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Ian Forsyth/Getty Images(LONDON) -- You might have had a bad Monday, but it probably wasn't as bad as Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage's.

The former UK Independence Party leader was hit with a milkshake thrown by a protester ahead of a pro-Brexit event in Newcastle, England.

In video that captured the moment, security can be seen rushing around Farage. "Complete failure," Farage is heard to say.

Farage emerged as an international lightning rod following his prominent role in the Brexit movement, in which he helped shepherd an ultimately-successful vote to divorce England from the European Union. He later became an outspoken ally of candidate and then-President Donald Trump.

The Brexit Party Twitter page used the incident to promote the party's resiliency.

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Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)(LONDON) — The U.K. government has announced plans to ban British nationals from entering or remaining in parts of war-torn Syria, utilizing powers granted by a controversial new counterterrorism law.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who oversees domestic security policy, cited the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and New Zealand, as well as the murder of a journalist in Northern Ireland, in a speech on Monday outlining his use of the 2019 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act to ban British nationals from Syria.

“Today I can announce that I’ve asked my officials to work closely with CT [Counter-Terrorism] policing and intelligence agencies to urgently review the case for exercising this power in relation to Syria, with a particular focus on Idlib and the Northeast,” said Javid. “So, anyone who is in these areas without a legitimate reason should be on notice.”

“I can also see that there may be a case in the future for considering designating parts of West Africa,” he added.

The home secretary said that while ISIS, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh, had been defeated on the ground in Syria and elsewhere, the “poisonous ideology remains” across borders.

“Of all the terrorist plots thwarted by the U.K. and our Western allies last year, 80% were planned by people inspired by the ideology of Daesh, but who had never actually been in contact with the so-called 'Caliphate,'” he said.

Over 900 people in the U.K. of “national security concern” have traveled to Syria to fight since the civil war began in 2011, according to the Home Office. Of those, around 20 percent were killed during the fighting, while 40 percent have returned to the country.

Syrian Kurdish forces declared victory over the ISIS in March after a years-long fight to reclaim territory that once belonged to the terror group.

However, fighting has recently intensified in Idlib, a city in northeastern Syria, as government forces backed by Russia seek to retake the last opposition-held stronghold, according to the New York Times.

The new move by the U.K. forbidding British nationals from from entering areas of conflict has been criticized by Liberty, a human rights charity, as “crude and draconian.” The organization has called on Javid to reconsider the law.

“Criminalizing the mere act of being in a particular place reflects an attempt to sidestep the basic principles of the criminal law, in circumstances where there is insufficient evidence to prosecute people for genuine terrorist activity,” Rosalind Comyn, Liberty's policy and campaigns officer, told ABC News.

“It risks criminalizing people visiting their families, as well as those conducting research or documenting human rights abuses. Worryingly, it may also sweep up vulnerable people -- including children -- who have been coerced into travelling, are unable to leave an area, or are simply unaware an area has been designated.”

Javid has been criticized before for his decisions as Home Secretary surrounding ISIS, particularly after he revoked the U.K. citizenship of 19-year-old ISIS bride Shamima Begum. Begum joined ISIS at the age of 15 in 2015, and was heavily pregnant when she was stripped of her British citizenship after she asked to return to the U.K. Her baby was born in March, and died shortly afterwards.

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Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(KIEV, Ukraine) -- Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the 41 year-old TV comedian who won Ukraine's elections last month, was sworn in as president on Monday and immediately called for the country's Parliament to be dissolved so that snap elections can be held.

At the inauguration ceremony held in the Parliament building in Kiev, Zelenskiy pledged to seek an end to the war with Russia in Ukraine's east and told lawmakers he wanted them to pass legislation to root out corruption.

Zelenskiy won a landslide election in late April with 73 percent of the vote, defeating the incumbent President Petro Poroshenko as he rode a wave of popular dissatisfaction with Ukraine's political class and weariness over five years of war. He ran on a platform promising to shake up Ukraine's politics, which most Ukrainians consider deeply corrupt and self-serving.

