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French-Diplomat Wins Georgia’s Presidential Election

Zurabishvili ran as an independent, but backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party.

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Georgia, French
Salome Zurabishvili, former Georgian foreign minister, speaks during a news briefing at her campaign headquarters in Tbilisi, Georgia, Nov. 28, 2018. VOA

Georgian election officials say a French-born former foreign minister has won a presidential runoff, marking the last time citizens of the ex-Soviet nation elected their head of state by popular vote.

The Central Election Commission said Thursday that with 99.9 percent of precincts counted, Salome Zurabishvili has won nearly 60 percent of the vote, while her rival, Grigol Vashadze, polled just more than 40 percent in Wednesday’s ballot.

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Zurabishvili ran as an independent, but backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party. Vashadze was supported by a coalition of opposition forces.

Georgia, a country with 4 million people in the volatile Caucasus region, is transitioning to a parliamentary republic. Presidential powers have been substantially reduced and after the new president’s six-year term ends, future heads of state will be chosen by delegates. (VOA)

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The First All-Women Spacewalk is Set to Take Place This Week: NASA

According to NASA, The Spacewalk will last approximately six and a half hours

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Spacewalk
The Spacewalk will last approximately six and a half hours, according to NASA. Pixabay

The first all-woman spacewalk is set to take place this week itself as NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are scheduled to venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) on October 17 or October 18.

The spacewalk will last approximately six and a half hours, according to NASA.

“@Space_Station update: our first all-female spacewalk with @Astro_Christina and @Astro_Jessica will be Thursday or Friday to replace a faulty battery charge-discharge unit,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted on Tuesday.

Station managers decided to postpone previously planned spacewalks that had been set to install new batteries this week and next in order to replace the faulty power unit, called a Battery Charge/Discharge Unit (BCDU).

The BCDU failed to activate following the October 11 installation of new lithium-ion batteries on the space station’s truss.

Spacewalk
The Spacewalk will last approximately six and a half hours, according to NASA. Pixabay

NASA said that the BCDU failure has not impacted station operations, safety of the crew, or the ongoing experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory, many in preparation for future human missions to the Moon and Mars.

However, the failed power unit does prevent a new lithium-ion battery installed earlier this month from providing additional station power.

An all-woman spacewalk, involving Koch and NASA astronaut Anne McClain, was originally scheduled for March.

But that spacewalk was scuttled because properly fitted spacesuits could not be readied in time for both astronauts, Space.com reported.

Spacewalk
An all-woman Spacewalk, involving Koch and NASA astronaut Anne McClain, was originally scheduled for March. Pixabay

So far, the 15 women who have conducted a spacewalk did so with a male companion. So when Koch and Meir venture out of the space station this week, they will make some long-overdue history.

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This will be Koch’s fourth spacewalk and Meir’s first. (IANS)