EU poised to 'legitimise despotic regime in dreadful error of judgement'

Venezuela is a country in crisis as its president, Nicolas Maduro, remains in power five years after a surprising election in which the opposition in Caracas secured a majority in the country’s legislature. However, Mr Maduro’s rule has been characterised by human rights transgressions, quashing of dissent and anti-democratic practices. After the vote, Mr Maduro attempted to form a new legislature composed of political allies – rewriting the country’s constitution and sparking international outrage. This came amid Venezuela’s worsening economic crisis as US sanctions failed to oust Mr Maduro from the presidency.

The row has raged on for years, but could come to a controversial end if a deal is agreed with the help of the EU.

The bloc has been involved in negotiations between the Venezuelan regime and opposition figures.

Earlier this month, reports suggested that the EU helped broker an agreement between Mr Maduro and opposition figures.

It could involve the release of 100 political prisoners as a gesture of “goodwill” in the lead-up to December’s vote, but Ryan Berg of the American Enterprise Institute argues that this could be a mistake by Brussels.

He said in his CapX column: “The most bizarre plot twist, though, is that the European Union may be about to offer its blessing to this sham of an election.

“It barely needs saying that this would be a dreadful error of judgment from Brussels, one that risks legitimising Maduro’s despotic rule while also undermining the opposition the EU ostensibly wants to support.”

Josep Borrell, the EU’s new Foreign Policy spokesman, has called for the next Venezuelan election in December to be “transparent, inclusive, free and fair”, but Mr Berg said the Brussels figure failed to make concrete demands.

READ MORE: Venezuela on collision course with US as Maduro to buy Iran missiles


He added that Mr Borrell should demand concessions from the Venezuelan government, and also deny Mr Maduro any international recognition and side with the opposition boycott of the vote.

The EU has been mostly critical of the Venezuelan regime during Mr Maduro’s rule.

More than half of its member states, including the UK (before it left in January 2020), France, Germany, and Spain, offered support for the opposition in Caracas.

In February, 19 EU member states made a joint declaration supporting and recognising Juan Guaidó as acting president of Venezuela, asking that he “summons free, just and democratic presidential elections”.

The EU condemned Mr Maduro’s attack on the legislature calling the action a “serious violation of the Venezuelan constitution, as well as of the rule of law and separation of power”.

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In June, Mr Maduro ordered the EU’s ambassador to leave the country within 72 hours.

Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa’s expulsion came hours after the EU placed sanctions on 11 Venezuelan officials.

Mr Maduro said: “If they can’t respect Venezuela, then they should leave it.

“A plane can be loaned for her to leave.”

Bye bye Barnier! Chief negotiator on way out says Brexiteer as he pinpoints huge EU error

Lee Rotherham, who was Director of Special Projects at Vote Leave, also believes the bloc made a huge mistake in appointing Mr Barnier in the first place – suggesting they should have gone with Dutch European Commissioner Frans Timmermans instead. Mr Rotherham told Mr Johnson’s Internal Market Bill was essentially a self-defence mechanism against Brussels overreach.

He said: “We cannot afford to take any chances with the EU. The EU has form.

“The EU is used to countries rolling over.”

Assessing the bloc’s next move, Mr Rotherham said: “My take is someone needs to step in and remove Barnier.

“The biggest mistake of the Commission was not appointing Frans Timmermans, the Dutch former vice-president of the Commission.

“He is actually very clued up. He is not a eurosceptic but he understands euroscepticism.

“The biggest error the EU made was putting Barnier in charge and not Timmermans.

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Referring to an incident not covered in the film, Mr Rotherham said: “Barnier says his ambition was throughout that the EU and the UK would have the most close customs and regulatory union as possible.

“And he was pushing that because he also thought it also was in the UK’s best interests.

“So that was his ambition from the start.

“So Barnier has painted not just himself, but everybody into a corner and at some point they will have to step in.”

Mr Rotherham believes it was entirely possible such an intervention would come in the form of bilateral negotiations, explaining: “There has already been talk of Merkel and Boris having a head-to-head.

“And it says everything about Barnier and nothing about Frost if that happens – although that’s speculation.

“But that’s how you do it – you fix the problem, and Barnier has always been the problem.”

Mr Rotherham said Brussels’ insistence on working out the terms of the withdrawal agreement first before moving on to discussions about the EU’s future trading relationship with the UK – known as the sequencing issue – had been critical – and was indicative of the “bad faith” with which the bloc had undertaken negotiations.