His victory made international headlines, in part because the popular entertainer has no previous political and stars in a TV show in which he plays a man who unexpectedly becomes president.

Monday's ceremony was markedly different from past inaugurations in Ukraine and the usual forbidding grandiosity that marks such occasions in former Soviet countries. Zelenskiy dropped the traditional motorcade that shuts down traffic, instead walking through a park past a large crowd. Beaming, he stopped and high-fived supporters, even at one point jumping up to kiss a man on the top of his head.

In his speech in front of MPs, officials and foreign dignitaries, Zelenskiy said his election showed people were tired of an exploitative political class and told lawmakers who weren't ready to change things they should resign.

"I don't understand our government, which only throws up its hands and tells me that we can't do anything. That's not true -- you can, you can take some paper, take a pen and free up your places for those who will think about the next generation and not about the next elections," he told lawmakers before announcing he was dissolving Parliament.

In his speech, he told officials he did not want them to hang portraits of him in their offices. "Because a president isn't an idol," he said. Instead, he told them to hang photos of their children and look at them before taking decisions.

Zelenskiy called on MPs to pass new legislation on illegal enrichment and strip lawmakers of immunity from prosecution. He also asked them to support his motions to fire Ukraine's defense minister, the head of the Ukrainian security service and the prosecutor general. He said he was giving MPs two months to do so.

Quoting Ronald Reagan, who he noted was an actor who became an "awesome president." Zelenskiy said, "Government isn't the solution to our problem, it is the problem."

Zelenskiy and his young team have presented themselves as a break with the Soviet-style strongman leaders and their accompanying cults of personality that are common in the region, from Belarus and Russia to the republics of Central Asia.

In his speech, Zelenskiy said his priority is ending the war with Russia in Ukraine's east that has killed over 13,000 people since 2014, and he continued the conciliatory message for Russian-speaking Ukrainians that he had offered in his campaign.

He said he was ready to lose his popularity and his new position for the sake of peace. "We didn't start it, but we will end this war," he said, promising his first step would be to return Ukrainian prisoners of war taken by Russia.

Zelesnkiy switched for part of the speech into Russian -- his own first language -- and said Ukrainian authorities had failed to make people living in areas under pro-Russian rebel control feel that they were still Ukrainians. He slapped down a nationalist MP, Oleh Lyashko, who interrupted to shout that people in the separatist areas didn't understand Ukrainian.

"We are all Ukrainians, no matter where we live," he said.

The difficulties Zelenskiy faces were underlined last week when Poroshenko, in one of his last acts as president, signed a law giving the Ukrainian language special status and making it obligatory for civil servants. Russia has condemned that law as a provocation and on Monday called an emergency session of United Nations Security Council to discuss it.

Zelenskiy's attempt to dissolve the Parliament already faces a challenge. A faction in the Parliament last week announced it was leaving the ruling coalition, technically collapsing Poroshenko's government.

Parliamentary rules prohibit it from being disbanded for 30 days after a coalition breaks up, a delay that would create another delay since it would mean the Parliament would already be in the final six months of its a term, when it cannot be disbanded.

But Zelenskiy's team has said it considers the claim that the faction's exit makes it impossible to dissolve parliament is invalid, since the coalition in practice has not existed for years.

Closing his speech, Zelensky referred to his previous career as a comedian.

"Throughout all of my life, I tried to do everything to make Ukrainians laugh," he said. "In the next five years I will do everything, Ukrainians, so that you don't cry."

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Morgan K. Nall(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea on Monday in a challenge to China's maritime territorial claims that will likely set off renewed Chinese complaints.

"The guided-missile destroyer USS Preble conducted a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea, May 20. USS Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law," said Cmdr. Clayton Doss, a spokesman for the Navy's Seventh Fleet.

Scarborough Reef, aka Scarborough Shoal, is an uninhabited reef in the South China Sea about 120 miles west of the Philippines surrounded by rich fishing grounds claimed by both China and the Philippines. China seized control of the reef from the Philippines in 2012 as part of an effort to claim control of South China Sea areas near the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.

