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USA election:What Happens to Voting When There’s a Natural Disaster?



For individuals dislodged by typhoons and rapidly spreading fires in the months paving the way to the political decision, casting a ballot can be troublesome, if certainly feasible.

If all goes as planned, two coach buses and two vans will be parked in front of the Marriott hotel in downtown New Orleans on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 3. They’ll make the three-hour trip to the civic center in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the roughly 150 people onboard — all of whom were displaced by recent hurricanes — can cast their ballots, before heading back to the hotel that same day.

Thaddeus Chenier knows that’s only a drop in the bucket of the thousands of Lake Charles residents who were forced out of their homes by Hurricanes Laura and Delta this summer, and are staying in New Orleans-area hotels arranged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But as head of Operation Unite Incorporated, a community advocacy group of seven volunteers founded just days ago, Chenier says he’ll be glad to have pulled this off.

“My vision is to have six buses filled up, and then I was going to see if there was any organization that would donate vans, because we would load up 15-passenger vans and bring them as well — all at the same time to get as many people as we can,” he says. But he feels lucky to have the four vehicles, funded by donations from various community organizations with the same agenda: to get people to the polls. He adds that he would have liked to packed the buses, but the need for social distancing limited their capacity, too.

On top of an already challenging election year because of the ongoing pandemic and a polarized political landscape, climate catastrophes present yet another obstacle to the polls. As of Oct. 26, an estimated 6,000 Lake Charles resident have yet to return to their homes since evacuating in late August — and again in October — to escape back-to-back hurricanes. In New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana hit by the most recent hurricane, Zeta, polling places have been affected by widespread power outages.

On the West Coast, entire communities have had to evacuate to shelters and other parts of their states in California, Oregon and Colorado due to unprecedented wildfires. In some cases, Covid-19 adds an extra layer of complexity as traditional shelters were closed.

States have set up websites to inform displaced residents about how to vote, and a few have even enacted emergency plans. Many advise residents to vote absentee, and to have ballots sent to their temporary homes, or if voting in person, to be aware of polling location changes. But voting rights groups say that kind of pertinent information doesn’t always make it to those who need it most.

For weeks, community advocates in several states impacted by extreme weather events have been scrambling not only to locate evacuees but also help them navigate a myriad of voting challenges.

“Oftentimes we see houselessness; they’re either with family, friends, or they’re in hotels,” says La’Meshia Whittington-Kaminski, deputy director of Advance Carolina, which aims to boost the political and economic power of North Carolina’s Black communities. As the campaign director of their sister organization North Carolina Black Alliance, she’s been trying to help survivors of Hurricane Isaias, which hit the East Coast in August, get information to cast their ballots. “So making sure that they know exactly how to request their absentee ballots and getting that education to folks means we have to find them,” she says.

How do you find people who have been dispersed all over the state? “You have to know folks who know the back roads,” she says. That is, trusted community members — from local activists to church leaders — who work directly with the affected population, as well as elected officials with close ties to their constituents, who can tell organizations like Advance Carolina which hotels families are staying in.

It’s not just about getting those trusted members to pass on the information, but also working with them to help survivors recover from the disaster. “We have to be in communities to heal these wounds, and then we say, ‘This is how you request your absentee ballots,’” she says, adding that a decade-plus experience of fighting for justice for Black communities that face both toxic pollution in their neighborhoods and political disenfranchisement has helped advocates like her tackle this year’s challenge.

She says they also had to get creative, as there is no official list of people who fled their homes. In one outreach effort, her organization went through voter purge rolls, and identified voters whose names were removed because of an address change. Purging is done every year by state officials but is controversial and the subject of numerous legal battles. Voting rights groups say it’s a form of voter suppression, and can leave voters unaware they’ve been removed until the day of the election. Using that data, the organization sent out some 5,000 voter registration cards and even reached out to voters in person encouraging them to check their status.

In Oregon, where an active wildfire season has destroyed at least 4,000 homes, election officials have been reaching out to individuals whose mail the U.S. Postal Service says is undeliverable. The civic engagement group Common Cause Oregon, meanwhile, has launched a massive texting campaign in the eight most affected counties, sending out voting information and the number to their voting hotline, and trying to catch anybody who may have fallen through the cracks. Executive Director Kate Titus says they’ve reached some 300,000 people.

“One of the reasons we decided to reach out by text is because we recognize that the people we reach could have a lot going on,” she says. In fact, all the experts that Bloomberg CityLab spoke to emphasize that for many displaced residents who’ve temporarily or permanently lost their homes, voting may be the last thing on their minds.

To reach displaced voters in Louisiana, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice — a community of civic engagement organizations — has been working with Chenier’s small organization to distribute food and supplies to those staying in New Orleans hotels. “We worked with the organization to provide care boxes, and as part of those care boxes, we provide voting information,” says Power Coalition executive director Ashley Shelton. “We also make sure that their issues and voices were being lifted.”

It soon became clear that as much as Louisiana was promoting mail-in ballots for survivors of the hurricanes, it just wasn’t an option for many staying at the hotels. Some have told Shelton and Chenier that they haven’t gotten mail in months, as hotel staff and disaster recovery workers operate beyond capacity.

The only other option, says Shelton, was to travel back to their permanent homes during early voting, which ended Oct. 27, or on Election Day to cast their ballot in person. But even for those who do make it back, some 70% of polling places in the surrounding county are being moved from their prior locations, between hurricane damage and concerns around Covid. “And so it puts them in a precarious situation,” Shelton says.

In the past, when officials moved polling locations after devastating storms, many residents didn’t know about it, injecting confusion into an already challenging time. The Center for Public Integrity recently reported that those out of the loop were often Black voters in the parish. More than a quarter had their polling place change between the 2012 and 2016 general elections.

