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January 18, 2016

Three American contractors were kidnapped from a Baghdad apartment known to be a brothel on Friday afternoon, U.S. and Iraqi officials told CNN Monday.

The men — two Iraqi-Americans and an Egyptian-American working for the security service company Sallyport — were kidnapped from the Dora neighborhood, and officials spent Monday searching the al-Saha portion of the area, CNN reports. Authorities are trying to figure out if the men were lured to the apartment, or if they were found to be there and then kidnapped. An Iraqi official told CNN they were taken away from the apartment in a vehicle convoy. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the department is aware of the report that American citizens are missing in Baghdad, and "we are working with the full cooperation of the Iraq authorities to locate and recover the individuals." Catherine Garcia

1:02 p.m. ET
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Britain has voted to leave the European Union, but the now-official Brexit won't happen overnight. The EU has a formal, two-year exit process, which Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said Saturday should not coincide with an Irish unity vote.

"I share the view that at some stage in the future that the unification would be in the best interests of the people but only when there is a majority consent of the people in Northern Ireland," Flanagan remarked, adding, "We now have a situation following the referendum, where the UK is leaving the European Union. Any further referendums in Northern Ireland would cause a greater level of division than we have now and is therefore in my view particularly unhelpful."

His comments come after Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness called for the unity vote on Friday, arguing that the British government "now has no democratic mandate to represent the views of the North in any future negotiations with the European Union" because 56 percent of Northern Irish voters backed remaining in the EU. Bonnie Kristian

12:48 p.m. ET
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Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump doesn't have much in the way of campaign infrastructure — in fact, one recent report revealed he employs a mere 30 campaign staff nationwide, the same as what his likely general election opponent, Hillary Clinton, has in Iowa alone.

But now that Trump is beginning to recognize he'll need more help to claim the Oval Office, he has discovered very few experienced GOP advisers are willing to work with him.

"Right now I feel no obligation to lift a finger to help Donald Trump," said Brent Swander, a Republican logistics coordinator who has worked on multiple presidential campaigns. "Everything that we're taught as children — not to bully, not to demean, to treat others with respect — everything we're taught as children is the exact opposite of what the Republican nominee is doing," Swander added. "How do you work for somebody like that? What would I tell my family?"

Scott Smith, formerly of the George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz outfits, echoed Swander's sentiments. "It's very clear that none of us are going to work for Trump," he said. "Even if I wanted to work for Trump, my wife would kill me." Bonnie Kristian

12:30 p.m. ET
Farah Abdi Warsameh/Associated Press

A group of militants suspected to be from Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist terrorist organization launched an attack on a hotel popular among government officials in the country's capital of Mogadishu on Saturday.

The assault began when a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle by the gate of Hotel Nasa Hablod, after which additional fighters rushed inside the building, firing weapons. "We attacked the hotel which was frequented by the apostate government members," an al Shabaab spokesman told Reuters.

At least seven people have died in the raid so far, including hotel workers and civilians. "They were shooting at everyone they could see," said an eyewitness named Ali Mohamud. "I escaped through the back door," he added.

Local law enforcement have arrived at the hotel, where they have rescued people through the rear entrance and killed at least two of the terrorists. The fighters took an unknown number of hostages inside the building. Bonnie Kristian

12:10 p.m. ET
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering a new policy which would request that foreign visitors to the United States voluntarily provide their social media accounts for the feds to peruse. Travelers would be asked to give "information associated with your online presence," including usernames on any social media network where they are active.

The department argues this information would "enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case."

But the plan is already subject to pushback. It's "very unclear what [federal officials] plan to do" with the information they would collect, said Joseph Lorenzo Hall of the Center for Democracy and Technology. After all, he added, the government has "a really horrible track record interpreting ... comments on social media, and interpreting them as meaning grave threats." Bonnie Kristian

11:39 a.m. ET
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The Bay Area branch of Black Lives Matter (BLM) has decided to withdraw from this weekend's Pride Parade in San Francisco in response to a scaled-up police presence planned for the event following the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, a gay bar.

"The Black Lives Matter network is grateful to the people of San Francisco for choosing us, we choose you too,” said BLM member Malkia Cyril in a statement explaining the group's choice, which was shared by at least two other organizations: the TGI Justice Project, a nonprofit which works with imprisoned, transgender women of color, and the St. James Infirmary, a clinic serving sex workers.

"As queer people of color, we are disproportionately targeted by both vigilante and police violence," Cyril continued. "We know first hand that increasing the police presence at Pride does not increase safety for all people. Militarizing these events increases the potential for harm to our communities and we hope in the future SF Pride will consider community-centered approaches to security at pride events.” Bonnie Kristian

11:22 a.m. ET
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Britain's decision to leave the European Union caused the value of the British pound to plummet and gave Wall Street its worst day in 10 months on Friday.

A massive sell-off caused the S&P 500 to lose all its gains for 2016, making it negative for the year to date, with only high-dividend-paying utilities ending Friday's trading profitably.

Market watchers expect sales to take a while to stabilize, and suggest that this turn of events will confirm the Federal Reserve's decision to hold off on an interest rate hike for the time being. Bonnie Kristian

11:03 a.m. ET
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TV bingers, rejoice: Netflix is rumored to be seriously considered allowing users to download its videos.

"We know from our sources within the industry that Netflix is going to launch this product," says Dan Taitz, COO of video software company Penthera. "My expectation is that by the end of the year Netflix will be launching download-to-go as an option for their customers." His gossip was echoed by Dan Rayburn, an analyst at technology research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Netflix itself declined to comment on the rumors Friday, though in April Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the online streaming giant would "keep an open mind" about downloads. That's a significantly different message from the comments made by Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt in September, when he posited that offering consumers additional choices — stream vs. download — can paralyze them into not choosing to watch anything at all. Bonnie Kristian

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