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Ruskpp/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The White House “officially [placed] Iran on notice” on Wednesday after the country launched a ballistic missile.

Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Advisor, spoke in the White House briefing room on Wednesday condeming the missile test. “The Trump administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk.”

“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn added.

Neither Flynn nor the White House provided additional details on what it meant to do so.

Iran has admitted to a number of medium-range missile tests, but say that those tests do not violate the international nuclear agreement because they say the missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads. The tests, they say, are legitimate self-defense.

The White House, however, views such tests as provocative.

In his remarks, Gen. Flynn also cited a recent attack against a Saudi Arabian naval vessel conducted by Houthi militants supported by Iran.

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JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As the Federal Reserve announced improving economic conditions, but no interest rate hike this month, Wall Street responded with small gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day up 26.85, closing at 19,890.94.

The Nasdaq gained 27.86 to finish the day at 5,642.65, while the S&P 500 closed the trading session at 2,279.55, 0.68 higher than it opened.

After the markets closed, Facebook reported higher than expected earnings. The social media company also announced $8.81 billion in revenue, compared to an expected figure of $8.5 billion. Facebook also reported 1.86 billion daily active users and 1.23 daily active users — both higher numbers than anticipated.

The Federal Reserve today said that while economic conditions are improving, they’re not stable enough for an interest rate hike this month. Rates will remain unchanged for now, but the central bank says another increase is coming.

Payroll processor ADP put out its monthly hiring report, showing good news for job hunters. Government figures on hiring will come out on Friday.

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Davis McCardle/DigitalVision/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Members of the United Kingdom’s House of Commons voted on Wednesday to approve the first step towards leaving the European Union.

After two days of debate and a number of emotional arguments, 498 MPs voted in favor of the so-called “Brexit,” versus just 114 votes against. The bill would still face further scrutiny from the House of Commons and the House of Lords before it becomes law.

Prime Minister Theresa May wants to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of March in order to begin negotiations with the European Union.

Last June, nearly 52 percent of British voters decided to leave the EU. Just 48.1 percent voted to remain.

BBC News reports that one MP shouted “suicide” when the result of Wednesday’s voting was announced.

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iStock/Thinkstock(AMMAN, Jordan) — Afnan has been praying for a way out of Jordan since the day she arrived.

“I left Syria fearing for my children and my husband,” the 35-year-old mother of three boys told ABC News. “There was no security or stability. Lots of clashes were taking place so we were scared and left.”

Afnan said her family fled Damascus in 2012 when her children, Abed al Razaq, Firas and Baibars, were just 12, 10 and 4 years old respectively. They settled in Amman, the capital of Jordan, temporarily, hoping to eventually start new lives in the United States.

Afnan said she was expecting a phone call any day and a one-way ticket to Little Rock, Arkansas, where her family had been assigned for resettlement. But that was before President Donald Trump signed an executive order last Friday halting the resettlement process for all Syrian refugees indefinitely.

“We were expecting to go and find safety and security and humanitarianism. We even work in the field of psychological support and humanitarianism,” Afnan said. “But we were not expecting this.”

A sports coach in Amman, Afnan mentors young girls at Reclaim Childhood, a nonprofit organization that uses sports as “a vehicle of empowerment for refugee girls and local women in Jordan,” according to its site.

“America needs people like Afnan,” Maddie Ulanow, Afnan’s boss and the program director for Reclaim Childhood, told ABC News. “It’s not just policy, it’s ruining people’s lives.”

Afnan’s case came to the attention of ABC News via Reclaim Childhood, where one of the authors of this article sits on the board of directors.

Since October, Afnan has been poring over the Wikipedia page for Little Rock, which she’d never heard of before her family was assigned there for resettlement, Ulanow said. Her sons, committed athletes like their mother, had already researched soccer clubs in the city before news of Trump’s order broke.

“Regrettably, I expected more than this,” Afnan’s husband, Mazin, 51, told ABC News. “I expected safety for my children, a safe country, a future for my children.”

After registering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) upon arrival in Jordan, it took two years for the agency to approach Afnan and Mazin with the opportunity to begin the process of resettlement to the U.S.

Refugees cannot apply for resettlement, and once they’re chosen, they have no say in their final destination. The UNHCR chooses the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement, and according to U.N. data, less than 1 percent of the world’s refugees are ever resettled in a new country. In the first 11 months of 2016, the UNHCR referred 145,500 cases to about 30 different countries, and 115,000 refugees were resettled, 84,995 in the U.S.

