Once Again Jeff Sessions Makes A Pathetic Joke Out Of The “Justice Department”!!!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘VOX’ NEWS SITE)

Concrete Proposal towards “Hunza Power Supply Company”

Hisamullah's Blog

Kinetic energy of water flow in a stream or river is a renewable source of energy abundantly available in our region. Harnessing this source through well established methods is both capital and time intensive. I am suggesting an alternate technology suited from affordability as well as indigenous manufacture en  mass. This involves use of a “floating hydro-electric generator” tethered to the anchors on river bank and suited to minimum flow in winters and also swollen rivers during summers.
Objective: To provide electricity to each village independently through self-help and gradually increasing the capacity to meet entire demand needed towards economic transformation.
Inspiration
Lets see and create something that has the same look and feel that can be seen in this video I found the other day.

Levels / Stages
Prototype Development and functionality Tests
Need interested youngsters ready to go for a career in this field to participate.
Collaboration by government and established CSOs such as…

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China’s Silk Road push in Thailand may founder on Mekong River row

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

China’s Silk Road push in Thailand may founder on Mekong River row

A Chinese boat, with a team of geologists, surveys the Mekong River at border between Laos and Thailand April 23, 2017. Picture taken April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
By Brenda Goh and Andrew R.C. Marshall | KHON PI LONG, THAILAND

China’s plan to blast open more of the Mekong River for bigger cargo ships could founder on a remote outcrop of half-submerged rocks that Thai protesters have vowed to protect against Beijing’s economic expansion in Southeast Asia.

Dynamiting the Pi Long rapids and other sections of the Mekong between Thailand and Laos will harm the environment and bring trade advantages only to China, the protesters say.

“This will be the death of the Mekong,” said Niwat Roykaew, chairman of the Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group, which is campaigning against the project. “You’ll never be able to revive it.”

Niwat said blasting the Mekong will destroy fish breeding grounds, disrupt migrating birds and cause increased water flow that will erode riverside farmland.

Such opposition reflects a wider challenge to China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” project to build a modern-day Silk Road through Asia to Europe.

Second Harbour Consultants, a subsidiary of state-owned behemoth China Communications Construction Corp (CCCC) (601800.SS) said it was surveying the Mekong for a report that China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand would use to decide whether blasting should go ahead.

It added that it was not tasked with the blasting work, which would need to be tendered.

The company said in an e-mail it had held meetings with local people “to communicate, build confidence and clear doubts.”

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Clearing the Mekong for bigger ships is not officially a part of One Belt, One Road, a project announced in 2013; China blasted sections of the river in Laos several years earlier.

But some Chinese engineers involved in the survey speak of it as a part of the broader plan, and it is consistent with Beijing’s Silk Road objectives.

Even in its Southeast Asian backyard, where it has sympathetic governments and ancient historical ties, China sometimes struggles to convince ordinary people that One Belt One Road will benefit them.

Thailand, Laos and Myanmar have approved the survey work, which is funded by China, but further studies and approvals are needed before blasting.

KEEPING A LOW PROFILE

The Mekong River originates in the Tibetan plateau and cascades through China and five Southeast Asian countries.

China has built a series of dams along its stretch of the river that Thai campaigners say has impacted the water flow and made the regional giant hard to trust.

Chinese flags now flutter from company speedboats, while CCCC Second Harbour has met with Thai protesters three times since December in a bid to avert opposition to their work.

A unit of the conglomerate faced violent protests in January in Sri Lanka, where people objected to plans for an industrial zone in the south.

Chinese engineers on the Mekong said they were worried that Thai protesters would board the rickety cargo ship where they slept, prompting them to moor it on the Laotian side of the Mekong each night.

“We are afraid for our team’s safety,” one engineer told Reuters, declining to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

“We keep a low profile here,” he added. “We want to do this project well and benefit Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, China, these four countries. This is not just for China.”

China wants to remove rocks and sandbanks to allow ships of up to 500 tonnes to sail from its landlocked province of Yunnan to the sleepy Laotian town of Luang Prabang.

That would expedite the shipping of Chinese freight deep into northern Laos, said Paul Chambers, an expert in international relations at Thailand’s Naresuan University.

“Luang Prabang may seem sleepy, but northern Laos … represents a hub of Chinese influence,” he said.