Under international law, a country's territorial water limits extend 12 nautical miles from its coastline. The U.S. Navy will sail what are known FONOPS within that limit to challenge a country's excessive maritime territorial claims.

The U.S. Navy executes FONOPs worldwide to challenge excessive maritime claims, but the missions challenging China's claims in the South China Sea always draw the most attention.

"U.S. Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea," Doss said. "All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe."

Monday's passage by the USS Preble is only the Navy's second Freedom of Navigation Operation off Scarborough Shoal -- the first one was in January 2018.

The passage past Scarborough Reef was the USS Preble's second FONOP this month. In early May, the destroyer was one of two warships to sail past the Spratly Islands.

The Pentagon has criticized China's militarization of the Spratly and Parcel Island chains.

China has placed significant military structures and equipment on seven artificial islands it's built on reefs in the Spratly Islands.

There have been U.S. and Philippine concerns that in the future China might engage in similar dredging operations to create an artificial island around Scarborough Reef.

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Yui Mok – WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, unveiled the "Back to Nature" garden she helped design at the RHS Chelsea Flower show this weekend.

The duchess' garden was created with a particular purpose -- to encourage children to play outside -- tying into the focus of her work on how important the early years of life are in childhood development and in setting the stage for a child's future.

"I believe that spending time outdoors when we are young can play a role in laying the foundations for children to become happy, healthy adults,” she said, speaking ahead of the garden unveiling.

The garden, designed by the duchess and award-winning landscape architects, is "a woodland setting for families and communities to come together and connect with nature," according to Kensington Palace. It includes a swing seat and a high platform tree house, inspired by a bird or animal nest and made from chestnut, with hazel, stag horn oak and larch nest cladding.

Kate, 37, has made early childhood development the focus of her work, advocating for the benefits of the outdoors on improving mental health, particularly for kids.

“Understanding that our brain develops to 90% of its adult size within these first five years helps crystallise how our experiences in these earliest years are so impactful, and influences who we become as individuals. What happens in our early years is vital to our being able to engage positively in school, and in work and society, and ultimately, to how we bring up our own children,” she said in a press release.

On Sunday, Kate, along with her husband Prince William, brought her own children around the garden and shared photos from the special family outing.

👀 We invite you to take a sneak peek at The Duchess of Cambridge’s #RHSChelsea ‘Back to Nature’ Garden!

The garden includes a swing seat, hanging below the garden’s centrepiece, a high platform tree house. #ChelseaFlowerShow

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 18, 2019

“I really hope that this woodland that we have created really inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.” — The Duchess of Cambridge #RHSChelsea

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 19, 2019

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis helped their mom, the duchess, gather moss, leaves and twigs to help decorate the garden, according to the palace. Hazel sticks collected by the family were also used to make the garden’s den.

Among the flowers spotted in the garden are forget-me-nots. The small blue flowers, which were a favorite of Princess Diana, Kate's late mother-in-law, may be a tribute to Diana's influence and legacy.

Kate has said that providing children with the opportunity to spend time outdoors can play an important role in their overall well-being.

“I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits on our physical and mental well-being, particularly for young children," the duchess said in an interview with the BBC for the garden's unveiling. "I really hope that this woodland that we have created really inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.”

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iStock/bluefox42(NEW YORK) -- Four Americans have died after a small plane plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Honduras, according to the U.S. State Department.

"We express our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy," a State Department spokesperson told ABC News. "We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased."

The passengers, whose identities have not been released, were traveling from the island of Roatan to the city of Trujillo.

Rescue boats with police and firemen found four bodies within minutes of the crash, according to a statement released by the Honduras military.

Rescuers were able to transport one passenger to a local hospital, but he died of internal injuries, according to the military.

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iStock/antonbelo(CAIRO) -- A bus full of foreign tourists was bombed Sunday near Egypt's famed pyramids of Giza, injuring several passengers, authorities said.

