ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
56°
Partly Cloudy
H 81° L 61°
  • cloudy-day
    56°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 81° L 61°
  • cloudy-day
    76°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 81° L 61°
  • clear-day
    78°
    Evening
    Sunny. H 81° L 61°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
US sends mixed messages on potential for force in Venezuela
Close

US sends mixed messages on potential for force in Venezuela

US sends mixed messages on potential for force in Venezuela
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File
FILE - In this March 1, 2019, file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference in Manila, Philippines. A seemingly belligerent tweet by Pompeo about pulling American diplomats out of Venezuela is the latest example of the Trump administration’s conflicting messages about its intentions, hinting at military involvement to some audiences while insisting that it has no intention of using force. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File)

US sends mixed messages on potential for force in Venezuela

A seemingly belligerent tweet by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about pulling American diplomats out of Venezuela prompted further criticism on Tuesday of an administration that has sent mixed messages about what it might do as it seeks the ouster of the South American nation's leader.

Pompeo said in a late night message that the presence of American diplomats had become a "constraint" on U.S. policy in Venezuela. It was widely interpreted as suggesting the administration might use military force to oust President Nicolas Maduro, though a senior administration official said later it likely had a more benign message.

It was the latest example of the conflicting messages from the administration as it seeks to convince Maduro to hand over power to Juan Guaido, the opposition leader of the National Assembly. Officials have repeatedly said "all options are on the table" while insisting that the U.S. is relying on diplomatic and economic measures to achieve its goal.

The disconnect is seen by some as helping Maduro, who uses the potential for U.S. military intervention to cast himself as as an underdog facing up to an imperialistic America — a potent message in Latin America.

"Over the last month, the tone has gotten much more intense and out ahead of what's actually happening on the ground and out ahead of what they say they are willing to do," Ted Piccone, a Latin America expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said of the Trump administration. "It creates an environment in which Maduro and his allies can solidify their support."

Pompeo tweeted late Monday that the U.S., which recognizes Guaido as Venezuela's interim president, was withdrawing its remaining diplomats because their continued presence "has become a constraint on U.S. policy." Asked about it later, the secretary said the embassy was being closed because of deteriorating conditions in a country that has been hit with nationwide power outages for nearly a week.

"The Maduro regime's horrific leadership over the last years has just made life there so difficult, it began to make it more difficult for the United States to take the actions that it needed to do to support the Venezuelan people," Pompeo said in an interview with KTRH, a Houston radio station. "So we concluded this was simply the right step to take and this was the right time to take it."

Elliott Abrams, the special U.S. envoy for Venezuela, told reporters that he didn't want to "parse the secretary's words" but believes that Pompeo was concerned about the safety of the diplomatic staff if conditions worsen.

Asked if the U.S. would consider military action, Abrams repeated a now familiar refrain: "I can only repeat what the president said: All options are always on the table."

Yet Trump, Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and Abrams have all said they are not pursuing military options.

"That is not the path we are choosing to follow," Abrams said just last week. "The path we're choosing to follow now is the one that has been often described, which is diplomatic, economic and financial pressure in an effort to support the people of Venezuela."

And Pompeo's late Monday tweet followed a lengthy and caustic statement read to reporters in the State Department briefing room in which Pompeo slammed Maduro for promising a "socialist paradise" but producing a "hell" with the backing of Cuba and Russia. "He delivered on the socialism part, which has proved time and time again is a recipe for economic ruin," Pompeo said. "The paradise part, not so much."

Regional experts and critics on Capitol Hill say the administration's mixed signals have muddled the diplomacy.

"They need to sit back and let the Venezuelans handle this without the rhetoric," Piccone said. "Otherwise you give Maduro more oxygen to rally his base both within Venezuela and outside. It gives Maduro more oxygen to rally his base so that it becomes less about his failings than stopping the Yankee imperialists from taking our oil."

Some lawmakers agree.

"Loose talk about military action actually cements and emboldens dictators," Sen. Tim Kaine, D- Va., said. "It gives Maduro the ability to claim that the U.S. is interested in petroleum or whatever else. I think it's really important that we stress what our interest is.

In the House, 16 Democrats have taken the administration to task not only for suggestions of force but also for increasingly biting sanctions that have been imposed.

"Threats and involvement in Venezuela's domestic affairs by the U.S. are counterproductive, as they play into the Venezuelan government's narrative that the opposition is a proxy for the U.S.," they wrote. "These actions help shore up Maduro's support base and take attention away from urgent domestic issues."