Chenier, who has made fighting voter suppression his agenda, said he started his organization when he became “fed up” with the lack of transportation options for evacuees like himself during the early voting period. He and his family have a car, but he knew many others didn’t. Some evacuees were also worried that leaving the hotel on their own and failing to check in with the American Red Cross officials on site would result in losing their spot, he says.

So he started looking to partner with larger organizations like the Power Coalition, raising enough funds to rent a 15-passenger van during the week of early voting. There were few takers at first; he recalls some early riders had signed up to check on their homes instead of to vote. Other challenges also came up: Louisiana is one of the 35 states requiring voter identification, and as sign-ups picked up over the week, Chenier found that some of the voters he was transporting were turned away at the polling site for not having proper documentation. He says it’s not uncommon among evacuees, who may have lost their documents in the storm or left them at the homes they couldn’t return to.

So come Election Day, Chenier and other volunteers are double- and triple-checking that all those who have signed up to ride the three buses to Lake Charles are registered and have some form of identification before they depart at approximately 8:45 a.m. With the help of a volunteer and fellow evacuee, Chenier says his group has gotten assurance from Red Cross officials that the roughly 150 voters will not be kicked out of their hotel for exercising their constitutional right. His biggest concern now, he says, is having to turn eligible voters away.

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Pelumi PK’s Earcraft an hymn of optimism, a well written goodbye to bad days



Nigerian creative kayode Pelumi, comes through with new extended playlist Earcraft, a 6mins body of work comprising of two song, Sope and Hallelujah with his fellow wordsmith Tiirii as a guest artist on the later.
The theme of Earcraft crowns Pelumi PK’s long run on the switching back and forth with rap and vocals on songs like “Amin” with talking points revolving around life, it’s ups and down and his desire to make it regardless of his current situations a slice of readiness for its uncertainty with raw optimism. Pelumi PK is thankful on Sope for his blessings while asking for more, but takes it to another level with Hallelujah with Tiirii, with Pelumi PK rapping about his innermost desire to make it, without ignoring the fact that he is taking a risk, his optimism outweighs his pessimism, with lines like “even though the road is long, je kin pada wale”.

Generally Earcraft is an impressive project which sees a versatile Pelumi PK switch styles effortlessly with no atom of fear while still passing across the message with Tiirii bringing his A game as well.

When we reached out to him for his Motivation, his response was apt “I have seen it all, that’s why i treat my music like a sermon and positivity is the message that I pass across, because I can’t be insensitive to the uncertainties of life and how it fate is a fickle mistress, that’s why I stay optimistic and back my heart desires with prayer”

Earcraft will be available worldwide on Friday. Preorder

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FinRik Academy and Owlet collaborates in a partnership that will improve ease of doing business for entrepreneurs



Open source online marketplace for teaching and learning courses collaborations with fast growing online marketplace, Owlet to open up new opportunities for entrepreneurs to be able to teach more about there process on the Owlette platform weeks after exceeding 3million orders.
With Owlet focused on expanding the frontiers of opportunities for business sellers, investment seekers and social media influencers, FinRik Academy, a product of FinRik Technologies is focused giving instructors a platform where anyone can build courses on their preferred topics, with access to enabling tools that supports live classes, uploading prerecorded videos, pdf, offer quiz etc.

The-Owlet is a social media marketing agency that specializes in social media management services for resellers. It bridges the social media gap between clients and their prospective customers, harnessing expertise on social media to engage customers with content, maintain the pages and promote products to increase revenue. Business owners looking to expand through social media can depend on The-Owlet to curate a social media strategy for their business with the aim of increasing reach/visibility and sales. With this new partnership entrepreneurs would be able to create courses about there business with options to make it paid or free using FinRik Academy.

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Wizkid releases the deluxe version to his smash-hit album—“Made In Lagos”



Nigerian music superstar and ‘Afrobeat to the world’ pioneer, Wizkid has released the deluxe version to the October-released Made In Lagos album, adding four additional songs to close out one of the most talked about project since last year.

Buju (on “Mood”) and Justin Bieber (“Essence (Remix)” remix) are the guests this time around; “Anoti” and “Steady” (in no particular order) rounds off the list of added song on Made In Lagos (Deluxe). On a sidenote, Bella Shmurda whom Wizkid had initially revealed to be on the guest list for MIL’s deluxe did not make the final cut, this might be due to the ongoing case between him and his supposed label but Bella Shmurda scores additional vocals credits on “Anoti”.

Of the four added songs, “Mood” featuring fast-growing midtempo Nigerian artist – Buju – seems to have become the listeners favourite as it is quickly growing its own pair of wings, soaring high just as hyped.

Like the original version, the deluxe maintains the cream background and italics font written in black ink but Wizkid’s outfit changes from the OG Tee and trouser to a plain vest; his posture also takes a shift from the hand covering one -half of his face with his head tilted to the right (from the viewer’s perspective) to him doing the prayer hands on the left photo and crossing both hands while placing them on his shoulders, making for two different photos this time around.

Wizkid releasing Made In Lagos (Deluxe) can be considered strategic because as of recent, “Essence” has gained massive traction overseas which warranted in its remix being released two weeks ago and just this week, the album’s original version peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard World Albums Chart.

Just like the original version, Wizkid continues the recurring soothing calm sound, creating a midtempo sound over lush productions while its lyricism referring to the female body and the sensusal tension and pleasure he derives from associating with them. To achieve this, he taps P2J, PPrime and frequent collaborators Legendury Beatz to work their magic on the instruments.

Enough said, listen to Made In Lagos (Deluxe):

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