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MarkRubens/iStock(NEW YORK) -- An American was killed when gunfire and explosions erupted at a high-end hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Department of State.

A State official described the attack at the upscale DusitD2 hotel as a "senseless act of violence," and condemned the assault. The American embassy in Nairobi is closely monitoring the attack, and State officials have offered assistance to local authorities, the State official told ABC News.

"All Mission personnel are safe and accounted for," a spokesperson for the State Department said.

Kenyan authorities said that all buildings have been secured and that the "situation is under control." Local authorities are calling the situation a "suspected terror attack."

"The security teams have evacuated scores of Kenyans and other nationalities from the buildings. We are now in the final stages of mopping up the area and securing evidence and documenting the consequences of these unfortunate events," Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiang'i said during a press conference Tuesday evening. "I can also report that the country is now secure, that the nation remains calm, that Kenyans and all of our visitors are safe and should feel free to continue getting about their normal businesses."

"The situation is under control, and the country is safe," Matiang'i added. "Terrorism will never defeat us."

Kenya's Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said in a press statement that the "suspected terror attack" began around 3 p.m. local time when a "group of armed assailants" stormed a gated complex in Nairobi's affluent Westlands neighborhood. The upscale hotel, which is popular among foreigners, is located within the mixed-use compound.

An explosion targeted three vehicles in the parking lot and a suicide bomber detonated inside the hotel foyer, where a number of gifts suffered severe injuries, according to Boinnet.

Video from the scene showed the cars ablaze and wounded people being carried away.

Kenya's National Police Service deployed officers to the scene to engage the attackers who were holed up inside the hotel. Meanwhile, the area has been cordoned off as residents are screened and evacuated, according to Boinnet.

Boinnet said Kenyan forces were going floor by floor and building by building to secure the complex.

"Specialist forces are now currently flushing them out. However, we regret to inform that there have been injuries in the attack," the police inspector general told reporters in a statement.

The number of people who have been injured is unknown at this time.

"We urge the public to remain calm and to cooperate with all security forces and to provide any information that they may deem as useful," Boinnet added.

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LanceB/iStock(LONDON) -- The political future of the United Kingdom has once again been thrown into uncertainty after Parliament voted against accepting Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The lead-up to the vote saw the Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal criticized by politicians and pundits on all sides of the political spectrum. Some critics argued that May’s deal means that the United Kingdom (U.K.) will be too closely tied to the European Union (EU) for the indefinite future. Others suggest that the deal will damage the economy and lead to job losses.

And in the end Members of Parliament (MPs) voted down the deal, with the final tally 432 against while only 202 voted in favor of the deal. This means the deal was defeated with a majority of 230 against.

While the future relationship between the U.K. and EU remains unclear, the prime minister did say in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday that if she lost the vote the U.K. could end up remaining in the EU, or end up crashing out without a deal.

“If Parliament does not come together and back this deal in our national interest, we risk leaving with no deal, with all the uncertainty for jobs and security that will bring,” she wrote. “Or, with MPs unwilling to face the uncertainty of no deal and with no other offer on the table, we will risk not leaving the European Union at all.”

The future now looks desperately uncertain, as the March 29 deadline for leaving the EU looms ever closer.

The U.K. voted in June 2016 to leave the EU by a slim margin of 52 to 48 percent. The outcome immediately sent shockwaves worldwide, as no country has ever decided to leave the bloc. During the 2016 referendum campaign a number of potential scenarios were advocated by “Leave” campaigners, though the exact terms of Brexit were not specified. May spent two years negotiating with EU leaders in Brussels, but faced heavy criticism when she finally brought her proposals back to Parliament last summer.

A vote on the deal was originally intended to take place in December, but as it became increasingly clear that MPs were opposed to the deal, May delayed it. After losing Tuesday’s vote, a parliamentary motion passed last week means the government will have to make a statement on the future of Brexit to MPs within three days. Now, no one knows for sure what will happen next.

The opposition Labour Party has now called a no-confidence motion in the government. If the government loses that no confidence vote, the prime minister will have to resign, which could trigger a general election.

Other campaigners and MPs, meanwhile, have called for a second referendum to break the political deadlock, which could result in Britain remaining in the European Union.

Equally, the U.K. could either try to delay Brexit while they renegotiate another deal with EU leaders, or even leave the EU on the March 29 deadline with a “no-deal” Brexit.

