By Angus Berwick and Sarah Marsh CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro threatened to close the border with Colombia on Thursday as opposition leader Juan Guaido and some 80 lawmakers ran a gauntlet of roadblocks trying to get to the frontier to receive humanitarian aid. Guaido, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela's legitimate head of state, was poised for a showdown with Maduro's government on Saturday, when the opposition will attempt to bring in food and medicine being stockpiled in neighboring countries. Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis and said on Thursday he was considering closing Venezuela's key border with Colombia and would close the country's other main border with Brazil, effectively shutting off any legal land access. The government has said soldiers will be stationed at official crossing points to repel any "territorial violations", although the opposition could attempt to cross anywhere along Venezuela's porous borders. "I charge (Colombian President) Ivan Duque with any violence that might occur on the border," Maduro said in televised comments, surrounded by the military high command. Venezuela has already closed its maritime border with the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, after Curacao's government said it would help store aid. Opposition lawmakers set off from Caracas in a convoy of buses just after 10 a.m. on a 800-km (500-mile) road trip to the border with Colombia. Crowds formed alongside a main highway out of the capital, waving Venezuelan flags and whooping in support. A roadblock at a tunnel some 100 km (60 miles) along the main road forced several buses to stop, Reuters witnesses and lawmakers said. Lawmakers trying to get through scuffled with soldiers in riot gear at the tunnel's exit, TV footage showed. "We have a commitment and that is to reach the border. We will try to get as far as we can," lawmaker Mariela Magallanes told Reuters by telephone from the scene. "Humanitarian aid is not the whim of a few lawmakers, it is a necessity." Magallanes said her vehicle managed to pass through the tunnel after being stuck for several hours but other buses remained behind. Lawmakers said Guaido's vehicle continued but his exact location was being kept a secret due to security concerns. One opposition lawmaker in southeastern Bolivar state said he and some 20 other politicians would also travel to the border with Brazil. The Information Ministry did not respond to a request to comment. Guaido still has not provided details on how the aid could come in. Opposition figures have suggested forming human chains across the land borders to pass packages from person to person and fleets of boats arriving from the Dutch Caribbean islands. WILL MILITARY TURN? The opposition says it is rallying relief efforts in Venezuela to alleviate widespread food and medicine shortages in the wake of its hyperinflationary economic collapse. The oil-rich economy has halved in size in five years. Tons of aid sent by the U.S. and Colombian governments is sitting in warehouses on the Colombian side of the border. Guaido tweeted late on Thursday that Chile was also airlifting supplies there, while Brazil's government said it was sending aid to its own border. Meanwhile a boat carrying 250 tons of aid left Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan headed for Venezuela on Wednesday, the local government said in a statement. Maduro accuses the Trump administration, which has levied crippling sanctions against his government, of seeking to force his ouster. The U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, will lead a government delegation accompanying the delivery of aid from Florida to Cucuta via military aircraft between Thursday and Friday, the Department of State said. Meanwhile, the office of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he would fly to the Colombian capital, Bogota, on Monday to discuss the crisis with leaders of the regional Lima Group of nations. Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency on Jan. 23 and denounces Maduro as an usurper. Maduro still retains the support of powerful nations like Russia and China, as well as the key backing of the military. Some political analysts say Saturday's border showdown is less about resolving Venezuela's needs and more about testing the military's loyalty by daring it to turn aid away. "It's part of this calculus that sees the military as leading a transition in Venezuela," said Geoff Ramsey at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a thinktank. Guaido has offered amnesty to military officers who disavow Maduro, though few have so far done so. Former military intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal, who Washington accused of involvement in the drug trade a decade ago, released a social media video on Thursday offering his support for Guaido. Carvajal distanced himself from Maduro in 2017 by opposing the creation of an all-powerful legislature. "I'm sure that Venezuela will soon return to democracy ... How this happens depends on you, brothers in arms," he said, addressing the military. Gustavo Marcano, senior aide to the opposition's envoy to Washington, told reporters in the U.S. capital on Thursday that 11 diplomats in the United States have defected from Maduro's government since Guaido declared himself interim president. Bank accounts for Venezuelan embassies and consulates in the United States had been frozen, he said. (Reporting by Angus Berwick, Vivian Sequera, Fabian Cambero, Brian Ellsworth and Sarah Marsh; Additional reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota, Maria Ramirez in Puerto Ordaz, Tibisay Romero in Valencia, and Matt Spetalnick, Luc Cohen and Mohammad Zargham in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott, Sonya Hepinstall and Lisa Shumaker)
Supporters say the move would increase vaccine production but the pharmaceutical industry disagrees.
LONDON (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the West had to be very careful about the exact nature of Chinese investment in Western economies and think very carefully about investments in strategic assets. China's spectacular economic and military rise over the past 40 years is among the most significant geopolitical events of recent history, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union that ended the Cold War. The West has struggled to come up with an agreed policy on China and has flipflopped over the years from seeing China as a lucrative source of investment - for example in U.S. government bonds - to seeing China as a threat to global stability and avoiding its 5G technology.
- Associated Press
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv Thursday, telling him that he was there to “reaffirm strongly” Washington's commitment to Ukraine's “sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.” Blinken also assured Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba that the U.S. was committed “to work with you and continue to strengthen your own democracy, building institutions, advancing your reforms against corruption.” On the frontlines of the battle against Russia-backed separatists and in the halls of government in Kyiv, Ukrainians hold strong hopes for Thursday's visit — increased military aid and strong support for NATO membership among them.
