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US vote counting underway, process expected to be slower this year

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(Last Updated On: November 4, 2020)

As the world waits in anticipation for the results of the US presidential elections, which have already started coming through, America’s NPR explains how final results might not be known on Wednesday. 

According to NPR, state results are not final on election night; instead, organizations like The Associated Press — which NPR relies on for race calls — determine most winners well before local officials tabulate all votes.

But this year, NPR says it is expecting slower counts. This is because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Because of the virus, many states modified their voting rules, broadening access to mail-in voting and accelerating what had already been a rising mail-in voting trend.

And mailed-in ballots — with envelopes to open and signatures to check — simply take longer to tabulate than in-person votes, NPR stated.

However, some individual state rules play key roles too. Take two swing-state examples: Florida allows counties to process ballots well ahead of Election Day, while officials in Pennsylvania have to wait until the morning of Election Day to begin that work.

And with far more voters opting for mail-in or drop-off ballots this year, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said: “We probably won’t know results on election night.”

NPR says meanwhile if there’s no election night winner, don’t panic. 

According to NPR, restrictive rules on ballot processing are in place in Wisconsin and Michigan as well – states that could play a crucial role in deciding who wins the presidency. 

In fact, NPR states, that slow-counting Pennsylvania is considered by forecasters as the most likely state to put Democratic nominee Joe Biden or President Donald Trump over the election-capturing 270-electoral-vote threshold.

In addition, NPR reports that in countless polls, Democratic voters said they were far more likely than Republicans to use mail-in ballots. Republican voters however prefer in-person voting – something NPR attributes in part to Trump’s claims of widespread fraud associated with mail-in ballots.

This, in turn, can mean that because of different state rules about counting mail ballots, a clear partisan divide over voting method means that states that release their mail-in votes first will likely appear favorable — at least initially — for the Democrat Biden, and states that count in-person ballots first will likely appear better for Trump, NPR explained.

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Kabul University lecturer killed in IED explosion 

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(Last Updated On: February 18, 2021)

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.  

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Biden says he will never hesitate to use force to protect America

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(Last Updated On: February 11, 2021)

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. 

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Facebook to temporarily reduce political content in some countries

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(Last Updated On: February 11, 2021)

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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