IRAN
American sentenced
to 10 years in prison

A U.S. Navy veteran from California has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, his lawyer said Saturday, becoming the first American known to be imprisoned there since President Trump took office. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The case against Michael R. White remains unclear. His arrest was first reported by IranWire, a website run by Iranian expatriates, which interviewed a former Iranian prisoner who said he met White at Vakilabad Prison in October. In the time since, White has been convicted of insulting Iran’s supreme leader and posting private information online, his Washington-based lawyer Mark Zaid told the Associated Press.

White’s mother, Joanne White, had told the New York Times, which first reported the 10-year sentence, that her son, who lives in Imperial Beach, Calif., went to Iran to see a woman she described as his girlfriend and had booked a July 27 flight back home to San Diego via the United Arab Emirates. She filed a missing-person report with the State Department after he did not board the flight.

The sentencing comes as Trump has taken a hard-line approach to Iran by pulling the United States out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Iran, which in the past has used its detention of Westerners and dual nationals as leverage in negotiations, has yet to report on White’s sentence in state-controlled media. Its mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

— Associated Press

VENEZUELA
Guaidó begins tour of nation to large crowds

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has embarked on a new stage of his campaign to oust President Nicolás Maduro. Addressing large crowds in the northern city of Valencia, Guaidó pledged to deliver a better life for struggling Venezuelans as he began a planned tour of the country, which is gripped by an economic and political crisis.

“We’re stronger than ever,” the U.S.-backed Guaidó told the crowd. The leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly also drew cheers with his denunciations of Maduro, although he warned that difficult challenges lie ahead.

Despite his popularity, Guaidó has been unable to force Maduro to step down and hold elections.

Maduro has remained defiant despite heavy pressure from the United States and other countries arrayed against him, managing to retain the loyalty of most of Venezuela’s military leaders.

— Associated Press

Yellow vest protest turns violent in Paris: Rioters set fire to a bank and ransacked stores on Paris's Champs Elysees, in a new flare-up of violence as France's yellow vest protests against President Emmanuel Macron and his pro-business reforms entered a fourth month. Protesters hurled cobblestones at riot police through clouds of tear gas in front of the Arc de Triomphe monument, which was ransacked at the peak of the protests in December. Police arrested nearly 240 protesters. The demonstrations in recent weeks have been relatively calm, with lower turnout, but the Interior Ministry estimated that 10,000 people participated in Saturday's protest in Paris, compared with 3,000 on the previous Saturday. Nationwide, protesters were estimated at 32,300, compared with 28,600 last week.

Nearly 150 reported killed by storm in southern Africa: Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been hit by a vicious cyclone that has killed nearly 150 people, left hundreds more missing and stranded tens of thousands who are cut off from roads and telephones in mainly poor, rural areas. Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people in the three southern African countries, according to the United Nations and government officials. The storm, packing 100 mph winds, hit the Mozambique port city of Beira late Thursday and moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting thousands more.

Italian officials open probe in death of Berlusconi witness: Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into the possible poisoning death of a woman who was a key witness in the trial against former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi over his infamous "bunga bunga" parties. Imane Fadil, 34, died March 1 at a Milan-area hospital, where she had been treated since Jan. 29 for exhibiting "symptoms of poisoning," Milan prosecutor Francesco Greco said, according to the Italian news agency ANSA. In 2012, Fadil had told reporters that she feared for her safety after telling prosecutors investigating possible witness tampering in the case that she was offered money in exchange for her silence.

— From news services