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The UN has said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be allowed to go free as his three-and-a-half-year stay at the Ecuadorean embassy in London amounts to “arbitrary detention” by British and Swedish authorities. A working group for the UN Human Rights High Commissioner said his detention should “be brought to an end and that Mr Assange should be afforded the right to compensation”. The UK government has “completely” rejected the ruling. (FT)

In the news

IMF calls for reform The global economy’s system for coping with financial shocks needs to be overhauled to prepare for looming problems, the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned. Christine Lagarde also called on policymakers to bolster existing mechanisms to prepare for crises in commodity-exporting emerging economies now coming under severe stress. (FT)

Over a barrel The White House is proposing a bold $10-per-barrel tax on oil, sparking a backlash from an energy industry already under the pressure of low prices. Although the Republican-led Congress will ensure it is never enacted, the move is likely to force the Democratic candidates for president to sharpen their positions on energy. (FT)

First Zika case in Europe Spain on Thursday became the first European country to confirm the Zika virus in a pregnant woman, a milestone in the alarmingly rapid spread of the disease across the globe. (FT)

Sarko plots Le Comeback Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to slash taxes and pare back public spending if he is elected French president in 2017, as the former leader begins his campaign for nomination. (FT)

Hello, I’m Johnnycashi A new species of black tarantula that lives near Folsom Prison, California, has been named after Johnny Cash, the country singer who once played for inmates there. (BBC)

Vice squad Although no evidence has been produced that money was changing hands, Thai police swooped on elderly expatriate members of a longstanding card club this week, arresting more than 30, in what appears to have been a zealous application of the country’s strict gambling laws. (FT)

Legal fees record Partners at top London law firms are charging as much as £1,000 ($1,450) an hour. It’s the highest rate ever recorded, according to a study, which says the biggest UK firms are now charging almost the same figure as their American counterparts. (FT)

Earth, Wind & Fire founder dies The founder of soul group Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 74. He had suffered from Parkinson's Disease. The band had a series of hits including September, Boogie Wonderland, Shining Star and After the Love has Gone. (BBC)

It’s a big day for

Ferrari lovers A rare Ferrari described as the “elixir of the exceptional”, could become the world’s most expensive car when it goes under the hammer in Paris. The 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti — which set a lap record at the Le Mans 24 hours race and competed in the original Mille Miglia rally — goes on sale on Friday afternoon, with auction house Artcurial hoping the car will fetch a price of €28m-€32m. (FT)

US employment The dollar could suffer further losses if January’s employment report disappoints, as it has in eight of the past 10 years. US non-farm payrolls are at 0830 EST, with analysts expecting jobs growth of 190,000 — a third off the above-trend 292,000 new positions created in December. (FT)

Football fans this weekend, with Super Bowl 50 taking place in Silicon Valley on Sunday. Vegas oddsmakers favour the Carolina Panthers to beat the Denver Broncos, with Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton at the shortest odds for Most Valuable Player. (Pregame.com)

Food for thought

Anti-ageing remedy Removing tired-out cells can extend the lifespan of an animal, say researchers at the Mayo Clinic, whose study found that mice lived about 25 per cent longer if such cells were cleared out. The results outline a possible new tactic for treating diseases and potentially extending human life. (MIT Tech Review)

Angry Americans US citizens are usually regarded as being pretty upbeat but polls ahead of the presidential election show voters are angry. What is fuelling the frustration? (BBC)

Chart of doom What do you get if you combine the jobless rate with inflation rates? An index of the most miserable economies in the world. Best not to read if you are in Venezuela or Argentina. (Bloomberg)

Misfired bullet? The Bank of Japan adopted a negative interest rate policy for the first time last week, a move governor Haruhiko Kuroda termed “the most powerful monetary policy framework in history”. But the overall impression of investors is that it has done little or nothing. (Nikkei Asian Review)

From boom to bailout Cheaper crude means many developing countries will take longer to catch up with advanced economies. In the worst cases, some states that depend on oil exports may require an international bailout, a sharp turnround in their fortunes. (FT)

Video of the day

John Authers reports on how a surprisingly high US jobless claims number helped push down the US dollar and drove a rally in gold. (FT)

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