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Grandfather pleads guilty in Puerto Rico cruise ship death

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grandfather pleads guilty in puerto rico cruise ship death

The grandfather of an 18-month-old girl who plunged to her death after falling from a window of a cruise ship in Puerto Rico last year has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.  

Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello of Valparaiso, Indiana, admitted to the charges on Thursday after initially pleading not guilty last October. 

The 51-year-old was charged with the death of granddaughter Chloe Wiegand who died after falling 150 feet from a docked Royal Caribbean cruise ship in July 2019.

Anello had been holding the little girl up to an open window on the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas ship, when she slipped from his grasp and fell to her death.

Salvatore Anello (pictured in court in February) pleaded guilty to negligent homicide on Thursday

Salvatore Anello (pictured in court in February) pleaded guilty to negligent homicide on Thursday

Salvatore Anello (pictured in court in February) pleaded guilty to negligent homicide on Thursday

Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from the 11th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after her grandfather held her up to an open window in July 2019

Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from the 11th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after her grandfather held her up to an open window in July 2019

Chloe Wiegand

Chloe Wiegand

Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from the 11th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after her grandfather held her up to an open window in July 2019

Chloe tumbled overboard and died instantly as she landed 150ft below on the Pan American Pier 2

Chloe tumbled overboard and died instantly as she landed 150ft below on the Pan American Pier 2

Chloe tumbled overboard and died instantly as she landed 150ft below on the Pan American Pier 2

He announced his decision to change his plea earlier this year in hopes of moving on from the tragedy after reaching an agreement with prosecutors that involved no jail time.

‘I took a plea deal today to try to help end part of this nightmare for my family, if possible,’ he said in a statement in February.  

Puerto Rico prosecutor Laura Hernández on Thursday said Anello would be sentenced on December 10.  ‘We have found justice for Chloe,’ she said.

Anello’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, did not immediately return a message for comment. 

In a statement to DailyMail.com in February, Winkleman said Anello and the family made the ‘incredibly difficult’ decision to change his plea because the ‘agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts.’

‘It was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows,’ he said. 

The window on the cruise ship had been left open, and Chloe tumbled out and fell to her death

The window on the cruise ship had been left open, and Chloe tumbled out and fell to her death

The window on the cruise ship had been left open, and Chloe tumbled out and fell to her death

The grandfather has repeatedly said he did not know the window (circled) was open

The grandfather has repeatedly said he did not know the window (circled) was open

Anello said he had lifted Chloe up to it so she could knock on the glass as she had done at her brother's hockey games (pictured)

Anello said he had lifted Chloe up to it so she could knock on the glass as she had done at her brother's hockey games (pictured)

The grandfather has repeatedly said he did not know the window (circled) was open

Negligent homicide can be punished with a three-year prison sentence under the Puerto Rican criminal code however prosecutors will likely recommend a period of probation that can be completed in his native Indiana.   

Anello has repeatedly said he did not know the window in the children’s play area was open and that he lifted Chloe up to it so she could knock on the glass like she had done at her brother’s hockey games.

‘I wasn’t drinking and I wasn’t dangling her out of a window,’ he said in a previous statement. 

He also said he is colorblind and might not have realized the tinted window was open.

Sources close to Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand say the guilty plea will not change their belief that Royal Caribbean is ultimately responsible for her death. 

The girl’s parents sued Royal Caribbean last year and accused the company of negligence. 

Anello, an IT worker, had consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe’s death before accepting a plea deal earlier this year

Anello, an IT worker, had consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe’s death before accepting a plea deal earlier this year

Anello, an IT worker, had consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe’s death before accepting a plea deal earlier this year

Sources close to Chloe's parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand (pictured in an interview last year) say the guilty plea will not change their belief that Royal Caribbean is ultimately responsible for her death

Sources close to Chloe's parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand (pictured in an interview last year) say the guilty plea will not change their belief that Royal Caribbean is ultimately responsible for her death

Sources close to Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand (pictured in an interview last year) say the guilty plea will not change their belief that Royal Caribbean is ultimately responsible for her death

Royal Caribbean has tried unsuccessfully to have the case thrown out, presenting harrowing video footage of Chloe’s last moments to argue that Anello poked his head through the window and ‘unquestionably’ knew it was open.

The company denies breaching industry safety standards, insisting he would only have had to rely on his ‘basic senses’ to realize he was endangering his beloved granddaughter.

The family said it would have been physically impossible for Anello to lean out like that.

Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night Caribbean cruise with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello’s wife Patricia, when the tragedy unfolded. 

