Pompeo Says U.S. Prepared To Offer Guaidó ‘Full Range Of Options’ To Oust Maduro

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, pictured in March, said he plans to tell his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, that Moscow must stop meddling in the Venezuelan crisis.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the Trump administration is preparing to pull the trigger on a broad range of options to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and demanded that interfering countries end their involvement in the beleaguered nation’s affairs.

In a string of television appearances, Pompeo suggested the fall of Maduro’s government is imminent and that the support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó remains strong despite his failed attempt last week to lead a large-scale defection against the socialist leader.

“We have a full range of options that we’re preparing for,” Pompeo said on ABC’s This Week, adding that potential paths forward include “diplomatic options, political options, options with our allies and then ultimately a set of options that would involve use of U.S. military.”

“We’re preparing those for [Guaidó] so that when the situation arises, we’re not flatfooted,” Pompeo said.

When asked if President Trump believes he can intervene without congressional authorization, Pompeo responded by saying he was “very confident any action we took in Venezuela would be lawful.”

The Secretary of State denied suggestions that the president is out of step with his own advisers on the role Russia is playing in the crisis.

After a Friday phone call with Vladimir Putin, Trump said the Russian president “is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive for Venezuela.”

Trump’s remarks contradicted previous statements by Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who on Twitter an hour earlier had accused Russia and Cuba of maneuvering to keep Maduro “clinging to power” by providing the regime with supplemental foreign military forces.

But on Fox News Sunday, Pompeo said Trump has been “very clear” about wanting the Russians to stop meddling in Venezuela. He referenced a tweet from several weeks back in which Trump said the Russians have to get out. “That remains our view,” he said. “We want the Venezuelan people not to have interference from any country, whether it’s China or Russia.”

The U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognize Guaidó as the legitimate interim leader. Earlier this week, Guaidó unsuccessfully called on the country’s military to revolt against Maduro, however, anti-Maduro protests have continued.

Pompeo comments come as he gears up for a face-to-face meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday as part of a multi-day trip to Europe.

After a meeting Sunday with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in Moscow, Lavrov condemned the U.S. for allegedly violating international law in what he said was a campaign to to overthrow Maduro, Reuters reported.

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President Trump Names Mark Morgan, Former Border Patrol Chief, To Lead ICE

President Trump has selected a former FBI agent and veteran of the Obama administration to lead ICE.

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Cliff Owen/AP

President Trump has named Mark Morgan, a former FBI agent and veteran of the Obama administration, as the new head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The president announced Morgan’s selection in a tweet on Sunday, writing, “I am pleased to inform all of those that believe in a strong, fair and sound Immigration Policy that Mark Morgan will be joining the Trump administration as the head of our hard working men and women of ICE. Mark is a true believer and American Patriot.”

Morgan served as chief of Border Patrol during the final months of the Obama administration, but he has emerged as a vocal supporter of the president’s immigration policies. Morgan has publicly backed President Trump’s calls for a border wall, as well as his decision to declare a national emergency in order to fund its construction.

Morgan has also voiced support for sending migrants caught crossing the border to so-called sanctuary cities.

“I’ve been there,” Morgan said last month in an interview with Fox News. “The Border Patrol, ICE, their facilities are overwhelmed, the faith-based organizations and other nongovernmental organizations are overwhelmed. They have no choice. They’re going to have to start pushing these individuals out. Shouldn’t we kind of share the burden throughout the country?”

Morgan’s selection, which would require Senate confirmation, comes amid a broader shakeup within the administration as the president seeks to implement stronger policies along the border. In recent weeks, several top immigration officials have left the administration, including the former Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen. In April, the president also withdrew his previous nominee for ICE, Ronald Vitiello, saying he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher” direction.

Days after withdrawing Vitiello’s nomination, Trump tweeted that Morgan had sent him a message of support. The president wrote that Morgan told him to “Stay the course.”

Mark Morgan, President Obama’s Border Patrol Chief, gave the following message to me: “President Trump, stay the course.” I agree, and believe it or not, we are making great progress with a system that has been broken for many years!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019

In a statement a to NPR, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, praised Morgan’s selection.

“Mark Morgan is a career civil servant that has served his country for decades in the United States Marine Corps, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Border Patrol,” said McAleenan. “His record of service is needed to address the crisis at the border and support the men and women of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The depth of his experience will be an asset to the Department and I look forward to working with him.”

