Monday, December 3, 2007
At Thanksgiving dinner David Shankbone told his white middle class family that he was to interview Reverend Al Sharpton that Saturday. The announcement caused an impassioned discussion about the civil rights leader’s work, the problems facing the black community and whether Sharpton helps or hurts his cause. Opinion was divided. “He’s an opportunist.” “He only stirs things up.” “Why do I always see his face when there’s a problem?”
Shankbone went to the National Action Network’s headquarters in Harlem with this Thanksgiving discussion to inform the conversation. Below is his interview with Al Sharpton on everything from Tawana Brawley, his purported feud with Barack Obama, criticism by influential African Americans such as Clarence Page, his experience running for President, to how he never expected he would see fifty (he is now 53). “People would say to me, ‘Now that I hear you, even if I disagree with you I don’t think you’re as bad as I thought,'” said Sharpton. “I would say, ‘Let me ask you a question: what was “bad as you thought”?’ And they couldn’t say. They don’t know why they think you’re bad, they just know you’re supposed to be bad because the right wing tells them you’re bad.”
Exporting Technology to Africa to Save Lives
A chance phone call from the Clinton Foundation in Mozambique has changed ours and their lives dramatically. It shows the power of creating appropriate and well constructed websites describing a company’s services and products.
What was the problem and then the solution: Delayed test results have often meant that HIV patients in Mozambique have failed to get timely treatment, particularly for preventing Mother to Child transfer (MTCT) of HIV on birth. However, having introduced and developed our new SMS printer technology with the Clinton Foundation and the Mozambique Ministry of Health the need to send tests to far away laboratories has reduced and has dramatically speeded up test results and HIV treatment for Mothers, Mothers-to-be and their newly born. After a successful 2009 pilot Mozambique has nationally rolled out our SMS printer technology and gateway, with Clinton Foundation’s help. This GSM network based printer and gateway technology transmits the results of mother and infant HIV tests electronically from two central reference laboratories in Maputo and the northern provincial capital, Nampula, to more than 275 health centres across the country. Previously, test samples and results took, on average, three weeks and up to several months to be transported to and from clinics via various means in remote parts of the country. How did Sequoia and Clinton Foundation meet? Because of this serious delay in test results the Clinton Foundation in Mozambique looked around for a technology based solution. They ended up contacting us in Reading having seen our website and enquired about using our SMS printer technology for sending health test data over the GSM network to speed up the time taken. After hearing what the program was about and the disastrous pass through rate from Mother to child for HIV we, at Sequoia, could only say yes to help with the program. Two years of concentrated work with the Clinton Foundation on the hardware and the required gateway software produced a successful pilot program. Subsequent research conducted by the Ministry of Health of Mozambique and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), after our SMS printer technology and gateway had been installed, showed that the time it took for clinics to receive test results from reference labs had dropped from an average of about three weeks to about three days after the printers were introduced. Research presented by the Ministry of Health and CHAI at the International AIDS Conference 2010 in Vienna, Austria, showed that this, in turn, reduced the time it took to start infants (and /or mothers to be) on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment by about 4 months. This is now part of the national prevention of mother-to-child (PMTCT) HIV transmission service within Mozambique. The number of infants starting treatment also increased by 60 percent. How the SMS printer technology and gateway works: Clinics across the country collect dried blood spot samples from infants and / or mothers to be and transport them to the nearest reference lab, where lab technicians conduct the HIV tests. Results are entered into the SMS printer database at the reference lab and then uploaded onto the Sequoia Technology online server (in Reading UK). The Sequoia gateway then uses the local MCEL GSM phone network to transmit results back to the appropriate clinic. Each clinic has a small thermal paper, GPRS enabled printer that receives the patient test data and prints out the HIV test results alongside a patient identification number. With interruptions in electricity and wireless network signal, the system has been designed to ensure 100 of the data is received by the appropriate printer completely intact – if printers are offline, results are safeguarded in an online gateway queue until the printer is available. The Sequoia Technology gateway shows the status of every printer whether ‘on’ or not and the number of messages sent or in a queue waiting to be printed. The printer’s small size also makes storage easy in space-constrained clinics, which must also ensure that the printer is kept in a secure room to guarantee patient