Their vacation was supposed to take in the sun-drenched sights of San Juan, St Maarten, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados but it ended in horror before the $800m vessel had even set sail. 

Haunting on-board camera footage of the incident shows Anello alone on deck with Chloe, who leads her grandfather away from the H20 zone splash pool towards the glass sides of the ship.

He lifts the toddler up and sits her down on a wooden handrail but suddenly she tumbles forwards and disappears from view.

‘All I know is I was trying to reach the glass and I know that we leaned over to try to have her reach the glass, at that point she slipped,’ Anello said in an earlier interview with CBS. 

‘Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever so I’m like, whatever, you know. There’s nothing worse that they could do to me than what’s already happened.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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‘Baptism by fire’ for newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett

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baptism by fire for newly appointed supreme court justice amy coney barrett

Newly confirmed conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett faces a barrage of politically fraught cases in her first days on the job, as the court weighs election disputes and prepares to hear a challenge to the Obamacare health law.

The Republican-controlled Senate on Monday pushed through the confirmation over Democrats’ objections to an appointment so close to the November 3 presidential election. President Donald Trump, who nominated Barrett, has said he expects the court to ultimately decide the result of the election between him and Democrat Joe Biden.

Barrett, 48, who will be formally sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday, joins the court with two election issues already awaiting her from key battleground states North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The court would be expected to act on both before Election Day, with Barrett, previously an appeals court judge and legal scholar as part of the court’s new 6-3 conservative majority. 

No Supreme Court justice had ever been confirmed so close to a presidential election.

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Justice Coney Barrett: Donald Trump celebrated his third appointment to the Supreme Court at the White House Monday; she faces a ‘baptism of fire’

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Moment of history: Amy Coney Barrett, her hand on a Bible held by her husband Jesse, is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by Clarence Thomas, its longest-serving justice

Lit up in celebration: The White House was draped in giant flags for the swearing-in of Amy Coney Barrett (left) by Clarence Thomas (right)

Lit up in celebration: The White House was draped in giant flags for the swearing-in of Amy Coney Barrett (left) by Clarence Thomas (right)

Lit up in celebration: The White House was draped in giant flags for the swearing-in of Amy Coney Barrett (left) by Clarence Thomas (right)

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34901962 0 image a 13 1603804104317

First words as a Justice: Amy Coney Barrett takes the oath of office as Donald Trump savors the confirmation of the third justice of his presidency

Families together - and unmasked: Donald and Melania Trump posed with Amy Coney Barrett and Jesse Barrett on the Blue Room balcony of the White House after she was sworn in as the ninth Supreme Court justice

Families together - and unmasked: Donald and Melania Trump posed with Amy Coney Barrett and Jesse Barrett on the Blue Room balcony of the White House after she was sworn in as the ninth Supreme Court justice

Families together – and unmasked: Donald and Melania Trump posed with Amy Coney Barrett and Jesse Barrett on the Blue Room balcony of the White House after she was sworn in as the ninth Supreme Court justice

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34878600 8883757 image a 8 1603803453347

‘I cannot think of any other situation like this,’ said Rick Hasen, an expert on election law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. ‘It really is a potential baptism by fire.’

One week after the election, the court on Nov. 10 hears a case in which Republicans including Trump are asking the court to strike down the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

During Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing two weeks ago, Democrats focused on both Obamacare and election cases in voicing opposition to her confirmation and urged her to step aside from both. Barrett refused to make such a commitment. Justices have the final say on whether they step aside in a case.

At a White House ceremony on Monday night where conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered to her one of the two oaths of office that justices must take, Barrett pledged her independence from politics.

‘This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct,’ she said.

The political pressures put Barrett in a difficult position and she may tread carefully, said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

‘She could be on the court for four decades. I don´t think she wants her first big ruling to be raising a question about her independence,’ Levinson added.

Trump has said he wanted Barrett to be confirmed before Election Day so she could cast a decisive vote in any election-related dispute, potentially in his favor.

The Supreme Court has only once decided the outcome of a U.S. presidential election – the disputed 2000 contest ultimately awarded to Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore.

