Saturday, February 13, 2016

When Danny Lyon met Bernie Sanders

When Danny Lyon met Bernie Sanders

The photographer sends us the pictures he took of the Democratic Presidential Candidate as a student activist
Photo courtesy Danny Lyon
Photo courtesy Danny Lyon
We're always happy to get an email from Danny Lyon, the great American photographer, credited with inventing what became known as 'the new journalism' back in the 1960s. Lyons photographs of society's outsiders and its dispossessed and downtrodden have become legendary over the years, and he remains to this day a peerless - and fearless - chronicler of human integrity, dignity and resistance. 
He sent us a link to a couple of photographs he took of Democrat contender Bernie Sanders back in the early 1960s when the then student activist was talking at a gathering of students holding a sit in in protest at institutional racism againt black students in Chicago. This is what Danny said:
"In 1962 and the spring of 1963 I was the student photographer at the University of Chicago, making pictures for the yearbook, the Alumni Magazine and the student paper, The Maroon. By the summer of 1962 I had taken my camera  into the deep South, and become the first photographer for SNCC.
"That winter at the University of Chicago, there was a sit-in inside the administration building protesting discrimination against blacks in university owned housing. I went to it with a CORE activist and friend. The sit in was in a crowded hallway, blocking the entrance to the office of Dr. George Beadle, the chancellor.

Photo courtesy Danny Lyon

Photo courtesy Danny Lyon
"I took the photograph of Bernie Sanders speaking to his fellow CORE members at that sit-in. Bob McNamara, a close friend and CORE activist, is in the very corner next to me in the picture. Across the room from me is another campus photographer named Wexler, who taught me how to develop film.
"I photographed Bernie a second time after he got a haircut, as he appeared next to the noble laureate and chancellor Dr. George Beadle. Time Magazine is now claiming it is not Bernie in the picture but someone else. It is Bernie, and it is proof of his very early dedication to justice for African Americans. The CORE sit-in that Bernie helped lead was the first civil rights sit-in to take place in  the North."
Want more Danny Lyon iconic images from an era when people were not afraid to protest? Then you need our books with him: The Seventh DogDeep Sea Diver and Conversations With The Dead. And you can read more about Danny and his sterling work over the years at his website which you'll find here

Nigerian suicide bomber gets cold feet, refuses to kill

Nigerian suicide bomber gets cold feet, refuses to kill

Associated Press 
Victims of  a suicide bomb attack at a refugee camp receive treatment, at a hospital in  Maiduguri, Nigeria, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in a northeast Nigerian refugee camp, killing at least 56 people, health and rescue officials said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)
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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Strapped with a booby-trapped vest and sent by the extremist Boko Haram group to kill as many people as possible, the young teenage girl tore off the explosives and fled as soon as she was out of sight of her handlers.
Her two companions, however, completed their grisly mission and walked into a crowd of hundreds at Dikwa refugee camp in northeast Nigeria and blew themselves up, killing 58 people.
Later found by local self-defense forces, the girl's tearful account is one of the first indications that at least some of the child bombers used by Boko Haram are aware that they are about to die and kill others.
"She said she was scared because she knew she would kill people. But she was also frightened of going against the instructions of the men who brought her to the camp," said Modu Awami, a self-defense fighter who helped question the girl.
She was among thousands held captive for months by the extremists, according to Algoni Lawan, a spokesman for the Ngala local government area that has many residents at the camp and who is privy to information about her interrogation by security forces.
"She confessed to our security operatives that she was worried if she went ahead and carried out the attack that she might kill her own father, who she knew was in the camp," he told the AP on Thursday.
The girl tried to persuade her companions to abandon the mission, he said, "but she said she could not convince the two others to change their minds."
Her story was corroborated when she led soldiers to the unexploded vest, Awami said Thursday, speaking by phone from the refugee camp, which holds 50,000 people who have fled Boko Haram's Islamic uprising.
The girl is in custody and has given officials information about other planned bombings that has helped them increase security at the camp, said Satomi Ahmed, chairman of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency.
The United States on Thursday strongly condemned the bombings. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. remains committed to assisting those afflicted by the conflict and supports efforts to provide greater protection for civilians and the regional fight against terrorism.
Boko Haram's 6-year-old Islamic insurgency has killed 20,000 people, made 2.5 million homeless and spread across Nigeria's borders.
The extremists have kidnapped thousands of people and the increasing number of suicide bombings by girls and children have raised fears they are turning some captives into weapons. An army bomb disposal expert has told the AP that some suicide bombs are detonated remotely, so the carriers may not have control over when the bomb goes off.
Even two days later, it's difficult to say exactly how many people died at Dikwa because there were corpses and body parts everywhere, including in the cooking pots, Awami said.
"Women, children, men and aged persons all died," he said. "I cannot say the exact number as some cannot be counted because the bodies were all mangled."
The latest atrocity blamed on Boko Haram extremists was committed against people who had been driven from the homes by the insurgents and had spent a year across the border in Cameroon.
Some 12,000 of them had only returned to Nigeria in January when soldiers declared the area safe. The scene of the killings is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the border with Cameroon and 85 kilometers (53 miles) northeast of Maiduguri, the biggest city in the northeast and birthplace of Boko Haram.
Such attacks make it difficult for the government to persuade people to return home. The extremists have also razed homes and businesses, destroyed wells and boreholes and stolen livestock and seed grains that farmers need to start their life again.
Associated Press writer Michelle Faul contributed to this report from Lagos, Nigeria