He added: “You had to based the backstop around the treaty – you couldn’t do it the other way round.

“So by jamming it in that way, we would end up with a complete knot, which is exactly where we are.

“It was an impossible conundrum – it was the original sin of the withdrawal agreement and it was down to Barnier, it was his fault.”

Queen heartbreak: Palace 'sorry' for coronavirus error affecting THOUSANDS of elderly fans

Those marking their 60th, 65th or 70th wedding anniversaries can request to have a note of congratulations from the monarch. However, many of these are expected to arrive late this year as the global pandemic hits the royal bureaucracy.

In a statement the Palace warned letters could be delayed by a “number of weeks” adding it is “sorry for the disappointment”.

It explained: “Please note that due to operating restrictions caused by COVID-19 measures, our capacity to deal with all message applications is currently reduced and our ability to send messages is limited.

“Wedding anniversary message applications are currently delayed by a number of weeks, applications submitted online and by post since April are being processed as quickly as possible but are severely delayed.”

Members of the public can still apply to have milestone wedding anniversaries marked by the Queen, but there is no guarantee her messages will arrive in time.

This will not impact those expecting letters from the monarch to mark their 100th birthday.

In 2019 the Queen send out more than 36,000 messages of congratulations for wedding anniversaries.

Three years previously she dispatched 29,339 notes for 60th anniversaries, 3,221 for 65th anniversaries and 1,407 for 70th anniversaries.

The Queen and Prince Philip, who wed in 1947, have been married for a total of 73 years.

READ MORE: Prince Charles faces difficult decision in future role as king

In April the Queen delivered a powerful address to the nation as the battle against COVID-19 was underway.

She said: “While we have faced challenges before, this one is different.

“This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal.

“We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.

“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

This comes after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were stepping down from royal duties back in January.

After a brief stay in Canada the couple moved to Los Angeles shortly before the coronavirus lockdown came into effect.

Meghan and Harry recently moved to a new home in a town to the north of LA.

During the lockdown both the Duke and Duchess were spotted delivering supplies to vulnerable residents in the city.

Last month ‘Finding Freedom’, a provocative book about their exit from royal duty by Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie, was published.

Did You Know? This Common Error Is Making Your Cooked Rice Mushy And Sticky!

Rice is traditionally prepared by boiling it in a pot or vessel containing water.


  • Rice is an Indian meal staple
  • Rice can be preparedin many ways
  • Rice can often get sticky or mushy while preparing

India is one of the largest producers and consumers of rice. We love rice to an extent that no quintessential Indian meal is deemed complete without a helping of rice. We all have our ways in which we like to indulge — some like to pair rice with a soothing curry, others like to have it dry, mixed up with spices or meat. Either ways, it is safe to say that we are obsessed with rice — and it breaks us completely when we have to have rice, which is not prepared according to our wish. If you are sick of having, mushy, sticky rice, despite of doing everything that it takes to make perfectly, flavourful rice — you may want to hear this out.

In most Indian households, rice is prepared by boiling it in a pot or vessel containing water. Sounds easy, right? Except, it is not. The most challenging task is to get a desired consistency, and many a times we do have to make do with mushy rice against our will.

Also Read: 13 Best Rice Recipes | 13 Top Rice Recipes | Easy Rice Recipes


Now, here’s what you may have been doing wrong. Not only do you have to be super careful of the measurements, but you also need to be very patient once you have put it on boil. Do not stir the rice in an expectation that it will make it cook quicker. Stirring rice tends to activate the starch which ends up making your rice slightly sticky. So prevent stirring, unless of course you are cooking risotto.  

If by any chance, you do see your rice sticking together despite of all cautions, you can try placing some bits of breads in the midst of cooked rice. Bread crumbs tend to suck up the excess moisture and give you nice, dry consistency you are yearning for.
So what’re you waiting for? Here’s a delicious recipe of Allahabadi Tehri. A famous rice dish from Lucknow. Make it at home and relish the amazing rice grains in all its glory!

(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)

About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

eBay down: Server status latest, DNS failure and service unavailable error hits

EBay down reports are surging in at the moment, with users of the hugely popular auction website being hit with server issues.

Independent outage monitor Down Detector has seen a huge spike in eBay down reports today, with the issues affecting users in the US, UK and Europe.

Out of those affected some 70 percent of eBay users are experiencing issues with the website while others are having login and checkout issues.

As the issues hit eBay users took to social networking site Twitter to report the issues they were facing, with some revealing they were receiving a DNS failure error message.

One tweeted: “eBay is down @eBay”.