The justices already have tackled multiple election-related emergency requests this year, some related to rules changes prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Election may be on the ballot: Two cases on mail-in ballot counting are due to be considered this week - and Donald Trump says the high court might decide who gets to occupy the White House on January 20

Election may be on the ballot: Two cases on mail-in ballot counting are due to be considered this week - and Donald Trump says the high court might decide who gets to occupy the White House on January 20

Election may be on the ballot: Two cases on mail-in ballot counting are due to be considered this week – and Donald Trump says the high court might decide who gets to occupy the White House on January 20

Campaign point: The Affordable Care Act could be struck down in its entirety after a hearing the week after the election - with Barack Obama forcefully reminding voters of the issue on the trail for Joe Biden

Campaign point: The Affordable Care Act could be struck down in its entirety after a hearing the week after the election - with Barack Obama forcefully reminding voters of the issue on the trail for Joe Biden

Campaign point: The Affordable Care Act could be struck down in its entirety after a hearing the week after the election – with Barack Obama forcefully reminding voters of the issue on the trail for Joe Biden

On Monday night, the conservative justices were in the majority as the court on a 5-3 vote declined to extend mail-in voting deadlines sought by Democrats in Wisconsin.

Last week, in a stark sign of how Barrett’s appointment could affect such cases, the court split 4-4 in a case from Pennsylvania, handing a loss to Republicans hoping to curb the counting of mail-in ballots received after Election Day.

Republicans on Friday asked the court to block the mail-in ballot counting in Pennsylvania, knowing that Barrett was about to be confirmed.

The conservative majority even before Barrett’s appointment has generally sided with state officials who oppose court-imposed changes to election procedures to make it easier to vote during the pandemic.

The Obamacare case is the third major Republican-backed challenge to the law, which has helped roughly 20 million Americans obtain medical insurance. It also bars insurers from refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Republican opponents have called the law an unwarranted intervention by government in health insurance markets.

The Supreme Court previously upheld Obamacare 5-4 in a 2012 ruling. It rejected another challenge by 6-3 in 2015.

Barrett in the past criticized those two rulings. Democrats opposing her nomination emphasized that she might vote to strike down Obamacare, although legal experts think the court is unlikely to do so.

The court hears another major case on Nov. 4 concerning the scope of religious-rights exemptions to certain federal laws. 

The dispute arose from Philadelphia’s decision to bar a local Roman Catholic entity from participating in the city’s foster-care program because the organization prohibits same-sex couples from serving as foster parents.

The court began its current term on Oct. 5 shorthanded following the death of Barrett’s predecessor, liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

If the court is divided 4-4 in any of the cases argued before Barrett was appointed, it could hold a second round of oral arguments so Barrett can participate. 

MEET ACB, A CONSERVATIVE PIN-UP FOR HER DEEP FAITH AND BRILLIANT CAREER – AND A LIGHTNING ROD FOR LIBERALS

Amy Coney Barrett is 48, a mother of seven and a brilliant legal mind – and now she is the most divisive Supreme Court Justice in at least a generation and perhaps far longer.

She brings to the Supreme Court a short judicial career, a longer academic one and the hopes of a conservative legal movement that they have a secure 6-3 majority in the high court for now, and a stalwart vote on it for many decades to come.

Coney Barrett’s life story makes her the sixth Catholic on the court, keeps the six-three male-female make-up of the bench, and for the first time ever puts on the court someone who openly identifies with the charismatic wing of modern Christianity.

She is also the only one who did not receive an education at Harvard or Yale, and the only mid-western and southern justice, having been born and brought up in Louisiana and spent the rest of her life in Indiana.

Barrett was brought up in Metairie, Louisiana, as a member of charismatic, conservative, Catholic group  People of Praise and one of seven children.

Her father, Mike Coney, a former oil company lawyer, has been a leading member for decades. Her attorney-husband, Jesse, 46, whom she met while both were students at Notre Dame University, was also raised in the group.

She had studied for her undergraduate degree at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, and contemplated further study in English literature but instead decided to study law, going to Notre Dame whose law school has built a reputation as predominantly conservative.

Family photo of Amy Coney Barrett, her husband Jesse Barrett, and their seven children Emma; Vivian; Tess; John Peter; Liam; Juliet; and Benjamin. Her large family has been part of her appeal for conservatives. Vivian and John Peter are adopted from Haiti and their youngest son Benjamin has Down Syndrome

Family photo of Amy Coney Barrett, her husband Jesse Barrett, and their seven children Emma; Vivian; Tess; John Peter; Liam; Juliet; and Benjamin. Her large family has been part of her appeal for conservatives. Vivian and John Peter are adopted from Haiti and their youngest son Benjamin has Down Syndrome

Family photo of Amy Coney Barrett, her husband Jesse Barrett, and their seven children Emma; Vivian; Tess; John Peter; Liam; Juliet; and Benjamin. Her large family has been part of her appeal for conservatives. Vivian and John Peter are adopted from Haiti and their youngest son Benjamin has Down Syndrome