confidentiality. Greater efficiency The introduction of SMS printers to clinics has not only meant that babies who test HIV-positive can be started on ARVs sooner – a potentially life-saving intervention – but has also reduced the numbers of new mothers who disappear from the clinic’s PMTCT program during the, previously, long wait times or after having spent time and money on multiple clinic visits to check for results. According to Mozambique’s 2010 report to the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS), about 30 percent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers contract the virus, but only about 14 percent of these babies are tested for HIV before the age of 18 months. Without treatment one-third of HIV-positive babies will die in their first year of life, and almost half by the age of two. With our SMS printer technology in place now the clinics are being able to get to and test mothers-to-be ?for HIV and be able to prescribe AVR drugs in enough time to reduce the likelihood of mother to child transfer of HIV. Additionally further testing after childbirth can check the mother’s viral load to ensure the right drugs are given when the mother is breastfeeding – an additional way of MTCT of HIV. With our technology in place now, throughout Mozambique, the 30-40 or less if the pre and post birth testing and drug application takes place. Our SMS printer technology and gateway is then a fast and accurate way of transmitting confidential health data to any remote location but crucially can be used for any disease – Malaria, TB, HIV in fact anything that needs to be diagnosed in a lab. This technology forms a low cost and serious platform for countries to transmit diagnostic information quickly and accurately. Additionally, the gateway consolidates all information and therefore gives statistical data about disease spread and location and the quality of the health care across a complete country. Sequoia engineers took 2 years to perfect the gateway software with CHAI and MCEL to produce 100 full data quality and with printer / server buffering and handshaking to ensure the quality of data. Extensive testing took place in pilot phase of this project. Any authorized person can log on to the SMS2printer.co.uk website and retrieve the full data and visual map of where each printer is and the stats of how many messages have been sent / received / pending at each location. Partnership – We continue to develop more capable GPRS enabled printers and are now working with CHAI in Kenya for potentially deploying a similar system in other African countries for the same health diagnostic transmission platform. Our association with the Clinton team in Mozambique continues and has become more of a partnership and further roll outs are planned as a result of the success so far.
http://www.sms2printer.co.uk who have developed the SMS Printer that is being used in Africa are a division of http://www.sequoia.co.uk Sequoia Technology Group Ltd has long been an SME in UK electronics development with wireless technologies
Exporting Technology to Africa to Save Lives
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
|This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.|
Monday saw the latest edition of the vetted version of Wikipedia, which is aimed at educational use, go quietly online. The extensively revised version covers over five thousand topics, targeting the eight to seventeen years age group. Partnerships with the Shuttleworth Foundation and the Hole in the Wall project will see it distributed in South Africa and India as well as copies being available globally via the offices of SOS Children UK’s umbrella organisation, SOS Kinderdorf worldwide.
First launched in 2006 as a 4,000 article edition, the extract of Wikipedia has employed hi-tech distribution methods, as well as offering a website version which has steadily climbed up in ranking to above other reviewed Wikipedia rivals and copies; the 2007 version was available on the BitTorrent peer to peer network to keep distribution costs down and was equivalent to a fifteen-volume printed encyclopedia. Monday’s release is compared to a twenty-volume print edition.
|Our goal is to make Wikipedia accessible to as many people as possible around the world, and SOS Children is a great partner that helps us make that happen.|
Key to the process for selecting articles is the English National Curriculum and similar educational standards around the world. The initial vision was to bring this wealth of knowledge to schools where access to the Internet was poor or unavailable, but copies of Wikipedia for Schools can be found on many first world school intranets and web servers. Among the compelling reasons to adopt the project are the vetting and additional study materials which overcome the oft-publicised concerns many educators have with the million article plus Wikipedia that anyone can edit.
In today’s press release announcing the launch, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner expressed delight at seeing the project bring out a new version, “Our goal is to make Wikipedia accessible to as many people as possible around the world, and SOS Children is a great partner that helps us make that happen. Wikipedia is released under a free content license so that individuals and institutions can easily adapt, reuse and customize its content: we encourage others, like SOS Children, to do exactly that.”