Friday, February 12, 2016

How Oshiomhole Mortgaged Edo's Future

How Oshiomhole Mortgaged Edo's Future

This Day Newspapers
As the tenure of the Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, inches to an end, there seems to be gloom in the land, 
writes Solomon Ibharuneafe
The present generation of Edo people may have started licking their wounds from the huge financial burden inflicted on them by the Adams Oshiomhole administration. They are worried as to the ugly story they have to tell their children and those yet unborn. And the story is where they were when Oshiomhole plunged the state into the huge financial debt. Presently, the state is said to be indebted to the tune of over N200 billion.
A breakdown of the debt shows that Oshiomhole took a N30 billion bond from the stock exchange, for the storm water project; N10 billion from the capital market, and three tranches of loan worth about $75 million each, that was alleged to be used to grow the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), bring in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) among other promises. In addition to this domestic debt is the huge external debt.
According to the recent figure from the Debt management Office (DMO) in Lagos, Edo State is number four with the worst external debt profile out of the 36 states of Nigeria with over $123 million hanging on the necks and heads of Edo people, coming closely to Lagos, Kaduna and Cross River states.
This figure is frightening because with this huge debt, no new industries, hospitals, schools, airport, stadium, markets, library, laboratory or motor parks were delivered to the people as dividends of democracy. The roads and schools the governor kept showcasing are funded with counterpart funds and for want of better word being used as conduit pipe to milk the state dry. To make the matter worse, no single employment was created in the almost 8 years of comrade Oshiomhole, one time president of the Nigeria labour congress, NLC.
The 10, 000 youths employed some years ago in the Edo state youth empowerment scheme (YES) were sacked after being used for his re-election.
Under Oshiomhole’s watch, local governments were brought to their knees as successive chairmen could no longer pay their workers, necessitating the alleged forfeiture of their security votes monthly while Oshiomhole collects much more for urgent security challenges. The government is said to be owing judicial workers over 9 months salary arrears, while, pension arrears running into years remained unpaid.
All these huge debt are the result of financial recklessness through poorly conceived projects without transparency and due process. Going by the recent figure from the federal ministry of finance, Edo state local council received N1, 217, 148, 336,65 (gross statutory allocation) and a net allocation of  N1, 655, 710, 228.36 in the revenue allocation for the month of November shared in December 2015. But the local councils cannot meet their contractual obligations to the workers.
In the same vein, the state received a gross revenue allocation of N1, 744, 728, 505.82 and a net allocation N1, 421, 203, 606.24 bringing the state’s share to N3, 185, 229, 510.36 (total gross amount) and N2, 142, 046, 560 (total net amount) for the month of November shared in December, 2015.
Out of this figure, the government paid out N30, 994, 228.04 for the external debt servicing , N520, 000, 000.00 as contractual obligation deduction and N492,188,722.17 as other deductions totaling #1,043,182,950.21. This shows that over 40% of the statutory allocation goes to debt servicing due to his poor financial management.
Worried by the huge debt profile of the state, the opposition politicians are saying loud and clear that Oshiomhole has mortgaged the future of the state with no projects to show for the huge debt. They are more worried that a state that receives less than N6 billion federal allocation could be paying out over N1 billion monthly for servicing loans that are not productive.
According to them, Edo state is committing over 40 per cent of its statutory allocation into financing the governor’s spending which is unhealthy to the financial stability of the state with no industries. The governor, burdened by this huge debt overhang, is said to have gone to the House of Assembly for approval to borrow more money as bail out running into billions of naira.
It is alleged that part of this bailout fund and the loan taken from the bank of industry for small and medium Enterprises were not properly deployed. About N2 billion is likely to be released soon with Godwin Obaseki, Oshiomhole’s anointed candidate as chairman of the disbursement.
As part of the governor’s spending, he proposed and got the approval of the House of Assembly to establish another state university in his home town, Iyamho at a time the state is groaning under huge domestic and external debt burden. Meanwhile, the Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma is being starved of funds.
This may be responsible for the recent increase in school fees with over 100 per cent, thus making life unbearable for the students and their parents. Under this new school fees regime, medical students are now to pay N160,000 as against N70,000 while other students are to pay between N120,000 and N140,000 per session.                                   
The questions the Edo people are asking now are: What did the governor do with these loans? How much has been repaid and how much is left unpaid? What structure or facility has he put in place to repay this huge debts hanging on the heads and necks of the Edo people? What did he do with the statutory allocation from the Federation Account running into more than N1 trillion over the years? What happened to the internally generated revenue that he grew from about N500 million to the current over N2 billion monthly?