___

Associated Press writer Luis Alonso Lugo contributed to this report.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Jacksonville Fire and Rescue said multiple people were injured in a morning crash involving a semi truck and a van on I-295 southbound near Roosevelt.  According to JFRD, none of the injuries appeared to be serious. Traffic is at a standstill leaving Orange Park, and traffic across the Buckman Bridge northbound is delayed.  Listen to First Alert Traffic updates every 6 minutes during Jacksonville’s Morning News 104.5 FM. 
  • Northeast Florida Representatives are reacting to the Special Counsel findings of no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’.  Republican John Rutherford said it is shameful that the Special Counsel was unwilling to clearly state that the president did not obstruct justice despite finding no evidence whatsoever that the president acted with ‘corrupt intent’.   Senator Marco Rubio indicated he’s glad that the concluded there was no collusion, and jabbed Democrats for their reaction. 
  • Here is the letter Barr sent to leaders in Congress after he received the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian Collusion during the 2016 presidential election. Dear Chairman Graham, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Ranking Member Collins: I write to notify you pursuant to 28 C.F.R. 600.9(a)(3) that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters. In addition to this notification, the Special Counsel regulations require that I provide you with “a description and explanation of instances (if any) in which the Attorney General” or acting Attorney General “concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.” 28 C.F.R. 600.9(a)(3). There were no such instances during the Special Counsel’s investigation. The Special Counsel has submitted to me today a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. 600.8(c). I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend. Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies. I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review. Finally, the Special Counsel regulations provide that “the Attorney General may determine that public release of” this notification “would be in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R. 600.9(c) I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you. Sincerely, William P. Barr Attorney General
  • A New Jersey man accused of killing his wife, throwing her body in their pool and then driving to Applebee’s for food to set up his alibi has taken a plea deal in the case, prosecutors said.  Norman F. Long, 53, of Woolwich Township, pleaded guilty earlier this month to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, according to NJ.com. The plea deal struck with Gloucester County prosecutors requires Long to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. Prosecutors are recommending a 15-year sentence, NJ.com reported. As part of the agreement, charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice have been dropped.  Long is scheduled for sentencing May 3.  >> Read more trending news Gloucester County prosecutors said at the time of Long’s arrest that the body of his wife, Michelle Long, 47, was pulled from the swimming pool at their home on June 17, 2017. Norman Long claimed that he had gone to pick up dinner and came home to find that his wife had apparently drowned in the pool. “According to an investigator’s affidavit of probable cause, Norman Long and neighbors were at poolside when the investigator arrived at 8:35 p.m. (that night), performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Michelle Long,” a 2017 news release from prosecutors said. “Norman Long ‘became combative’ while CPR was being administered and had to be restrained, the neighbors said.” A small dog was also found dead in the water.  Michelle Long’s autopsy showed that she had not drowned but instead died of blunt force trauma. Her death was ruled a homicide, prosecutors said.  Investigators spent just over six weeks investigating Michelle Long’s killing before arresting Norman Long on Aug. 1, 2017. He was charged with first-degree murder for “using physical force to cause blunt head and neck trauma” to his wife, the news release said. “It was a violent attack by him,” Gloucester County prosecutor Sean Dalton said during Norman Long’s first court appearance in August, NBC10 in Philadelphia reported. “The medical examiner found that there was bruising on her hands, consistent with defensive wounds. There was a struggle.” He was also charged with concealing evidence by “disposing (of) paper towels containing the blood of Michelle Long in the kitchen trashcan” and obstructing justice by throwing the blood-stained towels away and putting his wife’s body in the swimming pool, prosecutors said.  According to NJ.com, investigators believe Michelle Long may have been planning to leave her husband of 15 years. The last search she did on her computer, just minutes before her death, was a search for houses.  “This is what happened as a result of him finding out about that,” Dalton said during Long’s August appearance, NBC10 reported.  A timeline of the crime given in court last August alleged that Norman Long said his wife was on the computer when he left between 6:30 and 7 p.m. to pick up dinner at Applebee’s, NJ.com reported then. Prosecutors argued, however, that the timeline did not correspond with evidence. Michelle Long’s search for homes ended at 6:11 p.m., prosecutors said.  Surveillance footage from a nearby business’s security camera showed Norman Long driving by a carwash and then heading back home before going to Applebee’s, where the restaurant’s own footage shows him inside from 7:15 to 7:37 p.m., NJ.com reported. He against drove by the carwash headed for home at 7:47 p.m. The 911 call reporting Michelle Long’s death was received at 8:02 p.m. Norman Long was taken to a state psychiatric hospital for evaluation following his Aug. 1 arrest because he was expressing suicidal thoughts, prosecutors said.  NBC10 reported last year that the defendant’s first court appearance was delayed because he had an emotional breakdown in the jail. Sources told the news station Long physically fought being removed from his cell and had to be forcibly taken to his hearing. He was quiet once he was in the courtroom, the news station reported.  