Another posted: “eBay down for everyone or just me?”

One added: “Is eBay down for anyone else?”

And another wrote: “@eBay_UK @AskeBay is UK eBay currently down because I’m trying on multiple devices and I’m met with this? #sitedown #ebaydown”.

More to follow…

Windows 10 nightmare continues as update brings dreaded Blue Screen of Death error back

Windows 10 fans need to be aware of a recently launched update from Microsoft, which (once again) has caused a slew of issues with the world’s most popular desktop operating system. Earlier this month, the Redmond-based firm rolled out a fix that addressed dozens of issues sparked by its feature-filled Windows 10 May 2020 update, which broken printers, deleted files and caused Gmail messages to vanish, to name just a few issues.

And just as one set of niggles has been resolved, another set has sprung up for Windows 10 users. As reported on in a post by Windows Latest, the recently released cumulative update for August 2020 reportedly has a number of unintended knock-on effects.

Windows 10 users have taken to the Microsoft Forums to report issues with the KB4565351 and KB4566782 patches which allegedly are – amongst other things – causing installation issues. When users are installing these patches they allegedly are being greeted with error messages 0x800f0988, 0x800f081f, or 0x800f08a.

One of the reported error messages said: “There were some problems installing updates, but we’ll try again later. If you keep seeing this and want to search the web or contact support for information, this may help: (0x800f081f)”.

READ MORE: Microsoft blocks Windows 10 users from removing its Chrome rival

These problems are allegedly hitting some Windows 10 users that have installed either the May 2020 update (version 2004) or the November 2019 patch (1909).

The installation problems with the latest Windows 10 update have been reported by users on Microsoft’s community forum, Reddit, and Feedback Hub. While on Twitter, one Windows 10 user posted: “Can not install KB4566782 on two completely separate computers, one at work, one at the office. It restarts, keeps rotating on a black screen and eventually unable to be installed when you reboot.”

Elsewhere Windows 10 users have also reported that the KB4565351 patch is breaking audio on devices while other PC fans have been hit with the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). One Redditor posted that the KB4565351 update had led to them being hit with a “no audio output is enabled” error.

While others saw that sound had stopped coming out of their USB headphones after the Windows 10 August 2020 cumulative update was installed. One Redditor posted: “I’m running 1903 and just got the KB4569751 update forced on me last night. I wake up today and my sound has stopped working.

“I’m running an audio interface (id14) to power external speaker monitors. In the interface software I can see that I’m straight up receiving no signal from Windows whatsoever.

“When opening the sound control panel I no longer see any of my devices (Arctis 7 headset, webcam mic, etc..). I have uninstalled the Realtek driver and restarted to no avail and even tried running a restore point which also didn’t work.”

On the Feedback Hub there are also reports that Windows 10 KB456535 is causing a Blue Screen of Death with ‘SYSTEM THREAD UNHANDLED EXCEPTION’ error message to appear.

If you would rather hold fire on installing the latest Windows 10 update then you can pause them until Microsoft irons out the issues with the patches.

To do so go to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update > Pause updates.

Sri Lanka power cut: Entire country loses power due to huge error

The electric supply to the whole of Sri Lanka has been disrupted following a technical issue in the transmission system, the Ministry of Power has announced. The technical issue at Kerawalapitiya Grid Sub-station has caused a power cut for the entire island.

Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is scrambling to restore power to the country, and hopes to do so within two hours.

Sri Lanka is four hours and 30 minutes ahead of UK time, so it is currently mid-afternoon on the island.

It is located in South Asia and covers an area of 65,610 km2.

Sri Lanka has a population of approximately 21.6 million and is approximately 3.7 times smaller than the UK.

More to follow…

Sri Lanka power cut: Entire country loses power due to huge error

The electric supply to the whole of Sri Lanka has been disrupted following a technical issue in the transmission system, the Ministry of Power has announced.

The technical issue at Kerawalapitiya Grid Sub-station has caused a power cut for the entire island.

Steps are being taken to restore the power supply within two hours.

Sri Lanka is four hours and 30 minutes ahead of UK time, so it is currently mid-afternoon on the island.

More to follow…

Dominic Cummings’ bombshell Brexit confession exposed: ‘Leaving could be an error’

Yesterday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said a trade deal with the UK by the end of the year appears “unlikely”. After the latest round of negotiations in London, Mr Barnier told reporters in a virtual press conference that the two sides were “still far away” from agreement with just three full months to go before the October 31 deadline. He complained Britain was demanding “near total exclusion” of European fishing boats from its waters.