If confirmed, Morgan would be tasked with leading an agency under increasing strain. In March, the number of migrants apprehended at the border jumped to roughly 100,000, the biggest monthly total in more than a decade.

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Netanyahu Orders Continued Pounding In Gaza As 600 Rockets Fired Into Israel

Black smoke caused by an Israeli airstrike billows over Gaza City, Sunday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military to continue pounding the coastal city. Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip also intensified a wave of rocket fire into southern Israel.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered “massive strikes” against militant groups in Gaza on Sunday in response to a barrage of rocket fire, stretching hostilities into a third day and leading to mounting casualties on both sides.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday Netanyahu said he also instructed military leaders to boost tank artillery and infantry forces around the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas bears responsibility not only for its own attacks and actions but also those by Islamic Jihad, for which it pays a very high price,” he said.

Gaza militant groups have launched at least 600 rockets and mortars at Israel since the latest conflict began, while the military has struck what it says are hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the coastal enclave, Israel Defense Forces said on Twitter.

At least three Israeli men and nine Palestinians have been killed since the violence erupted, and more than 100 people have been wounded on each side of the Israel-Gaza border since tensions flared. Among them, a pregnant Palestinian woman and a 14-month-old infant. Gazan health officials blamed Israeli strikes for their deaths, but the IDF disputes that, claiming it was a rocket shot from inside Gaza killed them.

A Palestinian man checks the damage of a multi-story building following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Sunday. Palestinian militants have fired more than 600 rockets and mortars into Israel, drawing dozens of retaliatory airstrikes on targets across the Gaza Strip in a round of intense fighting that broke a month-long lull between the bitter enemies.

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Khalil Hamra/AP

A 58-year-old man killed by a rocket that hit his home was the first Israeli fatality in the weekend skirmish. The Barzilai University Medical Center in Ashkelon confirmed two Israeli civilians died from rocket fire from Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced that two of its members had been killed in East Gaza City in Israeli airstrikes. And at least four gunman were killed in separate strikes, Reuters reported.

The IDF said it targeted and killed Hamid Ahmed Abdul Khudri, whom it accused of helping fund the rocket fire attacks by transferring money from Iran to militant groups inside of Gaza.

“Transferring Iranian money to Hamas & the [Palestinian Islamic Jihad doesn’t make you a businessman. It makes you a terrorist,” IDF wrote in a tweet that included a photo of a charred Toyota engulfed in flames.

We just targeted Hamed Ahmed Khudari, a Gazan terrorist responsible for transferring Iranian funds to Hamas & PIJ in Gaza, helping fund their rocket fire at Israelis.

Transferring Iranian money to Hamas & the PIJ doesn’t make you a businessman. It makes you a terrorist. pic.twitter.com/WvGEB16r4h

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 5, 2019

Other Israeli targets include a tunnel, rocket launcher sites, mosques and other military compounds it alleges are used by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

An Army spokesman told NPR’s Naomi Zeveloff that at least 150 of the Palestinian-launched projectiles were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. He added that the Army is preparing to deploy an armored brigade for an offensive mission if needed.

The latest conflict was sparked on Friday after militants shot and injured two Israeli soldiers. The attack prompted swift military retaliation, which resulted in the deaths of two militants. That, in turn, led to an onslaught of mortar and rocket fire from within Gaza, unraveling the tenuous calm

Israeli soldier walks past a car hit by a missile fired from Gaza near the Gaza and Israel border on Sunday.

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Ariel Schalit/AP

It is one of the most serious conflicts in the region since the 2014 war, which lasted seven weeks and killed dozens of Israeli soldiers and several civilians and on the Palestinian side, left more than 2,000 people dead, including hundreds of civilians and militants.

The fighting broke out as Egyptian mediators had been trying to negotiate a long term cease fire, in exchange for Israel loosening restrictions on Gaza.

I condemn the continuing launching of rockets from #Gaza. Enough #Palestinian and #Israeli lives have been lost, people injured, houses damaged and destroyed! It is time to de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months before it is too late. #UN

— Nickolay E. MLADENOV (@nmladenov) May 5, 2019

U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov decried the violence from within Gaza. “I condemn the continuing launching of rockets from Gaza. Enough Palestinian and Israeli lives have been lost, people injured, houses damaged and destroyed!” he said in a tweet, urging both sides to “return to the understandings of the past few months before it is too late.”