It will be recalled that when Oshiomhole came to power in November 2008, he announced to the whole world that the state had been brutally plunged into huge financial debt by the 18 months administration of Prof. Osunbor. But that debt then was a paltry sum of N4 billion compared to the over N200 billion he is leaving behind for the state.
Oshiomhole’s government, it must be mentioned, attracted a lot of goodwill at the inception, maybe because of the long legal battle he fought to reclaim his mandate freely given him in 2007 by the good people of Edo State. That goodwill may have accounted for the World Bank and other donor agencies’ contributions to the developmental agenda of his administration.
It is worthy of note that those who live in glass houses must not throw stones. Oshiomhole has become the mouthpiece of the APC in its fight against corruption. In fact, he had sentenced former president Goodluck Jonathan and our most respected former finance minister, Okonjo Iweala to unpardonable jail terms for what he called mismanagement of the nation’s resources.
Today, the APC in Edo State is divided and in shambles because of Oshiomhole’s godfatherism. He said he came to fight godfatherism but he himself has become the great grandfather of godfatherism. This, he is demonstrating by his choice of a governorship candidate in the person of Godwin Obaseki.
However, as it is customary for every segment of government from the federal, state and local government to give their annual budget to the people whether real or imagined, the Edo people got their fair share when on the 14th December, 2015, their governor presented his 2016 budget (his last budget) to the House of Assembly for consideration.
In the borrowed words of Femi Abbas in the Nation newspaper of January 1, 2016, the season of budget is a period most government officials often perceive as a festival of largess in which the doors of looting are thrown wide open and for the ordinary people it is a period of mourning in which monetary figures of hope are announced but which often end up in a paroxysm of despair. For many years, he said, this has been the portion of Nigerian masses even as the nation remains static at the instance of official thieves and greedy oppressors.
Governor Oshiomhole, while presenting the budget praised his administrations doggedness to excel even in the face of dwindling fortunes from the federation account. The highlight of the 2016 budget, christened “Budget of finishing well” puts the figure at 111.5 biliion naira which is 12.5% lower than the 2015 approved budget of 156.551 billion naira. According to the governor, the reduction is in line with current economic realities especially development in international oil market and the dwindling inflows from the federation account.
The proposed budget consists of 58.9 billion naira as capital expenditure representing 52.84% of the total budget while the recurrent expenditure is N52.6 billion, representing 47.16% of the total budget.
The breakdown of the budget shows that the administration will take N14.567 billion for recurrent and N2.444 billion  as capital expenditure, social gulped N16.546 billion, and N36.226 billion for recurrent and capital expenditures respectively. Others are economic, law and justice that would take N4.787 billion (recurrent), N20.013 billion (capital), law and justice N1.440 billion and N0.280 billion  for recurrent and capital expenditures respectively.
The policy focus of the 2016 budget according to the governor would be the conclusion of ongoing road construction/rehabilitation projects across the state. The sectoral analysis of the budget shows that Agriculture, which is the mainstay of the state's economy is allocated only N0.30 billion; Commerce and Industry N0.050 billion, rural electrification 0.30 billion naira information and communication technology (ICT) 0.400 billion.
Education got N14billion  and Health N14 billion, flood and Erosion Control/Environmental Protection N8 billion; Water Supply N0.10 billion; Housing and Urban Development N0.850 billion while Law and Justice got N1.72 billion. There seems to be a lot of contradictions in this year's budget. First, the accident/emergency hospital project keeps featuring in virtually all the annual budgets under Oshiomhole.
This may have prompted the Edo State PDP chairman’s press briefing recently in which he accused the governor of using the hospital as a conduit pipe to siphon the state resources. According to him, voting 3.5 billion naira for the hospital amounts to siphoning the resources as funds had been allocated to the same hospital in the past two budgets (2014/2015). He also accused the governor of allocating a whooping 10.65billion naira representing 9.6% of the total budget to his office while neglecting the provision of water to majority of the citizens by voting only a paltry sum of 100 million naira for the sector and 300 million naira for agriculture.
While Oshiomhole is asking Edo people to tighten their belts because of the dwindling fortunes of the state, he (Oshiomhole) is loosening his by appropriating a whooping sum of 10.65 billion naira to his office. From this budget, there is no way employment can be generated for the teeming youths as the critical agencies that could generate employment such as agriculture, commerce and industry are allocated paltry sums, moreso when the state has to cough out over N1 billion monthly to service its debt.
The 2016 budget portends danger for the teeming masses of Edo people. With the reduction in the budget following the decline in revenue from the federation account, the government is shifting focus to internally generated revenue to augment whatever he could get from the federation account.