LOCALS REMAIN WARY

Despite reassurances from CCCC Second Harbour, some locals still believed the engineers were marking out areas for blasting, said Niwat, who represented campaigners in meetings with the Chinese company.

His group draped a large white banner reading “Mekong Not For Sale” on the bank overlooking the Pi Long rapids, whose name in Thai means “lost ghosts.”

“At the moment we’re only thinking about the economy and the earning figures without considering the unimaginable value of the eco-system to humanity,” he said.

The military seized power in Thailand in 2014 and banned gatherings of five or more people.

But Narongsak Osotthanakorn, governor of Chiang Rai – the Thai province where the Mekong is currently being surveyed – said people could “protest freely” against the Chinese plan.

Narongsak said the survey was the first stage in a process that would include an environmental study, public hearings and negotiations between China, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.

While he wouldn’t say whether or not he supported blasting, Narongsak said local people had much to gain from increased river trade. “I think no country would be happy to lose the benefits,” he said.

(Editing by Mike Collett-White)

Is House Speaker Paul Ryan As Delusional As President Trump On Health Care Issues?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

“We’re making very good progress, we’re going to go when we have the votes,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said about the GOP’s plans to push forward a health-care plan on April 26.(Reuters)

THE MORNING PLUM:

Republicans have once again shelved their plan to vote on replacing Obamacare, depriving Donald Trump of a fake accomplishment he had hoped to tout on the 100th day of his presidency (even if it had passed the House on the 100th day, there’s no telling what would have happened in the Senate). A lot of explanations are circulating: A rushed vote would have complicatedkeeping the government open; Republicans balked at opposition from the powerful AARP; poor messaging and GOP infighting; and so forth.

I’d like to propose another explanation. What if the GOP repeal effort once again failed because the Affordable Care Act has actually helped a lot of people, and this whole process has made that a lot harder for Republicans to deny?

GOP leaders said they put the latest version on hold because the votes weren’t there for it. The new changes had won over House conservatives who had previously objected, but many of the more moderate or pragmatic Republicans were still opposed. Indeed, the changes that swayed conservatives — which would have allowed states to scrap the requirement that insurers cover Essential Health Benefits and gut protections for people with preexisting conditions — appear to have made it harder for Republicans from less conservative and more contested districts (such as Colorado’s Mike Coffman) to support it.

If you read through the public statements of many of the Republicans who objected to the latest version, you’ll see a common thread. They say either that passing the new bill would drive up premiums for people with preexisting conditions (because it would allow insurers to jack them up); or that too many would lose coverage, partly because of the phaseout of the Medicaid expansion. A number of the Republicans who opposed it this time had previously made statements to this effect about the older version, and those objections were still operative.

“The reality is most of the moderate hard Nos were already opposed,” Matt Fuller, a reporter for HuffPost who has followed this more closely than anyone, told me today. In short, many Republicans objected to the new version on the grounds that it would take coverage away from untold numbers of poor and sick people.

Pelosi: A vote for Trump’s health-care push is ‘doo-doo’ on the shoe

 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the first 100 days of the Trump administration, grading him poorly on health care. (Reuters)

At the same time, though, many of these Republicans avoided openly crediting Obamacare with achieving the very protections for those with preexisting conditions and the vast coverage expansion via Medicaid that they now want to preserve. And they pledged to continue trying to repeal the law. These Republicans cannot affirmatively applaud Obamacare’s success in accomplishing ends they now recognize as imperatives, but they can stand up and say they won’t remove or badly weaken the provisions of it that are accomplishing those ends, provided they also say they’ll replace the law whenever some more acceptable alternative — which would also accomplish those ends — comes along.

The absurdity of this basic dynamic continues to elude direct recognition. Byron York reports that Republicans privately say that as many as 40 or 50 House Republicans secretly don’t want to repeal the ACA, and one key reason appears to be a lack of political courage. As one Republican puts it: “We have members in the Republican conference that do not want Obamacare repealed, because of their district.”

But the reason for this is not stated as forthrightly as I think it should be. Even if the primary motive here is that taking coverage away from people — and gutting protections for those with preexisting conditions — will alienate voters, this is just another way of saying that voters will recoil from efforts to roll back the help the law is providing to countless numbers of people. It is often said that taking away “entitlements” is politically difficult, which is true as far as it goes. But another way to say this is that even many Republicans now recognize that sustaining the law’s achievements is now imperative — and that Republicans have not come up with an alternative that would do this in a way that their public ideological pre-commitments permit. Of course, they can’t put it quite this way out loud.

