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Venezuelan blackout due to cyber-attack, says president

Over the last two months, Venezuela has been going through a political and economic crisis with two claimants to the President’s chair and the US imposing sanctions to pressure the incumbent regime. Matters reached a head last week when opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself acting President and has the support of the West, returned home after a self-imposed exile to cheering crowds in Caracas. He is trying to force out left-wing dictator Nicolas Maduro, President since 2013, who has declared himself the winner of a controversial election.

Guaidó, 35, was born in the beach town of Vargas, which was severely hit by flash floods in 1999. The family moved to Caracas, where Guaidó studied engineering. It was in 2006 that Guaidó emerged in politics, as one of the principal leaders campaigning for freedom of the press amid a crackdown by then President Hogo Chávez. Guaidó formed his party, Voluntad Popular, which is today leading the fight against Maduro. This year, Guaidó’s party declared him President of the National Assembly, the country’s Parliament.

Ever since the global crude oil downturn, Venezuela has slipped into an economic crisis. Its crime rate has doubled and inflation multiplied. The West-imposed sanctions have now led to a prolonged electricity blackout.

Seventeen people have died in Venezuela's massive power outage, "murdered" by the government of President Nicolas Maduro, opposition leader Juan Guaido alleged Sunday.

The blackout heightened tensions between the opposition and government loyalists, who accuse each other of being responsible for the collapse of the power grid.

Venezuelan president says complete blackout caused by 'an international cyber-attack' with support from within.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro says the country's complete electrical failure has been caused by "an international cyber-attack" but that his administration has "defeated their coup".

Guaido, Venezuela's self-declared interim president, said Sunday that 16 states continued to be completely without power, while six had partial power. He said the private sector had lost at least $400 million from power outages.

Electricity was cut to 70% of the South American nation late last week, and officials warned that hospitals were at risk.’

"Venezuela has truly collapsed already," Guaido told CNN Sunday in an interview in a sweltering hotel room in the Venezuelan capital -- another byproduct of the blackouts.

The United States failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference

The United States of America has yet again neglected to build up deterrence in the consequence of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. And there is no surprise as to why it failed to do so. Which it did in light of the fact that Russia proceeded to forcefully employ the most noteworthy part of its 2016 toolbox: the utilization of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda intended to debilitate or in simpler words weaken their country.

Former CIA Director Michael Morell and former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said that Russia has continued its cyber-attacks against the United States. Both of them serve on the advisory council for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, say that the U.S. has neglected to prevent Russia from utilizing social networking to "disseminate propaganda designed to weaken their nation”.

"There is a perception among the media and the general public that Russia ended its social-media operations following last year's election and that we need worry only about future elections. But that perception is wrong. Russia's information operations in the United States continued after the election and they continue to this day," they wrote on Tuesday for The Washington Post.
As reported by them, the Russian government is as yet sending viable and effective tactics that focus on particular gatherings and politicians, much as they did earlier by controlling social media in the race to the 2016 election.

As per Rogers and Morell, Russian-influenced Twitter accounts were leading members in November's #BoycottKuerig movement via social media. The boycott started to dissent the coffee-maker organization pulling its advertisements for Sean Hannity's Fox News show.

"This was a Russian attack on a U.S. company and on our economy," Morell and Rogers said.

Morell and Rogers warn that Russia's utilization of web-based social networking as a "political weapon" that will continue pushing ahead in the future, with more nations expected that would stick to this same pattern, unless and until the U.S. intervenes.

"The sanctions that the Obama administration and Congress put in place in the aftermath of the 2016 election are steps in the right direction, but they were not significant enough to check Russian President Vladimir Putin," Morell and Rogers suggest.

Additionally included saying that true deterrence requires arrangements or such policies that keep adversaries from accomplishing their targets all the while imposing noteworthy expenses on their regimes, out of which they have done neither.