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bostonangler

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Posts posted by bostonangler


  1. 6 minutes ago, Pitcher said:

    No you are political and that is all you have brought to this board, hate Trump. As a matter of fact that is all any of you Dems have produced in the last 3 years, hate Trump.  We have a Pandemic, hate Trump.  

     

    Do you even even know what Pelosi is doing to the Stimulus package.  Do you?  Try abortion Money.  Politics during a Crisis.Pathetic

     

     

     

     

     

    You too are being political... Trump made bad choices with his corporate welfare, cutting budgets and people in the CDC and wasting money on his monument along the border, and we now see it hurting all of us... While the rest of the world is testing thousands of people a day, our doctors can't get tests. While world leaders stated over and over this is serious listen to the experts, Trump spent the last month spewing misinformation. Telling Americans he had a "hunch". That this would magically go away. Then even last night, he gets his facts wrong. When do you call out a liar? When do you hold your leader responsible? When do you face facts? For two years people have come here with real news and facts, and his supporters lived in denial... Truth is truth and right now the truth is, all his lies are coming back to haunt him.. Again this is my opinion.

     

    B/A

    • Upvote 2

  2. SINGAPORE (Reuters) - All global investors got from U.S. President Donald Trump's coronavirus package were a shock travel ban on Europe and a flashing signal to sell, and none of the large-scale tax breaks or medical tests for Americans they'd been expecting.

    The deep disappointment with Trump's much-touted plan, which he unveiled late on Wednesday, spurred massive falls in global stock markets. U.S. stock index futures <ESc1> plunged nearly 5%, almost hitting their circuit breakers for the second time in a week.

    The highlights of what Trump described as "the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history," were a three-month tax holiday for individuals and small businesses and low-interest loans for affected companies.

    That fell way short of market expectations for relief from an outbreak that has spread to 122 countries, infected more than 126,000 people, sowed fears of a world recession and wiped about $6 trillion off the U.S. stock market.

    Even expectations that Trump would try to fix the delays in getting U.S. virus testing up to speed were dashed.

    "I am just left speechless for Trump to say this is the most comprehensive plan," said Rob Carnell, chief Asia-Pacific economist at ING in Singapore.

    "Without all the additional testing and tracing and containment measures that certainly aren't taking place in the United States, it's just a PR stunt."

    Investors were also stunned at what to them was a tardy plan to restrict travelers from Europe for 30 days, and then left confused when he clarified that cargo would not be banned.

    "Travel restrictions equal slower global economic activity, so if you need any more coaxing to sell, sell, sell, sell after a massively negative signal from overnight trading in U.S. markets it just fell in your lap," said Stephen Innes, global chief markets strategist at Sydney-based brokerage Axicorp.

    ANZ's head of Asia research, Khoon Goh said that travel ban would multiply the adverse impact on businesses. "This is something that markets had not factored in, it's a huge near-term economic cost."

     

    NOT SO SWEET

    While markets are accustomed to Trump's flip-flops and policy bluster, Wednesday's speech was a stunning failure in its attempt to put a floor under tumbling stock markets ahead of his Nov. 3 re-election bid.

    Trump, whose campaign could be shaped by how well he responds to the crisis, stopped short of declaring a national emergency.

    One measure Trump wants -- an elimination of the "payroll tax" on workers' earnings that would free up cash for businesses and consumers - is unlikely to get bipartisan support.

    "There is no immediate fiscal support actually coming," said Matthew Sherwood, head of global investment strategy at fund manager Perpetual in Sydney. "It will be heavily debated, it's an election year. They are not going to make his job easy, the Democrats."

    Michael McCarthy, chief strategist for CMC Markets in Sydney, said markets were clearly signaling to the White House that the measures were too little, too late.

    "While the travel ban from Europe is certainly dramatic and will help with the health aspects, it is clearly damaging economically," he said. "Given the very limited nature of low interest loans to small businesses and potential tax deferrals for individuals and businesses, there isn't enough here for markets to hang their hat on."

    Importantly, everything Trump said on Wednesday fell short of what markets expected from an economic superpower coming late to the virus battle.

    "The U.S. is playing catch-up as fast as it can and that's where we are. The president destroyed trust and the world doesn't believe him," said David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors in Sarasota Florida.

     

    https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/sell-signal-trumps-shallow-virus-081729709.html

     

     

    B/A


  3. Global shares plunged on Thursday after the World Health Organisation declared a coronavirus pandemic and indexes sank on Wall Street.

