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France to recognize Guaido if Venezuela’s Maduro does not call vote on Sunday

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido waves to supporters during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Martinez CasaresPARIS (Reuters) - France will recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president if Nicolas Maduro does not announce a presidential vote by Sunday night, France’s European affairs minister said. “If by tonight, (President) Maduro does not commit to organizing presidential elections, then France will consider Juan Guaido as legitimate to organize them in his place and we will consider him as the interim president until legitimate elections in Venezuela (take place),” Nathalie Loiseau told LCI television…

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Venezuelan special police unit blamed for abuses, killings

A local resident waits for a bus at next to a graffiti of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at Jose Felix Ribas neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos BarriaCARACAS (Reuters) - Violence perpetrated by Venezuela’s state security forces has been contributing more and more to the country’s homicide rate, one of the highest in the world. From 2010 to 2017, the proportion of homicides committed by the police and military jumped from 4 percent to 27 percent, according to Keymer Avila, a criminology professor at the Central University of Venezuela. He estimated it rose further last year. The government of President Nicolas Maduro has sent troops…

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U.S. sees contours of peace accord with Taliban to end war in Afghanistan

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban have sketched the outlines for an eventual peace accord to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan, a U.S. special envoy said on Monday, but there was no sign the insurgent group had accepted key U.S. demands. “We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told the New York Times in an interview in Kabul after six days of talks with the Taliban. “The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming…

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Alfonso Cuaron wins at Directors Guild for ‘Roma,’ Cooper empty-handed

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Alfonso Cuaron was named best director by his peers on Saturday for his semi-autobiographical film “Roma,” cementing his front-runner status ahead of the Oscars in three weeks time. Alfonso Cuaron, director of "Roma" poses with his medallion after winning the Feature Film category at the Directors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Mario AnzuoniIn one of the last major Hollywood ceremonies before the Feb. 24 Oscars, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) awarded its top prize to the Mexican director for his critically-acclaimed black and white movie about a domestic worker in 1970s Mexico. “Roma” has 10 Oscar nominations,…

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Lawyers say China blocks access to Australian detained for suspected espionage

BEIJING (Reuters) - Two lawyers hired by the wife of an Australian detained in Beijing for suspected espionage said they have been denied access to him by Chinese authorities because the detainee did not agree to their appointment. FILE PHOTO: Yang Hengjun, author and former Chinese diplomat, who is now an Australian citizen, gestures in an unspecified location in Tibet, China, sometime in mid-July, 2014 in this social media image obtained by REUTERS/File PhotoYang Hengjun, a 53-year-old Chinese-born writer, was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou while waiting for a transfer to Shanghai last month. He had flown in from New York. Yang was taken to…

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Congresswoman Gabbard officially declares 2020 candidacy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran who at times has had a spiky relationship with the Democratic Party, on Saturday added another liberal voice to a burgeoning field of candidates seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Gabbard, 37, officially launched her candidacy in Hawaii, where she has served as a congresswoman since 2013. A Samoan-American, she was the first Hindu elected to Congress. She told the crowd gathered she was running against “powerful, self-serving politicians and greedy corporations,” and vowed to restore “dignity, honor and respect to the presidency.” “Join me in putting this spirit of service above self at the forefront…

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Inmates shiver in frigid cells at New York jail, lawmakers say

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Inmates at a federal jail in Brooklyn have suffered for days without heat or power during a wintry cold snap, according to lawyers and U.S. lawmakers who rallied outside the jail on Saturday demanding the problems be fixed and ill inmates moved. Protesters attend a rally at Metropolitan Detention Center demanding that heat is restored for the inmates in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Go NakamuraA fire last Sunday at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center cut off power and heat to parts of the jail just as freezing Arctic air began rolling towards the East…

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Exit from Brexit? I’d like it, but it’s unlikely: German foreign minister

FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks as he arrives at the informal meeting of the European Union foreign ministers in Bucharest, Romania, January 31, 2019. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via REUTERS BERLIN (Reuters) - While German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas would like to see an “exit from Brexit” - Britain abandoning its plan to leave the European Union - he said in a newspaper interview on Sunday that he saw such an outcome as extremely unlikely. In the interview with the Funke media group, Maas repeated the EU’s position that the withdrawal agreement thrashed out between Brussels and London, which was rejected by Britain’s parliament last…

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As Venezuelans protest, struggling Maduro seeks early parliament vote

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro proposed early parliamentary elections on Saturday, seeking to shore up his crumbling rule after a senior general defected to the opposition and tens of thousands thronged the streets in protest at his government. As domestic and international pressure on Maduro to step down mounts, a senior air force general disavowed him in a video that circulated earlier on Saturday, expressing his allegiance to parliament head and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido. The military’s support is crucial for Maduro, who is deeply unpopular, largely due to an unprecedented economic crisis that has prompted an exodus of millions. Maduro claims he is…

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Virginia governor denies being in racist yearbook photo

(Reuters) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Saturday resisted mounting pressure from his Democratic party that he resign, denying that he appeared in a racist yearbook photo while admitting he once wore blackface in a dance contest. Northam, who took office a year ago, said he would stay in his job. “As long as I feel that I can lead, I will continue to do that,” he said. But even after he professed his innocence at a press conference, the pressure continued to grow, with senior Democrats across Virginia calling on him to step down. Northam had apologized on Friday, saying he was one of the people…

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