(Venezuela law prohibits publishing opinion polls in the week preceding elections) By Girish Gupta and Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's popularity has jumped in the run-up to Sunday's crucial legislative election, but probably not enough to prevent an opposition victory, a new survey by a leading pollster said. Thanks to public ire with a brutal economic crisis caused by dysfunctional controls and the oil price plunge, the opposition has its best shot in 16 years at winning the National Assembly from the ruling Socialists. But in a boost to the hopes of government candidates, Maduro's popularity jumped more than 11 points to 32.3 percent in late November, according to the survey by Datanalisis seen by Reuters on Tuesday. The firm's head, Luis-Vicente Leon, said this week the ruling "Chavista" movement, named for Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez, had reaped reward for going on the attack against foes, distributing resources in key districts, and reviving the memory of the popular former president during the campaign. However, the Democratic Unity coalition, which groups all main opposition parties, remains in pole position, with 55.6 percent planning to back the opposition, and 36.8 percent the government, the survey said. "The main uncertainty is not whether 'Chavismo' or the opposition will win, but what type of majority the opposition will obtain," Leon added in an opinion article this week, saying Maduro's popularity bounce would not swing the election. The opposition is benefiting from Venezuelans' anger at the world's highest inflation, widespread product shortages and long lines to shop for basics. A whopping 89.5 percent are unhappy with the OPEC nation's situation, Datanalisis said in its survey of 999 people with a margin of error of 3.04 percent. But "Chavismo" retains formidable election mobilization machinery, and some aspects of the voting system - such as a bigger weighting of seats in rural areas where government support is stronger - favor them too. The government campaign has focused heavily on accusations that the opposition will dismantle popular Chavez-era welfare policies, while the opposition has been lambasting the government for economic incompetence and corruption. With Venezuela suffering shortages of everything from shampoo to rice, 18.5 percent of those surveyed said they had waited more than 10 hours in lines during the previous week. The survey was conducted from Nov. 13-23, soon after Maduro announced a 15 percent minimum wage rise. Still, 81.3 percent said the hike was not sufficient to cover often vertiginous price rises. Polls in Venezuela are notoriously divergent and controversial, but Datanalisis has become the most closely watched by both sides. (Editing by Alexandra Ulmer and Sandra Maler)
- The Week
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus won't allow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to dictate the agenda in the Democratic-led 50-50 Senate or demand an end to the legislative filibuster as a precondition for a power-sharing pact. "We've told McConnell no on the organizing resolution, and that's that. So there's no negotiations on that," Schumer said, suggesting he had a secret plan. "There are ways to deal with him." Maddow included an update when she broadcast the interview Monday night. "While we were airing that right now, and you were watching it, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement that he is folding on this" and willl "agree to go forward with what Sen. Schumer told him he must," she said. "Sen. Mitch McConnell has caved and Sen. Schumer has won that fight. That was quick. Let's see what else we can do." No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 McConnell said he would allow the Senate to move forward because two Democrats had reiterated their opposition to ending the filibuster, effectively taking that option off the table. Maddow asked Schumer about that, too, and he didn't answer directly. "The caucus is united with the belief that I have: We must get big, strong, bold things done," Schumer said. The Democratic caucus is also "totally united" that "we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do," and "we have tools that we can use," notably the budget reconciliation process," he added. "We will come together as a caucus and figure it out." "We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do." Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in his interview with Rachel Maddow, talking about the filibuster specifically, and getting things done. pic.twitter.com/xOAKWfe2Fu — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 Schumer also suggested he is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse with McConnell's Republicans again. Watch below. "We will not repeat that mistake." Senate Majority Leader Schumer cites Obama era lessons in prioritizing legislation over bad faith Republican 'bipartisanship.' pic.twitter.com/gpc1kBP45w — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedTrump himself suggested a former president can be impeached
The Biden administration is expected to announce a temporary suspension of new oil and gas leasing on U.S. federal lands and waters on Wednesday, and to order that nearly a third of federally run acreage is conserved over the next decade, three sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. President Joe Biden will make the announcement as part of a second batch of executive orders aimed at combating climate change, a key policy effort of the newly sworn-in president that marks an about-face from his predecessor Donald Trump who sought to maximize the country's oil, gas and coal output. Biden had vowed to ban new federal oil and gas permitting during his campaign for the White House, and his Interior Department last week issued a 60-day suspension of routine drilling approvals pending a review of the program in what was widely viewed as a precursor to a more permanent ban.
- Associated Press
Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said.
- NBC News
Tommy Frederick Allan said he took the documents because he is a taxpayer, according to an arrest warrant.
- The Week
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have his work cut out for him as he tries to maneuver through the 50-50 upper chamber. To pass most legislation, he'll need to work with Republicans to get things done, but that won't be easy, especially after he rigorously campaigned against a few of them in recent election cycles, CNN reports. Take, for example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who ultimately won a hard fought re-election campaign last year against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon. Despite the victory, Collins appears to have taken Schumer's efforts to unseat her personally. "What this campaign taught me about Chuck Schumer is that he will say or do anything in order to win," she told CNN. "It was a deceitful, despicable campaign that he ran." Collins is generally considered one of the more bipartisan voices in the Senate and has crossed the aisle not infrequently throughout her tenure, but those words don't make her sound like someone who's excited to help hand Schumer easy wins. Read more at CNN. Susan Collins doesn't sound like she's keen on cutting lots of deals https://t.co/YHgj2ydgN6 — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) January 26, 2021 The only way governing with the filibuster can ever work is if Republicans are willing to engage in good faith negotiations. Even SUSAN COLLINS is explicitly stating she’s a partisan who has no interest in working with Democrats. — Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedTrump himself suggested a former president can be impeached
U.S. President Joe Biden signed an order on Monday barring most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in South Africa from entering the United States, effective Saturday. Biden's order also reimposes an entry ban, set to expire on Tuesday, on nearly all non-U.S. travelers who have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders. Last week, then-U.S. President Donald Trump revoked those restrictions which were imposed last year effective Tuesday.
