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Venezuela’s assembly rejects legitimacy of Maduro second term and calls for military to ‘restore democracy’

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Venezuela’s opposition-controlled but toothless National Assembly declared Nicolas Maduro’s presidency illegitimate on Saturday, calling on the military to support efforts to “restore democracy.”

The United States, which has sanctioned Venezuelan officials and entities, hailed the legislature as “the only legitimate and last remaining democratically elected institution” in the country.

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“We reaffirm the illegitimacy of Nicolas Maduro,” the assembly’s new president Juan Guaido said after being sworn in at the start of a new legislative session.

“As of January 10, he will be usurping the presidency and consequently this National Assembly is the only legitimate representative of the people.”

Maduro, who has presided over a virtual collapse of the economy in the once-rich OPEC member state, is set to be sworn in on Thursday for a second six-year term after elections widely condemned by the international community.

The ballot, on May 20, was boycotted by most of the opposition.

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On Friday, foreign ministers from 12 Latin American countries and Canada announced in Lima that their governments would not recognize Maduro as president if he attempts to remain in office and urged him to turn over power to the National Assembly.

The Maduro government accused the so-called Lima Group of “encouraging a coup d’etat” on instructions from Washington. Mexico, which is a member of the group, withheld its support for the statement.

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Guaido, in a speech attended by lawmakers and members of the diplomatic corps, declared that the military’s chain of command had been “broken or usurped,” but called on the armed forces to support efforts “to restore democracy.”

He committed to “generate conditions for a government of transition and to call free elections.”

The US State Department said it “celebrates” the assembly officials’ swearing-in, a ceremony attended by charge d’affaires James Story.

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“The National Assembly should inspire hope in the Venezuelan people for a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future, even as the corrupt and authoritarian Maduro regime and its allies seek to deny Venezuelans that right,” State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.

– Hands tied –

The National Assembly has been largely sidelined by a separate regime-created Constituent Assembly, which called the elections at a time when most major opposition figures were in jail or banned from running.

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Washington, which called the vote a “sham,” refused along with the European Union and the Lima Group countries to recognize the results.

“Maduro is a usurper, an invader and should be removed,” said Delsa Solorzano, an opposition deputy.

But she denied that the call for armed forces’ support was “to carry out a coup d’etat.”

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The Supreme Court, which has consistently sided with Maduro, rendered the National Assembly powerless after the opposition gained the majority in 2016.

“Nothing will come out of the assembly that can have the least impact,” said Peter Hakim, of the Inter-American Dialogue, saying it has been “stripped of power and authority.”

“Our hands are tied,” Solorzano acknowledged.

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– Fractured opposition –

A previous attempt in January 2017 by opposition lawmakers to declare Maduro to have abandoned his responsibilities went nowhere.

More radical opposition leaders such as Antonio Ledezma or Maria Corina Machado have called on the legislature to immediately install a “government of transition” led by the president of the National Assembly.

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Failure to do so could deepen divisions within an already fractured opposition.

“If there is something worse than doing nothing, it is doing that which weakens and makes you lose respect,” said political analyst Luis Salamanca.

Maduro is deeply unpopular, seemingly unwilling or incapable of halting a slide into hyperinflation and economic paralysis that has set off mass migrations of his compatriots.

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He has shrugged off international and opposition criticism, brushing aside accusations that he is assuming dictatorial powers.

“They accuse me of being a dictator to justify anything imaginable,” he said, insisting that his reelection was “democratic” and that his opponents are in disarray, not because of him, but because of their “dependence” on the United States.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?

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The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.

"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.

The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."

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White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting

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Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.

King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.

A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.

https://twitter.com/corinne_perkins/status/1162806565109473280

Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/sedespres/status/1162811223186006018

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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