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U.S., Australia In Spat Over Refugees From Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan

U.S. President Donald Trump attends the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on February 2.

U.S. President Donald Trump has plunged the United States into a dispute with Australia over the fate of 1,300 refugees primarily from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The refugees are among thousands of migrants who, fleeing conflict or poverty, are being held in camps on the Pacific islands of Nairu and Papua New Guinea, where Australia is paying to detain them rather than admit them into the country.

Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, agreed to consider taking in about 1,300 migrants -- most of them from Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and Sudan -- in exchange for Australia taking in Latin American refugees, officials said.

But Trump denounced that as a "dumb deal" this week and said he was reviewing it. He made headlines when word leaked of a contentious phone call over the weekend with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during which the two discussed the matter.

The Washington Post reported on February 2 that Trump called the agreement the "worst deal ever" and accused Turnbull of seeking to export the "next Boston bombers."

Trump has suggested since then that he is still mulling whether to honor the deal, but Turnbull insists that Trump agreed to it out of respect for the strong ties between the countries.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

Serbia Imposes Lockdown On Migrant Camp After Family Allegedly Attacked

A migrant washes his face in a makeshift shelter at an abandoned warehouse in Belgrade in January.

Serbian authorities said they have imposed restrictions on migrants in a camp near Belgrade after three men allegedly attacked a woman and her children near the refugee center.

Officials said migrants staying in the center in Obrenovac on the outskirts of the capital will need special permission to leave and must be back by 10 p.m. each night.

Although the so-called Balkan route to Western Europe was largely shut down last year, migrants continue to flow through Serbia to its northern border with Hungary. Over 7,000 migrants, mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, remain in the country, which is culturally and financially ill-equipped to care for them.

About 500 of the migrants were moved to the Obrenovac camp recently from makeshift shelters in warehouses in Belgrade as temperatures dropped below freezing.

The lockdown was imposed after a local woman complained that three men she described as migrants attacked her while she was walking with her three children near the camp. Police said they were investigating the incident.

Authorities also are providing a special bus to take migrants back and forth between Obrenovac and Belgrade, "to avoid mixing" with the local population.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

Former ExxonMobil Chief Tillerson Sworn In As U.S. Secretary Of State

Rex Tillerson is sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on February 1.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump swore in his new secretary of state, former ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, saying it is "time to bring a clear-eyed focus to foreign affairs."

"Your whole life has prepared you for this moment," Trump told Tillerson at a White House swearing-in ceremony on February 1. Trump praised the executive's extensive experience in dealing with foreign governments such as Russia as head of the giant oil company and described that as an asset that prepared him to become the nation's top diplomat.

Earlier, the Senate voted 56-43 to confirm Tillerson. Four Democrats joined all 52 Republicans in approving him.

Tillerson’s nomination has been shadowed by his work as the head of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company by market value. As CEO, Tillerson oversaw major drilling and exploration around the world, including in Russia.

While Trump and many Republicans saw that as an asset, it worried some Senate Democrats, who charged he would be overly conciliatory to Russia and seek to undo economic sanctions imposed over Moscow's 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea and its active support for separatist militants in eastern Ukraine.

ExxonMobil was working with the Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft on a massive multibillion-dollar Arctic drilling project when the administration of then-President Barack Obama placed sanctions on Russia in 2014.

ExxonMobil later said the move was expected to end up costing it as much $1 billion.

At his confirmation hearings before a Senate committee last month, Tillerson portrayed Russia as a dangerous and destabilizing global actor that disregards U.S. interests.

But he also said Moscow was not unpredictable and that Washington should improve its understanding of the Kremlin's thinking.

Tillerson's backers say his experience running a huge multinational company that employs nearly 84,000 employees makes him eminently qualified to run the sprawling diplomatic bureaucracy of the State Department.

Trump, for his part, has hailed Tillerson's background in the private sector, saying it makes him a capable negotiator.

Tillerson will take the helm of the State Department just as hundreds of State Department employees have signaled open criticism of the Trump administration, in particular a recent executive order temporarily banning refugees and migrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The ban prompted nearly 1,000 U.S. Foreign Service officers and department employees this week to sign a "dissent memo" -- an official channel within the State Department that diplomats and others can use to express opposition to policies.

The ban has also sparked protests around the United States and the world.

The vote came as pressure increased on Democrats to slow or block Trump's other cabinet nominations, amid concerns over possible ethical conflicts and Trump's policy priorities.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

U.S. Confirms 10 More Guantanamo Prisoners Sent To Oman

A former Yemeni inmate, released from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, is welcomed by his family upon his arrival in Riyadh on January 5.

The United States on January 17 confirmed that 10 prisoners had been released from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transferred to Oman.

Oman's Foreign Ministry said on January 16 that it had accepted the prisoners at U.S. President Barrack Obama's request and that they had already arrived in the sultanate on the Arabian Peninsula. It did not name them.

"In consideration of their humanitarian situation, 10 persons have been released from detention and arrived in the sultanate today for a temporary residence," Oman said.

Released Guantanamo prisoners often undergo a reeducation program upon transfer from the military prison.