In December, ABC News spoke to senior government minister Amber Rudd, the secretary of state for work and pensions, who said that the government had been making preparations in recent months for the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.

"The government is stepping up its preparations for no-deal,” she said. “Our position is unequivocally that we’re seeking to make sure we do get a deal but that there is a precautionary contingency plan for no-deal.

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MicroStockHub/iStock(LONDON) -- After two years of protracted negotiations, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal to take Britain out of the European Union is set to go before Parliament for a vote on Tuesday.

The vote was originally intended to take place in December, but as it became increasingly clear that members of parliament were opposed to the deal, May delayed the vote.

After the initial delayed vote, May survived a vote of no confidence in her premiership when members within her own Conservative Party plotted to overthrow her.

The Brexit deal that May negotiated with EU leaders has proved unpopular with politicians from all sides of the debate, though she will be hoping to rally support and win enough votes to pass it as the hard March 29 deadline for the U.K. to leave the EU looms ever closer.

The U.K. voted in June 2016 to leave the EU by a margin of 52 to 48 percent. The outcome immediately sent shockwaves worldwide, as no country has ever decided to leave the bloc and the terms by which the U.K. would do so were unclear.

Some critics argue that May’s deal means that the U.K. will be too closely tied to the EU for the indefinite future. Others suggest that the deal will damage the economy and lead to job losses.

The prime minister said in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday that the upcoming vote is the “biggest and most important decision that any MP of our generation will be asked to make.”

“If Parliament does not come together and back this deal in our national interest, we risk leaving with no deal, with all the uncertainty for jobs and security that will bring,” she wrote. “Or, with MPs unwilling to face the uncertainty of no deal and with no other offer on the table, we will risk not leaving the European Union at all.”

A parliamentary motion passed last week means that if May’s Brexit deal is voted down, the government will have to make a statement on the future of Brexit to MPs within three days.

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omersukrugoksu/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The second-largest, second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has reached 600 confirmed cases in five months, health officials said.

Since the outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Aug. 1, a total of 649 people have reported symptoms of hemorrhagic fever in the country's northeastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. Among those cases, 600 have tested positive for Ebola virus disease, which causes an often-fatal type of hemorrhagic fever, according to Monday night's bulletin from the country's health ministry.

The growing outbreak has a case fatality rate of around 61 percent. There have been 396 deaths thus far, including 347 people who died from confirmed cases of Ebola. The other deaths are from probable cases, the ministry said.

On average, about half of all Ebola patients succumb to the deadly virus, though case fatality rates have varied from 25 to 90 percent in past outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization, the global health arm of the United Nations.

The ongoing outbreak is one of the world's worst, second only to the 2014-2016 outbreak in multiple West African nations that infected 28,652 people and killed 11,325, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is also the 10th outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the most severe that the Central African nation has seen since 1976, when scientists first identified the virus near the eponymous Ebola River.

Ebola virus disease, which has a relatively long incubation period of approximately eight to 21 days, is transmitted through contact with blood or secretions from an infected person, either directly or through contaminated surfaces, needles or medical equipment.

The two provinces where cases in the latest outbreak are being reported share porous borders with South Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda, raising the risk of national and regional spread.

Health workers are facing a number of other challenges to contain the virus, including sporadic attacks from armed groups operating in the mineral-rich, volatile borderlands as well as resistance from the local population in an area that never before had been affected by an Ebola outbreak.

However, this is the first time that a vaccine for prevention and therapeutic treatments are available for use in an Ebola outbreak. The vaccine, which was developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck, has proved effective against the country's previous outbreak in the western province of Equateur.

Nearly 60,000 people have been vaccinated in the outbreak zone since Aug. 8, according to the country's health ministry, which has said that the number of Ebola cases would probably have already surpassed 10,000 if it weren't for the vaccination teams.

Still, the ministry has warned that the epidemic is expected to last for "several" more months and the risk of transmission will remain high.

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Jordan Pix/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the Trump administration struggles to clarify confusion over its Syria policy and the impending withdrawal of U.S. troops, the latest tweets from President Donald Trump have even his top diplomat guessing at what they might mean.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday attempted to clarify an especially provocative Trump tweet that the U.S. would "devastate Turkey economically" if the Turks attacked Kurdish partners of the U.S. in Syria. Speaking to reporters in Saudi Arabia, Pompeo declined to say what the president meant by economic devastation but guessed it was a reference to sanctions.