    France’s CAC 40 slipped 6.6% to 4,306.89, while Germany’s DAX lost 6.7% to 9,745.59. The FTSE 100 plunged 6.5% to 5,496.67.

    The future contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 5.2% while the S&P 500 lost 4.9%.

    On Wall Street overnight, the Dow fell into bear market territory, with a loss that dragged it 20% below the record set last month.

    The broader S&P 500, which professional investors watch more closely, is a single percentage point away from falling into its own bear market, which would end the longest bull market in Wall Street history.

    There was no sign of a revival of confidence in Asia.

    Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dived 4.4% to 18,559.63. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 7.4% to 5,304.60.

    South Korea’s Kospi dipped 4.7% to 1,817.87. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 3.7% to 24,309.077, while the Shanghai Composite index shed 1.9% to 2,912.33.

    Thailand’s benchmark plunged 10% in the afternoon session, triggering a 30-minute halt to trading. After it resumed, the benchmark remained down 10%. India’s Sensex swooned 7%.

    “Some of the biggest markets, such as Hong Kong or Japan or Australia, are down around four to five per cent. And we haven’t seen, you know, a significant buy-in interest yet, so traders are still in the get-out mode. They just want to have it in cash,” said Jackson Wong of Amber Hill Capital Ltd, in Hong Kong.

    “So that’s a typical panic mode, but whether this panic mode will stop in the short term, it really will depend on how the virus incident goes forward,” Mr Wong said.

     

    Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.

     
     
     
     

    The recent decline has been one of Wall Street’s swiftest retreats of this magnitude. The fastest the S&P 500 has ever fallen from a record into a bear market was over 55 days in 1987.

    Vicious swings like Wednesday’s session are becoming routine as investors rush to sell amid uncertainty about how badly the outbreak will hit the economy.

    The day’s loss of 1,464.90 points wiped out a 1,167-point gain for the Dow from Tuesday and stands as the index’s second-largest point drop, trailing only Monday’s plunge of 2,013.

    With Wall Street already on edge about the economic damage from the virus, stocks dove even lower on Wednesday after the World Health Organisation cited “alarming levels of inaction” by governments in corralling the virus when it made its pandemic declaration.

    Investors are calling for coordinated action from governments and central banks to stem the threat to the economy from the virus.

    South Korea Financial Markets
     
    Asian shares plunged after the World Health Organisation declared a coronavirus pandemic (Ahn Young-joon/AP)
    More

    While lower interest rates and government spending will not solve the crisis — only containment of the virus can — but they can support the economy.

    US president Donald Trump’s announcement of travel restrictions for most European countries and a multibillion-dollar aid package that the House could vote on on Thursday failed to lay doubts to rest.

     

    For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

    For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

    The vast majority of people recover from the new virus, but the fear is that Covid-19 could drag the global economy into a recession, with slowdowns in production and a plunge in business activity as people stay home instead of travelling or dining out.

    Many analysts say financial markets will continue to swing sharply until the number of new infections stops accelerating.

    In the United States, the number of cases has topped 1,000. Worldwide, more than 126,000 people have been infected, and over 4,600 have died.

     

    https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/global-shares-sink-coronavirus-pandemic-094850548.html

     

     

     

    B/A


    • Three crucial components of President Donald Trump's nationally televised Wednesday-night address on the US response to the novel coronavirus were quickly walked back or contradicted.

    • After Trump announced a 30-day ban on travel from most of Europe to the US, the Department of Homeland Security clarified that it would exclude US citizens and permanent residents. 

    • Trump also issued a tweet saying that trade of goods between the US and Europe would not be halted after saying the opposite in his speech.

    • A major US health-insurance industry group contradicted Trump's claim that major health insurers would waive co-payments on coronavirus treatments, clarifying the waivers would apply to testing.

    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Minutes after President Donald Trump delivered a major address Wednesday night on the US response to the novel coronavirus, his own administration and other US officials publicly contradicted three important claims from his speech. 

    Trump and the officials quickly walked back his nationally televised statements that 1) the administration would ban all travel from Europe to the US, 2) the ban would also apply to trade and cargo between the US and Europe, and 3) major health insurers would waive co-pays on coronavirus treatment.

    The outbreak of the new coronavirus, first identified in China, has now spread to 118 countries and regions, infecting an estimated 126,000 people and causing more than 4,600 deaths worldwide. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic.

    There are now more than 1,300 confirmed cases and 38 deaths from the coronavirus in the US. The cases are spread throughout Washington, DC, and 38 states, many of which have made emergency declarations.

