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US Presidential Election 2016: Voting begins across 6 Different Time Zones

Polling booths will open between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time and close between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m

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Representational image. Flickr

Washington, November 8, 2016: As Americans go to the polls on Tuesday to elect their 45th president, here’s what to watch out for:

All 50 states and Washington D.C. go to the polls across six different time zones on election day. Thirteen of the states are operating with split time zones.

Depending on the state, polling booths will open between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time and close between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. (If a voter is in line when polls close, then he or she gets to vote.)

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All 50 states and Washington D.C. go to the polls across six different time zones on election day. Click To Tweet

But it is not just winning the popular vote that counts. The US’ system is a race to secure 270 out of the 538 votes in the electoral college.

Most of the US will have to wait for polling stations to close (typically between 5.30 a.m Wednesday and 6.30 a.m Indian time) for state projections.

One small town, Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, which is keeping alive a tradition of a midnight vote that began in 1960, has declared its result before the polls even open everywhere else.

Once the polls have closed, there will be a projection for each state based on opinion polls taken throughout the day, which are a good indication of the results – but not always correct.

According to CNN, the solid Republican states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The lean Republican comprise Georgia, Iowa, Maine 2nd Congressional District, Ohio and Utah.

The solid Democratic states comprise California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota and New Mexico.

The leans Democratics are Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Battleground or Swing states (a state where the two major political parties have similar levels of support among voters, important to determine the overall result) are Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Nebraska 2nd Congressional District, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

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The results are expected to be known in India by 9.30 a.m. IST on Wednesday morning. That’s when West Coast polls close and history suggests a winner’s declared. It was bang on the hour in 2008, and 15 minutes later in 2012.

Polls begin to close in western states from about 10 p.m. ET — or 8.30 a.m. India time.

Usually by around 11 p.m. ET November 8 on the East Coast it becomes clear that one side has prevailed, although the result could come sooner than that.

All eyes will be on the key battleground state of Virginia, which voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but was previously solid Republican.

Georgia is another one to watch. The state has voted Republican since 1996, but the party’s margin of victory has eroded in recent elections.

Also expect projections from Indiana, home to Trump running mate Mike Pence, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vermont.

Half an hour later, polls close in two further important states, North Carolina and Ohio, the swing state which has backed the winner at every presidential contest.

By 8 p.m. ET (6.30 a.m. IST), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma will begin their state projections.

Another half hour later (7 a.m. India time) polls will close in Arkansas, which backed former President Bill Clinton at successive elections in the 1990s, but has voted Republican since 2000.

New York, Colorado, Michigan, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska might show their projections by now.

Polls close in the biggest electoral prize on the map, California, which is a Democratic stronghold, as well as Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii — 10.30 p.m. ET or 9 a.m. India time.

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Depending on how the electoral college is stacking up, every media outlet could declare the next president of the US.

The president-elect will not actually become the 45th president of the US until January 20, 2017, which is Inauguration Day. The president-elect will place his or her hand on the bible and take the Oath of Office at noon.

From then, the government is in their hands. So is the White House. Usually, the sitting president and their spouse host the incoming-First Couple for tea before the ceremony.
About six hours later, the new First Family moves in. (IANS)

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US Department of Justice Demands Account Details of Facebook Users who ‘Liked’ Anti-Trump Pages

The administration claims it needs the information in connection to an examination concerning and persecution of activists captured in Washington DC as President Trump was confirmed as President

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Department of Justice
The Department of Justice has obtained search warrants; one of which was issued for the DisruptJ20 Facebook page, which organized protests upon President Trump's inauguration (VOA).

Washington, September 29, 2017 : The Department of Justice has obtained court orders that could reveal data about a huge number of individuals who extended support to a resistance page on Facebook. The search warrants would allow government lawyers to access Facebook accounts operated by protesters against American president Donald Trump.

The Department of Justice has sought orders to acquire the passwords, personal messages, comments, status updates, photos and additionally, the deleted posts of two individual activists – Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour, along with information about over 6,000 users who ‘liked’ an anti-Trump page on Facebook.

One of the three warrants was issued for the DisruptJ20 Facebook page, which organized protests upon President Trump’s inauguration.