Michelle Long’s daughter, Brittany Maguire, said at the time of her stepfather’s arrest that her family was torn apart. “She was definitely the best mom, and she did not deserve this at all,” Maguire said during a news conference attended by NJ.com reporters. “We are all broken without her.” Since Michelle Long’s death, her mother and her daughters have partnered with a company called ROAR for Good, which makes a wearable personal safety device that, if activated by the touch of a button, shares the user’s location via text to a previously chosen list of contacts. It is designed to let people know if a loved one is in danger.  It can also emit a high-frequency alarm to scare away assailants, NJ.com reported. The family sells the devices, inscribed with Long’s nickname, “Chel,” on a website they created called guardianangelchel.com.  “We wanted to direct our energy into something positive, meaningful, and honor my daughter's life and leave a lasting legacy for her,' her mother, Susan Direso, told NJ.com last year. 'Chel was my joy, my little girl, and to lose her in such a brutal way broke my heart forever. This mission to help at-risk victims gives us a purpose to turn our tragedy into a meaningful project.”
  • As JEA considers several different designs and locations for a new Downtown headquarters, WOKV has learned they’re trying to build the facility without changing your rates. To do that, they may take on some big real estate sales. JEA has put together a “Real Estate Optimization Initiative”, where they have identified parcels for which they have no current or anticipated future use. According to documents from a planned presentation to the Board of Directors, four properties have already been identified and are either being appraised or have an appraisal planned. The list includes sites on Atlantic, Normandy, Talleyrand, and the existing HQ.  Those initial four are valued around $32.5 million, but JEA projects they could sell for as much as $65 million. Several other sites could follow, with a value of more than $100 million. Senior leadership envisions using that revenue to offset the cost of a new Downtown headquarters, and the documents project that would mean not having to look at customer rates to fund the facility. Off Southside and Atlantic sits the former Coggin Automotive dealership site. JEA acquired that property in 2011 to aid construction under the Total Water Management Plan, which involved a water transmission pipeline. Because that project has now been completed, JEA says they have no use for the roughly five acre property, although they would retain an easement for the underground utilities that were installed. A second site is 250 acres in the Cecil Commerce Center off Normandy Boulevard. JEA’s overall claim right now is 305 acres, but that involves an electric substation, water treatment plant, and other improvements and restrictions. JEA’s analysis has determined they can reduce their acreage, and would then be in a good position to sell a “prime commercial/industrial parcel”, according to the Board packet. In the Talleyrand area is the third property, of which JEA is considering selling 30-36 of its 48 acres. This faces up to the St. Johns River, and could therefore be attractive for industrial maritime development, according to JEA. They would retain the land that has improvements on the site- including two combustion turbine generators- and sell the rest, under the initiative. Finally, JEA has identified their current Downtown headquarters as a property to potentially sell. The Board documents note that JEA could sell and then lease the property back, until they’re prepared to move in to the new HQ. It’s expected to take more than two years to get the new building up and JEA moved in. This campus is actually three separate lots, which includes parking. The current HQ needs substantial repair, and is too large for JEA’s current needs. A September 2016 assessment- which WOKV was told is the most recent comprehensive assessment of the Tower- showed renovating the structure as it stands was at that time expected to cost between $65.3 million and $78.2 million. Problems identified with the Tower include everything from efficiencies, like the poor floor plan, to systems problems, like plumbing, electrical, and security. Just last month, parts of nine floors in the 19-story Tower experienced flooding because of several different building issues. The cost of the repairs and cleanup in that case was around $60,000. JEA’s Board of Directors has been weighing three proposals for a new Downtown HQ, and they’re expected to vote next month on which plan to move forward with. The cost of each of the proposals has not been made public, nor is it clear at this time how much of that bill the real estate sales could cover. GALLERY: JEA HQ proposal at Lot J by TIAA Bank Field GALLERY: JEA HQ proposal at Kings Avenue Station on the Southbank GALLERY: JEA HQ proposal on West Adams Street by the County Courthouse JEA says an appraisal is underway at the Atlantic site, and the other three properties have appraisals pending. While these four properties have been identified at this point, JEA says they could pursue others, including two thousand acres at the former St. Johns River Power Park, around two dozen small surplus properties, and surplus areas on existing tracts. JEA further projects they would incur operations and maintenance savings by not having to do landscaping, security, and related areas at the properties they sell. For just the four parcels identified so far, that savings is estimated around $1 million annually. The process involves first appraising the properties, and then offering them to other government agencies at appraised value, according to JEA. If there is interest, that’s where the sale would be, but if not, there would be a public bid process and formal award. There is no timeline for how long that process could take, but the Board would have to approve any sale over $500,000, and the Board and City Council would have to approve any sale under assessed value. The Board will be presented this initiative for discussion Tuesday, although they will not have to take any action at this point. Leasing or partnering in development on properties could also be considered, although the Board packet shows JEA’s leadership studied that and determined selling the sites would be the best move economically.

The Latest News Videos