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Presidential candidates from Libertarian and Green parties fail to qualify for first debate

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Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party hopeful Jill Stein have failed to quality for the first planned U.S. presidential debate on Sept. 26, the Commission on Presidential Debates said on Friday.

The commission, citing the averages the various candidates have achieved in selected polls, confirmed that Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton had met the criteria.

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It also said that the vice presidential running mates of the two leading candidates were the only two to qualify for the vice presidential debate set for Oct. 4.

The first presidential debate will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York and the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Using the average of five national polls, Clinton scored 43 percent, Trump 40.4 percent, Johnson 8.4 percent and Stein 3.2 percent, the commission said. Selection for the debates requires at least 15 percent support.

Johnson and Stein were both constitutionally eligible and had ballot access in enough states to theoretically win an electoral college majority, but missed the polling threshold.

Stein’s campaign website said she and her running mate Ajamu Baraka will both attend the first presidential debate, and urged supporters to join them. The campaign said it might ask supporters to attempt to escort the candidates into the debate in an action that “may lead to arrest — it is possible but not definite. There will be actions you can take with us at Hofstra that do not risk arrest.”

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The campaign said it is “organizing nonviolent civil resistance training for this.”

Johnson said in a statement that: “I would say I’m surprised that the CPD has chosen to exclude me from the first debate, but I’m not.”

The commission was a private organization created by the Republican and Democratic parties “for the clear purpose of taking control of the only nationally televised presidential debates voters will see,” Johnson said.

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The last time a third-party candidate was allowed to participate in the televised debates was in 1992, when Ross Perot met the requirements running as an independent.

(Reporting by Timothy Ahmann and Eric Walsh; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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