    The US has been relatively slow to respond to the coronavirus compared with other nations, testing far fewer people per capita for the coronavirus and dispatching fewer coordinated resources to combat its spread as Trump has publicly downplayed its severity. 

    Here are the important claims about the US coronavirus response from Trump's speech that were later clarified or walked back:

    The Department of Homeland Security issued a major clarification to Trump's travel-ban announcement  

    In his speech, Trump announced that the United States would take the drastic step of banning all travel from most of Europe for 30 days to limit the spread of the coronavirus from abroad. 

    What Trump said:

    "I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans to keep new cases from entering our shores. We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground. There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom."

    Shortly after Trump's speech, however, the Department of Homeland Security issued major clarifications to Trump's remarks, announcing that the travel ban would not apply to US citizens or permanent residents abroad. 

     

    A key clarification from DHS on the European travel ban - it doesn’t apply to US citizens or permanent residents.

    View image on Twitter
     
     
     
     

    The update also made clear the specific countries affected, listing the 26 members of the Schengen Area travel agreement that covers most of mainland Europe but excludes the UK and Ireland.

    Trump hadn't mentioned Ireland's exemption in his announcement, prompting Dublin Airport to make clear that it was not part of the new ban.

     

    Trump himself walked back his remarks on halting trade

    About an hour after his speech ended, Trump sent out a tweet announcing that "trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe," a significant departure from what he said in his speech.

    It's unclear whether the incorrect details about the trade halt were written into the speech or whether Trump misread his teleprompter and misspoke. 

     

    Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.

     
     
     
     

     

    A powerful insurance lobby contradicted Trump's comments on insurance waivers

    In his speech, Trump made another major announcement, telling Americans that major health insurers would not only cover the costs of coronavirus treatment in insurance plans but also waive co-payments for all coronavirus treatments. 

    What Trump said:

    "Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing."

    Not long after his speech, however, a representative for the insurance-industry group America's Health Insurance Plans told Politico that major health insurers had agreed to waive co-pays only for coronavirus testing, not the far more costly coronavirus treatments.

     

    Trump's claim tonight that health insurers "have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments" seems to be news to them.

    “For testing. Not for treatment.” a spokesperson for the major insurance lobby AHIP says.

     
     
     
     
     

    Trump tonight said health insurers “have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments.” WH official says Trump meant to echo what VP said yesterday that insurers “have agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus *testing.”

     
     

     

    • Thanks 1

  4. 8 minutes ago, Shabibilicious said:

     

    I actually thought his speech, for the first time ever, was pretty good....Yes, there were some things that needed to be cleared up this morning, but I'm guessing those things were crafted in the speech that way, as I could tell he spent almost the entire time focused on the teleprompter, which never happens.....better late than never, as I see it.  

     

    GO RV, then BV

     

    I only hope his followers take notice... This whole "it's a hoax" needs to end.... He did look like a beaten down horse during his presentation. I think it is wearing on him.

     

    B/A

    • Upvote 2

  5. 10 minutes ago, Shabibilicious said:
    Finance

    Oddsmakers see Biden 'within touching distance' of Trump as coronavirus crisis spirals

    Javier E. David
    Editor focused on markets and the economy
    ,
    Yahoo FinanceMarch 11, 2020
     
    5e67faeada8e83660bec1940_o_U_v7.jpg
    Scroll back up to restore default view.

    Joe Biden is riding a string of primary victories that have bolstered his chances among oddsmakers to win the Democratic presidential nomination, who see him “within touching distance” of President Donald Trump as the coronavirus outbreak upends the U.S. landscape.

    After a blowout win in South Carolina two weeks ago, Biden’s momentum has carried him to a string of impressive primary contest wins that appear to have neutralized former frontrunner Bernie Sanders — which included Tuesday’s knockout blow in Michigan. A string of shutouts across the South have given Biden a commanding delegate lead over the Vermont Senator.

    According to new data from Smarkets, the former vice president’s wins on Tuesday give him a 93% chance to win his party’s nod, with Sanders’ odds dwindling to 2%. Two other predictive markets, Real Clear Politics and Paddy Power, put Biden’s chances at well over 80%.

    And while Trump remains favored to win in November by 51%, Smarkets bettors now think Biden has a 45% shot — his best showing on the market.

