'A city of shadows': fear as Venezuela's crippling blackout enters day four

Washington: Military moves against Maduro in Venezuela

Wall Street Journal
Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, waving to supporters in Caracas
Wall Street JournalVenezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, waving to supporters in Caracas

US pulls all staff from Venezuela as Maduro blames blackout on ‘demonic’ Trump plot

SANAA, (AIWA! NO!) – The White House national security adviser John Bolton said in a television interview yesterday night that Venezuelan military soldiers are communicating with members of parliament on how to support the opposition.

“There is a lot of talk going on between members of the Venezuelan parliament and military elements in Venezuela about what can happen and how they can move to support the opposition,” Bolton said in an interview with ABC television.

Bolton’s announcement follows the rally of thousands of Brazilians in Caracas in demonstrations against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and a major power cut that has plunged Caracas and most of the country’s cities into darkness for four days.

Meanwhile, supporters of Maduro took part in demonstrations in support of the president, who accused “imperialism” of causing his country’s crises.

Maduro had said the power failure was caused by an “electronic attack” on the electronic monitoring system at Gori Electric Station, which supplies Venezuela with 80 percent of electricity.

President Trump on Saturday suggested that he was speaking sarcastically when he said in the run-up to the 2016 election that he hoped Russia found Hillary Clinton's deleted emails. Trump's remark at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) prompted a chant of "Lock her up" from attendees at the event in National Harbor, Md., just outside Washington.

Did Blackwater’s Erik Prince Lie to Congress About a Trump Tower Meeting? I Asked Him.

Daily News – Did Blackwater’s Erik Prince Lie to Congress About a Trump Tower Meeting? I Asked Him.

‘Sure looks like Erik Prince committed perjury,’ congressman says – Tom Embury-Dennis @tomemburyd

Donald Trump ally Erik Prince may have committed perjury, a congressman has said, after the former Navy Seal said for the first time he held a meeting with one of the US president’s sons to discuss “Iran policy”. 

Mr Prince, founder of controversial military contractor Blackwater USA, admitted he met Donald Trump Jr and an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Trump Tower ahead of the presidential election. 

The admission comes more than a year after the 49-year-old, brother of US education secretary Betsy DeVos, failed to disclose the meeting under oath to the House intelligence committee, according to a public transcript.

The House Oversight Committee said the scope of Michael Cohen’s public testimony would be limited to President Donald Trump’s “payoffs, financial disclosures, compliance with campaign finance laws, business practices, and other matters.” | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Trump – Russia Collusion Verdict Out: Americans have made up their minds – Reuters/Ipsos poll

President Trump listens during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump listens during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The Reuters/Ipsos poll has tracked public opinion of the investigation since Mueller was appointed in May 2017 following Trump’s firing of FBI chief James Comey, gathering responses from more than 72,000 adults – AIWA! NO!

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Only a small number of Americans have not yet made up their minds about whether Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign coordinated with Russian officials, according to new Reuters/Ipsos polling, which also showed deep divisions in the United States in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

READ RELATED: Trump misrepresents judge in Manafort trial as he claims ‘no collusion’ with Russia

Eight out of 10 Americans decided almost immediately about Trump campaign ties to Moscow and only about two in 10 appear to be undecided, the opinion poll released on Friday showed.

Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia. But the Witch Hunt Hoax continues as you now add these statements to House & Senate Intelligence & Senator Burr. So bad for our Country!

Donald J. TrumpVerified account

About half of Americans believe President Trump tried to stop federal investigations into his campaign, the survey found.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to soon wrap up his investigation into U.S. allegations that Moscow interfered in the U.S. political process as well as the Trump campaign links and possible obstruction of justice. Moscow and Trump deny the allegations.

Barring bombshell revelations, the survey results suggest the investigation’s influence on voters in the 2020 campaign may already have run its course.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll has tracked public opinion of the investigation since Mueller was appointed in May 2017 following Trump’s firing of FBI chief James Comey, gathering responses from more than 72,000 adults.

Public opinion appears to have hardened early, changing little over the past two years despite a string of highly publicised criminal charges against people associated with the Trump campaign.

Every time respondents were asked about the investigation, about 8 in 10 Democrats said they thought the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, while 7 in 10 Republicans said they did not.

Venezuela crisis: Putin's new Cold War on America's doorstep?