Two of the men are from Afghanistan, while the others were from Yemen, U.S. authorities said. The Pentagon did not release the prisoners directly to Yemen because of the ongoing civil war in that country.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged on January 17 for the first time that Obama's goal to close the prison during his administration would not be met before he left office on January 20.

The release of the 10 prisoners leaves 45 at the prison, U.S. authorities said.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

Car Packed With Migrants Crashes In Serbia, Killing Two Afghans

FILE: Afghan migrants sit in a tent at their temporary shelter in Subotica, northern Serbia.

Serbian police say a car carrying at least 12 migrants crashed on a highway, killing two Afghan nationals and injuring 10 other passengers, including five children.

Police said the suspected people smuggler who was driving the car fled the scene of the crash.

It occurred early on December 29 near the town of Nis in central Serbia, on a highway that links Bulgaria and Greece to northern and western Europe.

The car hit a protective barrier on the highway, police said in a statement.

State TV cited doctors at an emergency hospital in Nis as saying that many of the injuries were grave and that one victim had to have both legs amputated.

The patients have "extremely severe head and limb injuries. ... We are doing everything we can to save their lives," doctor Miodrag Lazic told state boadcaster RTS.

Thousands of migrants are stranded in Serbia looking for ways to reach wealthier Western European countries, which have sought to curb the influx.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP

U.S. Prosecutors Charge Uzbek Truck Driver With Making Terrorist Threat

A truck driver from Uzbekistan who held up traffic on a U.S. freeway for hours during the holiday weekend in an armed standoff with police has pleaded not guilty to charges of making a terrorist threat.

Khurshed Haydarov, 25, was charged with the felony after confronting police in a four-hour standoff along Interstate 29 near Kansas City, Missouri.

Haydarov pleaded not guilty during a brief court appearance on December 27 in which he required a Russian interpreter. Authorities said he lives in Philadelphia but that he's from Uzbekistan and speaks little English.

A judge scheduled a January 3 hearing to decide on his $100,000 bond.

The incident began when witnesses reported that a man was pointing a long gun at passing vehicles from the cab of a tractor-trailer parked at a rest stop on December 23. No shots were fired.

Police ordered the freeway closed in both directions near the rest stop.

The ensuing standoff ended when authorities breached one of the truck's windows and arrested Haydarov.

Haydarov's weapon later was identified as a pellet gun, which usually is not lethal when fired.

Police said Haydarov was disoriented but was not found to be legally intoxicated.

Based on reporting by AP and The Kansas City Star

Obama Scraps U.S. Registry For Male Immigrants From Muslim States

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has said he may temporarily ban people from Muslim majority countries from entering the United States.

The Obama administration said it is scrapping U.S. regulations that once required Muslim men from 25 Muslim-majority countries to register with the government when they enter the country.

While the current administration has not enforced the program since 2011, President-elect Donald Trump has indicated he might revive it to carry out his campaign vow to require Muslim immigrants to register with the government.

The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System was enacted after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and required male foreigners over the age of 16 from more than 20 mostly Muslim countries -- including Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan -- to register with U.S. immigration authorities upon arrival in the United States and at intervals after that.

The law also required them to be fingerprinted and photographed. It also required Muslim immigrants already in the country to register with the authorities and notify the government if they moved.

On December 21, Trump repeated his pledge to register and even perhaps temporarily ban Muslim immigrants. Because of the Obama administration's actions, he would have to start from scratch with such a program when he takes office next month.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

U.S. Electoral College Finalizes Trump's Victory

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on December 15.

WASHINGTON -- The Electoral College has finalized Republican Donald Trump's election as U.S. president, rejecting a last-minute push by some Democrats to sway its members.

The December 19 vote awarding Trump 304 of the 270 votes he needed to claim victory is the next-to-last step in the presidential election process, as laid out in the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

Clinton collected 230 votes, though thousands of protesters converged on state capitols across the country urging electors to abandon Trump.

"I thank the American people for their overwhelming vote to elect me as their next president of the United States," Trump said. "With this historic step, we can look forward to the bright future ahead. I will work hard to unite our country and be the president of all Americans."

The vote tally will be officially counted and validated by a joint session of Congress in January, setting up Trump's scheduled inauguration on January 20.

The complicated Electoral College system was set up by the crafters of the U.S. Constitution to balance out the voting power of urban, more populous states against that of rural, less populated states.

The way the system is set up means that sometimes a candidate can lose the overall popular vote but still win the majority of the Electoral College votes. That's what happened with Trump in the November 8 election. His opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, won more than 2 million more popular votes than he did.

Not all Electoral College members are obligated to vote for the winner of their home state's election.

For that reason, some Democrats and others had attempted to persuade some college members to choose a Republican other than Trump.

Supporters of that effort also cite reports that Russian government-backed hackers influenced the presidential campaign, and suspicions about Trump's business dealings.

The overwhelming majority of the electors who gathered in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., on December 19 ignored that effort.

Still, four Democrats and two Republicans broke with tradition and did not vote for Trump because of serious reservations about his qualifications for office. That was the most in a century of U.S. elections.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Trump To Name Next Secretary Of State; Tillerson Remains Front-Runner

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson was reported as a leading candidate to become U.S. secretary of state.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has tweeted that he will announce his choice to become the next secretary of state on December 13, with news reports saying Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson remains the front-runner.