The explosion happened as the tour bus was driving past the Grand Egyptian Museum, close to the pyramids in Giza, officials said.

The bus was headed to the nearby Movenpick hotel when an improvised bomb believed to have been planted by the side of the road detonated, officials said.

Several people on the bus were hurt, but an official told ABC News that most of the injuries appear to be minor.

Photos of the damaged bus posted on social media show its front window cracked and its side windows blown out.

"We are aware of a reported attack on a tourist bus in the museum complex near the Pyramids of Giza area, resulting in injuries. We are not aware of any injuries to U.S. citizens at this time. Please avoid the area and monitor local media for updates," officials at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said in a message posted on Twitter.

The attack was similar to one that occurred six months ago in almost the same location near the Grand Egyptian Museum.

On Dec. 28, a bus filled with Vietnamese tourists was targeted by a bomb planted in a wall and detonated as the bus went by. Four people on the bus were killed and 10 others were injured.

The December bombing was followed by police raids in Giza and North Sinai that left "40 terrorists" dead, Egyptian officials said.

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Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was apparently assaulted at an event in South Africa.

In a video now making the rounds on social media, the former bodybuilder and Mr. Universe himself was filming kids attending the Arnold Classic Africa, a multi-sport event that takes place on six continents each year, when an unknown man appears to run up behind the 71-year-old and drop kick him in the back.

Off-camera, someone can be heard shouting "Help me!"

And if you have to share the video (I get it), pick a blurry one without whatever he was yelling so he doesn’t get the spotlight.

By the way... block or charge?

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) May 18, 2019

In a video that appear to show another angle of the incident, Schwarzenegger appears to stumble forward after the strike.

The suspect was swiftly apprehended and dragged away, and Arnold went back to greeting fans and attendees of the multi-sport event.

In a later tweet, Arnold thanked people for their concern over the incident saying there was nothing to worry about, adding: “Thanks for your concerns, but there is nothing to worry about. I thought I was just jostled by the crowd, which happens a lot. I only realized I was kicked when I saw the video like all of you. I’m just glad the idiot didn’t interrupt my Snapchat."

Thanks for your concerns, but there is nothing to worry about. I thought I was just jostled by the crowd, which happens a lot. I only realized I was kicked when I saw the video like all of you. I’m just glad the idiot didn’t interrupt my Snapchat.

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) May 18, 2019

In a follow-up, he asked his followers to stop sharing the video, and instead focus on the athletes performing at the event.

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Chesnot/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Two days after fire broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral, swallowing both the wooden roof and the spire, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced an international competition of architecture to decide whether to rebuild under the same conditions or endow it with a new spire "adapted to the techniques and issues of our time."

Ever since, architects, landscape artists and graphic designers from France and beyond have answered the call, imagining the Notre Dame of tomorrow.

The proposal from landscape artist and architect Clément Willemin features a garden roof with walking paths around wild-looking bushes, plants and flowers. It received immediate reactions and has been viewed online 7 million times, receiving 70,000 likes.

But others' views have been mixed.

"Some people insult me, others tell me, ‘I pray for you,’” Willemin says.

He doubts that his project will be picked, saying "my point was more to feed the debate than anything."

Brazilian architect Alexandre Fantozzi told ABC News he was celebrating Easter with his family when he thought of a roof and spire totally covered with stained glass windows -- "the biggest Gothic feature," Fantozzi said.

Graphic designer Anthony Séjourné told ABC News he wanted to contrast the heaviness of the original spire, which crumbled to the ground in the fire, with a projecting beam of light that would pierce the clouds, thus keeping the original spiritual symbol of wanting to get to the heavens.

Parisian architect Alexandre Chassang told ABC News he imagines a glass shard-looking spire.

For NAB design founder Nicolas Abdelkader, Notre Dame’s reconstruction is an opportunity to tackle social and environmental issues, "values dear to the Church and presumably to the French state," he told ABC News.

