sighted in Salem,Tamil Nadu, near the Mettur Dam region, by the Salem Ornithological Foundation. These rare migratory birds are from the Northern European Region and have been spotted for the first time around these parts.
Over the week, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has been asking the world to invest heavily in India highlighting its Democracy, Demography, Demand, and Diversity – and to build nests in India. The birds have lightly flown in, listened and have come to do a check, to take the tidings to the other parts, I’m sure.
Oh, I wish we could migrate like the birds!
Many fabulous things expected to happen in the upcoming week. Sit back and wait for the results – let others count!
One thought on “WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2020-45”