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GOP will dominate state legislatures as Trump enters White House

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Republicans will continue to dominate U.S. state legislatures in the wake of Tuesday’s election that kept their party in control of Congress and put Donald Trump in the White House, legislative analysts said on Wednesday.

After an election in which more than 80 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislative seats were up for grabs, Republicans and Democrats were likely to control the same number of chambers they had going into the election, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which is still compiling voting results.

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Republicans, who have dominated control of legislatures since the mid-term election in 2010, held the majority in 67 of the country’s 98 partisan legislative chambers, while Democrats had 31 going into the election. Nebraska’s single chamber is nonpartisan.

“Neither party can sort of boast of having a big night down on the state level,” NCSL elections analyst Tim Storey said. “Republicans will remain in a dominant position in terms of policy making.”

In Kentucky, Republicans took over the House of Representatives for the first time since 1921, while defeating longtime Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, according to the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee.

That result leaves Republicans in control of every legislative chamber in the U.S. South for the first time in history, Storey said.

Republicans also wrested control of the Iowa Senate from Democrats and appeared poised to maintain their majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives, which had been targeted by Democrats, according to NCSL.

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Democrats did hit their target in the New Mexico House of Representatives, gaining a majority of seats, said Carolyn Fiddler, spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

In Hawaii, the only Senate Republican was ousted, making the Democratic-controlled chamber the nation’s first all one-party state legislative chamber since 1980.

(Reporting By Karen Pierog; Editing by Will Dunham)

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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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