No, Obamacare is not in a ‘death spiral’ — at least for now

 

Health-care experts say the Affordable Care Act is stable, but President Trump and congressional Republicans could push it over the cliff into a “death spiral.” (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

The GOP replacement is a non-starter for these Republicans partly because it is wildly regressive. It would roll back coverage for millions of people — 24 million in total; 14 million on Medicaid — while delivering an enormous tax cut to the rich. The polls and the angry town halls suggest that the public clearly decided it prefers the ACA — which is now in positive polling territory — to this alternative. Whether moderate Republicans are refraining from this alternative for moral, substantive or political reasons, the deeply regressive outcome that it would bring about is a key driving factor.

My point here is not that Obamacare doesn’t still have plenty of problems — it does — or that the GOP repeal push will never succeed. It very well may. But if it does, it will be either because Republicans finally figured out how to make their alternative less damaging to the ACA’s coverage expansion — which would be hard to do without alienating conservatives — or because enough moderate Republicans decided the moral or political risk of scuttling the law’s accomplishments on behalf of their own constituents is worth taking, for other reasons entirely.


* HEALTH BILL FAILURE IS A BLOW TO PRIEBUS: An interesting nugget buried in the New York Times overview of the collapse of the latest GOP health bill:

The lost opportunity was perhaps the biggest blow to the future prospects of Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, who has a long relationship with Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. Mr. Priebus had pushed aggressively for the House to schedule a vote this week, according to several people who spoke with him within the West Wing and on Capitol Hill.

Awww. This diminished a guy who demanded a rushed vote on a bill that would impact millions, solely so that Trump could boast of a fake achievement on his 100th day. So sad!

* TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDERS DON’T AMOUNT TO MUCH: The Post takes a comprehensive look at the executive orders that Trump has signed, and finds there is less there than meets the eye:

More than half of the 29 orders issued as of Thursday have merely called for reviews, have commissioned reports or established panels to issue recommendations. The documents lay out a dizzying schedule of 90-, 120- and 180-day increments for federal agencies to evaluate the feasibility of White House policy goals and report to the president. They hardly represent the immediate action the president and his aides had heralded they would bring to Washington.

Trump really should hurry up and sign a half-dozen more between now and tomorrow (his 100th day).

* TRUMP SAYS ‘MAJOR CONFLICT’ WITH NORTH KOREA IS POSSIBLE: Trump, in an interview with Reuters, said this:

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely … We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”

One imagines that Trump sees this as shrewd positioning in an ongoing negotiation.

* TRUMP SAYS SHUTDOWN WOULD BE THE FAULT OF DEMOCRATS: Also in the Reuters interview, Trump had this to say about a possible government shutdown:

“If there’s closure, there’s closure. We’ll see what happens. If there’s a shutdown. It’s the Democrats’ fault. Not our fault. It’s the Democrats’ fault. Maybe they’d like to see a shutdown.”

A frequent Trump tactic is to always assert he has the upper hand regardless of reality, in order to make it so, but given that Republicans control everything, it’s hard to see how they’d skirt blame.

* IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT HUMORING TRUMP: Paul Krugman looks at all the ways in which Trump’s staff props up his falsehoods and fantasies — searching for “proof” Barack Obama tapped his phones; rushing out a one-page tax “plan” before the 100-day mark — and concludes:

Every report from inside the White House conveys the impression that Trump is like a temperamental child … being an effective staffer seems to involve finding ways to make him feel good and take his mind off news that he feels makes him look bad … Don’t pretend that this is normal … No, what we’re looking at here isn’t policy; it’s pieces of paper whose goal is to soothe the big man’s temper tantrums.

The rot of bad faith runs very deep with this White House, and it starts here.

