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Missing Venezuelan chopper pilot in grenade attack reappears
by Staff Writers
Caracas (AFP) July 5, 2017

A Venezuelan helicopter pilot who vanished after dropping grenades on the Supreme Court in what the government slammed as an attempted coup reappeared in a video posted online late Tuesday.

In the clip, Oscar Perez urged Venezuelans to "stand firm in the streets" in their protests against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

"The moment is now, not tomorrow. The moment to wake up is now," the 36 year-old elite cop said, speaking in front of a Venezuelan flag. "Let's stand firm in the streets."

On June 27 Perez and unidentified accomplices flew over Caracas in a police helicopter and dropped four grenades on the Supreme Court before opening fire on the interior ministry. There were no casualties.

Perez appeared in a video released online around the time of the attacks flanked by four masked figures in black -- two of them holding rifles -- calling for an uprising.

He claimed to belong to a group that included military members, police and public servants opposed to the "criminal government."

Maduro branded the action a "terrorist attack," part of an "escalation" by right-wing "coup" plotters. He put the military on alert in response.

A day later, Perez's helicopter was found in the coastal town of Osma, 85 kilometers (52 miles) from Caracas.

In Tuesday's video, Perez said the attacks were carried out as planned.

"We only damaged structures ... there was no collateral damage because that's what was planned, because we're not murderers... like you, Mr. Maduro," Perez says, pointing his index finger at the camera.

Perez, who said he was back in Caracas, added that his group would join the protests.

"We will go out in the streets and will be with you. You are not alone," he said.

The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition has distanced itself from the attack.

"The MUD demands democratic change only by peaceful means," opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido said earlier.

Many people, including opposition leaders, suspect that Perez might be a frontman hired by the government to justify its crackdown on the opponents.

Maduro is under pressure after three months of unrest that officials say have left 91 people dead.

China taps 'combustible ice' for growing energy needs
Beijing (AFP) July 2, 2017
China is drilling deep into the ocean floor in the hope of tapping vast deposits of a frozen fossil fuel known as "combustible ice" but it will be years before it is part of the global energy mix. Gas hydrates are found in the seabed as well as beneath permafrost but experts say extracting methane from the ice crystals is technologically challenging and expensive. Energy-guzzling China, ... read more

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