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US isolated at UN over its concerns about abortion, refugees

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The United States found itself isolated in the 193-member United Nations General Assembly on Monday over Washington’s concerns about the promotion of abortion and a voluntary plan to address the global refugee crisis.

Only Hungary backed the United States and voted against an annual resolution on the work of the U.N. refugee agency, while 181 countries voted in favor and three abstained. The resolution has generally been approved by consensus for more than 60 years.

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However, this year the resolution included approval of a compact on refugees, which was produced by U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi after it was requested by the General Assembly in 2016. The resolution calls on countries to implement the plan.

The United States was the only country to oppose the draft resolution last month when it was first negotiated and agreed by the General Assembly human rights committee. It said elements of the text ran counter to its sovereign interests, citing the global approach to refugees and migrants.

General Assembly resolutions are non-binding but can carry political weight. U.S. President Donald Trump used his annual address to world leaders at the United Nations in September to tout protection of U.S. sovereignty.

The United States also failed in a campaign, which started last month during negotiations on several draft resolutions in the General Assembly human rights committee, against references to “sexual and reproductive health” and “sexual and reproductive health-care services.”

It has said the language has “accumulated connotations that suggest the promotion of abortion or a right to abortion that are unacceptable to our administration.”

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On Monday, Washington unsuccessfully tried to remove two paragraphs from a General Assembly resolution on preventing violence and sexual harassment of women and girls. It was the only country to vote against the language, while 131 countries voted to keep it in the resolution and 31 abstained.

The United States also failed in trying to remove similar language in another resolution on child, early and forced marriage on Monday, saying: “We do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance.”

Only Nauru backed Washington in voting against the language, while 134 countries voted to keep it in the resolution and 32 abstained.

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When Trump came to power last year he reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy that withholds U.S. funding for international organizations that perform abortions or provide information about abortion.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish

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Cannibalism on rise among polar bears, say Russian scientists

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Cases of polar bears killing and eating each other are on the rise in the Arctic as melting ice and human activity erode their habitat, a Russian scientist said Wednesday.

"Cases of cannibalism among polar bears are a long-established fact, but we're worried that such cases used to be found rarely while now they are recorded quite often," said polar bear expert Ilya Mordvintsev, quoted by Interfax news agency.

"We state that cannibalism in polar bears is increasing," said Mordvintsev, a senior researcher at Moscow's Severtsov Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution.

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2020 Election

$1,750+ ticket prices for South Carolina debate spark outrage

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"I think it speaks to the fundamental, endemic corruption of the Democratic Party establishment that you had to pay... multiple thousands of dollars to get into that room."

Unusually loud booing and jeering directed disproportionately at Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren during Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate—particularly when the senators criticized billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg—sparked probing questions about the class composition of the audience packed inside the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Ex-GOP senator hammers lawmakers quaking in their boots out of fear of Trump: ‘Why are you there?’

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Appearing on CNN on Wednesday morning, retired Sen. William Cohen (R-ME) hammered members of his own party still sitting in the Senate who refuse to take on Donald Trump, saying they are failing the country and themselves by standing by in fear.

Speaking with CNN hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, Cohen said kowtowing to the president is nothing new, but has grown worse over the past ten years.

"Some of it has to do with external pressures, that of social media, talk radio, specific channels that have a particular view and then hammer that view home to the constituents who then pressure the members of Congress," he explained. "But you have to ask yourself: Why are you a senator? Why are you there? Are you acting out of sheer fear that if you speak up and take a position that's controversial you'll be punished?"

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