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Pennsylvania Remains Up for Grabs as Trump and Biden Assert Confidence

first_img– Advertisement – Updated – Advertisement – Mr. Biden, a Scranton native whose pitch to Democrats was always that he could woo back white working-class voters, fell short of that goal. Although he slightly narrowed margins in rural counties compared with Hillary Clinton in 2016, Mr. Trump, who barnstormed through the state’s most conservative regions, brought out even more of his base.- Advertisement – In Washington County in southwest Pennsylvania, a region that benefited economically from fracking for natural gas, Mr. Biden won a slightly larger share of the vote than Mrs. Clinton did, 38 percent versus 35 percent. But with overall turnout up significantly, Mr. Trump won 9,300 more raw votes this year than he did in 2016, while Mr. Biden added only 7,650 additional votes. The pattern appears to have repeated across central Pennsylvania.“There was no dropoff” for Mr. Trump from 2016, said Rob Gleason, a former chair of the state Republican Party, who lives in Cambria County in central Pennsylvania. “It’s pretty fantastic.” If the race comes down to the wire, the fate of thousands of provisional ballots set to be counted next week might also be in play. Many voters who requested mail-in ballots but decided to vote in person instead and did not bring their mail ballots with them to be “spoiled,” or rendered unusable, were given provisional ballots, said Bethany Hallam, a member of the elections board of Allegheny County. At least one Republican lawsuit was filed to throw out certain provisional ballots, and Ms. Hallam expects more are coming.Mr. Trump “sent his entire legal team to Pennsylvania to try to invalidate legal votes in whatever way possible,” Ms. Hallam said.No matter who ends up winning the battle for Pennsylvania, the geography and the closeness of the race revealed a state pulling ever further apart along regional and partisan lines. Suburbs outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that once leaned Republican have become treacherous for the party under Mr. Trump, while blue-collar counties, where Democrats used to win election after election, have moved to the populist right. Nov. 4, 2020, 6:36 p.m. ET Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, condemned Mr. Trump’s legal challenges.“Our election officials at the state and local level should be free to do their jobs without intimidation or attacks,” Mr. Wolf said in a statement. “These attempts to subvert the democratic process are disgraceful.”- Advertisement –last_img read more

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No ‘ogoh-ogoh’ parades, large crowds during Nyepi this year

