Venezuelan opposition leader declares himself president; U.S. recognizes him as interim president, fueling uprising aimed at Maduro

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolás Maduro on Wednesday faced the gravest challenge to his authority since assuming power in 2013, as the U.S.-backed opposition claimed the legitimate mantle of leadership, and President Trump promptly recognized him as Venezuela’s interim president.

The dramatic developments came as anti-Maduro protests drew hundreds of thousands of people into Venezuelan streets. 

“Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela,” Trump said in a statement. “In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant. The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law.”

As the international campaign against him grew, Maduro, the anointed successor of socialist firebrand Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, was confronting a new protagonist in the form of Guaidó. Before a cheering throng, the 35-year-old industrial engineer and recently named head of the country’s National Assembly took the long-awaited step Wednesday of declaring himself interim president — in an attempt to replace Maduro as the legitimate head of state. 

Though stripped of its power by Maduro, the assembly is widely recognized internationally as the country’s last democratic institution. Even before Guaidó’s announcement, he had been recognized by Brazil and the head of the Organization of American States as Venezuela’s rightful leader. Now, his official declaration is set to dramatically escalate international attempts led by the United States to force Maduro from office after elections last year seen as a fraudulent power grab, even as it is set to put Guaidó at high risk in a country were opposition leaders have been arrested, tortured and exiled. 

“We will stay on the street until Venezuela is liberated!” Guaidó told the crowd in Caracas.Pence to Venezuelans: ‘Maduro is a dictator’

Vice President Pence called Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro a “dictator” in a message to the people of Venezuela released Jan. 22, ahead of expected protests. (Reuters)

Amid sharply rising tensions between Washington and Caracas, the U.S.-backed opposition here sought Wednesday to fill the streets with protesters and spark the beginning of a sustained uprising aimed at ousting Maduro from office.


Macron promises to stand for reforms, says lack of them led to Louis XVI execution

King Louis XVI’s refusal to embrace reforms led to his downfall, Emmanuel Macron told corporate executives gathered at Versailles. The meeting was held in part to alleviate investors’ fears after 10 weeks of Yellow Vest protests.

An estimated 150 executives, including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, JPMorgan Chase CEO James Dimon, and Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, met with the French president at the decadent palace outside of Paris.

“A lot of people thought that it was not a good date to gather here,” Macron told his guests, referring to the execution of French King Louis XVI, who was guillotined on January 21, exactly 226 years ago on Monday. “But when you look at French history, if at the end they ended up like that, it’s because a lot of leaders decided not to reform.”

The comment was likely aimed at alleviating concerns about the Yellow Vest protest movement, which entered its 10th week on Saturday. The nationwide protests have sometimes turned violent, and according to Macron’s office, have caused concern among foreign investors hoping to cash in on Macron’s business-friendly reforms.

Notably, Macron reassured his CEO guests that he would “not roll back what we have done in the past 18 months” – unpopular labor and tax reforms that have been cited as sparking the Yellow Vest protests.

Macron also said that the Yellow Vest movement had been spurred by middle-class anger over globalization, arguing that similar sentiments have given rise to Brexit and populist governments across Europe.

The Yellow Vest protests began in November as a movement against planned fuel tax hikes, but eventually grew to include wider demands, including the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron and his government.

Previous rallies have seen violent clashes with police. There have been injuries on both sides, and over 1,000 people have been detained in connection to the unrest, which has at times spilled out into street battles.

Armed uprising by Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) in Caracas

The government of Venezuela said on Tuesday that it had quelled an armed uprising by nearly 30 members of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) in Caracas, which sparked an all-night riot in the Venezuelan capital. On Tuesday government officials announced the arrest of 27 members of the GNB who allegedly revolted against the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Several videos were posted in pro-opposition social media accounts the night before. They showed young men in military uniforms brandishing weapons and calling on all Venezuelans to rise up against the country’s government. In one video posted on Twitter, a man wearing a GNB uniform said that he and his comrades in arms were speaking out “on behalf of the people of Venezuela”. He then urged viewers to “take to the streets” and bring down the government.

Early on Tuesday, officials in the Venezuelan Ministry of People’s Defense said that the officers had raided a GNB command post in Petare, a neighborhood in northwestern Caracas. They allegedly immobilized the command post guards and stole several weapons. The rebels then made their way to Cotiza, a neighborhood that is adjacent to Petare, and is considered a stronghold of anti-government sentiment. Late on Monday a number of videos emerged on social media that showed young men clashing with riot police in Cotiza. Police forces were seen using tear gas and noise grenades, while some of the rioters built makeshift barricades using cars, dumpsters and other large objects. However, no gunshots were heard coming from either side.