Trump did not say on December 12 who he would name, but Fox News, AP, and Reuters became the latest to report that Tillerson is Trump's choice for the prized top diplomatic post.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters that Tillerson's long business experience with drilling projects in Russia helped make him a "leading candidate" for the job.

If he is nominated, however, his extensive ties with Russia may be the focus of bipartisan concern in the closely divided Senate, which would vote on confirming him.

"I have concerns. It's very well known that he has a very close relationship with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin." Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain told Reuters. McCain called Putin "a KGB agent who is bent on restoring the Russian Empire."

Senator Charles Schumer, who will be the Senate's Democratic leader next year, told CBS that "a guy like Tillerson needs a thorough, thorough hearing." He added that "talks about his closeness with Putin will come forward."

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, Fox, and CBS

Obama Warns Against 'False Promises' To Wipe Out Terrorism

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on counterterrorism at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida on December 6.

U.S. President Barack Obama warned that the United States will not be able to wipe out terrorism through increased military might in a veiled shot at his successor Donald Trump.

In his final speech on counterterrorism as president on December 6, Obama said that, while his administration has decapitated Al-Qaeda, making it "a shadow of its former self," and put the Islamic State (IS) group on the defensive, he believes terrorism will remain a threat to the United States for years to come.

"Rather than offer false promises that we can eliminate terrorism by dropping more bombs or deploying more and more troops or fencing ourselves off from the rest of the world, we have to take a long view of the terrorist threat and we have to pursue a smart strategy that can be sustained," Obama said at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

Obama argued that terrorists "don't pose an existential threat" to the United States, but because militants have infiltrated many nations outside the Middle East and gained sympathizers in the West, the battle against them is unlikely to end with a "clearly defined victory."

Obama will turn over the White House on January 20 to Republican President-elect Trump, who has been sharply critical of his approach to fighting terrorism.

Trump called Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton "co-founders" of IS during the presidential campaign, blaming them for leaving a vacuum after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 that allowed the group to form and quickly take over large swaths of territory.

Trump has said little about how he will combat extremist groups, arguing that ambiguity and unpredictability are assets that deny the enemy a chance to plan ahead. Still, all signs suggest he'll pursue a more muscular, military-driven approach, including his selection of hawkish generals to lead his Defense Department and national security team.

The White House said Obama's speech was planned long before Trump won the November 8 election, but the president appeared to take issue with Trump repeatedly in his remarks.

Obama said it was important to adhere to American laws and values and not use the threat of terrorist attacks as an excuse to reinstate waterboarding or impose a religious test on immigrants -- two positions advocated by Trump.

"The whole objective of these terrorists is to scare us into changing who we are and our democracy," Obama said. "We are at our best a nation that has been defined by hope and not fear... We can get these terrorists and stay true to who we are."

Obama won office in 2008 with plans to unwind the U.S. military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and focus on fighting militant groups that threatened the United States.

Obama said his administration's approach of providing support to local partners and not undertaking massive ground invasions has been effective and is making progress at defeating Al-Qaeda and taking back territory from IS in Iraq.

After seeking in 2014 to establish a "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria, IS has now lost "more than half" its territory, Obama said.

"[IS] has lost control of major population centers. Its morale is plummeting. Its recruitment is drying up. Its commanders and external plotters are being taken out, and local populations are turning against it," he said.

Critics say that while U.S. and Iraqi forces have made progress this year in rolling back IS gains in Iraq, Obama's hands-off approach has backfired in Syria, where covert U.S. backing of a few rebel groups has failed to either dislodge the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or significantly beat back IS territorial gains there.

Trump has criticized Obama for backing rebel groups in Syria who he said may be no better than than Assad at upholding human rights.

In a speech in North Carolina late on December 6 that appeared to rebut Obama's remarks, Trump declared that "we will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn't be involved with. Instead our focus must be on defeating terrorism and destroying [IS], and we will."

Trump said his goal in building up U.S. forces is to promote global peace and stability through military strength.

"I will only engage the use of military forces when it's in the vital national security interests of the United States," he said. "This destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must finally, folks, come to an end."

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and dpa

Bulgarian PM: Some 300 Migrants Arrested After Refugee Camp Riot

Bulgarian riot police stand near garbarge bins during clashes in the migrants reception centre in the town of Harmanli on November 24 where some 1,500 migrants started a riot in Bulgaria's largest refugee camp.

Bulgaria's prime minister says some 300 migrants have been arrested following a riot in the country's largest refugee camp that left two dozen police injured.

"Around 300 migrants, six of them considered a threat to national security, have been arrested," Prime Minister Boyko Borisov told BNR public radio in the early hours of November 25 after visiting the camp.

Bulgarian officials said between 1,500 and 2,000 migrants were involved in the November 24 clashes at the Harmanli migrant reception center, near the border with Turkey.

The crowd, primarily made up of refugees from Afghanistan, allegedly set car tires alight and hurled stones at more than 200 police and firefighters to protest newly imposed rule banning migrants from leaving the center as a medical precaution.

Tensions have run high in the area, with local residents protesting to demand that the refugee camp be closed.

Migrants fleeing violence in the Middle East have made their way into the Balkan country despite the fence Sofia has erected along the Turkish border amid the worst migration crisis to hit Europe since 1945.