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Watch Shawn Mendes Perform on ‘SNL’

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Slotted between beloved K-pop idols BTS and the newly-reunited, all-grown-up Jonas Brothers on the final three episodes of this Saturday Night Live season, Shawn Mendes is like the Justin Timberlake of Generation Z. He’s a pop star who launched his career on the now-defunct video app Vine and slowly transformed into tasteful, largely PG-13-rated maturity without the growing pains that so often dictate boy-band pivots into adult heartthrob-dom.

Now, at just 20-years old, Mendes perfectly plays the role of pop’s teenage heartthrob, singing innocuous sweet nothings in a Timberlakian falsetto with his ruffled hair forever slicked back.

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“If I Can’t Have You,” the first of two songs he performed on SNL (and a new single that debuted this past week), is more in line with the driving, guitar-heavy romantics that Mendes traffics in and got a fairly standard performance. But “In My Blood,” a wise-beyond-his-years anthem for anxiety and the definitive hit from his 2018 self-titled album, was given the grand treatment — cellos, a single spotlight on Mendes and a decidedly Springsteenian look, sleeveless shirt and all.

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Sunday Puzzle: Familiar 2 Words

Sunday Puzzle

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NPR

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials S-F.

Example. Eating utensil to the left of the dinner plate –> SALAD FORK

1. Genre for H.G. Wells or Ray Bradbury

2. Place to order a milkshake

3. Up till now

4. Green Berets, for example

5. Largest city in South Dakota

6. 12″ x 12″

7. Light precipitation in the winter

8. French expression for the ability to act appropriately in social situations

9. Method of people walking one after another

10. Founder of psychoanalysis

11. Traditional southern African-American cuisine

12. Deep hit in baseball that’s caught but that allows a base runner to tag up and score

13. Disparaging term for the U.S. purchase of Alaska

14. Emoji that expresses happiness

15. Feeling around this time of year of restlessness and excitement

Last week’s challenge:

Challenge: Think of a three-word phrase with an “and” in the middle For example: ___ and ___ . Move the first letter of the third word to the start of the first word and you’ll form two means of transportation. What are they?

Challenge answer: Arts and Crafts

Winner: Philip Rosen of El Paso, Texas.

This week’s challenge: This week’s challenge comes from listener Erik Burg of San Francisco. Name a popular movie of 2018. Add an R. You can rearrange the result to get three different titles for people. What are they?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week’s challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you by Thursday, May 9 at 3 p.m. ET.

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From Gloom To Gratitude: 8 Skills To Cultivate Joy

Stressed-out family caregivers who were taught how to reframe negative thoughts and focus on positive experiences actually reduced their anxiety and depression, a study found.

Cornelia Li for NPR

Feel like you’re living under a rain cloud? Life not going your way? Lots of us have a bit of Eeyore’s angst and gloom.

But here’s the good news (sorry to be so cheery): You can be taught to have a more positive attitude. And — if you work at it — a positive outlook can lead to less anxiety and depression.

The latest evidence comes from a new study of caregivers — all of whom had the stressful job of taking care of a loved one with dementia. The study found, that following a 5-week course, participants’ depression scores decreased by 16 percent, and anxiety scores decreased by 14 percent. The findings are published in the current issue of Health Psychology.

The course teaches eight skills to help people cope with stress. Techniques include mindfulness and deep-breathing, setting an attainable daily goal, keeping a gratitude journal, and — yes, it works — performing small acts of kindness.

Skeptical? Melissa Meltzer Warehall was, too. She’s caring for her husband Paul, who is 64 and was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in his 50’s.

“It’s very, very frustrating,” Warehall says. “To know the man he used to be and the shell of the person he is now.”

When she agreed to be a participant in the study, it was a way to reach out for help. She knew she couldn’t change her circumstances, but she wanted to learn to cope better.

“When you’re experiencing a lot of stress, it’s easy to head into a downward spiral,” says Judith Moskowitz of Northwestern University. She’s trained as a psychologist and studies the ways positive emotion can influence people’s health and stress. She developed the program taught to the caregivers.