He makes the roof a greenhouse dedicated to training the unemployed in urban agriculture, horticulture and permaculture, and makes the spire into a giant hive for the bees miraculously saved during the fire.

"We could produce the famous 'nectar of the gods' in the heart of the new spire," Abdelkader said.

While the projects are creating buzz on social media, some reactions are downright brutal. The architects said they received dozens of insulting emails and abusive comments following the publication of their project.

Just like late I.M. Pei’s pyramid of the Louvre 30 years ago, the discussion over Notre Dame’s reconstruction is triggering passions, dividing France in two camps: the debate between modern and old.

According to a recent poll, 55% of French people dislike the idea of an international competition because they want the spire to be rebuilt "as it was." Conservative congressman Nicolas Dupont-Aignan even issued a petition urging to "build identically" and "not disfigure Notre-Dame."

When Denis Laming first saw the flames atop Notre Dame from his apartment window, he told ABC News that he knew that the roof was lost and that a quarrel between conservatives and modernists would ensue. The architect famous for the French theme park Futuroscope then imagined a roof identical from the outside, but with a sliding mechanism that reveals glass windows to reconcile the nostalgics with the modernists.

Laming's project was awarded Thursday with a UNESCO label for best reconstruction project on Notre Dame.

For now, no announcement on the international competition rules and starting date has been set, but Laming says that his Cathedral of Light design is being "presented to the relevant institutions."

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Channel One(MOSCOW) -- The final result of Russia’s version of the popular TV singing talent show, "The Voice Kids," has been cancelled after it was found that thousands of automated calls and text messages were used to rig voting in favor of its 10-year-old winner.

Moscow-based cybersecurity firm IB-Group was brought in to examine the results after complaints were raised over the victory of Mikella Abramova, the daughter of well-known Russian popstar Alsou and millionaire Yan Abramov.

Abramova won the show’s final, broadcasted on April 26, with 56.5% of a phone-in vote. Large numbers of viewers, however, immediately began complaining online and the state Channel 1, which airs the show, noted there had been "anomalies" in the voting. So, it hired IB-Group to investigate.

On Thursday, IB-Group’s researchers said that, after analyzing the voting data, there had been “massive automated sending of SMS messages in favour of one participant.”

Sequential phone numbers were used to make more than 30,000 automated calls into the show’s voting line for the contestant, IB Group wrote in a statement on its website. Another 300 telephone numbers were used to send 8,000 text messages, the statement said, noting that the automated calls and messages were made by so-called 'bots' — software programs that can be directed to repeat tasks over and over.

The findings prompted Channel 1 to announce that it was annulling the results, saying the investigation had confirmed there was "an outside influence" that had affected the outcome.

In a statement on its website, the channel said it would now organize a new “special show” in which all the contestants would compete again on May 24. It emphasized that IB-Group's investigation was only intended to confirm that there had been manipulation, not to assign blame.

“We believe that children should not bear responsibility for actions not undertaken by them,” the statement read.

IB-Group, which is one of Russia's most prominent cybersecurity firms and has partnered with Interpol, said that its analysis was preliminary and that it would complete its full investigation by the end of the month. Channel 1 said it would be taking measures to protect its voting system in the future and that these would be announced before the next season of the show, which will be its seventh.

The revelation has prompted anger in Russia, with some viewers and Russian news outlets laying suspicion on Abramova’s parents despite there being no evidence so far regarding who was behind the vote fraud. Alsou is a popular music star in Russia and performed for the country in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2000, where she placed second. Abramov, meanwhile, is a businessman whose holdings include a loans company and some factories, one of which is an arms manufacturing plant, according to the Russian newspaper Vedomosti.

After the announcement, one of the show's hosts Dmitry Nagiev said that it was now important to protect the children taking part.

"Let's not forget that it is only a jolly game of 'who sings best,'" he told the state-funded Russian broadcaster RT. "And as soon as adults interfere with their screwed-up attempts to tinker with it, the game takes on not very pretty forms."