"We’ve applied sanctions in many places around the world. I assume he’s speaking about those kinds of things, but you’d have to ask him," Pompeo said.

In the series of tweets on Sunday, Trump suggested that a 20-mile safe zone could be created to decrease tension between Turkey and the Kurds, a group that's been a critical U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS but which Ankara views as terrorists.

Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2019

....Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey. Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term U.S. policy of destroying ISIS in Syria - natural enemies. We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2019

Asked about the president's tweets, Pompeo told reporters, "The president’s aim there, I think, is the one that we have been talking about for some time, which is that we want to make sure that the folks who fought with us to take down the caliphate in ISIS have security, and also that terrorists acting out of Syria aren’t able to attack Turkey. Those are the twin aims."

"And so the precise methodology which by we will achieve that – that security for both of those elements along that border – is something we’re still working on. And so if we can get a space – call it a buffer zone, others might have a different name for it – if we can get the space and the security arrangements right, this will be a good thing for everyone in the region," he continued.

Trump also discussed the idea by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, according to a Turkish readout of the call. The White House readout did not mention the safe zone specifically, but said, "The President expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey’s security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the United States that Turkey does not mistreat the Kurds and other Syrian Democratic Forces with whom we have fought to defeat ISIS."

Prior to Monday's phone call, a spokesman for Erdogan responded to Trump on Twitter, saying, "Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn't want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda" and vowing to fight Kurdish groups it equates as no different than ISIS.

The need for Pompeo to clarify Trump's comments comes amid growing confusion regarding the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria. In December, Trump asserted that the fight against ISIS was over, and he would pull approximately 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria within 30 days.

But after an outcry from U.S. partners and allies and a series of high-level resignations over the decision, top administration officials, including Pompeo, have said the withdrawal has no timeline and is conditions-based, including the enduring defeat of ISIS, protection for the Kurds, and assurance that Iran can't increase its influence in the region.

Two U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News on Friday that some equipment had been moved out of Syria, but no troops. And a Department of Defense statement said the withdrawal "is not subject to an arbitrary timeline" and that the U.S. would "continue to pursue ISIS in the last remaining space they currently influence."

In the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, Pompeo called the withdrawal a "tactical change" that wouldn't massively affect U.S. efforts in the region.

American troops will remain in Iraq, and Trump has suggested as recently as Sunday that they could "attack again from existing nearby base" if ISIS or another terrorist group emerged.

Pompeo defends U.S., Saudi relationship amid Khashoggi investigation

Pompeo's visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday marked the second-to-last stop in his week-long tour of the Middle East in which he has worked to reassure nations about America's role there.

In Riyadh, the secretary had a one-on-one meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in which Pompeo said they discussed human rights issues in the kingdom, including the October murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi nationals.

The secretary declined to comment on the CIA's reported assessment that the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi's killing, which took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Last month, some influential Senate Republicans, including then-Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, said after a CIA briefing that there was no question that the crown prince had "ordered" the murder.

Since the murder, Pompeo and now-former Defense Secretary James Mattis had argued the importance of America's strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia in terms of countering Iranian malign influence in Syria and Yemen when speaking about Khashoggi's case.

"The Saudis are friends, and when friends have conversations, you tell them what your expectations are," Pompeo told reporters. "And I think the Trump administration has made clear our expectation that all of those involved in the murder of Khashoggi will be held accountable. So we spent time talking about human rights issues, the Khashoggi case in particular."

Pompeo said the crown prince and King Salman "acknowledged that the accountability needed to take place" but he did not receive additional assurances from Saudi leaders about the case.

"They still are working through their fact-finding process," he said. "You should know that the United States continues to work through its fact-finding process as well."

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shaadjutt/iStock(MOSCOW) -- LGBT activists have said authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have killed two people and detained nearly 40 in what the activists fear is a renewed campaign of persecution against gay people living there.

The reports on Monday recall those from 2017 when accounts emerged of over 100 gay men being rounded up and tortured by security forces in Chechnya. Those accounts, which described gay men being electrocuted and heavily beaten, sparked international condemnation and sanctions as well as demands that Russia intervene to halt the persecution.

Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim autonomous republic within Russia, ruled by a dictatorial leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. After the international outcry in 2017, Kadyrov denied the allegations by repeatedly claiming homosexuals do not exist in Chechnya and saying that if they did they should leave.