Judge Amy Coney Barrett introduced her family at her confirmation hearing including her children (from left, first row) Liam, Vivian, Tess, Juliet, Emma, J.P. and husband Jesse and then siblings (from left, second row) Vivian, Eileen, Michael, Megan and Amanda. Sister Carrie was seated across the aisle

Judge Amy Coney Barrett introduced her family at her confirmation hearing including her children (from left, first row) Liam, Vivian, Tess, Juliet, Emma, J.P. and husband Jesse and then siblings (from left, second row) Vivian, Eileen, Michael, Megan and Amanda. Sister Carrie was seated across the aisle

Judge Amy Coney Barrett introduced her family at her confirmation hearing including her children (from left, first row) Liam, Vivian, Tess, Juliet, Emma, J.P. and husband Jesse and then siblings (from left, second row) Vivian, Eileen, Michael, Megan and Amanda. Sister Carrie was seated across the aisle 

Amy Coney Barrett is seen in a family photo with siblings and parents. In 2018, Barrett's father Mike Coney wrote an online biography of himself on his church's website, saying he joined People of Praise because he and his wife Linda 'felt a call to live life in a close knit Christian community…one that would help form our children into good Christians and strengthen our marriage and family'

Amy Coney Barrett is seen in a family photo with siblings and parents. In 2018, Barrett's father Mike Coney wrote an online biography of himself on his church's website, saying he joined People of Praise because he and his wife Linda 'felt a call to live life in a close knit Christian community…one that would help form our children into good Christians and strengthen our marriage and family'

Amy Coney Barrett is seen in a family photo with siblings and parents. In 2018, Barrett’s father Mike Coney wrote an online biography of himself on his church’s website, saying he joined People of Praise because he and his wife Linda ‘felt a call to live life in a close knit Christian community…one that would help form our children into good Christians and strengthen our marriage and family’

Family photo of Amy Coney Barrett, husband Jesse Barrett, and their seven children. She and her husband Jesse

Family photo of Amy Coney Barrett, husband Jesse Barrett, and their seven children. She and her husband Jesse

Family photo of Amy Coney Barrett, husband Jesse Barrett, and their seven children. She and her husband Jesse

Described by one professor as the best student he had ever had, she went on to be a clerk for Antonin Scalia, the justice who championed originalism as a judicial philosophy.

She had a brief career in private practice but became a law professor at Notre Dame, and married and had seven children.

The visible manifestation of her conservative Catholic beliefs was part of her appeal to political conservatives.

But it has also focused attention on the tiny group, which has just over 2,000 members and which does not represent mainstream Catholicism. 

People of Praise is headquartered in Notre Dame’s hometown, South Bend, Indiana, and many of its leading members have ties to the university. According to its website, the group has branches in 14 states as well as one in Canada and two in the Caribbean. It runs three Grades 7-through-12 Trinity Schools and one elementary school.

Both— who lives in South Bend — and People of Praise seem to have gone to extraordinary lengths to hide her affiliation. Articles mentioning her were removed from the group’s website shortly before she was to be considered for a seat on the Federal Appeals Court in 2017.

Barrett’s ties to People of Praise only became public when the New York Times broke the story three weeks after her confirmation hearing as an appeals court judge, but before the committee had voted. The committee eventually split along party lines to confirm her. Three Democrats voted with the Republican majority in the vote in the full Senate. 

People of Praise is strongly anti-abortion. It also rejects homosexuality. ‘Both are seen as being accepted by human law, but rejected by divine law,’ the former member explained.

‘Homosexual relationships are taboo, and any LGBTQ inclinations are seen as temptations that must be overcome through prayer. If that fails, the member must lead a life of chastity.’

Even dating is a no-no until a member has ‘prayed through their state in life’ and decided they are ready to ‘marry for the Lord.’ If they have not committed themselves to marriage, they must not date.

Barrett got her law degree at Notre Dame, graduating first in her class in 1997. She's pictured speaking at Notre Dame's Law School commencement in 2018

Barrett got her law degree at Notre Dame, graduating first in her class in 1997. She's pictured speaking at Notre Dame's Law School commencement in 2018

Barrett got her law degree at Notre Dame, graduating first in her class in 1997. She’s pictured speaking at Notre Dame’s Law School commencement in 2018 

Barrett and her husband Jesse are members of People of Praise, a small group that teaches that wives have to obey their husbands in everything

Barrett and her husband Jesse are members of People of Praise, a small group that teaches that wives have to obey their husbands in everything

Barrett and her husband Jesse are members of People of Praise, a small group that teaches that wives have to obey their husbands in everything

The group is probably best known for its doctrine that women must obey their husbands in everything, and its system where all men and single women must report to their mentor — called a ‘head’. Husbands act as the ‘head’ for their wives.