    “It seems that statewide, Democrats are focused on Trump’s ousting as their number one challenge, and they want a nominee that can bring in Republicans as well as Democrats as opposed to a more radical Bernie agenda,” said Sarbjit Bakhshi, Smarkets head of political markets, on Wednesday. 

    “This is the first time a Democratic candidate has been this close to the incumbent, and is the highest-traded price we've ever seen for Biden,” Bakhshi added. “Trump’s reelection has seemed inevitable for the last year of trading, this is the first time that an alternative seems possible."

    Consequently, the impact from the coronavirus outbreak is undermining the president’s standing among oddsmakers. Paddy Power data shows his chances for reelection have fallen to 55.6%, down from 66.7 a month ago.

    In fact, a recent investor survey by Deutsche Bank — taken before the coronavirus panic began roiling markets — showed a whopping 95% of market participants believing that the president would win a second term. Over 60% of those respondents said it was “very likely,” according to the bank.

    Yet the pathogen’s rapid spread has made Trump’s hold on re-election more tenuous, while boosting Biden’s chances.

    Last week, stocks rallied in the wake of the Super Tuesday’s primary results, underscoring how investors were relieved that Biden appeared to be outflanking Sanders. The former VP’s political epitaph had been all but written by pundits, as he lagged in the polls while the self-described Democratic socialist — touting an aggressive tax-and-spend platform — started to unsettle Wall Street.

     

    https://news.yahoo.com/oddsmakers-bet-on-biden-after-big-primary-wins-narrows-gap-with-trump-195622510.html

     

    GO RV, then BV

     

    Yes this crisis has plainly demonstrated his incompetence in management. He chose to be a denier and made light of what the disease experts were telling him and it is costing him greatly... A few of his supporters I know personally are bewildered. They aren't sure what to think. Last night didn't help. During his speech he stated the health insurance companies would cover the treatment costs of people infected... This morning Pence had to go on the live morning shows to correct his misunderstanding.. Pence explained the insurance companies would cover the cost of your copay for getting tested, not treatment. Once again he is making up stuff and now his inner-circle is having to fix his confusion. It is obvious he is not capable of handling anything on this level.

     

    B/A

     

     

    • Upvote 3

  6. 5 minutes ago, ladyGrace'sDaddy said:

    You're so lucky I don't have the ability to BAN you for your constant violations of forum rules. And it seems no one else is concerned about your insults and name calling. Oh well it's what you bring to the TABLE. 

     

    Why do people want to be censor police? Why is it so common that people live by the saying "Do what I say not what I do"? 

    You post some of the most disturbing tweets I've ever seen. They are hateful, they are anti-American and they certainly are not something anyone with love in their heart would spread. The real virus in America is the hate perpetrated by people posting worthless crap that is racist, bigoted and only meant to divide... You really ought to read some of the tweets you post.

     

    B/A

    • Thanks 2
    • Upvote 1

  7. Just now, ladyGrace'sDaddy said:

    ALL YOU BRING TO THE TABLE IS CRYING ABOUT TRUMP. AS FOR THAT LITTLE GIRL I NEVER BASHED HER, I COMPLAINED ABOUT HOW SHE WAS MANIPULATED BY THE SATANIC LEFT TO PROMOTE A DEMONIC LIE. VERY SIMILAR TO HOW THE DEMONIC LEFT IS NOW USING A MAN SUFFERING FROM DEMENTIA IN SOME SICK HOPE THAT THE VP WILL TAKE OVER.  PATHETIC.  

    AND IF YOU WANNA PRETEND YOU DON'T CRY THEN STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT MY POST. IT'S LITTLE MORE THAN CRYING LIKE A BABY 

     

    Go away little man... I'm busy talking to adults about real issues, not unicorn fantasy crap.

     

    B/A

    • Haha 2
    • Upvote 1

  8.  
     
    • Thanks 1

  9. Well I guess all the Trump supporters will have to start taking this seriously now that someone told Trump to suck it up and tell America the truth... Last night he stopped his stupid and uninformed comments about this being no big deal, or that the 15 cases would go to 0, or that it would magically go away. It's obvious the medical experts have made him understand this is a big deal and it isn't simply going to disappear. Finally he has listened to the scientist and hopefully his worshipers will as well.

     

    B/A

    • Like 1
    • Thanks 1

  10. The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq tumbled Wednesday as the volatility of the past couple weeks extended further.

    The Dow shed 1,464.94 points during the session, or 5.9%, sending it more than 20% below its recent high from February and into a bear market.