Around 13,000 migrants, most of them from Afghanistan, are currently in Bulgaria, according to official statistics.

Based on reporting by dpa, AP, and AFP

Former New York Mayor Giuliani Said Favored For U.S. Secretary Of State

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was a vocal advocate for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign against Hillary Clinton (file photo).

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has emerged as the leading candidate to serve as U.S. secretary of state in Donald Trump's administration, Trump officials told news media.

Giuliani was a top adviser and vocal advocate for Trump during his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Speaking at a Wall Street Journal event in Washington on November 14, Giuliani ruled out becoming Trump's attorney general -- a job for which the former federal prosecutor had been seen as a top contender..

He said he thought John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "would be a very good choice" for secretary of state. But asked if there was anyone better, he replied with a mischievous smile, "Maybe me, I don't know."

Trump's inauguration is just 66 days away and the president-elect has been focused on building his team and speaking to foreign leaders while working out of Trump Towers, his home in New York.

Besides Giuliani and Bolton, former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich has also been named as one of the candidates for the top diplomatic job.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

NATO Chief Warns Against 'Going It Alone'

Belgium -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers remarks after the US elections at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, November 9, 2016

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the West is facing some of its greatest security challenges and "going it alone is not an option."

Stoltenberg, in an article in Britain's The Observer newspaper on November 13, said that "we face the greatest challenges to our security in a generation," amid concerns about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's views toward NATO.

"This is no time to question the partnership between Europe and the United States," Stoltenberg said.

Trump caused concern in March, during his election campaign, when he called NATO "obsolete" and said he would withhold U.S. support from alliance members unless they increased military spending and "fulfilled their obligations" to the United States.

Stoltenberg admitted in the article that European countries must increase their financial contributions to the security alliance, as the United States currently accounts for almost 70 percent of NATO spending.

But he noted that the only time the NATO clause of "an attack on one is an attack on all" was invoked was after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

He said some 1,000 European soldiers serving in Afghanistan had "paid the ultimate price" in what was "a direct response" to the 9/11 attacks.

Stoltenberg added that NATO had made possible the "integration of Europe" and ended the Cold War, saying that "European leaders have always understood that when it comes to security, going it alone is not an option."

"At the same time, American leaders have always recognized that they had profound strategic interest in a stable and secure Europe," he added.

The NATO chief also said the alliance still played a major role in fighting against terrorism and has responded to "a more assertive Russia."

"We have implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the Cold War," he said. "And the United States has significantly strengthened its commitment to European security, deploying a new armored brigade to eastern Europe and delivering equipment and supplies to support future reinforcements if needed."

Moscow's relations with the West have plunged to levels of acrimony unseen since the end of the Cold War following Russia's military seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and an ensuing war between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists.

Trump said in September that he "would have a very, very good relationship" with Russian President Vladimir Putin and also asserted that he would be better at negotiating with Putin than President Barack Obama has been.

With reporting by AFP, The Guardian, and The Observer

U.S.: Air Strikes Against IS Killed 64 Civilians In Past Year

Peshmerga forces ride on military vehicles in the town of Bashiqa after it was recaptured from the Islamic State, east of Mosul, Iraq, on November 9.

U.S.-led air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria have killed 64 civilians and injured eight in the past year, the U.S. military has said.

The latest totals bring the number of civilians killed in air strikes to 119, with another 37 injured, according to the U.S. Central Command, which insists that in each incident all precautions were taken to avoid civilian deaths.

Independent monitoring groups and activists estimate that air strikes have killed hundreds of civilians, however.

The latest cases occurred from November through September. However, they do not include an air strike in July near Manbij, Syria, that monitoring groups said killed at least 56 civilians, the military said.

Also, the Pentagon said a U.S. brigadier general is still investigating a September air strike near Deir el-Zour, Syria, that may have unintentionally killed dozens of Syrian government forces.

The Pentagon said it has received 257 allegations of air strikes causing civilian casualties, and has concluded that 76 of the reports were valid. To date, it said 65 investigations have been completed.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa

Victorious Trump Pledges To Be President For 'All Americans'

Trump Pledges To Be 'President For All Americans'
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  • Trump urges the country to "come together," pledges to be president for "all Americans"
  • Clinton concedes election, congratulates Trump
  • Republicans retain control of House of Representatives and Senate

WASHINGTON -- Billionaire Republican nominee Donald Trump has urged Americans to "come together as one united people" after winning a historic election over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to become the president-elect of the United States.

Trump said in his victory speech to supporters at his headquarters in a Manhattan hotel ballroom that he would be president "for all Americans" and that he would "not let you down."

Trump said he had spoken by phone to Clinton, who had conceded. Clinton has not publicly conceded the election.

Trump praised his rival, a former secretary of state and U.S. senator who was locked in a bitterly fought campaign with the New York-native Trump, for her many years of service to her country.

MORE: Electoral College Map

Trump officially won the election after being declared the winner in Wisconsin, giving him 276 electoral votes, taking him over the 270 needed to win the election.

The Republican nominee's official "victory party" in New York grew euphoric as supporters donned "Make America Great Again" hats, shouted "U.S.A.!" and were partying late into the night in anticipation of victory.