The ‘heads’ have such influence they give direction on who a member should date or even marry, how to raise children, whether to take a new job and where to live. 

Until recently the female leader was known as a ‘handmaid.’ But that title was dropped after the success of the dystopian TV show The Handmaid’s Tale and the negative connotations it brought to the title. 

Author Margaret Atwood, who wrote the original novel, said it was based on a group that has similar views to People of Praise. 

The conservative Catholic beliefs have bled into her public life:  she is a former member of the Notre Dame’s ‘Faculty for Life’ and in 2015 signed a letter to the Catholic Church affirming the ‘teachings of the Church as truth.’

Among those teachings were the ‘value of human life from conception to natural death’ and marriage-family values ‘founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman’.

She has previously written that Supreme Court precedents are not sacrosanct. Liberals have taken these comments as a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Barrett wrote that she agrees ‘with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it’.

What she said is the distillation of originalism and raises the possibility that she could tear up precedent if she sees it as out of line with the original constiution.  

That puts her in sync with Scalia and the Republican senators who voted for her and expect her to rule in line with that for decades to come; it puts her violently at odds with those who do not agree, and puts her on track to be a justice whose presence on the bench is going to divide opinion as long as she remains on it.

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Trump claims early voters want to ‘change their vote to me’ in wake of his second debate with Biden

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trump claims early voters want to change their vote to me in wake of his second debate with biden

Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that Americans who already sent in their early ballots for Joe Biden now want to change their vote as Google has seen a dramatic influx in people searching for how or if they can change their vote after already casting it.

What changed their minds? President Trump claims it was his performance at the second debate in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday.

‘Strongly Trending (Google) since immediately after the second debate is CAN I CHANGE MY VOTE? This refers changing it to me,’ Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. ‘The answer in most states is YES. Go do it. Most important Election of your life!’

Trump isn’t wrong, people can change their votes – but only in a select few states. 

Since September, when early and absentee voting commenced starting in North Carolina, Google trends show a sizable increase in the amount of inquiries on its search engine for those wondering if they can change their mind after already voting.

Popularity with the search peaked to its highest point October 18-24, the days immediately before and after the second and final debate between the president and Democratic nominee. This was less than two weeks before Election Day. 

Donald Trump assured voters they can change their ming even if they already sent their ballots after Google trends saw an influx in people searching for if they can alter their vote before Election Day

Donald Trump assured voters they can change their ming even if they already sent their ballots after Google trends saw an influx in people searching for if they can alter their vote before Election Day

Donald Trump assured voters they can change their ming even if they already sent their ballots after Google trends saw an influx in people searching for if they can alter their vote before Election Day

Line to vote early in-person in Brooklyn, New York

Line to vote early in-person in Brooklyn, New York

Worker manning a drop box for mail-in ballots in Miami, Florida

Worker manning a drop box for mail-in ballots in Miami, Florida

Whether by mail or in-person, a record number of people have voted early or absentee this year in the midst of the coroanvirus pandemic. As of Friday, 37 million people have already cast their ballots

Only a handful of states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, allow early voters to change their ballot after casting it

Only a handful of states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, allow early voters to change their ballot after casting it

Only a handful of states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, allow early voters to change their ballot after casting it 

The issue of Americans changing their ballot selection has gained more traction due to a record number of early and absentee voters in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – as several states have loosened their criteria on voting by this method.

More people are also voting early in-person than in previous years, causing several hours-long lines.

As of Friday, 37 million people have already voted, whether by mail or early in-person.

Areas surging with the search ‘can I change my vote?’ are mainly in New Mexico, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Nebraska.

Although Nebraska is a deep red state that went overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016, the president plans to travel there Tuesday evening for a rally – a questionable move that causes speculation that the president is worried about losing traction there.

States that also surged above the 50 per cent mark in influx in searches are Kentucky, Maine, Delaware and Washington D.C.

The five states least interested in the question are Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Georgia and Oregon.

Biden is campaigning in Georgia Tuesday, despite the off chance that he could win the red state that went more than 50 per cent for Trump last time around.

While it’s not readily or easily accessible on most states’ election websites to find out if or how to change your early or absentee ballot, among those states where you can change it are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, New York and Mississippi.

There are conflicting reports on whether Pennsylvania allows you to alter your ballot after it’s already sent or cast. 