On Monday, Kadyrov’s spokesman, Ali Karimov, denied the reports of new detentions, telling Interfax they are "complete lies and don't have an ounce of truth in them.”

But LGBT Network, a St. Petersburg-based rights group that helped victims of the 2017 persecution, said in a statement that it had information suggesting at least 40 people had been detained since December and that the two killed had been tortured to death.

“Now we have full grounds to suggest that the mass detentions, torture and arrest have been renewed,” Igor Kochetkov, LGBT Network’s program director, said in a video published on his Facebook account.

Kochetkov said it was difficult to know precise numbers of those detained, adding that both men and women were being targeted this time. He said many of those seized were being imprisoned by police in the same town of Argun where many of those detained in 2017 were held.

The detention and abuse of gay people had never fully stopped, Kochetkov said, with men still picked up and blackmailed by local police. But in December there had been a new surge. According to Kochetkov, the new wave of detentions had started after the administrator of a social media group popular with LGBT people in the North Caucasus had been arrested. Security forces had then begun identifying new targets through the administrator’s phone contacts, a practice described by victims in 2017.

Novaya Gazeta, a celebrated investigative newspaper that first reported the 2017 detentions, said its own sources were also warning of a fresh sweep targeting gay people. The newspaper also cited a post on a local LGBT social media group warning of new detentions and torture.

“I ask all who are still at liberty, to take this message seriously and flee the republic as soon as possible,” the message reads.

Russia’s federal authorities launched a probe into the 2017 reports but the investigation has so far gone nowhere. Activists have condemned the Russian government’s inaction, saying it has instead covered up for the Chechen authorities.

"Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never stopped. It's only that its scale has been changing,” Kochetkov, said in a video published on Facebook.

In 2017, multiple gay men gave accounts to rights groups and media outlets describing their detention and torture by Chechen security forces and police, telling how they were held in cells with other men. Some said they were beaten with metal rods and electrocuted.

“They split my eye, my lip, broke my ribs, they electrocuted me ... they put metal clips on my ears,” one man, identified for his safety as Dmitry, told ABC News in April 2017. “Electrocution is unbearably painful. It felt much worse than normal voltage. The shock makes you want to jump to the ceiling.”

ABC News reporters met with Dmitry and another man at a safe house in Moscow established by LGBT Network shortly after the two had fled Chechnya. The group says it has helped 150 people to leave Chechnya since April 2017.

Another man, Maxim Lapunov, who in 2017 described publicly being kidnapped in Chechnya's capital, Grozny, and then beaten with batons, has filed the first formal complaint to Russia’s Investigative Committee, which handles serious crimes. But the committee has yet to open a criminal investigation.

A report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe published in December found that Chechen authorities had frequently carried out enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings. The report found among those targeted were members of Chechnya’s LGBT community.

The report criticized Russia's response, saying “Russian authorities responsible for investigating alleged crimes against LGBTI citizens persecuted in Chechnya appear not to have lived up to their responsibilities.”

Kadyrov was sanctioned in 2017 by the United States Treasury for overseeing torture and “extrajudicial killings,” along with one of his close lieutenants for his alleged role in the anti-gay persecutions.

Even before the reports of an organized purge, Chechnya was a dangerous place to be gay. Attitudes toward homosexuality are deeply conservative and the LGBT community largely meet in secrecy, many fearing violence even from their relatives. Kadyrov has sought to stoke those feelings, promoting what he describes as traditional values.

“We don't have any gays,” Kadyrov told HBO in 2017, adding if there are, “Take them far from us so we don't have them at home. So as to purify our blood.”

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fazon1/iStock(ROME) -- Each day, some $3,500 in coins are thrown into Rome’s Trevi Fountain by tourists making wishes. This scene, made famous by the 1954 film "Three Coins in the Fountain," has been a windfall for a local charity.

But a leaked document suggesting Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi's administration may want to keep those coins for the city’s empty coffers caused confusion -- and concern from many of the charity's supporters.

After a weekend of social media outrage, Raggi said on Monday that the money will remain with local Catholic charity Caritas Rome, a plan that has been in place since 2001, when then-Mayor Francesco Rutelli put a stop to the unauthorized private collection of coins.

"I confirm that [the coins] will remain available to the charitable activities of the diocesan body," Raggi told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, in Italian. "No one has ever thought of depriving Caritas of these funds."

