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US tells European Union to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela president

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The European Union must recognize Venezuelan congress leader Juan Guaido as the president of the South American country, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday, pressing not just individual European governments but the bloc as a whole.

In a speech at the Munich Security Conference, Pence said Guaido, who has declared himself interim leader and has won U.S. and international support to replace Nicolas Maduro, deserved that “the rest of the world” recognize him, and called Maduro a dictator who must step down.

“It is time for the rest of the world to step forward. Once more the old world can take a stand in support of freedom in the new world … Today we call on the European Union to step forward for freedom and recognize Juan Guaido as the only legitimate president of Venezuela,” Pence said.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Mark Potter

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Italian director Franco Zeffirelli dies aged 96: media

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Italian film and opera legend Franco Zeffirelli died Saturday at the age of 96 at his home in Rome, local media reported.

The director of movies and operas "died serenely after a long illness, which had worsened these last months," Italian media said, citing family members.

"I never wanted this day to come. Franco Zeffirelli departed this morning. One of the greatest men in the world of culture. We join in the grief of his loved ones. Goodbye, dear Master, Florence will never forget you," tweeted Dario Nardella, the mayor of Florence, where Zeffirelli was born.

A director, screenwriter, and producer, Zeffirelli has about 20 feature films to his name.

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New documents reveal how a young Trump bullied the press for years as he hid his actual wealth

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On Friday, journalist Jonathan Greenberg published a stunning exposé of how Donald Trump, in his younger years, managed to maintain his brand of success and fortune — and keep attracting investors to his projects — even in the face of devastating business losses and incompetence.

The short answer: he threatened, intimidated, and bullied reporters out of telling the truth about his business empire.

"I turned up three never-before-published letters from Trump to Forbes from 1989, in which he claimed to be worth $3.7 billion," wrote Greenberg. "We now know that he reported losses of about $100 million that year and that he was treading near insolvency. Then I started to contact other people who had collided with Trump in those years. Journalists told me how he'd tried to block their reporting on his empire — by making up ethical scandals about them, furnishing fake documents and, in one case, threatening to expose the private life of a closeted media executive. Wall Street analysts witnessed a campaign of intimidation that began when Trump got one of them fired for (correctly) doubting his casinos' ability to pay off their debts."

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2020 Election

Mitch McConnell takes checks from voting machine lobbyists — even as he blocks election security bills

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In 2016, Russian hackers targeted voting systems in 21 states and, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, breached systems in Illinois and two counties in Florida, gaining access to information on millions of registered voters. In his report, Mueller described the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 elections as “sweeping and systematic.”

This article was written by Donald Shaw and reprinted from Sludge, which produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics.

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