The administration claims it needs the information in connection to an examination concerning and persecution of activists captured in Washington DC as President Trump was confirmed as President on 20 January 2017. Thus, it has asked for data between November 2, seven days before the presidential decision, and February 9.

While the Facebook page is open to the public, executive Emmelia Talarico was quoted by CNN as saying that the Trump organization would have the capacity to get to the “private lists of invitees and attendees to multiple political events sponsored by the page” if details of the account are turned over.

ALSO READ Zuckerberg Responds to Trump’s Allegations, says Facebook was Never Against You

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is fighting the warrants in court, described the requests as “a gross invasion of privacy”.

Lacy MacAuley also asserted that the page had details of her personal life and of people associated with it that the federal government need not know. “The primary purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to prevent this type of exploratory rummaging through a person’s private information” she said.

At the moment, none of the three activists in question have been charged with any offence in relation to Inauguration Day.

Previously, the Department of Justice had also attempted to arrange a web-host supplier to reveal the the IP addresses of 1.3 million individuals who went to the DisruptJ20.org site. However, this was quashed by Dream Host, the web facilitating organization.

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter : SohaKala

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This Washington DC Art Gallery Has Brought a Cosmic Buddha Artifact to Life Using 3-D Scanning

3-D scanning of the 16th century relic has allowed viewers to rotate the sculpture, adjust lighting and zoom in to see details of it's surface - a path breaking advancement in the realm of technology.

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Technological advancements are paving way for advanced researches. Pixabay
  • Technology has an active role to play in steering research about historic artifacts.
  • Relic of a sixteenth-century Cosmic Buddha has been recently scanned and developed into an online web module for advanced research.
  • 3D scanning with digital surface occlusion provides the clearest view of the surface of ancient sculptures paving way for elaborate understanding.

– By Soha Kala

JULY 26, 2017: Most of us have disliked visiting museums to look at ancient isolated pieces on a pedestal.  The cosmic Buddha statue at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art at Washington has had similar reactions for nearly 9 decades now.

Exhibit curator Keith Wilson duly noted why this hand-less, headless statue had stood alone, without attracting much attention.  “It’s not a beautiful, white marble surface”, he said calling the relic a “difficult piece to love”.

Also Read: Mummified Monk Found inside the 1000 Year Old Buddha Statue in Lotus Position in China

However, what makes the sculpture truly remarkable is the dense decoration that covers its surface, illustrating the Realms of Buddhist Existence- a symbolic map of the cosmos associated with Vairochana, the presumed subject of the sculpture.  Despite its rich bearing, the relic remained largely ignored in the museum.

In an attempt to heighten people’s interest, the relic was first scanned in 3-D for the Smithsonian Digitization project in 2011, facilitating detailed mapping of the sculpture’ surface to clearly identify scenes and figures it contains.

These scans have now been turned into a 3-D model, forming the basis of an interactive web-based resource about the Cosmic Buddha.

A 16th century relic has been 3 D scanned using laser scanning and high resolution photography.
This image has been used for referential purposes. Wikimedia Commons

The module, which is accessible online, includes guided tours written by Wilson and Janet Douglas, a former Freer|Sackler conversation scientist, showing brilliant clarity images, illustrating fundamental Buddhist teachings. Through the use of this digital model, researchers can now study the sculpture and its exceptional details, including previously unreadable details.

Wilson believes the relic was originally created to be a teaching tool. But it’s positioning in a museum brought all attention on the relic as an object, rather than as part of a ritual process. However, technology is now allowing museums to unite the artistic qualities of work with its religious connotation and purpose.

For example, Eileen Daily, director of the Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership at Boston University had created a mobile app in 2011 that explained users about the history and religious significance of artworks around them.

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The constant access to smart phones and technology also means works like the Cosmic Buddha are no longer exclusive to museums- their 3-D models can be accessed via the internet from anywhere around the world. For example, curators and scholars can now order scans of all objects in a Buddhist temple and recreate the space virtually.

To sum up, David Morgan, professor of religious studies at Duke University believes technology and museums are now changing each other for the better.

– by Soha Kala for NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala


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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)