Running 192 schools in the developing world, SOS Children sees Wikipedia for Schools as a key piece in fulfilling the educational aspect of their mission. SOS Children’s Chairwoman, Mary Cockcroft gave us an introduction and, a Wikipedia administrator himself, the charity’s CEO Andrew Cates spoke to Wikinews at length about the project.
You are part of SOS-Kinderdorf International, can you explain a little about how this works in terms of distributing funds raised in the UK and involving UK citizens in work outside the country?
Mary Cockcroft: SOS Children[‘s Villages] is a “club” of member charities in 130 countries helping orphans and vulnerable children. The club elects SOS-Kinderdorf International as secretary. SOS is a large organisation whose members in aggregate turned over $1bn in 2007, and whose projects include owning and running 192 schools and family-based care for 70,000 children. However much of these funds are raised locally, with for example the member charities in each of India, Pakistan and South Africa raise considerably more funds in their own country than SOS UK does from the UK. Nonetheless SOS Children UK principally raises funds to finance projects in the developing world, and has only financially small projects in the UK (such as the Schools Wikipedia, which is very low cost because of extensive use of volunteers). This year we expect about 80% of our UK income will leave the UK for overseas SOS associations, and some of the remaining 20% will pay for project oversight. We do not spend money in the UK on Direct Mail or TV advertising. Our UK office is involved in overseeing projects we finance and a small number of high-skilled volunteers from the UK help overseas. However around 98% of SOS staff worldwide are local nationals, as are most volunteers.
((WN)) How much work does the UK charity actually carry out within the home country? Are there failings within the government system for orphans and other needy children that you feel obliged to remedy?
MC: We are deeply unhappy about the situation of children in out-of-home care in the UK. However our care model of 168 hour-a-week resident mothers does not fit with the UK philosophy for children without parental care. Internationally SOS always has a policy of sharing best practice and we are working to improve understanding of our way of working, which appears to us to have far better outcomes than the existing one in the UK. Ultimately though the legal responsibility for these children lies with government and we cannot remedy anything without their invitation.
((WN)) Who first came up with the idea of doing a vetted Wikipedia extract? What was the impetus? Was it more for the developing world than first world?
Andrew Cates: I honestly cannot remember who first suggested it, but it came from somewhere in the Wikipedia community rather than from the charity. The original product was very much pitched at the developing world where the Internet is only available if at all over an expensive phone line. I worked in West Africa 1993-1996 and I know well at how thirsty for knowledge people are and how ingenious they will be in overcoming technical obstacles if the need for infrastructure is removed.
((WN)) In reading past year’s announcements there’s some pride in the project being picked up and used in the first world, was this expected or a pleasant surprise?
AC: It was a pleasant surprise. I don’t think we had realised what the barriers schools faced in using the main Wikipedia were. It isn’t just pupils posting material about teachers or meeting strangers: the “Random Article” button on every page could potentially deliver an article on hardcore porn. We had already started when discussion broke on banning Wikipedia from classrooms and I am sure we benefited from it.
((WN)) Can you give an outline of the selection and vetting process? Is it primarily Wikipedians working on this, or are people from the educational establishment brought in?
AC: It was a long and painful process, even with a really good database system. Articles were taken into the proposal funnel from three main sources: direct proposals for inclusion from Wikipedians, lists which came from the Release Version team and proposals drawn up from working through National Curriculum subjects by SOS volunteers. In a few cases where we felt articles were missing we asked the community to write them (e.g. Portal:Early Modern Britain, which is a curriculum subject, was kindly written just for us): These “proposals” were then looked at by mainly SOS volunteers (some onwiki, some offline). Our offices are in the middle of Cambridge and we get high quality volunteers, who skim read each article and then compared two versions from the article history by credible WP editors a significant period apart (this picks up most graffiti vandalism which runs at about 3% of articles). Once they had identified a “best” version they marked any sections or text strings for deletion (sections which were just a list of links to other articles not included, empty sections, sex scandals etc). A substantial sample of each volunteers work was then doubled checked for quality by one of two office staff (of whom I was one). We then have a script which does some automated removals and clean ups. Once we had a selection we posted it to relevant wikiprojects and a few “experts” and got any extra steers.
((WN)) Will you be making use of BitTorrent for distribution again this year? Was it a success in 2007?