After the rigorous, two-year screening process, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) gave Afnan a three-month window to expect final travel plans between December 2016 and February 2017. But those plans have been put on hold in the wake of Trump’s order.

“President Trump has the wrong perception of Arabs. … You want to fight terrorism? Go ahead and fight terrorism but don’t fight the entire Arab world,” Mazin said. “We are trying to escape war.”

The UNHCR says each applicant to the U.S. undergoes at least five separate background checks, four biometric security checks, three separate in-person interviews and two interagency security checks. There are additional screenings for Syrians.

Afnan, Mazin and their three boys made it through all of these checks, only to be stalled now.

“We are Muslims, not terrorists … terrorism doesn’t have a religion,” Afnan said. Even if her family does eventually make it to the U.S., she said she’s worried about whether they may face discrimination given the current environment.

Before fleeing Damascus, Mazin worked for a printing company, and in Amman, he has found work as a carpenter. On Tuesday, in the family’s living room, he reassured his sons. Baibars, now 9, started crying.

“We’re moving you from country to another country, a great country, so that you can be in safety, security and stability,” he told Baibars. “God willing, our faith in God is great, that we can be together in peace.”

“Are you afraid?” Afnan asked Baibars. “What are you afraid of?”

Baibars sobbed into his mother’s shoulder. “I’m afraid,” he said.

“We are all afraid without stability,” Afnan answered, as Baibars got up and locked himself in his bedroom. “He’s afraid, one day we’re traveling, one day we’re not. Even a child is affected. The word ‘refugee’ is difficult for him.”

“We are children,” his older brother Firas, now 15, added. “They might see us as terrorists, but we are children, we haven’t done anything. … We are coming for education, not to fight or wage jihad on America.”

Abed al Razaq, now 17, wants “to tell the American people that they are a good people to stand with us, to march for us,” he said.

“The American people are humanitarians,” Mazin added, expressing hope the ban will be short-lived. “We like them, we’ve seen them on TV, we’ve seen their marches. Their love for us, their welcome for us, their passion for us, for our children, these are the things that make us love America, make us want to go to America.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — Israel has given the green light to plans to build more homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted late Tuesday that he has approved the construction of more than 3,000 new housing units in Judea and Samaria.

The announcement is an apparent move to compensate for the court-ordered evacuation of the illegal outpost of Amona, which began Wednesday. Clashes broke out there when young religious protesters threw stones and attacked the Israeli police, injuring more than a dozen.

Removing the 42 settler families is expected to continue well into the night.

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moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The number crunchers at WalletHub have done the due diligence, and ranked the Best and Worst Places to Get Married in the U.S. They analyzed 150 cities for 20 main indicators, from “average wedding cost” to “venues and event spaces per capita” to “hotel availability.”

Las Vegas, Nevada came out on top, followed closely by Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia.

In last place? Newark, New Jersey.

Incidentally, the place with the “Lowest Average Wedding Cost?” El Paso, Texas. Highest? Honolulu, Hawaii.

WalletHub’s Best Places to Get Married:

  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Orlando, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Tampa, FL
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Miami, FL

Lowest Average Wedding Cost:

  • El Paso, Texas
  • Brownsville, TX
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Springfield, MO
  • Memphis, TN

Highest Average Wedding Cost:

  • Honolulu, HI
  • New York, NY
  • NewarK, NJ
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Yonkers, NY

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Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — New Defense Secretary James Mattis is set to arrive later Wednesday in South Korea as he begins his first overseas trip that will also take him to Japan, highlighting the Pacific region’s importance to U.S. security interests.

“The trip will underscore the commitment of the United States to our enduring alliances with Japan and the Republic of Korea, and further strengthen U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea security cooperation,” Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said last week when the trip was announced.

Mattis’ visit is intended to reassure U.S. allies in the region that it will maintain its security commitments, especially at a time when North Korea has grown increasingly provocative in the development of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has unsettled some of America’s allies in the region.

Tensions have also been heightened in the South China Sea, where China’s territorial claims and its construction on disputed islands have raised alarms in neighboring countries.

ABC News takes a look at some of the security issues in the region.

North Korean Provocations

Mattis’ first overseas stop will be in South Korea, where the United States has 28,500 troops to deter North Korean aggression.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced earlier this month that his military would soon begin preparations to conduct a test of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that could potentially reach the mainland United States. U.S. officials have said that no test appears imminent, but the announcement culminated a year’s worth of provocative behavior by North Korea that included two nuclear test explosions and a slew of long-range missile launches.