For nearly two decades, the city periodically emptied the fountain, bagged the coins and, in the presence of the Rome police, delivered them to the Caritas Rome offices where they were separated, counted and deposited in their bank account.

The money -- about 15 percent of Caritas Rome’s annual budget -- has gone to support soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other projects that help Rome’s poor communities.

Raggi’s administration first proposed using the Trevi coins for Rome’s infrastructure and cultural heritage in 2017. But the idea was immediately attacked by opposition politicians and the church and was postponed for a year.

The mayor had called for a meeting at City Hall on Tuesday to finalize a new plan on where the money should be allocated.

In a headline this weekend, The Avvenire, a paper associated with the Italian Catholic Bishops conference, wrote that Raggi's reported plan to keep the coins for the city amounted to "Money Taken from the Poorest."

Caritas Rome posted a statement of gratitude on its Facebook page to all those who have challenged the mayor’s plan to redirect the money from the poor back to the city.

Raggi and her administration, which was elected in 2016, have been under fire for failing to get the city’s finances in order.

Earlier this month, the head of the Association of School Principals warned in a letter to the mayor that schools would need to be closed if the city didn’t improve trash collection –- made worse when a suspicious fire in December destroyed one of the city’s main incinerators.

In October, thousands protested with complaints of poor condition of the Rome streets, an unreliable public transit system and filthy conditions due to piles of uncollected garbage.

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Courtesy of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association(NEW YORK) -- Canadian air traffic controllers are really leaning in to the stereotypical niceness associated with our neighbors to the north.

As a show of solidarity, a number of air traffic controllers have banded together to get meals for their American counterparts amid the ongoing government shutdown.

The grassroots effort started on Thursday, according to Peter Duffey, the president and CEO of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association.

Controllers in Edmonton wanted to do something thoughtful for their peers in Anchorage, Alaska, who they deal with "all day long," Duffey said.

"It was a natural thing to send it to the people we work with on a daily basis, [but] we got through that fairly quickly," Duffey said.

From there, the generosity spread to other air traffic control centers across the U.S., picking other places where they had connections.

For instance, air traffic controllers in the northern area in Fort McMurray chose to send pizza to air traffic controllers in El Paso, Texas, clearly not because of geographic proximity, but instead because they are both oil towns.

Duffey said another air traffic control center chose to send pizzas to colleagues in Phoenix, Arizona, because it's "a massive destination for Canadians in the winter."

As of midday Monday, Duffey said over 400 pizzas have been sent to 52 different air traffic control facilities in the U.S. -- "and that number just keeps growing."

"It was a natural thing for them to do. They wanted to show support," Duffey said.

The effort comes as the government shutdown enters history-making territory as the longest shutdown in U.S. history, with tens of thousands of airport security screeners among those forced to work without pay, prompting some to call in sick and contributing to longer lines at some airports.

He said the cheesy show of support is just the latest in a history of working together in tough times, citing how American air traffic controllers donated thousands of dollars to their colleagues in Fort McMurray after the area suffered from wildfires in 2016.

"We've always stood with our U.S. counterparts," Duffey said. "We really do have each others' backs."

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AZWAR IPANK/AFP/Getty Images(JAKARTA, Indonesia) -- Indonesian Navy divers recovered a cockpit voice recorder from a missing Lion Air plane that crashed into the Java Sea in October, killing all 189 people on board, officials said Monday.

The device, one of two recorders on the jet, could offer insight into the final moments of the fatal flight as investigators search for clues about why the brand new Boeing 737 Max 8 went down.

Investigators now will work to retrieve data from the so-called black box hoping it will contain audio of the pilots' conversations. The plane crashed in waters nearly 98 feet deep on Oct. 29, just after takeoff.

Officials are expected to offer more details at a press conference later Monday.

Search and rescue officials said they lost contact with Lion Air flight JT610 minutes after it left Jakarta, the country's capital. The cockpit data recorder, recovered days three days after, showed that its airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on previous flights.

The 189 on board included three children and the crew, officials said.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia's largest airlines.

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Charlotte Graham - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Meghan Markle is bringing color into the new year and revealing a new hint about her due date.

The Duchess of Sussex, 37, stepped out Monday for her first appearance with the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, in bold color choices of purple and red.

