After a hostile presidential campaign that exposed the depth of the political divisions in the United States, Americans streamed to the polls on Tuesday to choose between Donald Trump or Joe Biden to lead the nation for the next four years.
Voters lined up around the country to cast ballots, despite fears of widespread disruptions at polling stations in an election marked by a deeply divided America.
Just over 100 million voters cast early ballots either by mail or in person ahead of Tuesday’s election. Reuters reported that according to the US Elections Project at the University of Florida, this early turnout was driven by concerns over crowded polling places during the coronavirus pandemic as well as extraordinary enthusiasm.
Biden, the Democratic former vice president who has spent a half-century in public life, has held a consistent lead in national opinion polls over the Republican president, Reuters reported but added Trump is close enough in several states.
Trump is aiming to avoid becoming the first incumbent US president to lose a re-election bid since George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Meanwhile, Canadian media reports that diplomats will be ready to help Canadians living in America if there’s trouble in the United States after election day.
Officials have said it’s always a federal government responsibility to assist Canadians who are outside the country, no matter where they are.
In the polarized American political environment, which saw clashes between demonstrators and police in many cities earlier this year, the last votes to be counted could potentially lead to civil unrest.
Canadian officials have said the government has plans and will be ready no matter what happens.
Kabul University lecturer killed in IED explosion
A university lecturer was killed in a targeted IED explosion in Kabul city late Thursday morning.
Police confirmed the incident, which happened at about 11.25 am in PD3, close to Kabul University and said another person was also killed in the incident.
The victim, Mubasher Muslimyar, was a lecturer in Islamic studies at the university.
Muslimyar was killed while driving in a Toyota Corolla which was targeted in a magnetic IED attack.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion.
Biden says he will never hesitate to use force to protect America
In a visit to the Pentagon on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said he would never hesitate to use force to defend America but also promised to work with leaders around the world to bring an end to wars that have dragged on “for far too long”.
“As your commander in chief, I will never hesitate to use force to defend the vital interest of America, the American people and our allies around the world when necessary,” Biden said adding that the “central indispensable mission of the Department of Defense is to deter aggression from our enemies, and if required to, fight and win wars to keep America safe.”
He told DoD staff present at the event that the US Defense Department is essential for the work State Department diplomats do around the world.
Biden promised to work with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and world leaders “to bring a responsible end to wars that have dragged on for far too long, while continuing to ensure that terrorist threats cannot endanger the security of the American people.”
Biden did not however give any indication as to what his decision is yet on the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline.
An agreement signed in February 2020 by the Trump Administration and the Taliban notes that all US troops are supposed to be gone by May this year.
So far, indications are that the withdrawal of troops will be based on conditions on the ground, opposed to a calendar date.
Facebook to temporarily reduce political content in some countries
Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it would temporarily reduce political content appearing on New Feeds for some users in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week and in the United States within the coming weeks, Reuters reported.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in January that he wanted to “turn down the temperature” of political conversations on the social networking site because “people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services.”
Reuters reported that the world’s largest social network, which has received flack for not doing enough to remove hateful content from the platform, last month said it would stop recommending civic and political groups to users.
Reducing the frequency of political content will mark initial steps to explore different ways to rank such content in people’s feeds using different signals and understand their preferences, the company said in a blog post.
Facebook will exempt content from official government agencies and services, as well as COVID-19 information from health organizations from the drill, Reuters reported.
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