* AND TRUMP EXPECTED PRESIDENCY TO BE ‘EASIER’: A final tidbit from the Reuters interview: Trump actually claimed that “this is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” That’s bad enough, but then this happened:

Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

It was always about winning, and never about what would happen after

Israeli Arabs view country more positively than Jews, survey finds

While 66% of Arabs see the overall situation as good, just 43.9% of the Jewish population agrees, according to new IDI study ahead of Israel’s 69th Independence Day

Source: Israeli Arabs view country more positively than Jews, survey finds

WATCH: Rivlin: Independence Day is a celebration for Jews everywhere

In English-language greeting, president calls on Jews to work so ‘our national home is a home that looks after the weak’

Source: WATCH: Rivlin: Independence Day is a celebration for Jews everywhere

http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-daily-edition/?theday=2017-05-02

Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-daily-edition/?theday=2017-05-02

Mysterious rash of Russian deaths cast suspicion on Vladimir Putin

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘USA TODAY’)

Mysterious rash of Russian deaths cast suspicion on Vladimir Putin

Twice-poisoned Putin critic survives to te…
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A former member of the Russian parliament is gunned down in broad daylight in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. A longtime Russian ambassador to the United Nations drops dead at work. A Russian-backed commander in the breakaway Ukrainian province of Donetsk is blown up in an elevator. A Russian media executive is found dead in his Washington, D.C., hotel room.

What do they have in common? They are among 38 prominent Russians who are victims of unsolved murders or suspicious deaths since the beginning of 2014, according to a list compiled by USA TODAY and British journalist Sarah Hurst, who has done research in Russia.

The list contains 10 high-profile critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, seven diplomats, six associates of Kremlin power brokers who had a falling out — often over corruption — and 13 military or political leaders involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, including commanders of Russian-backed separatist forces. Two are possibly connected to a dossier alleging connections between President Trump’s campaign staff and Kremlin officials that was produced by a former British spy and shared with the FBI.

Twelve were shot, stabbed or beaten to death. Six were blown up. Ten died allegedly of natural causes. One died of mysterious head injuries, one reportedly slipped and hit his head in a public bath, one was hanged in his jail cell, and one died after drinking coffee. The cause of six deaths was reported as unknown.

https://www.gannett-cdn.com/experiments/usatoday/responsive/embed-tool/?url=https:%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fpages%2Finteractives%2Fsuspicious-russian-deaths-sacrificial-pawns-or-coincidence%2F&image=http:%2F%2Fwww.gannett-cdn.com%2Fexperiments%2Fusatoday%2Fresponsive%2F2017%2F04-russian-deaths%2Fassets%2Fimages%2F050117-RussianDeaths1.png&header=40%20Months,%2038%20Suspicious%20Deaths&title=Large%20proportion%20of%20unexplained%20Russian%20deaths%20since%20the%20start%20of%202014%20involve%20people%20trying%20to%20expose%20corruption&btn=View%20full%20list%20of%20deaths

Putin has long dealt with opponents harshly. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in March that Putin “has murdered his political opponents and rules like an authoritarian dictator.”

Yet the list of fatalities — 36 men and two women — suggests that Putin’s alleged attacks on his critics and whistle-blowers are more extensive and lethal than previously known. It also raises new concerns about contacts Putin and his lieutenants had with Trump’s campaign staff.

Trump praised Putin in March 2016 as a “strong leader,” and in 2015 said “I’d get along great with” the Russian leader. On Feb 6, Trump defended Putin when Bill O’Reilly, then of Fox News, called Putin a killer. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump replied. “Do you think our country is so innocent?”

The FBI and Congress are currently investigating contacts between Kremlin officials and Trump’s campaign advisers, as part of its investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Leahy made his comment about Putin at a congressional hearing that featured Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian political activist with personal experience of his government’s efforts to silence outspoken critics.

“We’ve seen political opposition leaders and activists, whistle-blowers, anti-corruption campaigners and independent journalists lose their lives in one way or another,” Kara-Murza told USA TODAY. “Sometimes these are suspicious suicides and plane crashes, really rare and horrible diseases. In many others they are straight murders.”

Kara-Murza worked with former deputy prime minister and Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov before Nemtsov was gunned down in Moscow in 2015. Kara-Murza worked until recently with Russian anti-corruption lawyer and political candidate Alexei Navalny, who suffered eye injury Thursday after being attacked with a chemical following his release from jail for leading unsanctioned protests against the Putin government across Russia this spring.

“Sometimes there are near-misses,” Kara-Murza testified in March before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

Kara-Murza said he was the victim of attempted poisonings twice: in May 2015 and this past February.