By noon on Tuesday the riot had ended and it appeared that all GNB rebels had been neutralized or gone into hiding. Government sources said that all 27 rebels had been arrested and were alive, but shared no information about the precise circumstances of their capture. It is not known whether they voluntarily surrendered to the police or whether they were somehow overpowered. Defense Ministry officials said that all stolen weapons had been retrieved and described the rebels as people representing “the shadowy interests of the far right”. All 27 GNB rebels were being questioned on Tuesday and Venezuelan officials said that they would be subjected to “the full force of the law”.

Venezuelan government quells armed uprising by National Guard troops in Caracas

Venezuela arrests 27

By Associated PressJanuary 21

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Latest on a reported national guard uprising in Venezuela (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

Officials in Venezuela say they’ve arrested 27 members of the National Guard accused of launching an uprising against the government. 

Socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello says more arrests could come. 

Tensions are thick in Venezuela, where the political opposition leaders have called for nationwide protests on Wednesday aimed at driving President Nicolas Maduro from office. 

Opposition leader Juan Guaido is urging the armed forces to abandon Maduro and return Venezuela to constitutional rule. 

Officials say that national guardsmen in the capital of Caracas took captive a captain in charge of a police station and stole a cache of weapons from another outpost on Monday.

The disturbance sparked street protest in the neighborhood of the police station, which other security forces subdued by shooting tear gas. 

11 a.m.

Venezuela’s supreme court says it’s throwing out recent congressional measures that found Nicolas Maduro’s presidency illegitimate — with the pro-government justices ruling that leadership of the opposition-dominated congress itself is invalid.

The high court magistrates say in a statement issued Monday that Venezuela’s chief prosecutor should determine whether to bring criminal charges against congressional leaders.

Opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido was sworn in as the National Assembly’s president on Jan. 5 and immediately preceded to oversee legislation accusing Maduro of usurping power and calling on countries from around the world to freeze his government’s assets.

Maduro was sworn in for a second, six-year term on Jan. 10 despite widespread condemnation that he was taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship after his main opponents were banned from running in last year’s vote.

9:25 a.m.

Venezuela’s military says it has detained several national guardsmen who stole a cache of weapons and kidnapped two officers.

The statement appears to confirm reports of an uprising by a national guard unit that triggered disturbances in a poor neighborhood a few kilometers (miles) from the presidential palace in Caracas on Monday.

The military says the guardsmen were motivated by far-right groups to betray their oath. It says all of the weapons had been recovered.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez sent a message on Twitter promising that the rebellious guardsmen would be punished with the full weight of the law.

2019 The Associated Press

Nasa just sent a signal 13 billion miles into space. And got a response

Nasa just managed to contact a spacecraft 13 billion miles away (archiv)

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While we struggle for mobile reception in a countryside, Nasa just managed to contact a spacecraft 13 billion miles away. 

Nasa was worried Earth would lose contact with Voyager 1 as its altitude control thrusters, which rotate so it can communicate with Earth, have been wearing down.

The Voyager team eventually agreed on an “unusual solution”, according to a statement: firing up a set of four backup thrusters that hadn’t been used since 1980.

Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in the statement:

With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years

The team fired up the thrusters on November 28, but they had to wait until the next day for confirmation that it had worked as the craft was so far away.

Todd Barber from JPL said in the statement:


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Macron Needs to Attack Syria

From the mad insane blog archives

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With or without the United States.

The coalition of french troops decided on a dangerous course of action when “France against Russian troops” (FART for short decided) on an aggressive line.

FART is looking to deploy paratroopers straight into Idlib and drop magnetic mines into the sea off the coast of Damascus. Nato has shown an indifference towards the bold FART plan. However Brigadier Conrad Stockhauser-Bower of the British Eight Division showed some enthusiasm towards the plan before returning to sherry and his game of Bridge in Aldershot. One mustnt take the end of ones life too seriously he remarked, afterall what did he know about being cold and hungry and unloading trucks after dark?

The British army is intent on rousing Russia the sleeping bear, but so was someone else 77 years back, quietly confident of success.


When you set out red lines, if you are unable to enforce…

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