Venezuela opposition leader says Maduro government is threatening Germany

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido talks to the media after a session of Venezuela's National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela March 6, 2019.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido talks to the media after a session of Venezuela’s National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela March 6, 2019. (Reuters)

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an interview that the expulsion of the German ambassador by Caracas was a threat against Germany, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Thursday.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called on Europe to intensify financial sanctions against the government, a day after Caracas expelled the German ambassador for ‘interference’ – AIWA! NO!

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an interview that the expulsion of the German ambassador by Caracas was a threat against Germany, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Thursday.

“This action represents a threat against Germany,” Guaido was quoted as saying on Thursday.

German ambassador Daniel Kriener was expelled two days after he and diplomats from other embassies welcomed home Guaido at Caracas airport.

Wednesday, March 6

US to revoke more visas of Venezuelans

Vice President Mike Pence said the US will revoke more visas from prominent Venezuelans as it seeks to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to give up power.

Pence told the Latino Coalition that the US will revoke 77 visas held by officials in the Maduro government or their relatives.

He said, “The time has come to liberate Venezuela from Cuba.”

Venezuela expels German ambassador for meddling, detains American journalist

Venezuela’s government expelled the German ambassador while press advocacy groups said an American journalist had been detained.

Ambassador Daniel Kriener was expelled two days after he and diplomats from other embassies welcomed home opposition leader Juan Guaido at the Caracas airport. 

The government declared Kriener persona non grata and gave him 48 hours to leave the country, accusing him of meddling in internal affairs, although it did not give specific details.

Addressing the National Assembly, Guaido said Maduro’s government is the “persona non grata” in Venezuela.

Separately, Venezuela’s National Press Workers Union said on Twitter that American journalist Cody Weddle was arrested at his home on Wednesday by military counterintelligence agents. Espacio Publico, a free speech group, said he had been accused of treachery and that the agents took his computer and equipment.

US to punish foreign entities funding Maduro

The United States will impose sanctions on foreign institutions helping to finance President Maduro, the White House said on Wednesday.

The measure was announced by President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton.

“The United States is putting foreign financial institutions on notice that they will face sanctions for being involved in facilitating illegitimate transactions that benefit Nicolas Maduro and his corrupt network,” Bolton said in a statement.

Venezuela crisis worsened by sanctions, UN says
Sanctions have worsened Venezuela’s crippling economic and political crisis, the UN human rights chief said.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said sanctions had exacerbated the crisis but also slammed Maduro’s “violations of civil and political rights” in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Venezuela clearly illustrates the way violations of civil and political rights – including failure to uphold fundamental freedoms, and the independence of key institutions – can accentuate a decline of economic and social rights,” said former Chile president Bachelet. 

Tuesday, March 5

Maduro says he will defeat opposition

Maduro said he would defeat a “crazed minority” determined to destabilise the country in his first public comments since opposition leader Guaido defied him by returning home on Monday.

Maduro, during a ceremony to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez, called on supporters to attend “anti-imperialist” demonstrations on March 9, coinciding with an opposition march announced by Guaido.

Guaido vows to paralyse public sector to squeeze Maduro

Guaido held talks with Venezuela’s public sector unions on Tuesday about staging strikes to help bring down the government.

The strikes would ratchet up pressure on a weakened Maduro by giving several million state employees, a traditional bastion of government support, a chance to demonstrate their frustration with an administration that has overseen Venezuela’s deepest ever economic crisis.

The opposition is also seeking to capitalise on momentum spurred by Guaido’s triumphant return to Venezuela on Monday to press for an end to Maduro’s rule.

Monday, March 4

Guaido returns home, calls for fresh protests

Guaido defied the threat of arrest to return home on Monday, arriving at Caracas international airport where he was met by cheering supporters, television footage showed.

Flag-waving Venezuelans turned out to await the return of opposition leader who embarks on a renewed push against embattled President Maduro.

“We know the risks we face, that’s never stopped us. The regime, the dictatorship must understand,” Guaido told a delirious crowd.

“We’re stronger than ever, let’s carry on in the streets, mobilised,” he said.

Guaido called on people to flood the streets of cities across the country on Saturday [March 9] to protest Maduro’s hold on power.

The Intel Doge@IntelDoge

Video from the moment Guaidó arrives in Venezuela, crowd cheering him along. 464:36 PM – Mar 4, 201935 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Earlier, in a video shared on social networks, Guaido warned that if Maduro’s government “tries to kidnap us … it will be one of the last mistakes it makes.”