In the words of the governor, it is now a common knowledge that given the vagaries in the international oil markets, we can no longer depend on the revenue from federal sources to implement our development agenda. Therefore, it is imperative for this administration to look inward through expansion of our internal revenue base. 
In year 2016, he said focused attention will be given to the actualisation of new revenue sources such as the land use charge and automation of revenue collection process via the implementation of integrated tax administration system (ITAS).
“It is our desire to sustain the sensitization of our people to see the need for prompt payment of taxes in order to execute the laudable people oriented programmes/projects of this administration,” the governor said, stressing that government will be committed to the principle of transparency and accountability.
It is instructive to know that Oshiomhole, who promised to put an end to the suffering of the people over the years, has himself inflicted more hardship on them through his unpopular policies. For instance, the increase in school fees in the state tertiary institutions, the land use charge, huge personal income tax and various taxes that have driven most small scale businesses underground. Though Oshiomhole knows the importance of education to the development of the state, his recent increase in school fees is seen as chasing out the children of the poor.
His allocation of a whooping N14 billion to the education sector, one would have thought would ameliorate the suffering of the students and their parents, but the reverse seems the case.
In his words, “education remains a veritable tool for long term development. In recognition of this fact education will continue to occupy the front burner in the delivery of social services to our people. In year 2016, we are determined to complete ongoing projects in primary secondary and tertiary institutions. We shall also sustain and improve on the development in technical education through the rehabilitation and provision of technical equipment in all the technical colleges in the state.
“As part of efforts to raise the quality of education, recruitment of teachers would be carried out while the existing teaching staffs will be exposed to training and retraining programmes. In the same vein, instructional facilities including science and laboratory equipment will be provided. Accordingly, the sum of 14 billion naira has been proposed for the education sub-sector in the 2016 capital budget,” he submitted.
To the sane mind, this is a clear admittance of systemic failure in the education sector in a state which main industry is education. This admittance is a testimony that the governor may have swallowed his pride and bowed to pressure from his opposition criticism of the RED ROOF REVOLUTION, which they described as a sham. They said the schools lacked teachers, tables, chairs, library, laboratory and other teaching aids.
The lack of teachers had led to the recruitment of both qualified and unqualified by the parents/teachers association of the various schools now known as community teachers. The situation, where a secondary school with over 15 subjects would have just three teachers and one principal to teach all these subjects leaves much to be desired. But the governor and his APC members did not realise the danger of the half baked students been produced from this ill-equipped schools.
His assessment in his introductory speech at the budget presentation seems to contradict the glaring systemic failure in the education sector.  He told the bewildered state that his administration took the bull by the horn by reinventing education in Edo State through infrastructural uplift and provision of instructional materials.
According to him, apart from improving the learning environment in terms of school rehabilitation and provision of chairs and desks in all primary and secondary schools across the state, school teachers were also exposed to training and retraining programmes as part of his total school transformation programme.
He did not stop there, he said this had led to the improvement in standard of education as evidenced by the students performance in the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, which moved from the 28 position at the inception of his administration to the third position in 2014 and second position in 2015.
Oshiomhole as the commissioner/inspector of education in the state, in the words of Idemudia Osaretin, a social commentator, is being economical with the truth. He challenged the governor to publish the names of the teachers and the courses they attended during his administration. Except for the public embarrassment he gave to a female teacher on national television, where he engaged the woman to a reading and spelling contest, I do not know where these teachers were exposed to training to enhance their performance.
He added that as an educationist himself, he knows that the quality of the teachers has a direct effect on the quality of the students. If he could disgrace that teacher, who the whole world has condemned as a failure, I wonder where and how the products of such a woman could produce the excellent students and their results in the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination. The Edo people demand a proper explanation to know if these brilliant students are from the public or private schools in the state.
The Edo people also want to know why he committed a whooping sum of N14 billion to education if the quality of education was so high and why he had to make provision for teaching aids, benches and desks, training and retraining of teachers as he claimed in his introductory speech. This huge amount could have been channeled to agriculture, electricity or commerce and industry that could generate employment for the teeming unemployed youths in the state. 