Some of the missile tests were spectacular failures, but the pace of the testing raised concerns that North Korea was determined to make fast advancements.

North Korea’s goal is to develop a nuclear weapon small enough to be placed atop a long-range missile. Late last year, a senior U.S. military official said it appeared that North Korea has still not mastered the re-entry technology that would make an ICBM with a miniaturized warhead a viable threat.

To address South Korean concerns, the United States will soon deploy a missile intercept system, known as Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD), which would protect Seoul and other parts of South Korea from a missile attack. The United States has maintained that the system is defensive, but China opposes it out of concerns it is designed to contain its missile programs.

South China Sea

Over the past few years, China has built up man-made islands around seven reefs in the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea that it claims are Chinese territory. To bolster its long-term claims, the artificial islands have been equipped with ports, runways and radar facilities. Despite assertions that it does not intend to militarize the islands, commercial satellite images released late last year indicated that large anti-aircraft guns and weapons systems had been installed on the islands.

The United States did not take sides in South China Sea territorial disputes under the Obama administration. But to ensure the right of passage through what it considers international waters and airspace, U.S. Navy warships have transited within the 12 nautical mile limits of some of the disputed islands in what are called “freedom of navigation operations.”

China reacted negatively to comments this week from White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who said that if the disputed islands are in international waters “and not part of China proper, then yes, we’re gonna make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson responded that the United States was not a party to the South China Sea issue and said: “Our position is clear. Our actions have been lawful.”

Trans-Pacific Partnership

Earlier this week, President Trump kept a campaign promise and withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Trump had said leading up to the election that it was not beneficial to American workers.

Prospects for U.S. participation in the agreement were already in doubt under the Obama administration because it did not have the votes in the Senate needed to win approval.

News of America’s withdrawal from the TPP drew concern from partners in the region who had seen the trade pact as a check on China’s economic and geopolitical influence.

Without U.S. participation in the deal, China is free to work its own trade pacts or push an alternative regional treaty that does not include the United States.

The Obama administration emphasized the pivot to Asia as a key feature of future American security concerns. The Trump administration is expected to continue to focus on security in the region.

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ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Volkswagen agreed Wednesday to pay more than a billion dollars to settle claims over emissions cheating.

The settlement with the Federal Trade Commission compensates 78,000 owners of 3.0-liter TDI diesel vehicles rigged to cheat on emissions tests.

If approved, affected vehicles would be recalled and fixed. Volkswagen would buy back older cars or give owners trade-in credits or lease termination.

“With the Court-approved 2.0L TDI program well under way and now this proposed 3.0L TDI program, all of our customers with affected vehicles in the United States will have a resolution available to them,” Hinrich Woebcken, the president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., said in a statement Wednesday. “We will continue to work to earn back the trust of all our stakeholders and thank our customers and dealers for their continued patience as this process moves forward.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Al-Qaeda fighters seemed ready for Sunday’s deadly Navy SEAL raid in Yemen, a source familiar with the raid told ABC News, almost as though they knew the Americans were coming.

The raid succeeded in obtaining “a tremendous amount” of information about al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday, though the firefight killed one SEAL and wounded three others. Three additional servicemembers were injured when an aircraft sent to medevac the SEALs experienced a “hard landing” that left it inoperable.

The SEALs’ mission was intended to gather intelligence about the terror group’s senior leadership and its external plotting efforts. The mission was also intended to capture any AQAP leaders if possible, but no one was detained in the raid, said a U.S. official.

“Obviously, we recovered a tremendous amount of information and we killed an estimated 14 members of [AQAP] individuals,” Spicer told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

An unnamed U.S. official told ABC News electronics with data had been seized in the raid and it is hoped that it could prevent future terror attacks targeting the West.

The al-Qaeda affiliate has been able to exploit the security vacuum created in Yemen by fighting between Iranian-backed Houthi militants and a Saudi-led military coalition seeking to restore the previous government overthrown by the Houthis.

In the works for months, the raid was authorized by President Donald Trump and targeted a three-house compound in southern Yemen that had been used by AQAP leaders as an operational staging area. “There were operational reasons why it happened when it did and not two weeks ago,” Capt. Jeff Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, said Monday about the timing of the raid.

Taking advantage of a moonless night, members of the elite SEAL Team Six flew toward the compound aboard Marine MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft launched from the USS Makin Island, a Navy amphibious ship operating in the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, a U.S. official said.

Accompanying the SEALs on the raid were dozens of special operations forces from a partner nation in the region, the source familiar with the raid told ABC News.

