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Mexico City killing: Brutal murder sparks public outrage on gender violence

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THE 51 PERCENT © Imelda Medina, REUTERS

In this edition, we report on the public outrage over the brutal murder of a young Mexican woman that has highlighted the extent of femicide in Mexico. Plus the latest figures from the World Economic Forum reveal that in terms of economic participation, the gender gap will take 257 years to close. We talk to economist, Anne Boring, on wRead More – Source

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More than 100 US troops now diagnosed with brain injuries from Iran strike

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The U.S. military on Monday disclosed a more than 50% jump in cases of traumatic brain injury stemming from Irans missile attack on a base in Iraq last month, with the number of service members diagnosed climbing to over 100.

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No U.S. troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury when Iran fired missiles at the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at the Baghdad airport on Jan. 3.

The missile attacks capped a spiral of violence that had started in late December. Both sides have refrained from further military escalation, but the mounting number of U.S. casualties could increase scrutiny on the Trump administrations approach to Iran.

Reuters was first to report earlier on Monday that there were over 100 cases of TBI, up from the 64 previously reported last month.

The Pentagon, in a statement, confirmed that so far 109 U.S. service members had been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury. It added that 76 of them had returned to duty.

The U.S. military in the past had said to expect an increase in numbers in the weeks after the attack because symptoms can take time to manifest and troops can sometimes take longer to report them.

Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that the service members suffering from traumatic brain injuries had been diagnosed with mild cases. He added that the diagnosis could change as time passed.

Clashes erupt as Venezuela opposition leader Guaido returns home

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Opposition leader Juan Guaido returned to Venezuela on Tuesday after an international support-building tour and called on the people in the crisis-wracked nation to keep pushing back against President Nicolas Maduro.

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Guaido — who had defied a travel ban to visit Colombia, the United States, Canada and several European nations — was greeted by a throng of cheering supporters at the international airport outside the capital Caracas.

"We're in Caracas now. I bring back with me the commitment of the free world, ready to help us regain democracy and freedom," Guaido wrote on Twitter, before tweeting a picture of himself at passport control that was captioned "HOME."

Shortly before his arrival, fighting broke out between his followers — including several lawmakers — and Maduro's supporters.

"Guaido, fascist!" shouted employees of the state-run airline Conviasa, which was subjected to US sanctions last week, who had entered the area where the 36-year-old's backers were waiting for him. Several diplomats were present.

Videos circulating on social media appear to show Guaido sprayed with soda by an airline worker. The opposition leader seemed to laugh it off.

Security escorts flanked the opposition leader — wearing a white shirt and a wooden cross around his neck — as he got into a white vehicle to head to Caracas.

Trump sacks two key impeachment witnesses who testified against him

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US President Donald Trump on Friday fired two of the highest profile witnesses in his impeachment probe, sparking accusations that he is on a campaign of revenge.

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Trump recalled his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, just hours after Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a decorated soldier who worked at the National Security Council, was ordered out of the White House.

The firings came two days after the Republican-majority Senate acquitted Trump of charges that he abused his office and one day after he gave a victory speech branding his opponents as “evil.”

Sondland, a political appointee who got his post after donating $1 million to Trumps inauguration, said in a brief statement, “I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately.”

The ouster of Vindman, a respected officer who was wounded in Iraq, was even more abrupt, when he was ordered out of his NSC offices at the White House.

He was “escorted out of the White House where he has dutifully served his country and his president,” his lawyer David Pressman said in a statement.

“Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth,” Pressman said.

Backed by soldiers, El Salvador President Bukele briefly occupies Congress

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President Nayib Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons briefly occupied El Salvadors Congress on Sunday, stepping up a pressure campaign to force lawmakers to back a crime-fighting plan.

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Watched by soldiers in full battle uniform, Bukele, 38, sat in the seat reserved for the president of Congress and cupped his hands together to pray, he said, for patience with lawmakers, few of whom turned up at the special session.

