Venezuela Tense As Unrest Over President Maduro's Government Continues
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5 Things You Should Know About Venezuela's Heightened Political Crisis

If political tensions continue to worsen, Venezuela could see a low-level civil war. 

Venezuela's opposition (a National Assembly majority since January 2016 until now) has kept up peaceful protests since April. But months of political upheaval in the South American country culminated in a week of tensions intensified with the positioning of a totalitarian constitutional assembly that President Nicolás Maduro claims will bring peace. In a climate riddled with economic ruin and the scarcity of food, it may be difficult for the opposition to carry on in the face of increasingly violent repression by government forces.

After a vote on Sunday (July 30), which many suspect to be illegitimate and is criticized around the world, Maduro perhaps cleared any and all political challenges that the opposition might present in the next coming years. With Marudo calling for the rewriting of the country's constitution and a new legislative body, the left is now in complete control. On Saturday (Aug. 5), independently-minded chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega was abruptly removed from office by soldiers. The following Sunday saw a guerrilla attack on an army base in the central city of Valencia, during which two of 20 intruders were shot dead by military officials. One was injured, seven captured and 10 managed to escape.

If political tensions continue to worsen, Venezuela could see a low-level civil war. Here's what you should know about the growing political crisis and its many variables:

President Nicolas Maduro
Maduro served as Vice President to the late revolutionary Hugo Chavez, before he endorsed Maduro to succeed him in 2013. Early on, the two formed the Fifth Republic Movement, a socialist party in Venezuela. The "Fifth Republic" refers to the 1997 Republic of Venezuela, which was the fourth in Venezuelan history, and the Chavez-led movement aimed to re-found the Republic through a constitutional assembly.

The Opposition
After years of having been outwitted by Venezuela’s left, the opposition had seized control of the National Assembly in 2016. With eyes on a 2018 presidency, it had plans of writing new laws, releasing political prisoners and hauling Venezuela out of economic crisis, but those have been effectively liquidated. Family members of two prominent opposition figures Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma said on Twitter that the men had been taken from their homes by security forces. Both men had been under house arrest.  

Uprooting Democracy
At the heart of Venezuela's political crisis is the economic downfall, shortage of food and medicine, and soaring crime rates. What's more, the Maduro regime is intent on rewriting the country's constitution. The newly formed National Constituent Assembly "aspires illegitimately to usurp the constitutional role of the democratically elected National Assembly, rewrite the constitution, and impose an authoritarian regime on the people of Venezuela."

Military Coup?
The military has historically been an authority of political disputes in Venezuela. While the opposition has called on its army to uphold the constitution and prevent Maduro from further consolidating power, the late Hugo Chavez alongside Maduro spent years winning over military leaders with money and political patronage. Considering that only a handful of officers have publicly expressed disgruntlement, it seems unlikely that the military will play a role in overthrowing the current regime.

Fleeing Refugees
Colombian authorities are scrambling to deal with an influx of Venezuelan migrants across the 1378-mile-long border between the two countries. Officials from Bogotá have traveled to Turkey to learn more about its response to the Syrian refugee crisis. This week, Colombia’s foreign minister María Ángela Holguín reportedly announced a new shelter in the border town of Cúcuta to offer food and shelter to Venezuelan migrants.

 

 

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WNBA Player Maya Moore Marries Wrongfully Convicted Man She Helped Get Out Of Prison

When WNBA star Maya Moore first met her now husband, Jonathan Irons, their relationship was strictly platonic. Things changed after she helped to get his wrongful conviction overturned, and the happy couple recently tied the knot.

“We wanted to announce today that we are super excited to continue the work that we are doing together, but doing it as a married couple,” Moore told Good Morning America on Wednesday (Sept. 16). “We got married a couple months ago and we're excited to just continue this new chapter of life together.”

Catch us tomorrow on @GMA with @RobinRoberts! #winwithjustice pic.twitter.com/0z1B1RRS2b

— Maya Moore (@MooreMaya) July 2, 2020

Irons was 16 years old when he was tried as an adult and falsely convicted by an all white jury and sentenced to 50 years for a burglary and shooting. He maintained his innocence throughout, but he would have never been convicted had the case been handled properly. Aside from being wrongfully identified in a lineup, fingerprint evidence that could have proved his innocence was withheld from his lawyers. After serving 23 years for a crime he did not commit, Irons' conviction was overturned in March.

Moore, 31, has known Irons, 40, since she was 18 years old. The two met through a prison ministry program and their relationship slowly transitioned from a friendship to romance. Irons confessed his love for Moore while incarcerated at Missouri's Jefferson City Correctional Center. “I wanted to marry her but at the same time protect her because being in a relationship with a man in prison, it's extremely difficult and painful. And I didn't want her to feel trapped and I wanted her to feel open and have the ability any time if this is too much for you, go and find somebody. Live your life. Because this is hard.”