The Pentagon said Wednesday it's tracking the uncontrolled descent of the Long March-5B Y2 rocket that carried a Chinese Space Station module to orbit last week.Details: Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters the rocket's debris was expected to return to Earth "somewhere around" May 8 and that the U.S. Space Command has said "almost the entire body of the rocket" remains intact. "It's too soon to know exactly where it's going to come down," he added.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeOur thought bubble, via Axios' Miriam Kramer: This isn't the first time a rocket or spacecraft launched by China's space agency has come down to Earth uncontrolled. Space watchers also played a waiting game as China’s Tiangong-1 space station came back through the atmosphere in 2018, eventually burning up above the Pacific Ocean.Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
- Business Insider
Caitlyn Jenner told Sean Hannity she doesn't think California needs to fund a high-speed rail: 'I can get on a plane at LAX and I'll be in San Francisco in 50 minutes'
Jenner, a Republican, is running against California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a special recall election.
- Associated Press
The top U.S general for Africa is warning that a growing threat from China may come not just from the waters of the Pacific, but from the Atlantic as well. U.S. Gen. Stephen Townsend, in an interview with The Associated Press, said Beijing is looking to establish a large navy port capable of hosting submarines or aircraft carriers on Africa’s western coast. Townsend said China has approached countries stretching from Mauritania to south of Namibia, intent on establishing a naval facility.
The bill would require death row inmates to choose between being shot by firing squad or electrocuted amid the state's lack of lethal injections.
Divorce is usually caused by one of the '3 i's,' therapists say. Here's what they are, and how they destroy a marriage.
Conflict caused by incompatibility or irreconcilable differences can impact a couple over the course of their marriage, therapist Tess Brigham said.
- Business Insider
A supportive wife's detailed Facebook posts led investigators directly to one alleged Capitol riot attendee
Prosecutors say Gary Edwards was captured on security footage and live streams walking around the inside and outside of the Capitol building.
- The Week
The United States will advocate for waiving COVID-19 vaccine patent protections in discussions with the World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Wednesday. The Biden administration "believes strongly in intellectual property protections," Tai said in a statement, but the White House will back the waiver given the "extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic." The administration has faced pressure to support the measure, which is aimed at increasing vaccinations around the world — especially in countries experiencing a surge in infections, like India — without having to rely solely on exports. These extraordinary times and circumstances of call for extraordinary measures. The US supports the waiver of IP protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic and we’ll actively participate in @WTO negotiations to make that happen. pic.twitter.com/96ERlboZS8 — Ambassador Katherine Tai (@AmbassadorTai) May 5, 2021 Proponents were pleased with the news, but shortly after Tai's announcement, stocks of pharmaceutical companies that have produced vaccines, including Moderna and Pfizer, plummeted. I seems the Biden administration has decided to throw its weight behind a patent waiver on Covid vaccines. This is what it's doing to the vaccine makers' share prices. pic.twitter.com/zwh4Aekmvj — Kiran Stacey (@kiranstacey) May 5, 2021 It remains unclear if the protections will actually be waived since all 164 members of the WTO will need to agree on the matter, but backing from the U.S. should certainly move the needle. More stories from theweek.comAmerica's nervous breakdown is right on scheduleMitch McConnell, asked about the Liz Cheney purge, says '100 percent of my focus is on stopping' BidenThe GOP puts all its eggs in one dangerous basket
2 California students were sentenced to life in prison for stabbing and killing a police officer in Rome
California natives Finnegan Elder, 21, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 20, were sentenced on Wednesday to life imprisonment for murder.
The Amazon.com founder will launch people into space on his New Shepard vehicle on 20 July.
- Yahoo News
President Biden said Wednesday that he didn't understand Republican efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to replace Rep. Liz Cheney.
BERLIN (Reuters) -German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Libya would be an "important signal" as both leaders vowed to support the new interim government there, a German government spokesman said. Libya's new unity government was sworn in on March 15 from two warring administrations that had ruled eastern and western regions, completing a relatively smooth transition of power after a decade of violent chaos. Turkey had backed the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord against the eastern-based Libyan National Army, which was supported by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France.
- Business Insider
The 7 most anticipated new movie releases in May, from Netflix's 'Army of the Dead' to 'A Quiet Place Part II'
Netflix will release Zack Snyder's zombie action movie "Army of the Dead" this month, and Paramount will finally debut its "A Quiet Place" sequel.
- Business Insider
What it's like to get COVID-19 after a vaccine, according to people who had 'breakthrough' infections
Karlee Camme, 24, was not sick enough to suspect she had COVID-19 after getting fully vaccinated. She got tested when she lost her sense of smell.
- Associated Press
NASCAR's next generation race car is finally here after two years of hype and hope that it will revolutionize the stock car series. The Next Gen car, first proposed in 2018 and originally set to debut this season until the pandemic delayed it until 2022, is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between NASCAR and its partners. “We really wanted to get back to a promise that we had made to the fans, which is to put the ‘stock’ back in stock car,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said.
Authorities in New York City are looking for a woman who allegedly attacked two Asian pedestrians with a hammer over the weekend. The incident, which was caught on surveillance video, occurred on the 410 block of West 42nd Street at around 8:40 p.m. on Sunday. "She was talking to herself, like talking to a wall, I thought maybe she was drunk or something so we just wanted to pass through her quickly," Theresa, 31, told ABC7 New York reporter CeFaan Kim.
- Christian Science Monitor
Since George Floyd’s death, Minneapolis has become a microcosm of the national debate on addressing race in schools. What lessons can the city offer?
- Associated Press
A prominent politician in Kashmir who challenged India’s rule over the disputed region for decades died Wednesday while in police custody. Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai was admitted to a government hospital with multiple ailments on Tuesday from a jail in the southern Jammu region, officials and his family said. Sehrai’s son, Mujahid Sehrai, said authorities and doctors told him that his father had tested positive for COVID-19 and that his oxygen levels had dropped early Wednesday.