She paired a purple Babaton by Aritzia dress under a red winter coat by Sentaler, a Canadian brand, and completed the look with red heels.

Meghan cradled her now-very visible baby bump during her visit with Harry to Birkenhead, Merseyside, near the northern U.K. city of Liverpool.

The Duchess, expecting her first child with Harry, told a well-wisher she is due in April. Kensington Palace said only that Meghan was due "in the spring" when her pregnancy was announced in October.

Meghan and Harry, 34, greeted fans and met with veterans and local charities and unveiled a plaque to mark their visit to Birkenhead.

The visit came just days after Kensington Palace announced Meghan’s first patronages as a member of the royal family.

Meghan, a former actress, is taking over from Queen Elizabeth as patron of the National Theater and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

She is also now patron of Mayhew, an animal charity, and Smart Works, a charity that focuses on helping women. Meghan visited Smart Works last week in her first public event as patron.

Meghan's four patronages "reflect the causes and issues with which she has long been associated including the arts, access to education, support for women and animal welfare," Kensington Palace said in a statement.

In addition to their charitable work and impending parenthood, Meghan and Harry are preparing for a big move in 2019. The couple plan to move from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage, on the grounds of Windsor Estate, about 30 miles from London.

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ABC News(LONDON) -- In December, the House of Commons held five days of debate over the agreement secured by May and European officials that covered the terms of the British withdrawal from the European Union -- but when it looked certain that her plan would fail to get passed by MPs, she postponed the vote.

The U.K. voted in June 2016 to leave the EU by a majority of 52 to 48 percent. But the question on the ballot did not specify what relationship Britons wanted with the bloc, and so the last two years have been fraught with negotiation and politicking.

May’s premiership has taken a battering, although she survived a vote of no confidence in December after rebels in her Conservative Party plotted to overthrow her through a party mechanism for triggering a leadership contest. They failed, but in order to get MPs to back her, May promised she would not fight the next general election as leader.

But things are far from resolved in Westminster. A previous vote in the Commons means that Parliament must have a vote on the deal with the EU. Having postponed it in December, with hopes that spending Christmas with constituents and having more time to reflect might mean that MPs would back her deal, May is now fighting once again for Parliament to accept her plan.

What is "Brexit"?

On June 23, 2016, Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum delivered by the ruling Conservative Party. Then-Prime Minister David Cameron resigned the morning after the vote, and May won Conservative leadership to begin implementing the withdrawal.

The U.K. voted to join the EU in 1973 when it was known as the European Economic Community. It is now a group of 28 countries governed by a continental parliament, commission and council representing each member state; it uses a common currency (the Euro) and compromises an area across the European continent where citizens of member states are able to live and work easily in different areas within the union.

What are the main issues?


The Brexit referendum asked a simple question: Should the U.K. leave the EU, or remain in the union?

But there is conflict over whether Britain should retain some aspects of European membership, if it is able, in order to preserve much of its close trade and security relationship with the E.U.

What’s the issue with May’s deal?

MPs are not happy with parts of the deal, which cover aspects of the border with Northern Ireland. A clause in the agreement would mean that the U.K. would remain in a customs arrangement with the E.U. if a permanent solution was not found within the negotiating period.

Doing this would avoid the need for a "hard border" of security and customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU. An open border is of paramount importance to both sides of the Irish, and its settlement brought peace after the conflict known as “The Troubles.”

The clause, known as "the backstop," is a red line with which many in the U.K. on both sides of the Brexit debate vehemently disagree. The Europeans maintain their stance that they will not renegotiate May’s deal.

What happens if May loses the vote?

The vote on the deal is scheduled for Tuesday, and as things stand the government appears to be heading for a heavy defeat. If May loses the vote, what happens afterward will largely depends on how badly, and how some political heavy hitters decided to vote.

There is speculation that if May suffers only a narrow defeat, she might make an emergency trip to Brussels for a last-ditch attempt at compromise. Or she may have cross-party talks to try to come to a compromise on the British side.

What most of Westminster fears, however, is the U.K. exiting the EU without a deal -- which would mean a withdrawal falling back on World Trade Organization rules. Business consortiums have more or less presented a united front against such an outcome, saying it would severely harm Britain’s economy.

Another option would be for May to buy extra time by pausing what is known as "Article 50" of the Treaty of the European Union -- the mechanism for beginning an exit from the EU.

