5 Things for Monday, July 31: Russia, Venezuela, Australia

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 7/31/2017, 8:23 a.m.
The day the sun disappears (for a short time) is fast approaching. Here's what else you need to know today ...
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin

By Doug Criss


(CNN) -- The day the sun disappears (for a short time) is fast approaching. Here's what else you need to know today to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.

1. Russia sanctions

Vladimir Putin's cutting staff at US diplomatic missions Russia in response to the sanctions bill that Congress passed last week. Seven hundred and fifty-five people will have to "stop their activities" by September 1. That will leave about 455 people, which matches the number of Russian diplomats currently in the US. President Trump has indicated that he'll sign the sanctions bill, which passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming (and veto-proof) numbers.

2. Venezuela

Venezuela's President says there was a huge turnout for the controversial election to pick a new national assembly. There were huge protests throughout the country too. President Nicolas Maduro said eight million people -- that's about 40 percent of the country's registered voters -- cast ballots for the new assembly, which would have the power to rewrite Venezuela's constitution. All members of the assembly would be nominated by his administration, so the opposition there thinks this is just one big power grab by Maduro.

On the streets, at least six people died in violent clashes between protesters and police. More protests are set to begin today at noon. At least 125 people have died in the ongoing unrest since April. Also over the weekend, one of the candidates in the election, a lawyer, was shot dead in his home, and an opposition leader also died.

3. Australia terror plot

Police in Sydney conducted raids today after four men were arrested over the weekend, accused of plotting to bring down a plane. Authorities said the men planned to use an "improvised device" in the attack but wouldn't provide any further details. Exra security measures have been put in place in Australian airports since the terror plot was thwarted.

4. Alabama jail escapees

There was a big escape from a county jail in Alabama. Twelve prisoners broke out of the Walker County Jail, but authorities haven't said when or how. Ten of the men have since been recaptured, leaving two others still on the run. Police in the city of Jasper, Alabama, have asked people living downtown to stay indoors and turn on all of their outdoor lights.

5. Outer Banks outages

Thousands of tourists had their vacations cut short after a power outage hit two islands in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Power on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands was lost late last week after a transmission line was cut during construction work on a bridge. It's not clear how long it'll take to fix the problem, so people have been ordered to leave. Crews are working on two possible solutions: building a new overhead transmission line or dig down to the damaged cables and splice them back together.


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