AC: BitTorrent was a bit disappointing in that it got us the only substantial criticisms we received online. A lot of people find it too much effort to use. However for the period we offered a straight http: download we had huge problems with spiders eating vast bandwidth (the file is 3.5G: a few thousand rogue spider downloads and it starts to hurt). As per last year therefore our main two channels will be free download by BitTorrent and mailing the DVDs free all over the world. At a pinch we will (as before) put straight copies up for individuals who cannot get it any other way, and we have some copies on memory sticks for on distributors.
((WN)) Is it your opinion that the UK Government should be encouraging the adoption of projects like this as mainstream educational resources?
AC: Clearly yes. We have had a very enthusiastic reaction from schools and the teaching community. We think every school should have an intranet copy. We expect the Government to catch on in a few years. That is not to say that Wikipedia is as good as resources developed by teachers for teachers such as lesson plans etc. but it is a fantastic resource.
((WN)) You’re a Wikipedia administrator, all too often a thankless task. What prompted you to get involved in the first place? What are the most notable highs and lows of your involvement with the project?
AC: Funnily the thing I have found most amazing about Wikipedia is not widely discussed, which is the effect of Wikipedia policies on new editors. I have seen countless extreme POV new editors, who come in and try to get their opinions included slowly learn not only that there are other opinions to consider but that elements of their own opinion which are not well founded. Watching someone arrive often (on pages on religions for example) full of condemnation for others, gradually become understanding and diplomatic is one of the biggest buzzes there is. The downside though is where correcting things which are wrong is too painfully slow because you need to find sources. I was a post-doc at Cambridge University in combustion and I know the article on Bunsen burners has several really significant errors concerning the flame structure and flow structure. But sadly I cannot correct it because I am still looking around for a reliable source.
((WN)) Do you believe schools should encourage students to get involved contributing to the editable version of Wikipedia? Does SOS Children encourage those who are multilingual to work on non-English versions?
AC: I think older students have a lot to learn from becoming involved in editing Wikipedia.
((WN)) To close, is there anything you’d like to add to encourage use of Wikipedia for Schools, or to persuade educators to gain a better understanding of Wikipedia?
AC: I would encourage people to feed back to the project online or via the charity. The Wikipedia community set out to help educate the world and are broadly incredibly well motivated to help. As soon as we understand what can be done to improve things people are already on the task.
((WN)) Thank you for your time.
By Sam Miller
The measurement of performance in a certain company is quite difficult. This is because there are so many quantifiable aspects entailed in this endeavor that choosing from the many aspects can be confusing. This is precisely why companies need to develop a balanced scorecard, and try participating in a balanced scorecard forum, just to get a better grasp of the subject at hand.
But what exactly is a balanced scorecard? This is actually a certain method of performance measurement that makes use of both kinds of measures, the financial and the non-financial. Because both measures are utilized, a more balanced approach is then made possible. Managers can then analyze and interpret collected data from the scorecard in a more balanced fashion. In this manner, the information collected would then be more relevant as well.
There are so many benefits that a company can enjoy with the proper implementation of a balanced scorecard. Of course, these benefits would actually be enjoyed according to how it would be used. The existence of a balanced scorecard is far from enough because it is in knowing how to apply the scorecard correctly that the benefits would be enjoyed. As expected, many kinds of organizations and businesses have been utilizing the balanced scorecard in various formats as well. But the fact remains that two applications are commonly used here, and these are Strategic Management and Operational Control. Both applications are similar to some visual extent. However, both require the support of processes that are quite different, and provide various positive results for the management team as well.
When used for strategic management, the balanced scorecard is comprised of three aspects: formulation, communication, and control. In formulation, the scorecard asks for the goals and such that the company wants to achieve. In communication, the scorecard asks for the processes or methods needed to achieve such goals. In control, the scorecard then asks if the company is indeed achieving these goals. When using the balanced scorecard for strategic management, managers are then given the opportunity to articulate for themselves the goals and objectives of the company. The performance of a certain process is not analyzed here. Rather, analysis is on how objectives are set, and the efficiency of the proposed actions in achieving these objectives.