-Ibharuneafe, a media/public relations practitioner, wrote from Lagos

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Woman Pulls Over Cop for Speeding, Gets Apology

Woman Pulls Over Cop for Speeding, Gets Apology

Good Morning America
If a police car speeds by, most people wouldn't bat an eye. But one woman decided to uphold the law to chase down and pull over a police officer who she said was driving "recklessly" on the road.
Claudia Castillo, of Miami, recorded the encounter she had with a police officer who she said was speeding, without using lights or sirens, on the Dolphin Expressway in Florida. While the date that the incident occurred is unclear, the video was posted on Jan. 29.
In the video, she narrates her effort to track down this officer and get him to pull over. She explains how the officer was “going about 100 miles an hour,” because she could not catch up to him while she “pushed the limit” and was going 80 mph. The maximum speed limit on the Dolphin Expressway is 70 mph.
Castillo recorded the take-down in three different parts. In the first video, she explains how she started to follow the officer on Miller Drive where he first sped onto the Palmetto Expressway. Her face is never seen in the video, but she does state that her phone was fixed to something in the car while she was driving.
She honked and flashed her lights, trying to get the officer to pull over. Even as the officer kept driving on, Castillo was persistent and continued to film another video to make sure this officer knew that “nobody’s above the law.”
She was following the officer for at least 3 minutes, and even before she started recording as she stated in the video, and was finally able to pull him over at the end of an exit ramp off the expressway.
As the officer comes to her car in the final video, Castillo roles down her window and gives a lecture on safe driving to the officer, completely reversing the typical assumed roles in the situation.
“The reason I pulled you over today,” Castillo began much like many statements given by officers, “is because I saw you since Miller Drive when you were first jumping onto the Palmetto, and you were pushing 90 miles an hour.”
“Really? OK,” the officer, who remained unnamed in the video, said to Castillo, who then asked him what the emergency was that he was driving so fast and "recklessly."
“I don’t know how fast I was going,” said the officer, “I’m on my way to work right now.”
The officer continued by denying that he was speeding and told Castillo “you’re entitled to your opinion.” He told Castillo he pulled over because he thought she had an emergency.
“Everything’s fine,” Castillo said. “It’s your speeding,” to which the officer apologized and said he would slow down.
The acting director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, Juan Perez, released a statement today saying “We take all complaints seriously. In this case, the officer’s chain of command will investigate the matter and take the appropriate course of action.”
Castillo said police officers "need to lead by example. You need to show what’s the right thing to do.”
Castillo could not be reached for further comment by ABC News.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

China cracks down on alleged $7.6 billion Ponzi scheme

China cracks down on alleged $7.6 billion Ponzi scheme

china yuan

Chinese authorities have arrested more than 20 suspects who are accused of involvement in a massive Ponzi scheme that allegedly swindled hundreds of thousands people out of billions of dollars.