VIDEO PROFILE: Donald Trump, America's Next President

Profile: Donald Trump, America's Next President
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Vice President-elect Mike Pence spoke first to the cheering crowd and introduced Trump.

At Clinton campaign headquarters 2 kilometers away, Clinton campaign manager John Podesta told thousands of Clinton supporters that the Democratic candidate wouldn't be speaking.

EXPLAINER: What Will A Trump Presidency Look Like?

Clinton had wins in big states like California, New York, Illinois, and much of the northeast, along with Virginia, the home state of her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine.

She has won a total of 19 states and Washington, D.C., while Trump has taken 26 states thus far.

Counting still continues in the Midwestern states of Minnesota and Michigan, the northeastern state of New Hampshire, and the western states of Arizona and Alaska.

Clinton -- whom most polls suggested was the front-runner entering election day -- could not overcome surprise defeats in the "Rust Belt" states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio, which often go to the Democratic candidate in presidential elections.

Trump also led in the popular vote, with 47.7 percent to Clinton's 47.5 percent. He had a relatively slim margin of around 200,000 votes in the election.

Reports of a surge in early voting, including among Hispanic voters, led many experts to project an advantage for Clinton, who was favored in all polls to win the election.

PHOTO GALLERY: Trump: A Life In Business And On TV (click to enlarge)

In Congress, Republicans retained control of the 435-member House of Representatives and the Senate, the upper house, where 34 of 100 seats were being contested.

The rancorous campaign between the two candidates has exposed deep fault lines in the U.S. political landscape.

Clinton, 69, and Trump, 70, had savaged one another throughout the campaign, which some historians say have featured a level of mudslinging and overheated rhetoric unprecedented in modern U.S. history.

Exit surveys conducted around the country on Election Day by the AP and the main U.S. TV networks showed more than half of voters cast their ballots with reservations about their candidate or because they disliked the others running.

The exit surveys also showed about four out of 10 voters believed trade among nations creates jobs, while another four out of 10 say it takes jobs from Americans.

Trump has railed against decades of U.S. trade policy and has energized working-class voters, while Clinton has historically supported U.S. trade deals, including as secretary of state. She did, however, back off her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations.

Trump, a wealthy New York businessman and former reality TV star who has never held elective office, had said Clinton would be jailed under his presidency over her controversial handling of e-mails during her tenure as secretary of state.

He captured the Republican nomination with controversial proposals like "extreme vetting" of Muslims who want to enter the country and building a wall on the southern border to keep out immigrants from Central America.

He had also vowed to upend politics-as-usual in Washington if he is elected.

Clinton is a former U.S. senator, secretary of state, and first lady who has vowed to build on the legacy of outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama and touted her decades of public service as qualifying her to lead the nation.

She was seeking to become the first female U.S. president and headed into Election Day with most opinion polls favoring her to beat Trump.

A record number of Americans -- roughly 46 million -- voted early by mail or at polling stations.

Each candidate had to win a majority of the 538 electors under the country's Electoral College system order to succeed Obama, the country’s 44th president and the first African-American to hold that post.

Prior to Election Day, there were concerns about potential difficulties voters might face in casting their ballots. But while voters and civil rights groups reported long lines, isolated cases of malfunctioning equipment and some harassment at polling places, fears of widespread violence and problems did not materialize.

With reporting by AP, NBC, The New York Times, AFP, Reuters

Trump Wins U.S. Presidential Election In Stunning Upset

Donald Trump
  • Trump wins U.S. presidency
  • Trump says Clinton concedes race in telephone call
  • Democrats fall short in bid to take Senate
  • Republicans retain control of House of Representatives

Republican Donald Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States in a huge upset over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

In a speech to his supporters, Trump said Clinton had called him and congratulated him on the win. He pledged to be a president for "all Americans," saying it was time to "bind the wounds of division" after a contentious campaign.

He also vowed to deal fairly with all nations and touted his economic plan, saying his administration would embark on a project of national growth and renewal.

MORE: Electoral College Map

Earlier, Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, had told Clinton's supporters to go home and "get some sleep" and that she would not be speaking to her supporters yet.

Clinton had wins in New York, Illinois, and much of the northeast, along with closely fought Virginia, the home state of her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine.

EXPLAINER: What Will A Trump Presidency Look Like?

But those wins were not enough for Clinton as she lost the "Rust Belt" states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as Florida, a deficit too much for her to overcome.

In Congress, Republicans retained control of the 435-member House of Representatives and the Senate, the upper house, where 34 seats were being contested.

The rancorous campaign between the two candidates exposed deep fault lines in the U.S. political landscape, and whoever wins will face a profoundly divided electorate.

Clinton, 69, and Trump, 70, had savaged one another throughout the campaign, which some historians say have featured a level of mudslinging and overheated rhetoric unprecedented in modern U.S. history.

PHOTO GALLERY: American Voters Choose A President

​Exit surveys conducted around the country on election day by the Associated Press and the main U.S. TV networks showed more than half of voters cast their ballots with reservations about their candidate or because they disliked the others running.

The exit surveys also showed about four out of 10 voters believed trade among nations creates jobs, while another four out of 10 say it takes jobs from Americans.

