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Coronavirus complicates voting in US primary in Georgia

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Simply 2020

Voters in the US state of Georgia are having trouble with voting systems, long lines, and ballots that never arrived.

Long lines snaked around polling places on Tuesday, and some voters faced hourlong waits as the US state of Georgia held its twice-delayed primary election amid a shortage of poll workers and social-distancing precautions for the coronavirus.

Widespread problems included trouble with Georgia’s new touchscreen voting system. Some voters said they joined the lines after requesting mail-in ballots that never arrived. One state legislator from Atlanta said there was a “complete meltdown” in Georgia’s largest county.

Even before the trouble began, Georgia’s chief election officer warned that results may be slow to come in as poll closures and virus restrictions complicate in-person voting and counties work to process a huge increase in ballots received by mail.

“I always vote in primaries, but the political times that we’re having right now, or the moment that we’re having, is scary,” Layla Cantlebary, 39, said as she waited to vote in Roswell, Georgia, outside Atlanta, the state capital.

“With all the civil unrest, it just underscores the importance of coming out and voting for somebody who you feel is going to lead the country to a better place than we are in currently.”

Voters in Georgia are selecting party nominees for US House and Senate races and for state legislative elections to be held in November. Other state and local races are on the ballot as well.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who is on the ballot in Georgia, has already won enough support in state primary elections to claim the Democratic Party’s nomination to face President Donald Trump in November.

Vote by mail

The long lines were evident shortly after voting began at multiple polling places, including the elementary school where Cantlebary and about 60 people waited.

Cantlebary, 39, said she arrived about 15 minutes before her polling place opened at 7am ET (11:00GMT) and waited more than an hour. The self-described liberal said she had planned to vote by mail but her absentee ballot never arrived.

John Sherer looks at his printed ballot at Dreher High School on June 9, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina [Sean Rayford/Getty Images/Getty Images]

In Atlanta, a line of voters wrapped around the block. Several sat on the sidewalk as they waited. Most wore masks. State Representative William Boddie said he visited two polling locations that had long lines in his district. He said lawmakers from other parts of Georgia told him of similar problems.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said voters in line at one of Atlanta’s largest precincts reported all the machines were down. She encouraged voters to stay in line and said poll workers should offer voters a provisional ballot if machines are not working.

“If you are in line, PLEASE do not allow your vote to be suppressed,” the mayor said on Twitter.

If you are in line, PLEASE do not allow your vote to be suppressed. PLEASE stay in line. They should offer you a provisional ballot if the machines are not working. https://t.co/1lVu3rEsCg

— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) June 9, 2020

Among the key races on Tuesday was a contested Democratic primary for the nomination to challenge Republican US Senator David Perdue. Democrats included former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and former lieutenant governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico.

Unpredictable

Perdue, a close Trump ally, is seeking a second term in November as Republicans look to hold the White House and a Senate majority. He drew no GOP primary opposition.

The race has proven to be anything but predictable, with the candidates forced to do most campaigning online because of the coronavirus. In recent days, the contest was shaped by widespread protests and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Criticism of the Trump administration’s response on both fronts has added fuel to Democrats’ ambitions of winning in Georgia, where Republicans dominate statewide elections, but Democrats are making gains.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff on August 11. Other Democrats in the race include former ACLU of Georgia head Maya Dillard Smith, Air Force veteran James Knox and Marckeith DeJesus.

A polling place worker holds an “I’m a Georgia Voter” sticker to hand to a voter on June 9, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia [Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images]

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday predicted longer lines. He also said his office won’t begin to release results until the last precinct has closed. He predicted the winners may not be known for days.

“To get a good concept of where we are with the election – who won, who lost, or who’s in the runoff, things like that – I would think that could take upward of a couple days in some of these really tightly contested elections,” Raffensperger said.

More than 1.2 million Georgians have already voted early, Raffensperger said Monday. A majority of those ballots were cast absentee by mail after the Republican elections chief sent absentee ballot applications to 6.9 million active registered voters, hoping to ease pressure on in-person poll operations.

Georgia postponed the primary twice because of the pandemic. The state’s March 24 presidential primary was first moved to May 19, when voters were set to choose party nominees for other 2020 races. As coronavirus infections and deaths mounted, election day was pushed back again to Tuesday.

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Armenian Aggression

Amnesty International verifies use of banned cluster bombs by Armenia to attack Azerbaijani Barda

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Amnesty International has verified the use of banned cluster bombs by Armenia for the first time in the current Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, following an attack on the city of Barda in Azerbaijan.

On October 28, 2020, at approximately 1.30 pm (GMT+4) local time, one or several Smerch rockets were fired into Barda, striking a residential neighbourhood close to a hospital. The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office has stated that at least 21 people were killed, with an estimated 70 more injured.

Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts verified pictures (taken by Vice News reporters in the city) of fragments of 9N235 cluster munitions from 9M55 Smerch rockets, that appear to have been fired into the city by Armenian forces.

“The firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“Cluster munitions are inherently indiscriminate weapons, and their use in any circumstances is banned under international humanitarian law.”

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Armenian Aggression

Lebanese human rights defenders condemn Armenian vandalism in Beirut

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By Trend

Lebanese human rights defenders condemn Armenian vandalism in Beirut, well-known Lebanese lawyer, expert on foreign policy and international law, board member of the International Association of Human Rights Defenders Tareg Chandeb told Trend.

Chandeb noted that the Lebanese Center for Legal and Political Research and Defense of Freedoms condemns the actions of the Lebanese Armenian extremist groups – their burning of the Turkish flag and the image of the president of Turkey.