With armed drones flying overhead, the SEALs arrived at the compound under the cover of darkness and immediately took heavy fire, the source said.

According to the source, it was clear that the AQAP fighters in the compound knew the Americans were coming and engaged them with heavy weapons.

On Monday, Capt. Davis said there were female combatants among the AQAP fighters who “ran to pre-established positions as though they had trained to be ready and trained to be combatants and engaged with us.”

An intense firefight at close quarters killed Chief Special Warfare Officer William “Ryan” Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois, and left three other SEALs wounded.

A Marine MV-22 Osprey was called into medevac the wounded, but in the darkness, it experienced a “hard landing,” injuring three other American servicemembers.

The Pentagon said that at least 14 AQAP fighters were killed in the raid, but there are unconfirmed reports from Yemen that civilians were also killed in the firefight. U.S. officials are taking those allegations seriously and said they are still assessing whether there were civilian casualties.

Earlier Tuesday, President Trump had “a very somber and lengthy conversation” with Owens’ family, according to Spicer.

“The president offered his sincerest condolences to Officer Owens’ wife, his father, and their three children,” said Spicer. “We could never repay the debt of gratitude we owe him, the freedoms that he fought for, and the sacrifice that he made, as well as the other members of his unit who were injured in this operation.”

Owens enlisted in the Navy in 1998 and had served with Navy Special Warfare units since 2002. Spicer said he was on his 12th overseas deployment.

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ALICE CHICHE/AFP/Getty Images(QUEBEC CITY) — A teenager who said he left a Quebec City mosque minutes before a gunman stormed in and killed six people inside said the attack made him “scared out of my mind” when he realized something had happened at the mosque and he returned to the scene.

Aly El Refai, 16, said he visited the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre for evening prayers on Sunday. He said he was on his way home when he saw police cars.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, is accused of attacking the mosque, killing six and injuring others. The motive for the attack was not clear, and police said Monday the investigation was ongoing.

El Refai told ABC News Tuesday it was “mind-boggling” that he just missed it. El Refai said he went back to the scene, and said it was “hard to hold back tears” when he saw people he had been praying with just minutes before had become victims of the violence.

“I actually walked past one of the first victims. … I saw the bullet holes. It took me so long to comprehend it,” El Refai said.

El Refai said one man injured in the attack had been one of his teachers. He said he was shocked to see someone he knew so well get carried into an ambulance.

Bissonnette has been charged with six counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Monday. He has not entered a plea to the charges against him.

A childhood friend of Bissonnette told ABC News Tuesday that the suspect appeared to him to be “Islamophobic, definitely,” and “anti-feminist.” Bissonnette’s childhood friend, Vincent Boissoneault, said he and Bissonnette were Facebook friends, and he said Bissonnette repeatedly trolled Boissoneault’s left-leaning and pro-refugee Facebook posts with negative comments.

Boissoneault said that in his comments, Bissonnette expressed anti-immigration sentiments, though Boissoneault added that he did not see Bissonnette as someone violent.

Bissonnette studied at Quebec City’s Université Laval, according to the university, though he has been suspended pending the judicial process, the university said.

Jean-Michel Allard-Prus, a former classmate of Bissonnette at Université Laval, told ABC News on Monday that the two discussed politics together, including the U.S. presidential election. He described Bissonnette as “a political conservative” who had anti-immigrant views.

“Though he never talked about using political violence,” Allard-Prus added.

A group that welcomes Syrian refugees to Quebec called “Welcome Refugees” wrote on Facebook that Bissonnette had trolled the group on social media with comments supporting French conservative politician Marine Le Pen.

The mosque shooting came two days after Trump signed an executive order on Friday affecting travel by people from seven predominately Muslim countries, and one day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Saturday, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.”

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge,” Trudeau said in a statement on Sunday, and subsequently told Parliament on Monday that the attack “was an act of terror committed against Canada and against all Canadians.”

“While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear,” Trudeau said in his Sunday statement. “Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.”

Trump called Trudeau on Monday morning to express his condolences and offer assistance, according to Trudeau’s office. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday, before the shooter was identified, that the U.S. condemns the attack, adding that it’s a reminder of why the U.S. remains vigilant and why the U.S. must be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to national security.

Addressing Canada’s parliament Monday, Trudeau said, “To the more than 1 million Canadians who profess the Muslim faith, I want to say directly: We are with you. Thirty-six million hearts are breaking with yours.”

“We will get to the bottom of this,” Trudeau added. “Canadians will not be intimidated. We will not meet violence with more violence. We will meet fear and hatred with love and compassion, always.”

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