When triggered, that begins a period of two years of preparation before an exit date. May invoked it on March 29, 2017, meaning the day of Brexit is set for that same date in 2019.

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hudiemm/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A teacher in South Africa has been suspended and allegations of racism are being investigated in a small town in the country's North West province after a photograph showing black and white children sitting at separate desks went viral.

Twenty-five years after the dawn of democracy in South Africa, the country is still grappling with the specter of apartheid -- a policy that separated citizens based on the color of their skin and prevented the black majority from accessing the same quality of services, including education, as the white minority.

Public schools reopened for the new academic year on Wednesday and a teacher at the Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke School took the picture and shared it with parents in a WhatsApp group, reportedly to show that the children were settling in on their first day of school. The photo in question shows four black children sitting separately from their white classmates.

The controversial picture went viral on social media, prompting the North West Provincial Education Department to launch an investigation. Sello Lehari, the political head of the provincial department, suspended the teacher on Thursday. According to the school, the black students were separated because they could not understand Afrikaans, a language spoken by about 6 million South Africans, including the white minority known as Afrikaners.

"We did not accept that explanation," Lehari said. "The teacher is suspended with immediate effect."

“We are also shocked to learn about this particular barbaric incident,” Aaron Motswana, a local politician from the ruling African National Congress Party, told the South African Broadcasting Corporation. “It was unwarranted and we strongly want to condemn it. On behalf of the ANC and the municipality that we lead, 24 years into democracy, we don’t expect such incidents, to continuously happen."

He added, “There’s a history of this particular area, especially where Schweizer-Reneke Hoërskool is affected.”

The opposition political party, the Democratic Alliance, has welcomed the suspension of the teacher.

DA provincial leader, Joe McGluwa, told ABC News, “The DA strongly opposes segregation of young children on any grounds. As a country, we need to recommit to Nelson Mandela’s ideals of reconciliation and the rejection of racism.”

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is also investigating the allegations of racism, saying that there will be serious repercussions if children have been discriminated against. SAHRC Commissioner André Gaum told ABC News there’s still far too many cases of discrimination in the country.

"It's also a broader societal issue and a great problem that we still have so many instances of unfair discrimination that is taking place, which is of great concern to the commission," he said.

Gaum said if it is found that the incident was indeed of a racist nature, the SAHRC might recommend sensitivity training for other teachers.

The photo was “a reflection of a single moment in a classroom” and not an indication of school policy, the school said in a statement that was provided to local media.

The statement explained that the photo reflected an isolated moment and the children do in fact interact and are integrated. Other photos have since emerged showing an integrated classroom; however, it is not clear if those photos were taken on the same day or only after the outrage began on Wednesday.

ABC News' requests for comment from school officials were not returned.

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omersukrugoksu/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. military began moving military equipment out of Syria this week, but no U.S. troops have left, two U.S. officials said Friday. Other officials said there is still no timeline for the pullout of the 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria following President Donald Trump's surprise decision to withdraw them last month.

Earlier on Friday, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad had issued a statement that the U.S. military had "begun the process" of a deliberate withdrawal from Syria.

Two U.S. officials told ABC News that only equipment has been moved out of Syria and that no American troops have left Syria. One of them told ABC News that in recent days military equipment has been moved out of Syria into Iraq.

The official added, "We have made a number of preparations for the deliberate withdrawal from Syria including planning for personnel and equipment moves, preparing facilities for retrograde and moving materials out of Syria." The official said the limited movement of cargo out of Syria was being carried out as the opportunity presented itself "or as part of pre-planned movements.”

“CJTF-OIR has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria," said Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition had said in an earlier statement released Friday. "Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements.”

The withdrawal of equipment came amid conflicting statements over when a withdrawal of American troops would begin and at what pace since President Donald Trump abruptly announced the U.S. would leave last month.

In late December, former Defense Secretary James Mattis signed orders for the military to follow Trump's pullout announcement. It was that decision, as well as the president’s decision to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan, that led Mattis to resign.

But U.S. officials say there are no timelines attached to that order as the U.S. military continues developing the timing of that withdrawal plan.

According to one of those officials, the orders signed by Mattis can be adjusted to include timelines as decided by the White House. So far, there has been no such policy decision.

Military planners have developed plans that could take as long as four months for the U.S. to pull out all of the troops and equipment inside Syria. That timeline took into account that the U.S. had accumulated a lot of heavy equipment inside Syria that would have to be removed. But U.S. officials stressed that no decisions had been made about the pace of withdrawal.