When used for operational control, the focus is no longer on the objectives, but rather, on a particular process. The first thing to determine is the particular process that is to be monitored. The second thing entails the aspects of the particular process that are to be measured. The third thing entails the determination of the best process ever employed by the company. With the use of the balanced scorecard for operational control, managers can then monitor the deliver of activities that have been pre-defined. The process of pre-defining here entails the search for that best practice ever employed in the company.
To have a better understanding and fuller grasp of the matter at hand, it would actually help to visit a balanced scorecard forum. This way, you can converse with fellow professionals who are currently using balanced scorecards as well. And they can answer whatever queries you may have right away.
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Friday, January 14, 2005
U.S. and Canada — North American movie box offices were dominated by Universal pictures last weekend as two of its films, a comedy, Meet the Fockers, and a horror flick, White Noise, together raked in a combined $52.6 million, more than half the $98.3 all films made over the Jan. 7 weekend, according to film tracking firm Box Office Mojo.
But Universal’s dominance of the North American box office receipts is in danger as 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Brothers and Sony all have films debuting in wide release Friday.
After a two-week drought of new releases with Noise the only debut, the Jan. 14 weekend is relatively crowded as three new films bow and one Oscar-buzz movie expands into wide release.
- Elektra (PG-13) [1:37] Among the new entries is the Jennifer Garner star vehicle Elektra a semi-sequel to 2003’s comic-book based Daredevil where Garner reprise a role of anti-hero. Elektra bows in 3,204 theatres.
- Coach Carter (PG-13) [2:14]: Paramount pictures releases the 134-minute metaphor heavy Coach Carter, a production of MTV Pictures, featuring Samuel L. Jackson in an inspirational inner-city high school sports movie. Coach Carter will debut in 2,524 U.S. and Canadian movie houses.
- Racing Stripes (PG) [1:24]: Warner Bros. also enters the debut fray with its live-action talking animal family movie, Racing Stripes, featuring the voices from such a diverse cast as Snoop Dogg, Mandy Moore and Dustin Hoffman. Racing Stripes starts its run with 3,185 venues.
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Visual art, fabric art, photography, performance, dance, virtual reality, and music were all the subject of sessions at Furnal Equinox 2018, a conference held from March 16 to 18 at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle. Canada’s largest furry convention by attendance, the annual event offers dozens of subculture-specific programs.
The convention’s communications and public relations coordinator for the event, Ronnie, describes furries as “people that enjoy arts and culture centred around animals and animal-themed topics, essentially. Furnal Equinox in particular, we like to celebrate in a very visual and very […] artistic nature, where we have lots of arts and performances and crafts that go on, and people celebrate with lots of socialisation involved.”
Of the attendees, Ronnie told Wikinews “they come from all walks of life. They are people of all ages, sizes, all sorts of backgrounds, and they come together under one mutual interest, which is their love for animal culture.”
“Programming at Furnal Equinox involves[…] a lot of informational panels, so you can find out about topics from art and how to draw, or how to visually incorporate different elements into your artworks. You can also find panels that teach you how to write better, be a better fiction author for example,” explained the event representative.
At one panel Wikinews attended, members of its all-volunteer organising committee spoke of the year-long process of planning the event, and their reasons for committing such a significant amount of their time. Said one panelist, “if you’re happy, we’re happy.”
Image: Nicholas Moreau.
Image: Nicholas Moreau.
Image: Nicholas Moreau.
The largest hub of activity at the convention was a dealer’s room; nicknamed the “Dealer’s Den”, giving it an anthropomorphic twist. Vendors were selling original visual art, wearables like faux fur tails or ears, or things like jewellery or soap with motifs that would interest attendees.
The back area of the room was dedicated to a charity auction, with proceeds benefiting Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary. According to the convention website, the charity is “dedicated to rescuing abused, neglected, and abandoned farmed animals. Their goal is to provide a safe, life-long home for all of their residents, and to educate the public about the true nature of farmed animals through tours, volunteer programs, and community outreach.”
Split into groups, some attendees played “Fursuit Games” in front of an audience, like trying to toss a ball into a garbage can. The activity made harder, of course, by the limited dexterity and vision the most of the costumes entail.
Image: Nicholas Moreau.
Image: Nicholas Moreau.
Berrie Image: Nicholas Moreau.
Image: Nicholas Moreau.