Trump claims the instance that has changed people's minds who have already voted was the second and final debate in Nashville, Tennessee last week

Trump claims the instance that has changed people's minds who have already voted was the second and final debate in Nashville, Tennessee last week

Trump claims the instance that has changed people’s minds who have already voted was the second and final debate in Nashville, Tennessee last week

In Connecticut, it is up to the local town office to decide if voters can change their mind. 

Wisconsin, a key battleground state that went red by a margin of only 0.7 per cent in 2016, allows voters to change their mind up to three times before their ballot is officially cast and counted.

Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are all swing states that went red by a slight margin in 2016, but Trump is at risk of losing this time around.

Some states, like Michigan and Wisconsin allow voters to change their ballot up until Election Day, while voters in some other states must do so by a predetermined date.

Other battleground states, like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Arizona, do not allow voters to change their ballot after it has been cast.

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The mesmerising winners of the 2020 Epson panoramic photography awards revealed

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the mesmerising winners of the 2020 epson panoramic photography awards revealed

Truly, a sight for lockdown-weary eyes.

These mesmerising panoramic shots have been revealed as the winners and shortlisted entries in the 2020 Epson International Pano Awards.

This year the competition received 5,859 entries from 1,452 professional and amateur photographers in 96 countries – a record for its 11-year history – who were competing for thousands of dollars cash and prizes.

The overall winner of the Open Competition was Matt Jackisch from Canada with a stunning photograph of a lone tree in a snow-covered landscape in British Columbia, Canada. 

Competition Curator David Evans said: ‘Needless to say this is a year to remember. We thought new entry and judging systems would keep us busy enough, then the world changed. We doubled down and got to work, and the upshot is a record year for the Pano Awards. We’re overwhelmed with the level of support from entrants and sponsors, especially Epson, and we thank you all so very much and also congratulate the winners and highest-scoring entrants for 2020 – the year that changed us all.’

Scroll down to see the shots the judges declared had the wow factor… and to the very bottom for Matt’s winning image.

A stunning image of Lake Bled in Slovenia by German photographer Carsten Bachmeyer

A stunning image of Lake Bled in Slovenia by German photographer Carsten Bachmeyer

A stunning image of Lake Bled in Slovenia by German photographer Carsten Bachmeyer

This amazing picture of a lightning strike over Porto, Portugal, was taken by UK photographer Mara Leite

This amazing picture of a lightning strike over Porto, Portugal, was taken by UK photographer Mara Leite

This amazing picture of a lightning strike over Porto, Portugal, was taken by UK photographer Mara Leite

An eye-catching picture of Dubai taken by Spanish photographer Sebastian Tontsch

An eye-catching picture of Dubai taken by Spanish photographer Sebastian Tontsch

An eye-catching picture of Dubai taken by Spanish photographer Sebastian Tontsch

The Sydney Opera House looks extra-striking in this image taken by Australian photographer Graeme Gordon

The Sydney Opera House looks extra-striking in this image taken by Australian photographer Graeme Gordon

The Sydney Opera House looks extra-striking in this image taken by Australian photographer Graeme Gordon

A stunning composite image showing four seasons in one image near the city of Carei in Romania by Romanian art photographer Ovidiu Dumitru

A stunning composite image showing four seasons in one image near the city of Carei in Romania by Romanian art photographer Ovidiu Dumitru

A stunning composite image showing four seasons in one image near the city of Carei in Romania by Romanian art photographer Ovidiu Dumitru

This hypnotic image was taken in Madagascar's Avenue of the Baobabs by Russian photographer Dmitry Arkhipov

This hypnotic image was taken in Madagascar's Avenue of the Baobabs by Russian photographer Dmitry Arkhipov

This hypnotic image was taken in Madagascar’s Avenue of the Baobabs by Russian photographer Dmitry Arkhipov

Kyoto's jaw-dropping bamboo forest, captured by Piriya Wongkongkathep, from Thailand

Kyoto's jaw-dropping bamboo forest, captured by Piriya Wongkongkathep, from Thailand

Kyoto’s jaw-dropping bamboo forest, captured by Piriya Wongkongkathep, from Thailand

Hong Kong has never looked so alluring as in this picture by Cp Lau, who hails from the city

Hong Kong has never looked so alluring as in this picture by Cp Lau, who hails from the city

Hong Kong has never looked so alluring as in this picture by Cp Lau, who hails from the city

The jaw-dropping Bella Coola valley in British Columbia, Canada, looking enough more jaw-dropping than usual in this epic snap by Canadian photographer Blake Randall. The image came 14th in the Open Landscape/Nature category

The jaw-dropping Bella Coola valley in British Columbia, Canada, looking enough more jaw-dropping than usual in this epic snap by Canadian photographer Blake Randall. The image came 14th in the Open Landscape/Nature category