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Carl Court/Getty Images(HONG KONG) -- Lawmakers in Taiwan voted in favor of a bill legalizing same-marriage Friday, making the self-governing island the first Asian country to do so.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators, gay rights supporters and dissenting protesters packed the streets outside the parliament building in Taipei in the rainy morning hours, awaiting the crucial vote.

Taiwan's constitutional court ruled in 2017 that same-sex couples had the right to marry and gave the government a two-year deadline to amend the constitution with a new law to guarantee it.

The momentum suffered a setback this past November when 67 percent of Taiwanese voters rejected the notion that Taiwan’s civil code “should be used guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married,” reflecting the conservative traditional values still entrenched in Taiwan despite its reputation for being progressive on gay rights.

Opponents of same-sex marriage began to push back and dulled the political will of some lawmakers over fears of repercussions in the general election next year.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who faces a tough re-election fight, continued to press forward on same-sex marriage, which she publicly supported during her 2016 campaign.

The legislature ultimately voted 66-27 overwhelmingly in favor of an article that would allow same-sex couples to register their marriage with government agencies, enshrining it into law.

“On May 17th, 2019 in #Taiwan, #LoveWon,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted after the vote. “We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.”

Media executive and LGBTQ activist Jay Lin told ABC News that he was "so happy to be living in Taiwan and witnessing this day."

Lin had briefly joined his fellow activists in front of the legislature building before heading to work.

“I was nervously checking the phone during a lunch meeting with clients who came from abroad and erupted into jubilation after they left and I saw the results," he said.

Lin went straight back to the office and began celebrating with his colleagues, many of whom have also worked on the same-sex marriage fight for the past three years.

“We just broke out into spontaneous celebration, drinking and hugging,” said Lin.

The Taiwan vote comes as LGBTQ rights in other parts of Asia have come under attack in countries like Brunei and Indonesia.

The law that was passed was weaker than some activists groups had hoped for; there were limitations on adoption rights and restrictions on Taiwanese citizens marrying foreigners from other countries where same-sex marriages are not legal.

The new law will take effect next Friday.

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Michal Wachucik/Getty Images(LONDON) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May looks set to step down in June or July after a meeting with disgruntled lawmakers that left her "tearful," according to British media.

In the Thursday meeting with the 1922 Committee, an influential group of Conservative lawmakers from her own party, the prime minister agreed to step down if her Brexit deal is voted down when she brings it to the House of Commons in the week beginning June 3.

Senior political sources told the BBC she promised to resign if the vote fails and that it was "inconceivable" May would stay in power after the next vote.

The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper favoring Brexit, reported the meeting was "emotionally charged" and that May will step down by June 30 at the latest.

However, the BBC reported an exact date has not been set and that the prime minister had only agreed to a "timetable for departure."

The prime minister had previously said she would resign if her Brexit deal, which has been voted down three times this year, was accepted by British lawmakers.

That announcement was an attempt to get more lawmakers to side with the deal, but it now seems that whatever happens, a new prime minister will be in place by the deadline for the U.K. to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 of this year.

It is not only the prime minister's own future at stake. May had spent the last six weeks negotiating with Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to find a compromise agreement that would pass through the House of Commons.

On Friday, the talks broke down, with Corbyn saying the negotiations "have gone as far as they can" in a letter to the prime minister.

This means that when Parliament votes again on Brexit next month, the deal will effectively be the same as the one defeated by a historic margin in January and again in March.

May's Brexit deal has come under criticism from lawmakers of all political persuasions. Some suggest the deal will leave the U.K. too closely aligned to the EU, while others believe the deal will damage the U.K.'s economy.
Conservative lawmakers within May's own party will spend the coming months jostling for positions. When she resigns, a leadership election will take place. Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, has already put himself forward as a future candidate.

The current deadline for leaving the European Union is set at Oct. 31 of this year. The original date for departure was March 29, but the government were forced to ask the EU for an extension after they were unable to agree on a deal, despite negotiating with the EU for the better part of three years.