The self-declared acting president added on Twitter that should he be detained, he has left “clear instructions to our international allies and parliamentary brothers.”

Also on Monday, US warned of “swift response” to any “threats” against Guaido.

Sunday, March 3

‘Mobilise all over the country’ – Guaido

Venezuela’s opposition leader called for mass protests across the country on Monday as he announced his return to the country after a week touring Latin American allies.

“I’m announcing my return to the country. I am calling on the Venezuelan people to mobilise all over the country tomorrow at 11:00 am (1500 GMT),” Guaido said on Twitter.

Guaido, who has been recognised by more than 50 countries as interim president, gave no details of when or how he would return, however.

Russia vows to prevent US military intervention 

Russia will do all possible to prevent a US military intervention in Venezuela, the TASS news agency quoted the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament as saying on Sunday.

“We are very much concerned that the USA could carry out any provocations to shed blood, to find a cause and reasons for an intervention in Venezuela,” Valentina Matvienko told Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez in Moscow. 

“But we will do all in order not to allow this,” said Matvienko, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Saturday, March 2

Guaido to return home after Ecuador visit

Guaido said he would return to Venezuela from Ecuador, where he was meeting with President Lenin Moreno during a tour of Latin American nations to muster support. 

Guaido told reporters that he was calling for new protests on Monday and Tuesday in Venezuela. He did not say when or how he planned to return.

Venezuela’s education system crumbles

Venezuela’s economic crisis has impacted the entire economy, particularly health and education. 

Many schools across the country don’t have food or running water. And with low salaries, it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep teachers employed. 

"The V-shape formation is usually used when going through a crowd of people. But on Friday, it was likely used as a show of North Korea's meticulousness," the official told local news. The guards are the most elite soldiers of the North Korean army, reports say. While most North Korean male citizens are obligated to 10 years of military service, Kim's guards serve for at least 13 years.

Why is Kim Jong Un considered paranoid and unpredictable?

Kiran Joyce studied International Relations at the University of Denver: ‘The paranoid is a given. He’s a dictator, literally everyone in that position is a bit paranoid. As for the unpredictable, I think that label comes from the media portrayal that he’s insane. Insane people tend to be labelled insane because of their unpredictability. Kim is actually very predictable, and behaving exactly how a dictator would. Perhaps the insanity stuff comes from some of the executions he’s ordered, but again that’s just standard dictator fare.

Kim Jong Un is considered paranoid and unpredictable because it makes good press and good politics.

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un accompanied by running bodyguards on his way to Hanoi

It’s not that he isn’t a little paranoid, and it’s not like people are able to completely predict what he’ll do, but any paranoia is a natural consequence of being the dictator in an impoverished country, and any unpredictability is not really true if you actually take a look at him and his circumstances.

Kim Jong-un on May 5, smiling and standing in front of seemingly joyous citizens
Image copyrightSTR/AFP/GETTY IMAGESImage captionLaunching missiles is not the way to get into talks with Washington, the US says
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has accused North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of being in a “state of paranoia”, following another ballistic missile test

The State Department, the CIA and various other intelligence agencies compile dossiers on every world leader, no matter how small the country. They spend a lot of time and money to figure out these leaders for reasons of influence, diplomacy and war, because knowing is usually a lot less expensive than not knowing when it’s crunch time.

I do not currently know anybody who works in intelligence, and I have no access to classified information (never had, as far as I know). However, Kim Jong Un is understandable in the context of his situation: he’s an absolute dictator with some expensive tastes and some Western-normative wants, who enjoys good attention, is sometimes thin-skinned about bad attention, wants recognition and respect on the global stage, and cannot afford to let his iron grip on his country slip even a little bit. His country is impoverished, so he looks for ways to make money. Since he is already viewed as a rogue actor he goes by the maxim of might makes right. Arming rogue terrorists, selling expertise in banned research, cybertheft, all are money-makers for a country that’s hungrier than a pack of starved wolves at a sheep convention.

Put all that together and what would you expect him to do? In light of those factors, what he is doing is actually quite rational. Horrible, but rational.

The pattern is there. It’s actually not a particularly complicated one if you look at all the factors, and the very limited number of influential people in North Korea—including Dennis Rodman when he visits—keeps down the factors.