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Exclusive: Islamic State fighter wants to return to Italy, warns of ‘sleeper cells’

QAMISHLI, Syria (Reuters) - An Islamic State fighter detained in Syria urged Italy on Saturday to let him come home to start a new life, saying he had abandoned the self-styled jihadist “caliphate” after growing disillusioned with its rulers. Mounsef al-Mkhayar, 22, an Islamic state fighter of Morrocan descent and Italian citizenship, gestures during an interview with Reuters, in Qamishli, Syria March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Issam AbdallahMounsef al-Mkhayar, a 22-year-old of Moroccan descent who grew up in Italy, spoke to Reuters in his first interview since surrendering to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) two months ago. He has been in prison since emerging from Baghouz, a tiny…

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Turnout falls to lowest yet in French ‘yellow vest’ protests

PARIS (Reuters) - Turnout at “yellow vest” protests across France, a backlash against high living costs that has lasted nearly four months, fell on Saturday to its lowest level yet. People wearing the neon high-visibility vests that have come to symbolize the movement were joined in Paris by others donning pink tops, as child-care workers turned out against a reform of their unemployment subsidies. Demonstrators on the Champs-Elysees avenue were pushed back at one point by water cannon, and sporadic clashes with police erupted in other cities including Lyon, Bordeaux and Toulouse, though the protests largely passed off peacefully. Some protesters staged a “flashmob” at Paris’ Charles…

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Opposition protesters scuffle with police as Venezuela’s lights flicker

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition activists scuffled with police and troops on Saturday morning in the run-up to a rally intended to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, as electricity remained intermittent after the country’s worst blackout in decades. Dozens of demonstrators attempted to walk along an avenue in Caracas but were moved onto the sidewalk by police in riot gear, leading them to shout at the officers and push on their riot shields. One woman was sprayed with pepper spray, according to a local broadcaster. The OPEC nation was plunged into darkness on Thursday evening in what the governing Socialist Party called an act of…

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Thousands march in France in latest ‘yellow vest’ protests

PARIS (Reuters) - Thousands of “yellow vest” protesters marched through Paris and other French cities on Saturday, marking the 17th straight weekend of demonstrations despite attempts by President Emmanuel Macron to quell discontent with a nationwide series of debates. Protesters wearing the neon high-visibility vests that have come to symbolize the anti-government movement were joined in Paris by others donning pink tops, as child-care workers turned out against a reform of their unemployment subsidies. People also gathered in Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse and smaller towns such as southerly Puy-en-Velay, with turnout at 2 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) slightly up at 7,000 across the country compared with…

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Are You an Amazon or an Apple Family?

A few months ago, Amazon invited reporters to its Spheres complex in downtown Seattle. It’s an enormous greenhouse doubling as a work space for employees: a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed, self-contained ecosystem made up of 40,000 species of plants from all over the world. Amazon executives opened the event with a statement worthy of their surroundings: The company had 70 products, services and tools to introduce. Seventy new products? The journalists in the room responded with gasps and laughter.There were new devices like the Echo subwoofer and a tiny gadget to bring Alexa into your car. A smart plug that automatically connects to Wi-Fi and will make any smart…

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U.N. agency calls for more access in Syria to help refugees return

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The United Nations refugee agency should have a bigger presence inside Syria to observe and help refugees returning from abroad and from displacement within the war-torn country, UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi said on Saturday. After almost eight years of fighting, President Bashar al-Assad now controls most of Syria and the front lines appear stable for now between government territory and two big enclaves in the north and east still outside Damascus’s control. Many Syrians scattered within and outside the country — including the more than a million in neighboring Lebanon — are now considering whether to go home. “It is important that in areas…

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More civilians leave Islamic State’s Syria enclave, delaying final assault

BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) paused military operations against Islamic State (IS) militants holed up in the group’s final enclave in eastern Syria, expecting more civilians to be evacuated from the area on Saturday, an SDF official said. A boy looks out of a truck tarp near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, in Syria March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said Thousands of people - many of them the wives of IS fighters and their children - have been streaming out of besieged enclave at Baghouz for weeks, forcing the SDF to delay the assault to wipe out the last vestige…

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Deutsche, Commerzbank tentatively talk about merger after months of speculation: source

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The management board of Deutsche Bank has agreed to hold talks with rival Commerzbank on the feasibility of a merger, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Saturday. FILE PHOTO: Christian Sewing, CEO of Deutsche Bank AG, addresses the media during the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach -/File PhotoFirst unofficial contacts took place within a very small group and the mandate from Deutsche’s board was given more than a week ago, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. Talks were at a very early stage and could fall apart, the person added, confirming…

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Wall Street’s oldest-ever bull market turns 10 years old

(Reuters) - A savvy investor who managed to time the start of Wall Street’s bull market a decade ago - and hold on since then - would now be sitting on a handsome windfall. The Charging Bull statue, also known as the Wall St. Bull, is seen in the financial district of New York City, U.S., August 18, 2018. Picture taken August 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidBorn in the ashes of the financial crisis, Wall Street’s oldest-ever bull market turns 10 years old on Saturday, with the S&P 500 tripling in value and amply rewarding investors who have owned funds tracking the index for that period. The S&P…

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Severe thunderstorms expected on Saturday in parts of U.S. Midwest, South

FILE PHOTO: Lighting strikes over a barn surrounded by a soybean crop in Donnellson, Iowa, July 13, 2012. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo(Reuters) - Severe thunderstorms are expected to strike parts of the Midwest and southern United States on Saturday afternoon and evening, bringing damaging winds, hail and the threat of tornadoes, forecasters said. The deadliest series of twisters to hit the country since 2013 killed 23 people, injured dozens more and devastated small communities in rural Alabama last weekend. Portions of eastern Arkansas, southeastern Montana, southern Illinois and western Kentucky are under a risk of scattered severe storms on Saturday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Lamers.…

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