The Impeachment of President Trump was over on February 5th with 52:48 and 53:47 acquitted Trump as not guilty on charges of abusing power and obstruction of justice (Congress). From the NY Times news briefing on February 6, one gets a feeling that the Impeachment is over and the attention is focused on the Democratic caucuses with an issue of bringing to an end of endless wars overseas. In fact, the death of Hollywood Star Kirk Douglas was mentioned along with the two above news items in the morning news editor's opening remarks. The vote results were referenced to a separate report not explicitly stated in the news brief which sort of suggested votes not as important as the Impeachment process; a survey made at the National Mall in Washington DC concludes: “Everyone said it was a fraught process.” The only detail mentioned as news analysis about the Senate Impeachment vote was that the only Republican Senator, Mitt Romney, cast a guilty vote on Trump. I watched Romney's speech, through his emotional delivery, for some reason I see a vivid possibility of Romney switching to Democrat in the days ahead. A related news article mentioned was that Attorney General William P. Barr announced in a memo to ensure that elections are “free from improper activity or influence” and investigations into 2020 Presidential candidates must be cleared by top Justice Department officials. This memo issued on the same day Trump was acquitted in the Senate clearly would give all candidates including Trump a good night sleep.
The Iowa caucus results, although some said not critically important, definitely looks like an EKG report for the candidates, an early indication of any heart problem. Surprising to non-Iowan or not, Pete Buttigieg's slim lead got slimmer after 97% of precincts reports turned in. Buttigieg got 550 state delegates, Bernie Sanders 547, Elizabeth Warren 381, Joe Biden 331, Amy Klobuchar 255, Andrew Yang 22 and Tom Steyer 7 with 4 uncommitted votes. The message was clear that the top four candidates have a tough battle ahead and the rest may take a rest. In this caucus smart-phone app was used for the first time. Ken Sager, the Iowa Democratic Party Treasurer said, “All the Trump people from around the country started calling” during the one hour 20 minutes call time. Here is another issue in addition to balloting democracy faces: How do you use high technology for voting efficiency and accuracy and how to prevent fraud in ballot counting. As a technologist, I suggest that an ID registered election app is provided from the Federal government for each voter to use on his or her smart phone and public owned phones are available at the designated voting place to cast the vote. The voting procedure is that one first cast the votes then the system acknowledges receipt and return with the voting result to get another confirmation with ID verification. Phone camera is required to be on to assure voter acting independently and privately. Only the confirmed votes are then tallied. The voting is limited to a brief time window for random set of phone owners to prevent phone jam and fraud.
Coronavirus deserves to appear in the morning news brief. NY Times highlighted the increase of death toll to 563 for more than 28,000 confirmed cases. The fatality rate is about 2% (563/28000) appearing much higher than seasonal flu's death toll. CDC estimates that we have 9-45 million illnesses caused by flu, between 140,000 - 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 - 61,000 deaths annually since 2010. Thus, the death toll of flu is about 9% (12000/140000) or 7% (61000/810000) or 0.133% (12000/9000000) or 0.135 (81000/45000000) in a different interpretation. Actually, serious flu (requiring hospitalization) has a quite high death rate (7-9%) regardless whether we have vaccine or not. Of course the threat of Coronavirus is that we have not developed vaccine or medicine. However, there were several hundred cases of cure and release which indicate like flu virus it can co-exist in human body. The issue is whether it can be easily transmitted from human to human. China's decisive measure of closing cities and municipalities with increased hospital care for suspicious patients seems to be the right approach for stopping the spread of Coronavirus and buying time to develop medicine and vaccine. I am glad to see the WHO and many countries are lending humanitarian support to China. The Chinese living in the U.S. have started massive donations and material support, a commendable effort.
Kirk Douglas, a famous Hollywood star with many great movies such as, “Lust for Life”, “Paths for Glory”, and “Spartacus” died on February 5th at age of 103 (December 9, 1916 – February 5, 2020). He is known for his muscular role and strong character in films with his dimpled chin and penetrating gaze leaving the audience a memorable impression. Kirk has three sons and one of them, Michael Douglas, is also a famous actor. The fact that he lived to 103 adds to his legend, a tough character can live a long life. Like most immigrant family in the U.S. in the early twentieth century, Kirk had an impoverished childhood with six sisters. His success came after WW II with many of his post-war films. He was not only an actor; he became a producer, director and a philanthropist as well as an author of ten novels and memoirs. Naturally he received many awards including the Presidential for Freedom. He survived a helicopter crash (1991), suffered a stroke at 80 years old (1996) and lived to 103 as a religious person. Douglas's long life triggered my thoughts on our top presidential candidates' age; on election date, Sanders will be 79, Mike Bloomberg 78, Joe Biden 77, Donald Trump 74, and Elizabeth Warren 71, Does this tell us something?!
As our readers know that the US-China Forum is formed by mostly senior American citizens, I appreciate receiving the free NY Times morning news brief sending to seniors. I enjoy reading unbiased morning news briefings. As we observe the Presidential campaigns, we recognize that our citizens are placing the future of the U.S. in the hands of seniors. For what reasons? I will say for their life experience, knowledge, wisdom, judgment and most importantly their healthy body and mind.