Trump has railed against decades of U.S. trade policy and has energized working-class voters, while Clinton has historically supported U.S. trade deals, including as secretary of state.

She did, however, back off of her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations.

Trump, a wealthy New York businessman and former reality TV star who has never held elective office, has said Clinton would be jailed under his presidency over her controversial handling of e-mails during her tenure as secretary of state.

​He captured the Republican nomination with controversial proposals like "extreme vetting" of Muslims who want to enter the country and building a wall on the southern border to keep out immigrants from Central America and has vowed to upend politics as usual in Washington if he is elected.

Clinton is a former U.S. senator, secretary of state, and first lady who had vowed to build on the legacy of outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama and touted her decades of public service as qualifying her to lead the nation.

She was seeking to become the first female U.S. president.

A record number of Americans -- roughly 46 million -- voted early by mail or at polling stations, including in states like Florida, Nevada, and Colorado, where unusually strong turnout among Hispanic voters could give an edge to Clinton.

U.S. Voters Set To Elect New President As Trump, Clinton Battle For Swing States

Clinton and Trump Make Final Pitches To Voters
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WASHINGTON -- U.S. voters are heading to the polls on November 8 in a deeply divisive presidential election that could be determined by a few closely contested states where the major-party candidates -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- courted voters on the final day before the vote.

Clinton, the Democratic Party's candidate, and Republican nominee Trump each made a last-minute dash on November 7 through several swing states that are expected to tilt the contest in favor of one of the candidates. Opinion polls have shown the race tightening in those states ahead of the November 8 election.

U.S. states and election observers are reporting a record surge in early voting, led by unusually strong turnout among Hispanic voters, which appears to be giving an edge to Clinton.

The Associated Press reported that at least 43.2 million people had already voted by November 7, and it expects the number of early voters -- after they are all tallied -- to add up to more than 50 million this election.

That would mean as many as 40 percent of American voters already cast their ballots before election day dawned on November 8, AP said. Record levels of early votes have been reported thus far by 23 states and the District of Columbia.

With most nationwide opinion polls showing Clinton in the lead, Trump began his final day before the vote with a rally in Florida before he traveled to North Carolina.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll published on November 7, Clinton held narrow leads in both crucial swing states.

But that lead was so slight that it made the results there too close to call.

Trump is widely seen as needing victories in both states in order to secure the 270 electoral votes required to win the White House.

Opinion polls suggest Clinton has a broader path to obtaining the 270 votes needed from the U.S. Electoral College system to become the next president.

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, speaks at a rally in Philadelphia on November 7.
Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, speaks at a rally in Philadelphia on November 7.

Addressing a crowd in Florida -- the state whose electoral votes handed Republican George W. Bush the White House, despite the fact that he lost the nationwide popular vote to Democratic candidate Al Gore -- Trump continued to deliver the kind of incendiary rhetoric that has come to define his campaign.

Playing up his status as an outsider bent on overturning the norms of U.S. politics, Trump told supporters in Sarasota, Florida, that his election would mean an end to the "corrupt Washington establishment."

"I want the entire corrupt Washington establishment to hear the words we are all about to say: When we win tomorrow, we are going to drain the swamp," he said, triggering chants of "drain the swamp, drain the swamp" from the crowd.

Trump has said that if he is elected, Clinton would be put in jail for her use of a private e-mail server when she was the U.S. secretary of state.

At the Florida rally, Trump criticized a decision announced on November 6 by FBI Director James Comey that cleared Clinton of criminal wrongdoing in the matter.

"Now it's up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box," Trump said.

Later in the day, Trump told supporters that Comey was "obviously under tremendous pressure."

Trump on November 7 also continued to portray himself as the target of a conspiracy between political elites and mainstream U.S. media to keep him out of office, telling supporters: "The system is rigged, but at least we know it."

WATCH: Campaigns React After FBI Clears Clinton

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Critics of Trump have called Trump's rhetoric a dangerous challenge to the legitimacy of the U.S. political system -- including his refusal to say whether he would concede to Clinton if official results show her as the winner.

Both Trump and Clinton were were campaigning in several of the same states on November 7.

In addition to North Carolina, both were holding rallies in the battleground states of Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump also added a stopover visit in New Hampshire, a state that the Associated Press on November 7 said had moved from "leaning Democratic to a toss-up."

According to an analysis by AP, Clinton was holding advantages over Trump in just enough states during the final days of the campaign to win the election -- although her lead in the nationwide popular vote appeared to have decreased.

A Reuters/IPSOS analysis on November 7 gave Clinton a 90 percent change of winning enough states to gain the 270 Electoral College votes needed to defeat Trump.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on November 7.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on November 7.

An analysis by the respected political-prediction website FiveThirtyEight on November 7 gave Clinton a 66 percent chance of winning the election, while Trump’s chances stood at 33.9 percent.

That website's founder, Nate Silver, correctly predicted the results from all 50 states in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

Early voting by Hispanics is reported to be surging in key states that Trump must win to gain the White House: Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.

In Florida, a record 6.4 million early ballots are already in, or more than three-fourths of the expected vote, AP said, with Democrats ahead by 39.9 percent to 38.5 percent.

In North Carolina, more than two-thirds of the expected votes have been cast. Democrats lead in ballots submitted, 42 percent to 32 percent.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said he sees the uptick in early voting as a sign that the Democratic voter base is strong and motivated going into election day.

