After Donald Trump released a statement recognizing Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader in Venezuela, as the country’s legitimate president following Nicolás Maduro’s inauguration, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, appointed Elliott Abrams, who, as part of the Reagan Administration, sought funding for the contras in Nicaragua through donations from the sultan of Brunei and illegal arms sales to Iran, as special envoy to Venezuela. “This crisis in Venezuela is deep and difficult and dangerous, and I can’t wait to get to work on it,” said Abrams. On Friday, after missing a second paycheck because of the government shutdown, a significant percentage of air-traffic controllers at facilities in Virginia and Florida called in sick, which caused flights to LaGuardia Airport to be temporarily suspended, and caused significant delays at other major airports in the Northeast, which prompted the head of the flight attendants’ union to announce that a strike in solidarity with TSA agents, air-traffic controllers, and customs agents was imminent, and argue that the lack of compensation for these workers had a “catastrophic” impact on flight safety. In the White House Rose Garden, Trump declared that the government would reopen, even though he had failed to secure any funding for a border wall, and threatened a second shutdown on February 15 if he did not get “a fair deal from Congress” for a forthcoming proposal on increased border security. “As everyone knows, I have a very powerful alternative, but I’m not going to use it at this time,” said Trump. Ann Coulter, author of In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! and Resistance Is Futile!: How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind, reacted to the president’s speech by tweeting, “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.” The National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it has begun manufacturing, per the order of Trump’s 2018 nuclear posture review, new, low-yield Trident warheads, which are estimated to be one third as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Staff of Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria that is believed by internet conspiracy theorists to be the center of a Democrat-run pedophilia ring, extinguished an arson fire, and Roger Stone, who has a tattoo of Richard Nixon’s face on his back and is the cofounder of the Black, Manafort, and Stone lobbying firm, was arrested by furloughed FBI agents for obstruction of justice, threatening to kill a witness, and lying under oath to Congress about hacked Democratic National Committee emails.
In an interview, Jean Wyllys, a winner of Brazilian Big Brother and Brazil’s first and only openly gay congressman, revealed that he has resigned from office and will not return to the country because of death threats; President Jair Bolsonaro, who campaigned against an antihomophobia unit in schools, tweeted a thumbs-up emoji shortly after the announcement, but has not issued an official statement. Japan’s Supreme Court upheld a law that requires all trans people seeking to change their legal gender to be sterilized, and a district court judge in Polk County, Iowa, declared unconstitutional a law that bans abortion after a heartbeat can be detected. A 21-year-old man shot five women dead at a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida. The vice president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai gave all Gender Balance Index awards, including “best personality supporting gender balance,” to men, but “recognized the efforts” of one woman in a press release about the prizes.
A record number of private jets flew to the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos, Switzerland, a record number of donors attended a private event in California held by the Koch brothers, and the most expensive home in the United States sold for $238 million. Quoting Frederick Douglass, Charles Koch said that he would “unite with anybody to do right.” A family was kicked off a Detroit-bound plane because other passengers complained about their smell. A three-year-old in North Carolina said a bear helped him survive two days in below-freezing temperatures, and Tokyo has begun offering vouchers for soba noodles and tempura in exchange for boarding subways before rush hour. An Indiana boy called 9-1-1 for help with his math homework, and a new study revealed that Canadians don’t know basic facts about the Holocaust, such as where it took place. Montreal’s Festival of Snow was suspended because of winter weather.—Violet Lucca