The jaw-dropping Bella Coola valley in British Columbia, Canada, looking enough more jaw-dropping than usual in this epic snap by Canadian photographer Blake Randall. The image came 14th in the Open Landscape/Nature category

American photographer David Swindler is behind this breathtaking picture of a rainbow in Utah

American photographer David Swindler is behind this breathtaking picture of a rainbow in Utah

American photographer David Swindler is behind this breathtaking picture of a rainbow in Utah

Lake Bled in Slovenia in winter wonderland mode, captured by Australian photographer Glenn Mckimmin

Lake Bled in Slovenia in winter wonderland mode, captured by Australian photographer Glenn Mckimmin

Lake Bled in Slovenia in winter wonderland mode, captured by Australian photographer Glenn Mckimmin

The island of Senja in Norway looking very Game of Thrones in this image by Chinese photographer Di Lu

The island of Senja in Norway looking very Game of Thrones in this image by Chinese photographer Di Lu

The island of Senja in Norway looking very Game of Thrones in this image by Chinese photographer Di Lu

This amazing picture was taken by the grand prize winner, Matt Jackisch - but it's not his winning shot. It shows Mount Assiniboine in Canada (the sharp snow-covered peak at the back) and the amazing surrounding landscape. Matt said of the picture: 'A cloud enveloped us completely and my heart sank. But then... the cloud passed and the scene changed completely. Light began pouring into the valley. The lakes began to calm. And Assiniboine herself peaked out to give us a royal wave hello'

This amazing picture was taken by the grand prize winner, Matt Jackisch - but it's not his winning shot. It shows Mount Assiniboine in Canada (the sharp snow-covered peak at the back) and the amazing surrounding landscape. Matt said of the picture: 'A cloud enveloped us completely and my heart sank. But then... the cloud passed and the scene changed completely. Light began pouring into the valley. The lakes began to calm. And Assiniboine herself peaked out to give us a royal wave hello'

This amazing picture was taken by the grand prize winner, Matt Jackisch – but it’s not his winning shot. It shows Mount Assiniboine in Canada (the sharp snow-covered peak at the back) and the amazing surrounding landscape. Matt said of the picture: ‘A cloud enveloped us completely and my heart sank. But then… the cloud passed and the scene changed completely. Light began pouring into the valley. The lakes began to calm. And Assiniboine herself peaked out to give us a royal wave hello’

This incredible shot was taken by 33-year-old photographer Alessandro Cantarelli, from Rome, 9,000ft up in the Italian Dolomites, with the moon illuminating the Three Peaks of Lavaredo

This incredible shot was taken by 33-year-old photographer Alessandro Cantarelli, from Rome, 9,000ft up in the Italian Dolomites, with the moon illuminating the Three Peaks of Lavaredo

This incredible shot was taken by 33-year-old photographer Alessandro Cantarelli, from Rome, 9,000ft up in the Italian Dolomites, with the moon illuminating the Three Peaks of Lavaredo

A stunning shot by Austrian amateur photographer Stefan Thaler of a fog-enveloped Civita di Bagnoregio - a hilltop village in central Italy

A stunning shot by Austrian amateur photographer Stefan Thaler of a fog-enveloped Civita di Bagnoregio - a hilltop village in central Italy

A stunning shot by Austrian amateur photographer Stefan Thaler of a fog-enveloped Civita di Bagnoregio – a hilltop village in central Italy

A breathtaking shot of Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery in northern Russia by Russian amateur photographer Petr Ushanov

A breathtaking shot of Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery in northern Russia by Russian amateur photographer Petr Ushanov

A breathtaking shot of Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery in northern Russia by Russian amateur photographer Petr Ushanov

Chinese photographer Di Lu called this snap of the city of Qingdao he entered into the competition 'Between The Fog'

Chinese photographer Di Lu called this snap of the city of Qingdao he entered into the competition 'Between The Fog'

Chinese photographer Di Lu called this snap of the city of Qingdao he entered into the competition ‘Between The Fog’

Behold the winning shot in the Amateur Landscape/Nature category. It was taken on Madeira by Spanish photographer Carlos F Turienzo

Behold the winning shot in the Amateur Landscape/Nature category. It was taken on Madeira by Spanish photographer Carlos F Turienzo

Behold the winning shot in the Amateur Landscape/Nature category. It was taken on Madeira by Spanish photographer Carlos F Turienzo

This is the winning shot in the Amateur Built Environment/Architecture category. It shows the Cuatro Torres financial complex in Madrid and was taken by Spain's Juan Lopez Ruiz