Officials have said that a withdrawal of equipment could lead to the temporary deployment of additional forces specifically tasked with equipment removal from Syria as well as the security of those troops.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that 10 armored vehicles, in addition to engineering machines, withdrew Thursday evening from the U.S. base in al-Remelan in the al-Hasaka province in northeastern Syria.

A U.S. official said the withdrawal of equipment without its being replaced would constitute part of the withdrawal.

Earlier this week, National Security Advisor John Bolton indicated that the pullout of U.S. troops could take much longer. During a visit to Israel, he said a Syria pullout would be pegged to the total defeat of ISIS and assurances from Turkey that it would not attack America's Kurdish allies in Syria after a troop withdrawal.

Turkish President Recip Erdogan later labeled that characterization as a "serious mistake.”

He also laid out a tougher line, saying there would be “no concessions” and that the new plan contradicted the “clear agreement” he had with Trump for a U.S. pullout from Syria.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back strongly that Bolton and Erdogan's comments contradicted each other.

"There’s no contradiction whatsoever," said Pompeo. This is a story made up by the media."

Pompeo added that while Trump had decided to withdraw troops from Syria, the U.S. commitment to defeat ISIS would continue.

"We’re going to do it in a way, in one particular place, Syria, and differently," said Pompeo.

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Whelan family(MOSCOW) -- Russia on Friday said American Paul Whelan, who was arrested last month in Moscow, has been formally charged with espionage.

Whelan was charged under Article 276 of Russia's criminal code, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters at a televised briefing.

Whelan, a former United States Marine, was detained Dec. 28 by Russia's domestic intelligence agency, the FSB, which accused him of espionage. His Russian lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, has said Whelan contests the charge and intends to plead not guilty.

Russian news agency Interfax reported on Jan. 3 that Whelan had been formally charged, citing anonymous security service sources. But Zakharova's comments on Friday were Russia's first public confirmation of it.

Russia has still not provided any details of the charge against Whelan. Announcing his arrest, the FSB said he had been detained while conducting "spying activity" but has not elaborated.

The foreign ministry spokeswoman also said Friday that exchanging Whelan for anyone imprisoned outside Russia was not being considered.

"I'd like to underline that the exchange of Paul Whelan for anyone incarcerated abroad is currently not on the table," Zakharova said, according to Russian news agency Interfax. "The defendant will stand trial."

Some former U.S. intelligence officers have speculated Whelan may have been taken in retaliation over the jailing of Maria Butina, the Russian gun rights activist who last month pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to acting as a foreign agent. She has admitted to trying to infiltrate American conservative political circles.

Zherebenkov has suggested that Whelan could later be exchanged for Russians held in U.S. jails, including Butina. He noted, however, that Whelan could only be traded once he has been convicted.

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Martin Holverda/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Canada, a nation of not quite 37 million people, wants to add more than one million immigrants through 2021.

"Thanks in great part to the newcomers we have welcomed throughout our history, Canada has developed into the strong and vibrant country we all enjoy," Ahmed Hussen, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, wrote in an annual report to Parliament. "Immigrants and their descendants have made immeasurable contributions to Canada, and our future success depends on continuing to ensure they are welcomed and well-integrated."

Hussen, now in his early 40s, fled to Canada from war-torn Somalia when he was 16.

A year ago, Donald Trump, the president of the United States of America, said he didn't want the U.S. accepting immigrants from Haiti or countries in Africa or similar "s---hole countries."

Somalia is in Africa.

"My experience is not unique," Hussen told The New York Times in 2017. "Canada receives a lot of refugees every year."

For Canada to add one million immigrants over the next three years, the nation would need to welcome approximately 350,000 -- roughly 1 percent of its current population -- in each of 2019, 2020 and 2021.

"Canada is a world leader in managed migration with an immigration program based on non-discriminatory principles, where foreign nationals are assessed without regard to race, nationality, ethnic origin, colour, religion or gender," Hussen wrote in his report.

About 1 in 5 current Canadians are immigrants, according to the report, with more than six million arriving since 1990.

About 13.7 percent of the U.S. population, roughly 1 in 7, in 2017 was foreign born, according to U.S. Census estimates. In 2016, that figure was 13.5 percent.

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