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Google chief executive Sundar Pichai will assume the CEO role at parent firm Alphabet in a shakeup at the top of the Silicon Valley titan, the company said Tuesday.

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Pichai will take over from Larry Page, a co-founder of the internet giant, at the holding firm which includes Google as well as units focusing on "other bets" in areas including self-driving cars and life sciences.

Page and Google co-founder Sergey Brin "will continue their involvement as co-founders, shareholders and members of Alphabet's board of directors," the company said.

In a letter to employees, Page and Brin wrote: "We've never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there's a better way to run the company."

They added that Pichai "brings humility and a deep passion for technology to our users, partners and our employees every day" and that there is "no better person to lead Google and Alphabet into the future."

Alphabet was formed in 2015, giving a separate identity to the original company Google and other projects such as autonomous car unit Waymo and smart cities group Sidewalk Labs.

The 47-year-old Pichai, born in India, takes the helm at a time when Page and Brin have been noticeably absent and the company faces a torrent of controversies relating to its dominant position in the tech world.

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Constitutional law experts called by Democrats testified Wednesday that President Donald Trumps actions concerning Ukraine represented impeachable offenses as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee began proceedings expected to end in charges against Trump.

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The Judiciary Committee heard from the professors on what constitutes an impeachable offense and how Trumps actions compare with those of two former presidents – Republican Richard Nixon, who resigned after the House launched the impeachment process, and Democrat Bill Clinton, who was impeached by the House but not removed by the Senate.

The hearing featured political theatrics. From the outset, Republicans repeatedly tried to interrupt the proceedings by raising objections and points of order. One of the three professors called by the Democrats told the committees top Republican, Doug Collins, she felt insulted by his remarks.

A law professor selected by Trumps fellow Republicans said that the impeachment inquiry lacked testimony from people with direct knowledge of the events and that current evidence did not show that Trump had committed “a clear criminal act”.

The focus of the current inquiry is a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into former US vice-president Joe Biden, Trumps potential rival in the 2020 presidential election, his son Hunter Biden and into a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.

Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine – a vulnerable US ally facing Russian aggression – as leverage to pressure Kiev into conducting the investigations politically beneficial to Trump and for granting Zelenskiy a coveted White House visit.

'Not even president beyond reach of Constitution'

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French President Emmanuel Macron and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared unwilling to lay down their arms in an escalating spat over Pariss plans for a special tax on digital service companies and Washingtons threat to retaliate with massive tariffs on French imports.

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The United States on Monday threatened to impose duties of up to 100 percent on imports of champagne, handbags and other French products worth $2.4 billion after a US government investigation found that Frances new digital services tax would harm US technology companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

In London for a NATO summit, Trump and Macron exchanged a tight-gripped handshake before both said they hoped they could smooth out their differences over the increasingly inflammatory issue.

But neither seemed particularly willing to back down on their respective threats.

“Theyre American companies. Theyre tech companies. Theyre not my favourite people, but thats OK, I dont care, theyre American companies. And we want to tax American companies. Its not for somebody else to tax them,” Trump said, acknowledging a “minor dispute” between the two leaders.

“So its either gonna work out, or well work out some mutually beneficial tax,” he said, referring to the levy threat. “And the tax will be substantial. Im not sure its gonna come to that, but it might.”

Macron, meanwhile, said that while he hopes to “settle this situation with President Trump”, he remains “determined to defend the interests of our country and of Europe”.

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An American woman who says she was forced to have sex with Britain's Prince Andrew has appealed to Britons to take her side, saying that only she was telling the truth about a scandal that has engulfed the royal family.

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Virginia Giuffre says she was trafficked by the disgraced late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends, including the British prince when she was 17 years old. Andrew categorically denies the allegations.

In an interview broadcast on Monday, Giuffre said she was brought to London in 2001 by Epstein and taken to meet the prince, one of three occasions when she says she had sex with Andrew.

"He knows what happened. I know what happened, and there's only one of us telling the truth, and I know that's me," Giuffre told BBC Panorama.

"I implore the citizens in the UK to stand up beside me, to help me fight this fight, to not accept this as being ok. This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked, this is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys' royalty."

Andrew, 59, Queen Elizabeth's second son, has said he has no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre, who was previously named Virginia Roberts.

In response to Giuffre's interview, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."