This is the winning shot in the Amateur Built Environment/Architecture category. It shows the Cuatro Torres financial complex in Madrid and was taken by Spain's Juan Lopez Ruiz

This is the winning shot in the Amateur Built Environment/Architecture category. It shows the Cuatro Torres financial complex in Madrid and was taken by Spain’s Juan Lopez Ruiz

This heavenly shot came third in the Open Landscape/Nature category. It was taken in Namibia by French photographer Laurent Lacroix

This heavenly shot came third in the Open Landscape/Nature category. It was taken in Namibia by French photographer Laurent Lacroix

This heavenly shot came third in the Open Landscape/Nature category. It was taken in Namibia by French photographer Laurent Lacroix

An enchanting shot of Segla mountain on Norway's Senja island by French photographer Armand Sarlangue

An enchanting shot of Segla mountain on Norway's Senja island by French photographer Armand Sarlangue

An enchanting shot of Segla mountain on Norway’s Senja island by French photographer Armand Sarlangue

American photographer Greg Boratyn is behind this shot, taken in Finnish Lapland. He called it 'Snow Ghosts'

American photographer Greg Boratyn is behind this shot, taken in Finnish Lapland. He called it 'Snow Ghosts'

American photographer Greg Boratyn is behind this shot, taken in Finnish Lapland. He called it ‘Snow Ghosts’ 

Sarlangue wowed the judges with this shot of Utah's Badlands. It came 42nd in the Open Landscape/Nature category

Sarlangue wowed the judges with this shot of Utah's Badlands. It came 42nd in the Open Landscape/Nature category

Sarlangue wowed the judges with this shot of Utah’s Badlands. It came 42nd in the Open Landscape/Nature category

A sunrise over Venice, captured by Carsten Bachmeyer. It came 20th in the Open Built Environment/Architecture category

A sunrise over Venice, captured by Carsten Bachmeyer. It came 20th in the Open Built Environment/Architecture category

A sunrise over Venice, captured by Carsten Bachmeyer. It came 20th in the Open Built Environment/Architecture category

Judges placed this shot, taken in Argentinian Patagonia by American amateur photographer Tyler Lekki, seventh in the Amateur Landscape/Nature category

Judges placed this shot, taken in Argentinian Patagonia by American amateur photographer Tyler Lekki, seventh in the Amateur Landscape/Nature category

Judges placed this shot, taken in Argentinian Patagonia by American amateur photographer Tyler Lekki, seventh in the Amateur Landscape/Nature category

The glory of Mount Cook in New Zealand captured by Brazilian amateur photographer Anselmo Hoffmann

The glory of Mount Cook in New Zealand captured by Brazilian amateur photographer Anselmo Hoffmann

The glory of Mount Cook in New Zealand captured by Brazilian amateur photographer Anselmo Hoffmann

Floe Lake in British Columbia, captured by Jackisch. It came 31st in the Open Landscape/Nature category

Floe Lake in British Columbia, captured by Jackisch. It came 31st in the Open Landscape/Nature category

Floe Lake in British Columbia, captured by Jackisch. It came 31st in the Open Landscape/Nature category

The overall winning shot. Jackisch explained how his gold-medal-luring picture came to pass: 'I spent a blissful day snowshoeing in the British Columbia Coastal Mountains in March. With such a deep snowpack, it was still very wintry up high. I find the more time I spend alone in nature, the quieter my mind gets. The quieter my mind gets, the more subtleties I notice in my surroundings. I only saw this tree because of that state of being. This image was a product of solitude and mindfulness.’ Visit www.mattjackischphotography.com to see more of his work

The overall winning shot. Jackisch explained how his gold-medal-luring picture came to pass: 'I spent a blissful day snowshoeing in the British Columbia Coastal Mountains in March. With such a deep snowpack, it was still very wintry up high. I find the more time I spend alone in nature, the quieter my mind gets. The quieter my mind gets, the more subtleties I notice in my surroundings. I only saw this tree because of that state of being. This image was a product of solitude and mindfulness.’ Visit www.mattjackischphotography.com to see more of his work

The overall winning shot. Jackisch explained how his gold-medal-luring picture came to pass: ‘I spent a blissful day snowshoeing in the British Columbia Coastal Mountains in March. With such a deep snowpack, it was still very wintry up high. I find the more time I spend alone in nature, the quieter my mind gets. The quieter my mind gets, the more subtleties I notice in my surroundings. I only saw this tree because of that state of being. This image was a product of solitude and mindfulness.’ Visit www.mattjackischphotography.com to see more of his work

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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