As part of her research, hundreds of stressed-out people have taken the five-week skills class, including women with breast cancer, people newly diagnosed with HIV, people managing Type-2 diabetes, and people with depression. She has documented benefits in each of those studies.

“These skills can definitely help people, no matter what type of stress they are experiencing, even if it is ‘minor’ everyday stress,” Moskowitz says.

Warehall says she began to feel a shift to a sunnier outlook just a few weeks into the program. One skill she learned: How to reframe the daily hassles of life into something positive.

For instance, she says it can be challenging to take her husband on outings; she has to to be on guard against him wandering off. Also, he’s begun to have trouble navigating in and out of the car, and that can be frustrating for them both. But, instead of focusing on the downside, she’s taught herself to spend those long moments being consciously grateful for what they’re still able to do together.

Though her husband can’t work or take trips anymore, she’s helped him rediscover music. “I signed him up for harmonica lessons every Saturday,” she says. And that’s great for both of them. “Just being with him when he makes music — he plays a mean blues harmonica — it’s wonderful for me, too.”

She’s learning to cling to the positive moments that come alongside the stress. And this makes it easier. “Everything that we do that’s challenging, I look for that silver lining,” Warehall says.

But this doesn’t come naturally, she says; she’s tried to build a habit of gratitude. Writing down one thing each day is a good reminder that there are still lots of joyful moments — despite their stressful situation.

“[Paul] picks up on my energy, and if my energy is positive it’s easier to care for him,” his wife says.

She’s learned to focus on what is, instead of what’s lost. “I remind myself I still have him. I can still hug him and hold him and tell him I love him.”

“In the context of stress, it can be hard to see the positive things,” says Moskowitz. “So, taking a moment to notice things you’re grateful for is really beneficial.”

Moskowitz says she knows the hesitation or resentment people sometimes feel when they’re told, ” ‘Chin up! It’ll all be OK.’ ” That’s a hard message to handle if you’re reeling from the news of serious diagnosis or other traumatic experience.

“We’re not saying don’t be sad or upset about what’s going on,” Moskowitz emphasizes. “But we know people can experience positive emotion alongside that negative emotion, and that positive emotion can help them cope better.”

She says these strategies and skills are widely applicable. “Anyone can be taught to be a little more positive.”

Moskowitz and her colleagues are about to launch another study of dementia caregivers (anyone interested in participating can contact her lab, she says). And though that particular program is not available to the general public outside the research project, Moskowitz points to an online program, called “It’s All Good Here” that teaches similar skills. (Moskowitz has consulted with the creator of the program to share some content, but she has no financial ties to the company.)

She says the strength of the eight-technique approach is that there’s no single skill that helps everyone. “It’s a buffet of skills,” Moskowitz says, so it gives people lots of options.

Here’s a quick summary of the eight techniques used in Moskowitz’ study:

  1. Take a moment to identify one positive event each day.
  2. Tell someone about the positive event or share it on social media. This can help you savor the moment a little longer.
  3. Start a daily gratitude journal. Aim to find little things you’re grateful for such as a good cup of coffee, a pretty sunrise or nice weather.
  4. Identify a personal strength and reflect on how you’ve used this strength today or in recent weeks.
  5. Set a daily goal and track your progress. “This is based on research that shows when we feel progress towards a goal we have more positive emotions,” Moskowitz says. The goal should not be too lofty. You want to be able to perceive progress.
  6. Try to practice ‘positive reappraisal’: Identify an event or daily activity that is a hassle. Then, try to reframe the event in a more positive light. Example: If you’re stuck in traffic, try to savor the quiet time. If you practice this enough, it can start to become a habit.
  7. Do something nice for someone else each day. These daily acts of kindness can be as simple as giving someone a smile, or giving up your seat on a crowded train. Research shows we feel better when we’re kind to others.
  8. Practice mindfulness, by paying attention to the present moment. You can also try a 10-minute breathing exercise that uses a focus on breathing to help calm the mind.

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of The Ohio State University was not involved in this study, but has researched the effects of caregiving on the aging process, and says Moskowitz’s work dovetails with many of her own findings.

“There’s certainly ample evidence from our research and others that the stresses of dementia family caregiving can take a toll on mental and physical health,” Kiecolt-Glaser says.

“This study used a simple intervention that had measurable positive benefits. It’s a lovely contribution to the literature, and I would hope to see wider implementation of this and similar approaches,” she says.

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