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Vox Sentences: State of Disunion

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Contesting the State of the Union address; a president is challenged in Venezuela.

Democracy over dictatorship in Venezuela

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
  • President Trump recognized Juan Guaidó, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the country’s interim president today after the 35-year-old announced he was the country’s legitimate leader, challenging President Nicolás Maduro. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Meanwhile, thousands of Venezuelans risked their lives to demonstrate in support of removing Maduro, a dictator known to imprison, torture, and kill his political opposition in the impoverished nation. “People die in Venezuela every day,” one protester said. “It might as well be for freedom.” [NYT / Ana Vanessa Herrero]
  • Maduro said he is breaking diplomatic ties with the US and gave American diplomats 72 hours to leave Venezuela. American military intervention is unlikely, but the US could place sanctions on the oil-rich nation if Maduro doesn’t back down. [CNBC / Reuters]
  • Since 2013, Maduro has given the military control of the country’s food and oil resources, devastating Venezuela’s once-prosperous economy. [NYT / Ana Vanessa Herrero and Megan Specia]
  • Rising inflation, scant medical resources, and rampant crime in the country have hastened the call for new leadership. [NYT / Ana Vanessa Herrero]
  • The anti-Maduro movement claims the elections last spring were never legitimate and has given people new hope, promising to spearhead democratic elections. [NPR / John Otis]

The state of the State of the Union

  • Whether the traditional State of the Union will happen this year — and where — is in doubt, as the president’s speech has become a pawn in the ongoing shutdown. [NYT / Maggie Haberman, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis]
  • Trump sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter this morning insisting he deliver the address in the House on January 29. Pelosi is insisting that the House would not consider a concurrent resolution to allow the president to give the State of the Union address until the government shutdown ends. [Washington Post / Felicia Sonmez and Seung Min Kim]
  • Trump responded by saying he would announce an “alternative event” and called the cancellation a “disgrace.” [AP]
  • Pelosi rescinded her initial invitation to Trump earlier this month. She cited security concerns and encouraged Trump to deliver the speech in writing because the address is historically not given during a shutdown. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • Trump is reportedly preparing two speeches: one to give in the House and one for an unknown location. This completely reverses presidential precedent and could cause doubts regarding transparency in the minds of Congress members. [ABC News / Katherine Faulders, Jonathan Karl, and John Santucci]


  • The LA teachers strike has come to an end after district officials and state legislators struck a deal. In the new contract: full-time nurses, capped class sizes, and raises for teachers. [LA Times / Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli]
  • Presidents and princes are gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual World Economic Forum. Globalization is the key issue and corporations rule the conversation. [Foreign Policy / Michael Hirsch]
  • The Supreme Court addressed gun rights for the first time in more than a decade yesterday. The ruling gave the majority-conservative Court the chance to support the Second Amendment. [WSJ / Jess Bravin]
  • “I’m so afraid.” This was the message sent by Argentinian soccer player Emiliano Sala from a plane that disappeared over the English Channel. British and French officials are still searching for signs of the missing flight. [NYT / Richard Pérez-Piña]
  • No baby North Atlantic right whales had been spotted for more than a year — until last week, when a third calf of the endangered species was seen. [NYT / Karen Weintraub]


“What will America look like in 2054, when I reach the age of the current president? How will we look back on 2020?” [37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who announced a presidential exploratory committee]

Watch this: The collapse of Venezuela, explained

The country is in chaos, but its leaders aren’t going anywhere. [YouTube / Sam Ellis, Christina Thornell, and Edwin Corona]

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