Despite signs of compromise in some key issues, including on the need for a single deal rather than multiple sectoral agreements, the French official said there had been “no progress” on the two most difficult areas: the rights of European fleets in British waters and the so-called level playing field.

In a statement, the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, also concurred that there were “considerable gaps” but insisted that an agreement could still be reached in September.

According to a recent report by The Telegraph, though, the Government is now working under the assumption Britain will have no trade deal in place when the transition period ends on December 31.

As tensions are set to rise and the clock ticks down, unearthed reports reveal how Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special adviser Dominic Cummings once admitted leaving the EU might have been “an error”.

Mr Cummings, the Vote Leave campaign director and mastermind, described the referendum as a “dumb idea” in 2017.

He also warned that Brexit was shaping up to be a “guaranteed debacle”, without big changes in Whitehall to deliver a successful negotiation.

At the time, former Prime Minister Theresa May was trying to negotiate a withdrawal agreement with the bloc, with poor results.

Mr Cummings’ volte-face came in a late-night Twitter exchange with legal commentator David Allen Green, in which he was asked whether anything could make him “wish Leave had not won the referendum”.

In reply, he wrote: “Lots! I said before referendum was dumb idea, other things should been tried first [sic].

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“In some possible branches of the future leaving will be an error.”

Earlier that month, Mr Cummings also tweeted that Leave MPs had to force change on Downing Street and the Department for Exiting the European Union, led by former Brexit Secretary David Davis.

He wrote: “If Leave MPs don’t assert themselves to force management changes on No10/DEXU, Brexit talks = guaranteed debacle as I’ve said for a year.”

In just three years, Mr Cummings has managed to become the country’s most powerful unelected official and he is indeed forcing management changes in Number 10.

This month’s announcement that Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary and National Security Advisor, will step down can be seen as the most high profile indicator that a revolution will be sweeping through Whitehall over the next four years.

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Mr Cummings is said to be forcing advisors to read books promoting superforecasting and paranoia as part of a rigorous training regime he arranged for the summer.

Special advisors were told to read the 350-page book “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” by Philip Tetlocks and “High Output Management” by Andrew Grove which claims that “only the paranoid survive”.

According to POLITICO, the strict regime includes weekend away days during the summer break, where advisors are expected to discuss roadblocks preventing the progress of Government policies.

In a Zoom call with advisers earlier this month, the Brexit guru ended a briefing by claiming that “a hard rain is coming”.

In the latest call he told advisers Downing Street did not care how people voted during the general election, but that they wanted to “get stuff done”.

WhatsApp down: Not connecting and checking for new messages error hit users

WhatsApp down reports are surging in right now with thousands of users around the world hit by issues with the hugely popular chat app.

Independent outage monitor Down Detector has registered a huge spike in WhatsApp down reports today.

Out of those affected the vast majority (88 per cent) have been hit with WhatsApp connection issues.

While on social media WhatsApp users have reported the chat app is stuck on the connecting screen and isn’t refreshing new messages.

The Down Detector outage map says the WhatsApp issues are mainly affecting users in the UK, US and Europe.

At the peak of the outage so far Down Detector UK has registered over 50,000 reports of WhatsApp down.

While registered a peak of almost 20,000 reports of WhatsApp down today.

As the reported WhatsApp issues hit users took to social networking site Twitter to report issues with the service.

One tweeted: “I restarted my phone 3 times only to come to Twitter and find out that WhatsApp is down #whatsappdown”.

Another posted: “Raise your hand if you restarted your phone more than 2 times #whatsappdown #whatsapp”.

One added: “Who else is here to check if whatsapp is down? #whatsappdown”.

And another wrote: “Me finding out #WhatsApp is down after uninstalling, reinstalling and rebooting my phone”. has contacted WhatsApp about the issues users are reportedly experiencing tonight and asked if a fix is in the works.

WhatsApp is the world’s most popular chat app with over two billion users across the globe.

The latest WhatsApp server issues come hot on the heels of other outages that have affected popular services in the past few days.

Just yesterday (Monday July 13) Snapchat users were hit by an issue which caused a black screen to appear when they tried to used the app’s camera.

While last week viral video app TikTok was hit by a major outage that affected thousands of users around the world.

The problems with the wildly popular app saw thousands of users’ likes and video count suddenly disappear.

It sparked fears that TikTok was suddenly getting banned in countries in the West following a widespread block in India.

But thankfully for fans of TikTok in the UK and US this was just a problem that was resolved after an hour or so.