“Twice in the past two years I have experienced symptoms consistent with poisoning, both times in Moscow,” he said in an interview. “Both times, symptoms came on suddenly and out of nowhere. Both times spending weeks in a coma on life support machines. Both times, doctors set my chance of survival at 5%, so I’m very fortunate to be here today. ”

Read more:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., noted at the hearing the dangers of winding up on the wrong side of politics in Russia. “In our system, if we make a bad decision, we might lose an election and have to work as a paid analyst on TV,” he told Kara-Murza. “In your case, people die.”

Rubio and other senators had called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to meet with members of Russia’s political opposition during his April visit to Moscow, but Tillerson did not have time for a meeting, deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

Most of the older diplomats on the list were probably victims of poor health, said Boris Silberman, a Russia analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“Knowing how diplomats live, going from one cocktail party to the next and not to the gym in between, it finally catches up to you,” Silberman said.

That could apply to Vitaly Churkin, 64, the Russian ambassador to the U.N., who died on Feb. 20 in New York of an apparent heart attack. Others, like Petr Polshikov, 56, a chief adviser to the Latin America department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, found dead with a gunshot wound in his Moscow home on Dec. 20, require further investigation, Silberman said.

“There’s almost a fever on the Russia story,” Silberman said. “Some of it is substantial. It’s almost like there’s something nefarious behind every piece of news. Sometimes there is. … They tend to clean up their messes this way.”

Many of the recent deaths raise suspicions because a string of Putin critics have died in obvious murders years earlier. They include:

• Nemtsov, who was shot to death while walking after dinner with his girlfriend in a security zone near the Kremlin. Two Chechen suspects, one a former bodyguard to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, are on trial, but the investigation did not reveal whether anyone ordered the hit.
• Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax lawyer who died in prison while investigating the alleged theft of $230 million by Russian government officials. No one was ever charged.
• Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian spy who defected, became a British citizen and was murdered in London in 2006 with radioactive polonium-210 while helping European authorities in a corruption investigation. The “state-sponsored murder” was an effort by the Russian government to send a chilling message to its critics, Peter Clarke, Scotland Yard’s former deputy commissioner who led the investigation, told the British Daily Mail on April 17. Two Russian suspects were identified by British authorities, but Russia refused to extradite them, and no one was charged.

• Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist who exposed Russian atrocities during the war in the restive Russian republic of Chechnya. She was gunned down in her Moscow apartment stairway in 2006. Former police officer Dmitry Pavliutchenkov was convicted of ordering surveillance of the journalist but denied killing her. He was sentenced in 2012 to 11 years in prison. Five alleged accomplices were later convicted, including two who were sentenced to life in prison. Pavliutchenkov’s promise to identify who ordered the hit never resulted in further charges.

Two of the recent victims, Oleg Erovinkin and Alex Oronov, have been described by Russian analysts as possibly connected to a dossier written by a former British spy about Trump and his campaign staff’s alleged collusion with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Erovinkin, 61, a general in the Russian spy agency and a close associate of a Putin confidant, was found dead in the back of his car on Dec. 26 in Moscow. The cause of death is unknown.

Oronov, 69, a Ukrainian-born businessman in New York, died under unknown circumstances around March 2, according to Andriy Artemenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament. Oronov had arranged a meeting between Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen; Trump business associate Felix Sater, and Artemenko in January about a peace plan for Ukraine that would benefit Russia. Artemenko alleged that Oronov died because of the peace-plan plot.

The list of recent deaths does not include Matthew Puncher, 46, a British polonium expert in the Litvinenko inquiry, reported to have stabbed himself to death in his home in Oxfordshire after returning from a trip to Russia last May.

Luke Harding chronicled a succession of suspected political murders in his 2016 book, A Very Expensive Poison; the Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and Putin’s War with the West. Former KGB officers and defectors described Soviet-era research into poisons used to kill enemies that continued in post-Soviet Russia, Harding wrote. Some substances are so rare and leave so little trace that death can be easily mistaken for a heart attack.

Journalist Hurst, who helped compile the list of deaths, said the recent uptick appears to be a sign of the growing political pressure on Putin and his cronies. “Putin is at the top of a criminal organization (and) there are all these people who have dirt on him,” she said. “It’s not surprising he’s willing to bump people off.”