If Parliament cannot agree on a deal, the U.K. will leave a "no deal" Brexit, unless lawmakers decide to cancel Brexit entirely by revoking Article 50, the legal mechanism for leaving the EU.

The next vote on May's Brexit deal will be taking place the same early June week President Donald Trump, who has been critical of May's Brexit deal, embarks on a state visit to the U.K.

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fatido/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- One of the key "threat streams" that Iran or Iranian-backed groups in the Middle East were planning possible attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, Syria and at sea were U.S. intelligence photos that indicated that Iran had placed cruise missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf region that could be used against ships or land targets, according to a U.S. official.

That imagery suggested a threat to U.S. naval ships, ships of partner nations and was one of the factors that led U.S. Central Command to speed up the arrival of the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group to the Middle East, the official said.

The photos taken by U.S. intelligence showed missiles had been placed aboard small Iranian boats known as "dhows" in the waters off the Iranian port of Chabahar, east of the Persian Gulf two U.S. officials told ABC News.

A third U.S. official described the missiles as cruise missiles that could be used to target vessels sailing off the key waters off of Iran or at land targets.

Another U.S. official described the placement of the missiles on the dhows as "different" but did not know if it was a new type of missile.

The official stressed that while the imagery was a key piece of intelligence, the decision to deploy the Lincoln strike group and B-52 bombers to deter Iran or its allies from carrying out attacks against U.S. forces was generated by several pieces of intelligence. That included the possibility that Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria might attack U.S. forces or facilities.

Last week, a senior military official described "anomalous naval activity" by dhows and the possible placement of missiles but did not provide details about how the U.S. had obtained that information or where the boats were located.

At the time it was unclear what the purpose was for placing the missiles on the Iranian boats whether to be potentially used against at U.S. ships or other commercial vessels in the region or if they were being transported outside of Iran.

The carrier strike group is now in the Arabian Sea after having sailed through the Red Sea this past weekend, according to two U.S. officials. It was unclear if the strike group would sail into the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. intelligence community continues to assess last Sunday's sabotage attacks on four vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. But an initial assessment has concluded that an Iranian-backed group placed explosive charges on the hulls of the four vessels, said a U.S. official.

American officials said that U.S. intelligence continues to see multiple threat streams from Iran across the Middle East, not just in the Gulf region.

On Wednesday, the State Department ordered the evacuation of non-essential personnel from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil.

Senior State Department officials told reporters that the evacuation was a prudent step in "light of credible threat streams."

Congressional leaders were scheduled to receive their first briefing on the intelligence and the new military deployments to the Middle East on Thursday.

Members of Congress have raised concerns about a New York Times report that the Pentagon had presented a plan to send an additional 120,000 U.S. forces to the Middle East if Iran strikes at U.S. targets or proceeds to once again enrich uranium.

An administration official confirmed that national security officials met at the White House last week to discuss Iran options, but that sending more troops was not part of a new plan.

Instead, the official said senior Pentagon officials presented a wide range of the military's existing contingency options to respond to the variety of scenarios that could involve Iran.

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KeithBinns/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is requesting the ability to provide lodging and transportation to insurgent groups in Afghanistan that are looking to implement local ceasefires with the Afghan government, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

The decision to request the authority came after a largely successful ceasefire was implemented between the Taliban and Afghan government last summer.

"Following the June 2018 ceasefire in Afghanistan, the Commander of U.S. Forces--Afghanistan requested the authority to use funds to facilitate meetings between the Afghan government and insurgent groups looking to implement local ceasefires in order to be poised to take advantage of further opportunities to reduce levels of violence in the country should such opportunities present themselves," Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told ABC News.

The funds could go to lodging and transportation for militants if that was required to get all parties to the negotiating table "in areas that are difficult to access otherwise," Rebarich said, adding that no U.S. military vehicles or aircraft would be used.