“If those shameless people dont approve the plan of territorial control, well summon you here again (next) Sunday,” he told supporters in a fiery speech outside, as he left the building.

Lawmakers were due to meet on Monday to discuss the presidents proposals, Congress president Mario Ponce said, in a possible sign of de-escalation.

Critics warned of a looming constitutional crisis, however. Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based group, called the event “an exhibition of brute force” and said the Organization of American States should urgently meet to discuss the situation.

Bukele won office last year after a savvy social media campaign feeding off popular discontent with two parties that had ruled the Central American country since the end of a civil war.

Channeling that same frustration with traditional parties, he attacked Congress for foot-dragging over approval of a $109 million multi-lateral loan he has sought to equip police and soldiers to fight crime.

US presidential election: ‘Pete Buttigieg is an inspirational candidate’

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Pete Buttigieg is the candidate who can construct a new Democratic coalition to speak broadly to people to take on Donald Trump to become the next US president. That's the view of Lex Paulson, a supporter of "Americans Abroad for Pete Buttigieg" and a lecturer in rhetoric and political theory at Sciences Po university in Paris. Paulson Read More – Source

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China halves some tariffs on US imports in first phase of trade war truce

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China said on Thursday it will halve additional tariffs levied against 1,717 products imported from the United States last year, following the signing of a Phase 1 trade deal that brought a truce to a bruising trade war.

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China's finance ministry said in a statement that tariff reductions for the relevant goods, which were initially announced on Sept. 1, will take effect from 0501 GMT on Feb. 14.

The reductions come about three weeks after the two countries signed the Phase 1 trade deal in Washington, which included China's promise to boost purchases of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over two years in exchange for the United States rolling back some tariffs imposed against Chinese goods.

China's finance ministry said in a statement that additional tariffs levied on some goods will be cut to 5% from 10% previously, while extra tariffs on some goods will be lowered to 2.5% from 5% previously. TheRead More – Source

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Venezuela’s Guaido tries to rebuild the momentum to oust Maduro

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for "a great mobilisation in Caracas" upon his return to the country after a two-week international tour aimed at shoring up global support and building enough momentum to oust President Nicolas Maduro. But he may have missed his chance.

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“We have a plan. We have a strategy,” Guaido told expatriates at a rally in Miami, USA. “We're not alone and we're going to restore democracy.”

As his voice blasted through the speakers of a Miami convention centre on Saturday, he tried to rally the crowd with how he would end the political and economic "tragedy" in his country.

Guaidos No. 1 objective remains the same: unseat socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who he says is a "dictator".

"There is only one option: to achieve free elections," he added in his usual fast-paced and determined speech in Florida's biggest city, which has a large Venezuelan community. But he presented very few details of how he would realise his plan upon returning to the country.

"Guaido's will to end with Maduro was a failure and his strategy will remain completely blocked,” Gaspard Estrada, executive director of the Latin America and Caribbean unit at Sciences-Po University in Paris, told FRANCE 24.

Although Guaido has been recognised as Venezuela's interim president by nearly 60 nations – including the United States, France and Britain – Estrada said he has already "missed his chance”.

Bianca Jagger: Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega ‘is a traitor’ to the Sandinista revolution

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People who supported the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua need to realise that President Daniel Ortega "is a traitor and a murderous dictator" – so says Nicaraguan social and human rights advocate Bianca Jagger as she supports a new film being shown here in Paris.

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The documentary, "Nicaragua, a land free to live in", gives voice to those at the heart of the 2018 insurrection there as anger against Ortega boiled over.

Jagger says films like this one are vital for people to understand what is happening in the country, as she praises its director Daniel Rodriguez Moya for showing events from the perspective of those at the heart of the protests.

The film will be shown tonight in Paris at tRead More – Source

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US election 2020: Meeting Donald Trump’s evangelical Christian voters

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Donald Trump owes his presidency, at least in part, to America's evangelical Christians. And the US president certainly wont be able to win a second term on November 3 without their support. Around a quarter of the US population are evangelicals. Our correspondents report.

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