The arrests reported Monday by state media relate to E-zubao, a peer-to-peer lending platform that promised investors attractive returns of as much as 15% when it launched a year and a half ago.
But the man behind the platform, Ding Ning, is now accused of gobbling up new capital largely in order to pay off existing investors, according to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua. Ding and 20 others have been arrested on suspicion of embezzling 50 billion yuan ($7.6 billion) from around 900,000 investors.
Authorities began investigating Ding's company, Yucheng Group, late last year. During the probe, investigators reportedly found 1,200 account books stashed in sacks buried 20 feet underground.
E-zubao has become one of the largest investment scandals to emerge from China's shadow-banking world -- a dark, unregulated patch of the country's financial system that offers murky investments with extremely high rates of return among other services.
There's often no transparency about where exactly investor money is going -- and the investment vehicles have vague names, such as "wealth management products." In some cases, they're sold through privately run exchanges or via online platforms, like E-zubao.
Such services have proliferated as Chinese people look for places to invest their savings. For retail investors, there are few options to get more bang for their buck with domestic stock markets in turmoil and the property market struggling. Plus, these investments are at times marketed by large state-owned banks, which some investors see as an implicit guarantee.
Experts have long fingered China's big shadow banking sector as a potential problem for the world's second-largest economy. And now, as the country's growth is on the wane, concerns are increasing about the ability of borrowers to pay off debts.
Last month, economists surveyed by CNNMoney identified shadow banking as the number one risk to the health of China's economy, marking the first time it has topped the list since the survey's inception in 2013.
Yucheng Group couldn't be reached for comment Monday, as related websites and phone lines were down or disconnected.
--CNN's Serena Dong contributed to this report

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Iowa caucuses, explained

The Iowa caucuses, explained

Story highlights

  • Caucus meetings for Iowa Democrats and Republicans begin at 7 p.m. Central Time
  • The electorate in the caucuses is only a fraction of the Democrats and Republicans who will vote in the fall
Washington (CNN)No one said democracy should be easy.
Iowa voters on Monday at last cast their verdicts on the Democratic and Republican presidential fields in the state's intricate and quirky caucuses, officially launching the 2016 White House race.
But along with Iowa's first-in-the-nation privileges come responsibility. After all, the state's discerning political activists can make or break campaigns painstakingly pieced together over years in a single night.
So it's fitting that the caucuses -- caucuses, plural, not singular caucus -- impose some unusual burdens on voters. In the Iowa caucuses, unlike primaries countrywide, you can't just get away with pulling a lever in a curtained polling booth at any time of the day that's convenient.
    Instead, hardy Iowans must attend public meetings in school gyms, arts centers, churches, libraries, restaurants and even fire stations in 1,681 precincts to vote for a candidate. The process is much longer -- it can take several hours -- and more convoluted than a primary ballot. So we've provided a guide to understanding how the Iowa voting ritual works.

    When does it all start?

    Caucus meetings for Iowa Democrats and Republicans begin at 7 p.m. Central Time, or 8 p.m. for the East Coast. Anyone who shows up on time can take part. But don't be late. Once the doors close, there is no entry for stragglers.

    Do Democrats and Republicans run their caucuses the same way?


    So how do the GOP caucuses work?

    The GOP process is the simpler one.
    Caucus meetings begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and then activists get straight to the main event -- selecting their presidential candidates in a binding vote.
    Each campaign gets the chance to have a representative make a final pitch to any wavering voters before a secret ballot. Some caucus sites might use a printed ballot paper. Others just go with a candidate's name on a scrap of paper.
    Raw totals of votes are tallied by local party officials and sent to Iowa GOP headquarters, where a running count is kept.

    And the Democratic ones?

    The Democratic caucus system is a little more intricate.
    As soon as the meetings open, attendees must declare a preference for a candidate.
    Typically, backers of each presidential hopeful physically stake out positions around the room. People who still can't make up their mind join a group known as "uncommitted."
    This is where it gets complicated. In order to be considered "viable," a group must clear a certain threshold -- usually around 15% of the entire caucus turnout in each precinct.
    Once first-round votes are tallied, anyone stuck in a group that is not "viable" has the chance to align with a candidate who has passed the threshold.
    This year it's likely that supporters of Martin O' Malley, scraping along at low single-digits in the polls, will struggle at many caucus meetings to form a "viable" coalition.
    The former Maryland governor thinks differently, saying at a CNN town hall Monday night that "my message to the O'Malley supporters across this state is this: Hold strong at your caucus."
    But it's one of the cruel realities of the caucuses that if the O'Malley pack is too small, all the determination in the world won't be enough, and his supporters will have to decide whether to join backers of either former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during a second count -- known as a "re-alignment period."