No Pentagon funds have been used for such a purpose. Instead, the Pentagon made the request in anticipation of possible scenarios in the future, according to Rebarich.

The acknowledgement by the Pentagon follows an apparent miscommunication with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which appeared to interpret the request as related to the ongoing U.S.-Taliban reconciliation efforts led by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

In response to the perceived request from the Pentagon, the committee included language in its proposed defense spending bill released this week that states, "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to pay the expenses of any member of the Taliban to participate in any meeting that does not include the participation of members of the Government of Afghanistan or that restricts the participation of women" -- two criticisms of the U.S.-Taliban negotiations that are not relevant to local ceasefire discussions between the Afghan government and insurgent groups.

Still, the miscommunication highlights the multiple tracks that the U.S. is pursuing to bring about a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan.

U.S. and Taliban representatives concluded the sixth and latest round of peace talks in Qatar earlier this month, which a Taliban spokesperson called "positive in total."

Khalilzad tweeted that the two sides "made steady but slow progress on aspects of the framework for ending the Afghan war," but added that "the current pace of talks isn't sufficient when so much conflict rages and innocent people die."

At the same time those talks were concluding, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on a U.S. non-profit organization in Kabul that killed at least nine people. Meanwhile, seven U.S. service members have been killed in combat-related events in Afghanistan in 2019.

"A key priority for the administration is to end the war in Afghanistan through a negotiated peace settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and the U.S. is working to help facilitate such a settlement," Rebarich said. "The United States also supports local peace initiatives between the Afghan government and insurgent groups looking to cease hostilities against the Afghan Government and coalition forces."

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Eloi_Omella/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Millions of pieces of plastic are washing onto the shores of a chain of remote Australian islands, according to a new study.

The waste is polluting the Coco Islands, an archipelago of 27 tiny islands located in the Indian Ocean about 1,300 miles off the coast of northwest Australia. It mostly consists of bottle caps and lids, plastic drinking straws and shoes, "predominantly" flip-flops, according to a study published Thursday by Scientific Reports.

The study did not explore why flip-flops make up such a significant portion of the pollution.

An estimated 414 million items of debris, weighing about 238 tons, have been deposited onto the islands, researchers said. About 25 percent consists of disposable plastics, such as straws, bags and toothbrushes, and about 93 percent of the pollution has been buried beneath the sand.

The numbers are among the highest reported on remote islands, but underestimate the true amount of debris present, and should be interpreted as "minimum estimates," according to the study.

Scientists believe currents coming from several directions carry the plastic to the once-pristine beaches. The northern atoll of the archipelago, which is uninhabited and rarely visited, serves as an important breeding site for seabirds, researchers said. Other parts of the island are touted as Australia's last unspoiled paradise, where tourism is a primary source of income for the local community, according to the study.

Oceans have been a "reservoir for exponentially increasing amounts of plastic waste" for the past 60 years as global plastic production has ballooned, according to the study.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the massive floating island of plastic between California and Hawaii, has now grown to three times the size of France, according to a study published in Scientific Reports in March 2018.

Once plastic is in the ocean, the waves and sunlight begin to break it down into small particles that remain for decades, perhaps centuries.

The removal of micro-debris from beaches is a "significant challenge," even in small scales, due to the time required to separate the plastic and other sediments from organic materials, according to the study. The removal of the buried debris could potentially have a dramatic impact on the environment because it would require a "major mechanical disturbance of sediments."

In addition, plastic has been documented at all levels of the marine food web, from the deepest trenches to the most far-flung beaches, researchers said.

If drastic steps to the way plastic is consumed and discarded are not made, the quantity of waste entering the ocean is predicted to increase 10-fold by 2025, according to a 2015 study published in Science Magazine.

"In the absence of meaningful change, debris will accumulate rapidly on the world’s beaches," researchers concluded. "Small, buried items pose considerable challenges for wildlife, and volunteers charged with the task of cleaning-up, thus preventing new items from entering the ocean remains key to addressing this issue."

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