Attendees try to catch their own prizes, like t-shirts, after the Games. Image: Nicholas Moreau.
Are You Sticking With Your Healthy Living Plan?
Gregory L. Gomez
It\’s always a good practice to reflect on the progress you\’re making on any goal you\’re striving for no matter how big or small. If the goal is truly something you want to achieve, then you should want to make sure you are doing everything you possibly can to help ensure your success.
In regards to developing and maintaining a healthy living plan, since this goal encompasses many different topics, it\’s important to reflect often to see what\’s been happening that\’s positive, and also figure out what still needs to be fixed or revamped.
Plain and simple, success losing weight and getting fit will happen for those who are willing to revise their plan and fix what\’s not working.
Effectively tackling the weight loss process takes time and commitment that will most likely make you feel awkward and uncomfortable for a bit.
For someone who hasn\’t worked out in years, it will be uncomfortable sweating and being out of breath when first getting used to exercising. For the individual who has been eating fast food everyday for the past 5 years, it will be uncomfortable cooking for themselves and reducing the portion size at each meal.
Heck, giving up soda alone may be one of the most difficult things many will have to come to terms with.
This is the main reason why you should constantly be checking to find out what\’s working and what\’s not. You can do this weekly or better yet, daily. The review and revise process doesn\’t take much time or effort on your part. Just mentally go over your nutritional choices for the day along with your exercise plan/schedule.
Since nutrition includes a wide variety of eating instances throughout the day, recall exactly everything you consumed (food and drink alike) from morning to night.
Try not to leave anything out. Yes, that soda and candy bar you bought at break counts. Yep, so do those handfuls of chips you snacked on while cooking dinner. They count too.
After you\’re done analyzing your day, ask yourself if there were any situations or instances that are considered unhealthy moments. If so these are the specific areas you will want to address first in hopes that in the following days you don\’t get hit with the same setbacks all over again.
Once you figure out what is consistently giving you the same trouble, see what can be done to solve the problem. If you are always struggling avoiding that vending machine in the break room at your job, how about instead bring a healthy snack to work along with a bottle of water. Try also not to go into the lunchroom and instead take a nice brisk walk for 0-30 minutes of physical activity. That\’s a great way to keep yourself from overeating at break times, plus you can get a nice amount of heart-pumping exercise while at work.
It\’s moments like these that will determine how successful you\’ll be with your weight loss efforts. The more you are willing to reflect and revise the unhealthy habits, you will be much more likely to reach your health and fitness goal.
Gregory L. Gomez, M. Ed, an elementary school teacher, also on a mission to develop a healthy life & lose weight. Follow his progress at
as he strives to lose 80 pounds through exercise and healthy eating. Get a FREE Healthy Choices Newsletter and a Healthy Eating Ebook at
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Wikinews extended invitations by e-mail on March 23 to multiple candidates running in the Texas’ 6th congressional district special election of May 1 to fill a vacancy left upon the death of Republican congressman Ron Wright. Of them, the office of Democrat Daryl Eddings, Sr. agreed to answer some questions by phone March 30 about their campaigns and policies. The following is the interview with Ms Chatham on behalf of Mr Eddings, Sr.
Eddings is a federal law enforcement officer and senior non-commissioned officer in the US military. His experience as operations officer of an aviation unit in the California National Guard includes working in Los Angeles to control riots sparked by the O. J. Simpson murder case and the police handling of Rodney King, working with drug interdiction teams in Panama and Central America and fighting in the Middle East. He is the founder of Operation Battle Buddy, which has under his leadership kept in touch with over 20 thousand veterans and their families. He was born in California, but moved to Midlothian, Texas. He endeavours to bring “good government, not no government”. Campaign manager Faith Chatham spoke to Wikinews on matters ranging from healthcare to housing.
An Inside Elections poll published on March 18 shows Republican candidate Susan Wright, the widow of Ron Wright, is ahead by 21% followed by Democrat Jana Sanchez with 17% and Republican Jake Ellzey with 8% with a 4.6% margin of error among 450 likely voters. The district is considered “lean Republican” by Inside Elections and voted 51% in favour of Donald Trump in last year’s US presidential election. This is down from 54% for Trump in 2016’s presidential election, the same poll stated.