“What I am paying very close attention to are those early voting numbers,” Mook said on ABC television on November 7. “We saw just eye-popping turnout in Florida over the last two days, particularly in our strongholds of southern Florida, North Carolina, and elsewhere, so we're very encouraged, very positive.”

In a sign of how Clinton may be benefiting from the surge in early voting, in Nevada, more than three-fourths of the likely votes have been cast and Democrats lead by 42 percent to 36 percent.

In Colorado, the two parties are virtually tied at 35 percent among early voters, with more than 70 percent of the ballots in.

Trump appears to be benefiting from the early voting surge in Arizona, Iowa, and Ohio.

In Arizona, with more than two-thirds of the expected total votes cast, Republicans lead in balloting 40 percent to 34 percent.

Clinton on November 7 sought to portray the election as a referendum on the country's "core values."

In an advertisement scheduled to air on national television during prime time, she asks: "Is America dark and divisive, or hopeful and inclusive?"

Earlier in the day, while boarding her campaign plane in upstate New York on the way to Pennsylvania, Clinton conceded that the campaign had exposed deep political fractures in the country and that "some work" will be required to unify the nation.

"I really do want to be the president for everybody -- people who vote for me, people who vote against me," the 69-year-old Clinton told reporters.

The 70-year-old Trump is a wealthy businessman and former reality TV star who has never held public office.

He has upended the Republican Party and the U.S. political scene with personal attacks and controversial policy proposals, such as temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country and building a wall on the southern border to keep out Mexican migrants.

A video from 2005 that emerged in October jolted his campaign because it documented lewd comments he made along with his laughter and bragging about what amounted to sexually assaulting women.

Trump has dismissed his comments in the video as "locker-room" banter, while Clinton has called them part of a huge pile of evidence showing he is unfit for the White House.

Clinton, a former first lady, senator, and secretary of state, is widely seen as the status-quo candidate in the race.

She has based her campaign on her long experience as a public servant and has vowed to build on the political legacy of the Democratic Party's outgoing president, Barack Obama.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa, and Politico

Muslim Beauty Blogger Featured in CoverGirl Ad Campaign Wearing Hijab

Nura Afia

A prominent U.S. cosmetics brand, CoverGirl, is featuring a woman wearing a hijab in its advertisements for the first time in the makeup line’s history.

Nura Afia, a Muslim beauty blogger, is featured in the television and online advertisement campaign wearing the traditional Muslim head covering.

The 23-year-old Afia is the first person to pose in a hijab for a major beauty campaign in the West.

The beauty brand named Afia last week as a representative for a new line of makeup that it is selling.

Afia has more than 300,000 Instagram followers and 215,000 subscribers for her YouTube channel, where she gives beauty and makeup tips.

She said in a statement on November 7 that she never thought she would see a Muslim woman represented so prominently after "growing up and being insecure about wearing the hijab."

Afia was born in Denver, Colorado. Her father is of Moroccan descent and her mother is of Lebanese descent.

Based on reporting by AP and Daily Mail

2015 Was Second-Worst Year For Journalist Killings In Decade, UN Says

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko talks with relatives as he pays a tribute to Belarus-born journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed in a car bomb in central Kyiv on July 20.

One journalist is being killed every five days as a result of their work, UNESCO reported on November 2.

Of the 827 journalists killed in the last 10 years, 115 were killed last year, making 2015 the second-deadliest year of the decade for journalists, the report said.

Syria and Iraq, where the Islamic State executed several journalists in highly publicized beheadings after establishing its so-called caliphate there in 2014, were by far the most dangerous places for journalists to work, accounting for 24 deaths in 2014 and 23 in 2015.

But Ukraine and Afghanistan were also killing fields for journalists in 2014, with seven losing their lives in Ukraine and five in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, four journalists were killed in both 2014 and 2015.

UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural arm, said less than one in 10 of all deaths have been solved, while "numerous other violations endured by journalists, which included kidnappings, arbitrary detention, torture, intimidation, and harassment" were not chronicled in the report.

Most of the victims were local journalists, including freelancers who work independently and often without adequate protections, UNESCO said, calling such contract workers "the most vulnerable group in the media sector."

With reporting by dpa

Most UN Members Vote For Talks On Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

An undated photo of Pakistan's Hatf VII nuclear-capable cruise missile launch.

A United Nations General Assembly committee voted to launch negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons despite strong opposition from the world's nuclear powers.

A resolution sponsored by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Brazil was adopted by 123 to 38, calling for negotiations to begin in March on the new treaty. It cites deep concern over the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons."

Four of the five UN Security Council nuclear powers -- Britain, France, Russia, and the United States -- voted against the resolution while China abstained, as did India and Pakistan.

Opponents argued that nuclear disarmament should be addressed within negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, described the vote as a "historic moment" in the decades-long drive for a nuclear-free world.

"This treaty won't eliminate nuclear weapons overnight. But it will establish a powerful, new international legal standard, stigmatizing nuclear weapons and compelling nations to take urgent action on disarmament."