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FOCUS France 2

By: FRANCE 2 | Malcolm SURER

As the UN COP25 climate change conference opens in Madrid, we focus on the issue of deforestation. The Amazon rainforest – a major climate regulator – is under immense strain from logging, mining and farming activities. We take you to France's part of the Amazon, in French Guiana. Gold mining – by big companies and small extractors but also thousands of illegal miners – is accused of playing a role in destroying the forest there. Our coRead More – Source

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Venezuela's opposition on Sunday vowed to investigate alleged wrongdoing within its ranks after a media outlet reported that a group of opposition lawmakers had unduly advocated for a businessman linked to the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

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Opposition leader and congress chief Juan Guaido said the legislature would probe the incident, which according to website Armando.info involved nine legislators from the First Justice, Popular Will and A New Time parties.

The scandal comes as opposition efforts to oust Maduro lose steam and Guaido, who has been recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's legitimate leader, struggles to launch a new wave of street protests.

"(It is) unacceptable to use a state institution to attempt to whitewash the reputation of thieves and corrupt individuals who have looted Venezuela," said Guaido, pounding a lectern as he read from notes during a press conference.

According to the Armando.info report, the lawmakers were involved in writing letters of support for a Colombian national, Carlos Lizcano, despite evidence of his ties to Alex Saab, another Colombian man who is under U.S. sanction for corruption associated with Maduro's state-backed food distribution program.

It was not immediately evident if or how the legislators broke the law.

Guaido said he suspected the legislators received illicit payments in exchange for writing the letters, but that this would be investigated.

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Clashes between police and suspected cartel gunmen in a northern Mexican town killed 21 people this weekend, authorities said, adding fuel to a debate sparked by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has vowed to designate the gangs as terrorists.

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The government of the northern state of Coahuila said local security forces killed seven gunmen early on Sunday, adding to 10 others who were shot dead during exchanges in and around the small town of Villa Union not far from the Texas border.

Four police were also killed and six wounded in the shootouts, which stunned residents of the town around midday on Saturday, sparking alarm on social media and fresh criticism of the governments approach to handling the powerful gangs.

Riding into town in a convoy of heavily armed pickups, gunmen sprayed the offices of the mayor of Villa Union with bullets and fought police for more than an hour.

Heavy gunfire echoed through the town on videos broadcast on social media and local television.

Most of the downed gunmen, who were suspected members of the Cartel of the Northeast from Tamaulipas state to the east, were killed by state police in pursuit of the raiding party after it fled the town, Coahuilas government said.

No to foreign intervention

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Peru's opposition leader Keiko Fujimori was released from prison on Friday after spending 13 months in pre-trial detention in a corruption case linked to Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

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Her release comes days after the countrys Constitutional Court ordered her freed in a ruling related only to her detention and which otherwise has no bearing on the corruption case against her.

“For me, it was the most painful event of my life,” Fujimori said as she left prison and hugged her husband in front of a large group of supporters and journalists.

She said the court “has corrected damage that has been inflicted on us. I will continue to face the investigation, as I have always done.”

Supporters welcomed her release with applause and shouts of “Keiko liberty!” and “Keiko president!”

The 44-year-old eldest daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori had been held since October 31, 2018.

Her American husband, Mark Villanella, had been on hunger strike outside his wifes prison on the outskirts of Lima to press for her release.

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Flying fish, the undisputed icon of Barbados, features as the main ingredient in the national dish, is printed inside its passport and stamped on the one-dollar coin. But in recent years the number of flying fish has declined, driving up prices to the point that the islands staple food is now becoming a luxury. The Down to Earth team went to find out more.

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Multiple theories exist for the fall in numbers, but most of them point to climate change, which has both forced the fish to flee to cooler waters further from the coast and contributed to the massive influx of sargassum. Since the arrival of the brown algae in the Caribbean in 2011, flying fish landings have plummeted by almost 50 percent.

Today the governmeRead More – Source

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Chiles central bank announced Thursday a $20 billion injection into the economy aimed at curbing the plummeting value of the peso.

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The economy has been battered by the countrys worst social unrest in three decades, as well as a fall in the price of copper, of which Chile is the worlds leading producer.

The peso lost 1.1 percent of its value on Thursday, reaching a record low for the second day in a row and closing at 828.36 pesos to the dollar.

This followed a 1.6 percent drop on Wednesday, when the peso hit 812 to the dollar.

The central bank said its intervention is justified because “an excessive degree of volatility in the exchange rate hampers the formulation of pricing, expenditure decisions and the production of people and companies”, causing “concerns in the markets”.

Foreign currency injection

From Monday, December 2 until May 29, 2020, the institution will sell “dollars (on the foreign exchange market) for up to $10 billion”, and “hedging (risk) instruments for up to $10 billion”.