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(Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has issued a blanket mandate requiring politically appointed ambassadors installed by President Barack Obama to leave their posts by Inauguration Day, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand said on Friday.

“I will be departing on January 20th,” Ambassador Mark Gilbert said in a Twitter message to Reuters.

The mandate was issued “without exceptions” through an order sent in a State Department cable on Dec. 23, Gilbert said.

He was confirming a report in the New York Times, which quoted diplomatic sources as saying previous U.S. administrations, from both major political parties, have traditionally granted extensions to allow a few ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, to remain in place for weeks or months.

Officials from the State Department and Trump’s transition team were was not immediately available for comment.

The order threatens to leave the United States without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical nations like Germany, Canada, and Britain, the New York Times reported.

A senior Trump transition official told the newspaper there was no ill will in the move, describing it as a simple matter of ensuring Obama’s overseas envoys leave the government on schedule, just as thousands of political aides at the White House and in federal agencies must do.

Trump has taken a strict stance against leaving any of Obama’s political appointees in place as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20, aiming to break up many of his predecessor’s signature foreign and domestic policy achievements, the newspaper said.

Diplomats told New York Times the order has thrown their personal lives into a tailspin, leaving them scrambling to secure living arrangements and acquire visas allowing them to stay in their countries so their children can remain in school.

(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett and Tom Westbrook in Sydney; Additional reporting by Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru.; Editing by Sunil Nair and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

IMAGE: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in Aston, Pennsylvania, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell said failure to pay US debts is 'just not something we can contemplate'

Washington (AFP) - The chairman of the US Federal Reserve called on lawmakers to raise the nation's borrowing limit urgently on Wednesday, warning that failure to pay government debts would do "severe damage" to the economy.

"It's just very important that the debt ceiling be raised in a timely fashion so the United States can pay its bills when it comes due," Jerome Powell said as the central bank concluded its September meeting. Failure to pay, he added, is "just not something we can contemplate."

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