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Pompeo calls Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro government ‘illegitimate’ | News

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called Venezuela‘s government under President Nicolas Maduro “illegitimate” as Washington steps up its call for an “orderly transition” to a new government.

“The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country,” Pompeo told reporters on Saturday in Abu Dhabi during his tour of the Middle East countries.

Pompeo said the United States would work with like-minded countries in Latin America to restore democracy in the Latin American nation.

“We are very hopeful we can be a force for good to allow the region to come together to deliver that.”

In a statement earlier on Saturday, the US State Department also said it stood behind the head of Venezuela’s opposition-run congress, Juan Guaido, a day after he said he was prepared to step into the presidency temporarily to replace Maduro.

The two statements were only the latest in a series of Trump administration’s attacks on Maduro, whose inauguration to a disputed second term as president took place on Thursday.

“The people of Venezuela deserve to live in freedom in a democratic society governed by the rule of law,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said.

“It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government. We support the National Assembly’s call for all Venezuelans to work together, peacefully, to restore constitutional government and build a better future,” he said in the statement also released from Abu Dhabi during Pompeo’s trip.

“The United States government will continue to use the full weight of US economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.”





The head of Venezuela’s opposition-run congress, Juan Guaido, said he is prepared to step into the presidency temporarily to replace Maduro [Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

Earlier this week, Pompeo spoke to opposition leader Guaido shortly after the 35-year-old was elected to lead the National Assembly.

Pompeo told reporters travelling with him that the events taking place in Venezuela were “incredibly important”.

Mass protest planned

Guaido, speaking to a crowd blocking a Caracas street a day after Maduro’s inauguration, said he was willing to become interim leader.

But he said he would need support from the public, the armed forces and other countries and international groups, before trying to form a transitional government to hold new elections to replace Maduro.

The head of the Organization of American States, Secretary-General Luis Almagro, responded quickly, sending out a tweet recognising Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.

Seventeen Latin American countries, the US and Canada denounced Maduro’s government as illegitimate in a measure adopted on Thursday at the OAS in Washington.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton praised Guaido, although Bolton did not echo Almagro’s step of calling him the interim president.

Bolton reaffirmed the US position that the May election that gave Maduro a second term was “not free, fair or credible”.

Bolton said “we support the courageous decision” of Guaido’s declaration “that Maduro does not legitimately hold the country’s presidency”.

Guaido asked Venezuelans to mass in a nationwide demonstration on January 23, a historically important date for Venezuelans – the day when a mass uprising overthrew dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1958.

The country’s constitution assigns the presidency to the head of the National Assembly if Maduro’s rule is declared illegitimate.

Venezuela’s military, so far, has remained firmly behind Maduro, despite reports of small-scale attempts at a revolt.

A once-wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is gripped by a growing crisis of relentless inflation, food shortages and mass migration.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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