first_imgThe isolation during Nyepi in a way resembles social distancing, unlike the rituals prior to and following Nyepi, which usually involve large crowds.Amid growing concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak, Bali Governor Wayan Koster has banned all ogoh-ogoh (menacing-looking giant effigies) parades across the province, not even a short march around small neighborhoods, during this year’s ngerupuk ritual on the eve of Nyepi, is allowed.“No ogoh-ogoh parade in any form [is allowed],” Koster said last week while announcing his policy.Ngerupuk is the island’s biggest street parade, in which the local youths compete with each other to create the most magnificent ogoh-ogoh. The COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia has undeniably impacted how religious communities observe their traditions.On Wednesday, Balinese Hindus will observe Nyepi (Day of Silence), which marks the Balinese New Year and is reserved for self-reflection.In Bali, Nyepi is synonymous with deserted beaches, empty streets and lights switched off at night. Nyepi is the only day of the year when Bali’s airport and seaports close. Everyone, regardless of their religion, must remain in their house or hotel during Nyepi.  Editor’s note: This article has been updated with information about religious observations in Bali during the COVID-19 pandemic.Topics :center_img Ogoh-ogoh were first introduced in the 1980s and have since become a permanent fixture at Nyepi spectacles across Bali, the only Hindu-majority province in Indonesia which relies much on tourism.“Actually, the ogoh-ogoh parade is not part of the original Nyepi rituals. So, we are not obliged to hold the parade,” the head of the Indonesian Hindu Religious Council’s (PHDI) Bali chapter, I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, said, urging all Balinese Hindu communities to obey the call.The PHDI, Bali Customary Village Council, and Bali governor also urged Balinese Hindus to host the melasti — a procession that features pilgrimages to the sea to purify temples — and tawur agung rituals with a smaller number of participants.“Because the virus is highly contagious, we urge people to adjust the rituals to make our island safer for all of us,” Sudiana said.Bali, a province with more than 4 million people, has six confirmed COVID-19 cases with two fatal cases as of Monday, all of which authorities said originated outside the island. The province has yet to confirm any local transmission.One day after Nyepi, Balinese Hindus perform the ngembak geni ritual, in which they travel to their hometowns or visit relatives to exchange forgiveness.But on Monday, less than three days before the ngembak geni ritual, Koster issued another notice advising people to stay at home on Thursday.Yet there have been reports of people defying authorities.Young people carried ogoh-ogoh in processions through the streets of Denpasar on Tuesday.”The Satpol PP [Public Order Agency], backed by the pecalang [Balinese traditional guard] immediately dispersed the groups,” Denpasar city spokesperson Dewa Gede Rai said.Another large crowd reportedly headed to a beach in Gianyar for the Hindu melasti ceremony a few days before Nyepi.In Jakarta, the country’s epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, Nyepi’s series of ceremonies were held with similar adjustments to the number of participants.Less than 30 Hindus — all wearing masks — gathered at Aditya Jaya Hindu temple in Rawamangun, East Jakarta on Tuesday to observe the tawur agung ceremony, held a day before Nyepi.Jakarta’s Nyepi organizing committee chairman Ida Bagus Nyoman Banjar said smaller celebrations did not reduce the meaning of Nyepi.“We will follow the government’s call to limit congregational [rituals] and keep a distance. But the meaning of the rituals is not diminished at all,” he said after the event on Tuesday.The committee has also canceled the ogoh-ogoh parade to prevent large crowds.“We already have the ogoh-ogoh here, but we will keep them for next year’s event,” said Banjar, who is also a doctor.As a doctor, Banjar said he understood well the importance of following the government’s call to maintain social distance.“Social distancing is our collective effort to fight COVID-19,” he added.Jakarta’s Hindu community performed a melasti purification ritual in Segara Cilincing Hindu Temple in North Jakarta on Sunday. It was also attended by less than 30 participants.I Gede Ngurah Utama, a Hindu who lives in Cempaka Putih, Central Jakarta, said that Tuesday was the first time he went to the temple after the PHDI had urged Hindus to pray at home, in line with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s instruction to self-isolate.”It was quite empty. Usually more people come,” he said.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, after a meeting with religious leaders in the capital, announced on Thursday that the city would limit Nyepi ceremonies and other religious practices for the next two weeks.“During Nyepi, Hindus are required to stay at home and reflect on themselves and this is in accordance with the social distancing measure called for by the government,” said I Nengah Dharma of the PHDI’s Jakarta chapter.The policy has been put in place to stem the transmission of the coronavirus disease, as Jakarta continues to see a rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, which stood at 377 as of Tuesday. Jakarta also recorded 32 deaths.Several other regions also canceled ogoh-ogoh processions and limited rituals ahead of Nyepi, including Yogyakarta and East Java’s Surabaya.Many Catholic, Christian and Muslim communities have also adjusted their religious traditions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.last_img read more

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Overseas experts to assist in Jamaica’s Tourism Security Audit

first_imgKINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Jamaica is receiving international expertise in undertaking the security audit of the tourism sector.In October, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett announced that he had directed the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), to conduct the audit through its Destination Assurance Division.The objective, he said, was to identify gaps and ensure that the destination remains safe, secure, and seamless for visitors and locals alike.Bartlett told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), that  the audit will be conducted with the support and assistance of Dr. Peter Tarlow, who is “one of the most outstanding safety engineers and consultants in tourism today.”“Dr. Tarlow will be supported by a global rescue team from the United States, along with technical support from some of the major destinations, such as the United Kingdom and Canada,” he said.He noted that Dr. Tarlow will discuss solutions with safety professionals in Jamaica.“This confluence of top international as well as local thinkers, planners and consultants will enable us to have a full-scale review of all our protocols in tourism and, particularly, to enable us to carve and, indeed, to create a new architecture for tourism ethics in Jamaica,” he added.Bartlett said that the Government is determined to preserve “the wonderful destination that we have” and ensure that “all our visitors… feel confident and protected while in Jamaica”.“Their human rights must be respected and their cultural and other traits, which are dear and special to them, must also be protected and respected,” he added.The Tourism Minister said that Jamaica prides itself on being a safe, secure and seamless destination.“We have been very high on visitor facilitation, creating access and providing quality services for our visitors. That record remains impeccable, and so where there are any cases of infractions and where we have knowledge, we act swiftly and we act resolutely.”He  noted that the Government is fully aware that the changing landscape of tourism today makes it mandatory for countries like Jamaica, to consistently review all protocols and arrangements and operate at the highest standards to protect market share.last_img read more

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