Ongoing vandalism of some Armenian extremist groups and their incitement to sectarian strife in Lebanon requires Lebanese security forces to arrest these terrorists and punish them appropriately, Chandeb said.

He noted that the security forces and judicial bodies of Lebanon have not yet arrested a single Armenian extremist criminal who had previously abused Lebanon's relations with friendly Turkey.

Also, the security and judicial authorities of Lebanon didn’t take any action against the Armenian extremists who violated Lebanese laws and recruited people as mercenaries, sending them to fight in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh against peaceful Azerbaijanis.

He also noted that Azerbaijan is a friendly country and Lebanon maintains official diplomatic relations with it.

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Armenian Aggression

Armenia once again violates ceasefire agreements

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By Trend

If to look at the history of the Karabakh conflict, one very interesting detail can be traced – the actions of Yerevan have always been aimed at violating the agreements reached, especially the agreements on a ceasefire and a humanitarian truce, which became relevant due to the latest known events, Trend reports.

The agreement on the third ceasefire regime in Nagorno-Karabakh entered into force at 8:00 am on October 26. However, already five minutes after the regime entered into force, Armenia violated the agreements. Why?

In 1991, 1992, 1993, temporary armistice agreements were concluded:

Kazakhstan played its role during the first war in Nagorno-Karabakh and made the first attempt at peace. Former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and then Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin tried to end the hostilities. Despite the consensus reached, Armenia didn’t stop its attacks. Peacekeeping efforts were stopped during the crash of an Azerbaijani MI-8 helicopter with Russian, Kazakh observers, and high-ranking Azerbaijani government officials on board when it was shot down by Armenia over the village of Garakand in the Khojavand district on November 20, 1991.

On February 25, 1992, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Velayati arrived in Baku to apply the experience of the Iran-Iraq war in Karabakh. On February 26, the parties promised each other by telephone a ceasefire from February 27 to 9 am on March 1, after which Velayati arrived in Ganja and began to wait for the promises. On February 26, Armenian militants committed the Khojaly genocide.

In May 1992, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Tehran and signed a truce. But as soon as the negotiations ended, the Armenian military stormed Shusha city.

On August 27, a meeting of the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia took place in Alma-Ata. Its holding was agreed on the eve in a telephone conversation of the presidents of these states. The ceasefire entered into force on Sept. 1, 1992, but was violated within a few days by the Armenian side.

With the mediation of Russia, the ceasefire agreement of September 19, 1992, entered into force on September 25, 1992. The ceasefire was violated by the Armenian side.

Former Iranian President Rafsanjani brokered a ceasefire agreement between the parties on October 28, 1993. Again Armenia violated the ceasefire.

Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian in his book "Life is Freedom: Autobiography of the Ex-President of Armenia and Karabakh" wrote: "We have repeatedly tried to negotiate with Azerbaijan on a truce and ceasefire. But every time for some reason it seemed to me that I needed to take advantage of inept actions. We managed to take advantage of the "truce window" in October 1993, that’s when, having agreed on a ceasefire, we established de facto control over Zangilan on October 29."

On December 5-6, 1994, at the CSCE summit in Budapest, in order to coordinate mediation efforts within the CSCE, it was decided to establish the institution of the co-chairmanship of the Minsk Conference. At the Budapest Summit, the CSCE Chairman-in-Office was instructed to negotiate to reach a political agreement to end the armed conflict. The specified political agreement was intended to eliminate the consequences of the conflict and allow the convening of the Minsk Conference.

On May 12, 1994, an agreement on a ceasefire was reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which, with the exception of local and short-term violations, lasted until April 2016;

On March 23, 1995, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office issued a mandate to the Minsk Process Co-Chairs. At the summit held on December 2-3, 1996 in Lisbon, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office recommended the fundamental principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s settlement, which Armenia rejected, becoming the only one of the 54 OSCE member states that voted against the proposal.

On April 2, 2016, after another provocation of the Armenian army, large-scale military clashes took place. As a result, the Armenian army suffered losses and retreated, and the Azerbaijani army took control of new strategic heights. On June 20, 2016, in St. Petersburg, at the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a meeting was held between the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia;

On July 11, 2018, the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan held their first meeting after the ‘Velvet Revolution’ in Armenia in May 2018. On the eve of the new leadership of Armenia proposed to change the format of negotiations on Karabakh.

On July 12, 2020, after another provocation by Armenia, clashes began in the Tovuz direction of the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, which continued with varying intensity for about a week;

The new leadership of Armenia, trying to change the format of the negotiations, as well as declaring the inadmissibility of any concessions, actually disrupted the process of peace agreements. New statements by the Prime Minister of Armenia N.Pashinyan and the leaders of the military junta in Karabakh indicated the continuation of the aggressive policy and the existence of plans of official Yerevan in this direction;

On September 27, 2020, the Azerbaijani army reacted harshly to the new provocations of the Armenian side. Within a month, 4 cities, 3 settlements, 165 villages were liberated. In fact, the Azerbaijani army in one month returned the territories that Armenia had seized in the early 1990s for several years;

In fact, the 1994 ceasefire ceased to exist. Armenia bears full responsibility for the current situation, which has consistently thwarted all agreements both on the resolution of the conflict and on ensuring the ceasefire;

In a short time, which had existed for 27 years, the status quo and the line of contact were eliminated. A new situation has developed in which Armenia is forced to agree to the withdrawal of troops from the territory of Azerbaijan.

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