    Is that the only difference?

    No. A controversial aspect of the Democratic caucuses is the lack of a secret ballot.
    That means people will have to live with the vote they cast in front of their friends and neighbors for the next four years. And the faint of heart may be susceptible to pressure from more vociferous contemporaries.
    Thus, a candidate who wins the first round of a caucus is not home safe. They can still end up losing if their supporters fail to win over backers of candidates eliminated for not passing the threshold and instead see that support go elsewhere -- one reason why the organization and training of precinct captains is so crucial for campaigns.
    It's also why the second choices of voters for a presidential candidate are so important in the Democratic caucuses.
    Once the final count is completed, local officials work out how many delegates from a precinct each candidate gets to send the local county convention, the next step in a process that will end at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.

    Who shows up to vote?

    For some voters, it's all too much trouble.
    So the actual electorate in the caucuses is only a fraction of the tallies of registered Democrats and Republicans who will vote in the fall. That's one reason why you often hear complaints that the caucuses are hardly the most democratic process -- especially given the state's disproportionate influence on the presidential race.
    Generally, caucus participation has been around 20% of registered voters in each party in recent election cycles.
    Poll: Trump dominates GOP field at 41%
    Poll: Trump dominates GOP field at 41% 02:45
    In 2004, for example, there were half a million registered Democrats in Iowa, but only 124,000 or so showed up on caucus night, according to the Iowa Caucus Project at Drake University.
    In 2012, there were 614,000 registered Hawkeye Republicans but only 121,000 made it out on caucus night.
    The exception to the rule was in 2008 during the electrifying race between Clinton and then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama -- who made good on a vow to turn out new voters.
    A stunning 239,872 Democrats flocked to take part -- a figure equivalent to nearly 40% of the party's registered voters.
    Both Republican real estate developer Donald Trump and Sanders dream of such a showing on Monday night.
    The Vermont senator, however, warned Tuesday that he'd probably not match the Obama surge.
    "Frankly, I don't think we can. What Obama did in 2008 is extraordinary," Sanders said.

    Can independents participate?

    Another wrinkle that angers critics is the way independents are shut out: Only registered Democrats or Republicans can take part.
    In theory, people who have not previously registered to vote can arrive at a caucus site and do so. And it is possible to switch party affiliation on the night. But the system is still criticized for keeping out more moderate voters and often leads to a perception that only the most committed, radical voters show up.
    There were frequent veiled whispers from the Clinton campaign in 2008 that the system unfairly helped Obama, who ran to the former New York senator's left.
    Clinton was still simmering in 2012 when she told her friend Sidney Blumenthal in a recently released email that the caucuses were "creatures of the parties' extremes."

    When will we know who won?

    The final tabulated results will be declared by the Democratic and Republican Parties. It could all be wrapped up between about 11 p.m. ET and midnight. But soon after the caucus doors close, it should be possible for CNN to report on where the race is heading and begin the process of projecting a winner and estimating the delegate count.
    Iowa officials will be hoping that there will no repeat of the debacle in 2012. On that night, Mitt Romney was declared the winner by only eight votes over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is running again this year. But a certified tally issued a few weeks later found Santorum had won by 34 votes.
    By then it was too late: Santorum had been deprived of the momentum an Iowa caucus win brings. Romney was on a roll and had won New Hampshire, en route to the GOP nomination.

    Will there be any signs of a winner earlier than that?

    The elevated level of commitment demanded of caucus-goers is one reason why the vote is so tough to forecast -- no one can tell exactly who is going to show up.
    This time around, for instance, the hopes of Sanders and Trump rely on their neophyte political operations turning out thousands of new voters who have never attended caucus meetings in the past.
    The turnout riddle could give early pointers as to how things will go on Monday night.
    If there are early reports of Iowans flocking to caucus sites in unusually high numbers, there's a good chance it will be a happy night for Sanders and Trump. If not, look for Clinton and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to be firing up the victory party.