Kara-Murza, who is still recovering from the alleged poisoning, said he has “absolutely no doubt this was an attempt to kill me because of my political activities in the Russian opposition for the last several years, and more specifically because of my active involvement in the campaign in support of the Magnitsky Act,” which calls for U.S. sanctions on Russian officials involved in human rights abuses and corruption.

He plans to push for similar laws in other Western countries, and to return to Russia to continue his activism when he is physically stronger.

Since many of the suspicious deaths are related to government corruption or those who exposed it, Kara-Murza urged Congress to block Russians who stole their nation’s wealth from investing in the United States.

“This is not only about money,” he said in his Senate testimony. “Much more importantly it is about the message that the U.S. sends to Russia.”

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Venezuela Opposition Takes to Streets after Maduro Orders New Constitution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

World

Venezuela Opposition Takes to Streets after Maduro Orders New Constitution

Maduro

The opposition in Venezuela denounced on Tuesday President Nicolas Maduro’s decision on Monday to write a new constitution.

The opposition was blocking streets on Tuesday to decry the decision to create a new super-body known as a “constituent assembly,” a move they say is a veiled attempt to cling to power by avoiding elections.

After a month of near-daily protests demanding early general elections, Maduro on Monday announced a new popular assembly with the ability to rewrite the constitution.

His government said that the opposition is promoting street violence and refusing dialogue, so it has no choice but to shake up Venezuela’s power structure to bring peace to the oil producer.

Maduro’s foes counter that Maduro, a former bus driver they say has turned into a dictator, is in fact planning to staff the new assembly with supporters and avoid elections he would likely lose amid a crushing recession and raging inflation.

Regional elections slated for last year have yet to be called and a presidential election is due for next year.

When asked about elections in an interview on state television Tuesday, the Socialist Party official in charge of the constituent assembly said the electoral schedule would be respected but also suggested the current political turmoil was working against setting a quick date.

“One of the aims of the constituent assembly is to seek the conditions of stability to be able to go to those electoral processes,” said Elias Jaua.

“Those conditions of normality do not exist,” he added, citing protests and institutional clashes between the opposition-led National Assembly and authorities.

Maduro’s critics fear the new body will further sideline the current opposition-led legislature and pave the way for undemocratic changes to the constitution, furthering what they say has been a lurch into dictatorship.

The controversial decision will likely swell anti-government protests, already the biggest since 2014, as they seek to end the socialists’ 18-year rule started under late leader Hugo Chavez.

“This is not a constituent assembly, it’s the dissolution of the republic,” said opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara. “A message to Chavismo: It’s time to unite to save Venezuela from Maduro.”

Since anti-Maduro unrest began in early April, some 29 people have been killed, more than 400 people have been injured and hundreds more arrested.

Maduro was vague in a televised speech Monday evening about how members would be chosen for a citizen assembly to produce a new charter. He hinted some would selected by voters, but many observers expect the government to give itself the power to pick a majority of delegates to the convention.

“This will be a citizens assembly made up of workers,” the president said. “The day has come brothers. Don’t fail me now. Don’t fail (Hugo) Chavez and don’t fail your motherland.”

If the constitutional process goes forward, opposition leaders will need to focus on getting at least some sympathetic figures included in the assembly. That could distract them from organizing the near daily street protests that they have managed to keep up for four weeks, political analyst Luis Vicente Leon said.

Venezuela’s constitution was last rewritten in 1999, early in the 14-year presidency of the late Chavez, who began the socialist transformation of the oil-exporting nation.

The president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Julio Borges, called a constitutional assembly a “giant fraud” by Maduro and his allies designed to keep them in power. Borges said it would deny Venezuelans the right to express their views at the ballot box, and he urged the military to prevent the “coup” by Maduro.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Faith is Not Hoping God Can it is Knowing He Will

The Next 366 Days

John 20:29

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Last Sunday’s reading was about Thomas and his faith. When Jesus appeared in front of the other disciples, Thomas was not with them, so his fellow disciples told him about the great news, yet Thomas didn’t  believed and told them that he will only believe if he could see Jesus with his own eyes,put his fingers where the nails were and put his hand on Jesus’ side.

The next gathering came and Thomas was there. Jesus appeared in the midst of the disciples and showed Thomas his hands and told him to put his fingers where the nails were and also told him to reach his hand in his side. Jesus asked Thomas if he already believed because he had seen him, and told the disciples that blessed are those who have…

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