- The Week
Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies
The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico. The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed." In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing. More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedTrump himself suggested a former president can be impeached
- Associated Press
A group of U.N experts has criticized Sri Lanka's requirement that those who die of COVID-19 be cremated, even it goes against a family's religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence. The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement Monday that rule amounts to a human rights violation. “We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said.
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
Gov. Newsom needs to do a better job communicating California's statewide COVID restrictions with the public, and with other state officials.
- Yahoo News Video
Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump's former chief spokeswoman and one of his closest aides, announced Monday she's running for Arkansas governor, vying for political office even as the former president's legacy is clouded by an impeachment charge that he incited the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.
Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot on January 6.Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * Facebook also paused its political donations and is reviewing its policies. Microsoft paused its PAC as well. * The social media giant said Sunday it will decide by Feb. 15 after soliciting employee feedback about whether it will continue stopping donations to members of Congress who voted against certifying the election results.What they're saying: "After the disturbing events at the Capitol, NetPAC paused all contributions while undertaking a review. Following that review, the NetPAC board has decided that it will not be making any contributions this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certification of the election results," said José Castañeda, a Google spokesperson.What's next: Other companies that announced a pause in political donations following the riot will have to announce next steps.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski has approved an investigation into Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the northern city of Manaus, according to a court document released on Monday. Lewandowski granted a petition for the probe by Attorney General Augusto Aras, and gave a period of 60 days for the probe to conclude. Manaus, in the northern state of Amazonas, has been hit hard by a brutal second wave that has pushed the city's emergency services to breaking point.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
- The Independent
Former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany spent her time as the president's mouthpiece spinning his words, attacking his enemies, and attempting to undermine the credibility of reporters who questioned his actions. Now, with her days at the White House behind her, Ms McEnany will step into a new role where she can once again use the skill set she cultivated during her time with the president; she'll be joining Fox News. Government watchdog organisation CREW obtained a financial disclosure report that showed Ms McEnany and Fox News entered into an employment agreement on 1 January.
- The Week
President Biden's administration is hoping to "speed up" efforts to get Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a briefing Monday said the Treasury Department is "taking steps to resume efforts" to put Tubman on the $20 bill, a plan that was originally announced under former President Barack Obama, and is "exploring ways to speed up that effort." Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previously announced in 2019 that the planned $20 bill redesign with Tubman replacing former President Andrew Jackson on the front had been delayed until 2028. At the time, Mnuchin said he would focus on a security feature redesign. "The primary reason we've looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues," Mnuchin said. "Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028." The original plan was for the Tubman redesign to be unveiled in time for the 19th Amendment's 100th anniversary in 2020, The New York Times notes. Former President Donald Trump dismissed the efforts to put Tubman on the $20 bill as "pure political correctness" during his 2016 campaign. In Monday's briefing, Psaki said that it's "important" for U.S. currency to "reflect the history and diversity of our country," adding that "Harriet Tubman's image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that." NEW: White House says Treasury Dept. is "taking steps to resume efforts" to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Press Sec. Psaki says the Biden admin. is "exploring ways to speed up that effort." pic.twitter.com/z7Jw5CqXP0 — MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 25, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedTrump himself suggested a former president can be impeached
China and New Zealand signed a deal on Tuesday upgrading a free trade pact to give exports from the Pacific nation greater access to the world's second-largest economy. The pact comes as Beijing seeks to establish itself as a strong advocate of multilateralism after a bruising trade war with the United States, at a time when the coronavirus has forced the closure of many international borders. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the signing of the expanded deal.
- The Independent
Newsmax said it already had enough correspondents at White House
- Associated Press
A high-ranking official with the Hawaii Republican Party confirmed Monday that he resigned after posting a series of tweets about the QAnon conspiracy theory on the official party account, saying its adherents shouldn't be mocked. The tweets have since been deleted from the party’s account. QAnon followers advocate a conspiracy theory rooted in the baseless belief that former President Donald Trump was fighting deep state enemies and a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibals operating a child sex trafficking ring.
The United States on Monday approved all transactions involving Yemen's Houthi movement for the next month as Washington reviews a Trump administration designation of the Iran-aligned group as a foreign terrorist organization. The move appeared designed to allay fears of companies and banks involved in commercial trade to Yemen, which relies almost solely on imports. The Treasury Department in a Frequently Asked Question specifically stated that foreign banks will not be exposed to sanctions "if they knowingly conduct or facilitate a transaction" for the Houthis.
President Joe Biden attended a church service in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood and stopped for bagels at a hot pink shop named "Call Your Mother" on his first Sunday in office. Biden waved at a crowd of cheering supporters near the shop, while his son Hunter waited at the takeout window before returning with a bag of bagels and some beverages. Andrew Dana, 35, one of the shop's owners, said the Bidens' visit came as a surprise.