He popped the question in their hotel room following his prison release. “It was just me and her in the room and I got down on my knees and I looked up at her and she kind of knew what was going on and I said, ‘will you marry me,’ she said, ‘yes.’”

Moore, a small forward for the Minnesota Lynx, is taking a break from basketball and has been working alongside her husband to encourage people to vote. The newlyweds also plant to advocate for others who have been wrongfully convicted.

See more on their love story in the video below.

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Louisville Reaches $12 Million Settlement With Family Of Breonna Taylor

It’s been six months since Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police officers while sleeping in her own home. The officers involved in her death, Jonathon Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, have yet to be arrested, but a monetary agreement has been reached to settle a civil lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family.

The city will pay Taylor’s family $12 million in addition to implementing policy reform measures, Mayor Greg Fischer announced on Tuesday (Sept. 15).

“I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer’s pain,” Fischer said of Taylor’s mother, Tameka Palmer. “And I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death. Although these steps, including policy changes, do not change the past, I hope this brings some measure of peace.”

Fischer noted that Taylor’s death “ignited” a local and national movement “for racial justice sending thousands into our streets and in cities all across the country and the world — all crying for justice for Breonna.” Taylor’s death has “triggered a renewed commitment to addressing structural and systematic racism” in Louisville and around the country, said Fischer.

“Justice for Breonna means that we will continue to save lives in her honor,” said Taylor’s mother, Tameka Palmer. “No amount of money accomplishes that, but the police reform measures that we were able to get passed as a part of this settlement mean so much more to my family, our community, and to Breonna’s legacy. We know that there is much work still to be done and we look forward to continuing to work with community leaders, the mayor’s office, and other elected leaders to implement long-term sustainable change to fight systemic racism that is plaguing our communities.”

The multi-million dollar settlement is the latest step that Louisville has taken in wake of Taylor being killed by police. In June, the Louisville city council passed “Breonna’s Law” banning no-knock warrants, like the one used to violently raid Taylor’s home on March 13. Police claim that the raid stemmed from a drug investigation that reportedly involved Taylor’s ex-boyfriend who did not live at the residence and had already been arrested.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing Taylor’s family, called the $12 million settlement a step in the right direction. “This will bring progress and reform out of this tragedy to protect other Black lives,” he tweeted.

Today, we got some #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor! Along with a $12 million civil settlement, we secured comprehensive police reform in Louisville. This will bring progress and reform out of this tragedy to protect other Black lives. pic.twitter.com/DyilAkmWag

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 15, 2020

As part of the settlement, Louisville Metro Government agreed to a list of changes including community related policy programs, search warrant reforms, and police accountability reforms.

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Jacob Blake Handcuffed To Hospital Bed While Paralyzed, Father Says

Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the back by a Wisconsin police officer, is handcuffed to his hospital bed while recovering from shooting injuries.

“I hate it that he was laying in that bed with the handcuff onto the bed,” his father, Jacob Blake Sr., told the Chicago-Sun Times on Thursday (Aug. 27). “He can’t go anywhere. Why do you have him cuffed to the bed? What was he arrested for?”

The Kenosha Police Department has yet to reveal why they handcuffed Blake to his hospital bed. The 29-year-old father of three was shot at close range by Kanoga police officer, Rusten Sheskey, last week. Blake has been celebrating his son's birthday and was “breaking up a fight between two women” when police confronted him, attorney Benjamin Crump said.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice claims that officers were  responding to a call from a woman who reported that her boyfriend “was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.”

Officers attempted to arrest Blake during the incident. “Law enforcement deployed a taser to attempt to stop Mr. Blake, however the taser was not successful in stopping Mr. Blake,” the Wisconsin DOJ said in an updated statement. “Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward. While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon 7 times. Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back. No other officer fired their weapon. Kenosha Police Department does not have body cameras therefore the officers were not wearing body cameras.”

Blake’s children were in the car as Sheskey continued to shoot him. Although police didn't have body cameras, a witness captured the shooting on cell phone video.

Protests have continued throughout Kenosha in response to the shooting.

Kenosha County has since declared a state of emerged and announced a mandatory curfew.

⚠️CIVIL UNREST ADVISORY⚠️

Kenosha County has declared a State of Emergency curfew for 7PM tonight, August 26th. Citizens need to be off the streets for their safety. Curfew will be enforced.

— Kenosha Police Dept. (@KenoshaPolice) August 26, 2020

Two people were shot to death, and another injured, at a protest on Tuesday (Aug. 25). The shooter, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, was arrested and charged with felony counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, first degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and first-degree attempted homicide.

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