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Ariana Cubillos / AP

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is predicting a "big victory" Sunday in an election to form a new constituent assembly, with the goal of adopting a new constitution. The opposition has boycotted the election, which has been condemned internationally as a sham and a power grab by the embattled Maduro.

  • Two people have reportedly been killed, a pro-government candidate and an opposition youth secretary, per the BBC. At least three others may have been killed in protests.
  • The government has banned protests, but demonstrators have nonetheless blocked streets in Caracas.
  • Some voting machines have been attacked and burned.

The stakes: The Washington Post's Anthony Faiola writes that the election is "a critical new stage in a long-simmering crisis that could mint the Western Hemisphere's newest dictatorship."

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.