The measure is expected to go to the full General Assembly in December. The overwhelming vote in committee indicates that most UN members will support it.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa

French Authorities Destroy Calais Migrant Camp

Migrants stand on a hill overlooking the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais on October 26.

French authorities have destroyed the Calais migrant camp known as the "Jungle," three days after it began an operation to demolish the facility.

Local officials declared the destruction of the camp, where thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa had lived in dire conditions as they waited for a chance to sneak cross the English Channel into Britain.

"There are no more migrants in the camp," said Fabienne Buccio, a local official in the camp. "Our mission has been fulfilled."

Fires set by departing migrants on October 26 accelerated plans to evacuate the camp.

French authorities are taking the migrants to processing facilities in other parts of the country where they will be given the chance to apply for asylum.

About 6,000-8,000 people were at the camp before the clearing operation began on October 24.

The camp has become a key symbol of Europe's migration crisis.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

Antonio Guterres Elected As Next UN Chief

UN Secretary-General-designate Antonio Guterres speaks during his appointment ceremony at the 70th session of the General Assembly in New York on October 13.

The United Nations General Assembly has elected Antonio Guterres as the next UN secretary-general.

The 193 UN member states elected Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, by acclamation on October 13.

The 67-year-old will take over from Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who has served two terms, and begin a five-year term on January 1.

Guterres pledged to work as a "convener, a mediator, a bridge-builder, and an honest broker" to confront global crises.

On Syria, the most pressing crisis on the UN agenda, "whatever divisions might exist, now it's more important to unite," Guterres told reporters after the vote. "It's high time to fight for peace."

"He is perhaps best-known where it counts most -- on the front lines of armed conflict and humanitarian suffering," Ban said on October 13.

"His political instincts are those of the United Nations -- cooperation for the common good, and shared responsibility for people and the planet."

Guterres received the unanimous backing of the 15-member UN Security Council on October 6.

He was the prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002.

He served as UN high commissioner for refugees from 2005 to 2015.

Guterres will be the ninth secretary-general in the organization's 71-year history.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Islamic State Confirms Death Of Its Chief Propagandist

Syrian rebel fighters ride in the back of a pickup truck in the northern Syrian village of Rael after they captured it from the Islamic State in the Marj Dabiq area north of the embattled city of Aleppo on October 9.

The Islamic State extremist group has confirmed the death of its propaganda chief, whom the Pentagon said was killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria's Raqqa Province last month.

A statement posted online by the militant group on October 10 paid tribute to the "martyrdom" of Wa'il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, also known as Abu Mohammed al-Furqan.

The statement did not say when, where, or how he had died.

The Pentagon said last month that a U.S.-led coalition air strike on September 7 had killed Fayad.

It said he was minister of information, overseeing IS's propaganda, and a prominent member of its Senior Shura Council, or leadership group.

IS's statement referred to Fayad as head of its media arm.

The air strike took place near Raqqa, IS's de facto capital in northern Syria, and targeted Fayad while he was on a motorcycle outside his house, the Pentagon said.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

Afghanistan Agrees To Help EU Forcibly Return Thousands Of Migrants

Afghan migrants take part in a protest demanding better living conditions in Greece in June.

Afghanistan has agreed to help the European Union forcibly return thousands of migrants by issuing travel documents and accepting them on return flights.

The agreement was published on October 4 during a donors conference for Afghanistan in Brussels after Germany said it would make future aid for Afghanistan conditional on Kabul helping to repatriate migrants.

The bloc is considering returning 80,000 Afghan migrants, dpa reported. More than 170,000 Afghan nationals applied for asylum in the EU in 2015, making it the second-largest group behind Syrians.

Under the deal, Kabul is to provide travel documents within four weeks for any Afghan migrant the EU decides to return home, or the EU can issue its own travel documents.

Repatriation operations have in the past been hampered by migrants not having passports, or the authorities in their home countries refusing to recognize their travel documents.

Under the deal, Kabul agreed that migrants can be returned on regular flights or specially chartered planes, with an initial limit of 50 forced returnees per flight.

The EU is to pay the cost of returning migrants and trying to reintegrate them, while the Kabul airport may establish a dedicated terminal for the returnees.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa

Top Al-Qaeda Leader Reported Killed By U.S. Air Strike In Syria

Fighters from the former Al-Nusra Front -- renamed Fateh al-Sham Front after breaking from Al-Qaeda -- listen to a speech at an armament school after they recaptured two military academies in August.

A militant commander who was close to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri and helped lead its Al-Nusra Front offshoot in Syria was killed in a drone attack on October 3, the group said.

The Pentagon confirmed on October 3 that it had targeted a "prominent Al-Qaeda leader in Syria" who headed the extremist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly the Al-Nusra Front, but it did not name the official.

The group said on Twitter that Sheikh Abu al Faraj al-Masri, who spent years in prison in his native Egypt on charges of plotting with fundamentalist Islamist groups and later left for Afghanistan, died when the vehicle in which he was traveling was hit in rebel-held Idlib in Syria's northwest.

Last month, Abu Hajer al-Homsi, the group's top commander, was killed in an air strike in rural Aleppo Province.

Masri, 60, whose real name was Sheikh Ahmad Salamah Mabrouk, became one of the leading companions of Zawahri in Afghanistan after being released from prison in Egypt.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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