    Midday Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially designated the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, as the virus spread across more than 100 countries and infected well over 100,000 individuals. The Dow sank more than 1,200 points following the announcement.

    Stocks’ afternoon leg lower extended declines from earlier in the regular and overnight sessions. During the pre-market session, stock futures slumped after the White House failed to offer further details on a stimulus package President Donald Trump earlier this week had characterized as “very major.” The measures reportedly in consideration included a payroll tax cut and expanded worker protections, to help counteract any economic fall-out from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

    While further fiscal stimulus in the U.S. remains a point of uncertainty, overseas, central bankers have unleashed further monetary stimulus aimed at counteracting the economic hit from COVID-19.

    The Bank of England on Wednesday announced a surprise half-point interest rate cut at the conclusion of a special meeting, following a similar move from the U.S. Federal Reserve last week.

    “Following the spread of COVID-19, risky asset and commodity prices have fallen sharply, and government bond yields reached all-time lows, consistent with a marked deterioration in risk appetite and in the outlooks for global and UK growth,” the BOE said in a statement Wednesday, “Indicators of financial market uncertainty have reached extreme levels.”

    The BOE’s move brought the main bank rate down to 0.25%, and was decided unanimously by the bank’s officials.

    “Temporary, but significant, disruptions to supply chains and weaker activity could challenge cash flows and increase demand for short-term credit from households and for working capital from companies,” the BOE said. “This economic shock will affect both demand and supply in the economy.”

     

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/stock-market-news-live-updates-march-11-2020-115430808.html

    Image result for wall street bear

     

    B/A


  11. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion, according to four Trump administration officials.

    The officials said that dozens of classified discussions about such topics as the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions have been held since mid-January in a high-security meeting room at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), a key player in the fight against the coronavirus.

    Staffers without security clearances, including government experts, were excluded from the interagency meetings, which included video conference calls, the sources said.

    “We had some very critical people who did not have security clearances who could not go,” one official said. “These should not be classified meetings. It was unnecessary.”

    The sources said the National Security Council (NSC), which advises the president on security issues, ordered the classification.“This came directly from the White House,” one official said.

    The White House insistence on secrecy at the nation’s premier public health organization, which has not been previously disclosed, has put a lid on certain information - and potentially delayed the response to the crisis. COVID19, the disease caused by the virus, has killed about 30 people in the United States and infected more than 1,000 people.

    HHS oversees a broad range of health agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which among other things is responsible for tracking cases and providing guidance nationally on the outbreaks.

    The administration officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said they could not describe the interactions in the meeting room because they were classified.

    An NSC spokesman did not respond to questions about the meetings at HHS. But he defended the administration’s transparency across federal agencies and noted that meetings of the administration's task force on the coronavirus all are unclassified. It was not immediately clear which meetings he was referring to.

    “From day one of the response to the coronavirus, NSC has insisted on the principle of radical transparency,” said the spokesman, John Ullyot. He added that the administration “has cut red tape and set the global standard in protecting the American people under President Trump’s leadership.”

    A spokeswoman for the HHS, Katherine McKeogh, issued a statement that did not address questions about classified meetings. Using language that echoed the NSC’s, the department said it that it agreed task-force meetings should be unclassified.

    Critics have hammered the Trump administration for what they see as a delayed response to coronavirus outbreaks and a lack of transparency, including sidelining experts and providing misleading or incomplete information to the public. State and local officials also have complained of being kept in the dark about essential federal response information.

    U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, the administration's point person on coronavirus, vowed on March 3 to offer “real-time information in a steady pace and be fully transparent.” The vice president, appointed by President Donald Trump in late February, is holding regular news briefings and also has pledged to rely on expert guidance.

    The meetings at HHS were held in a secure area called a "Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility," or SCIF, according to the administration officials.

    SCIFs are usually reserved for intelligence and military operations. Ordinary cell phones and computers can't be brought into the chambers. HHS has SCIFs because theoretically it would play a major role in biowarfare or chemical attacks.

    A high-level former official who helped address public health outbreaks in the George W. Bush administration said “it’s not normal to classify discussions about a response to a public health crisis.”

    Attendees at the meetings included HHS Secretary Alex Azar and his chief of staff Brian Harrison, the officials said. Azar and Harrison resisted the classification of the meetings, the sources said.

    HHS did not make Azar or Harrison available for comment.

    One of the administration officials told Reuters that when complex issues about a quarantine came up, a high-ranking HHS lawyer with expertise on the issue was not admitted because he did not have the proper security clearance. His input was delayed and offered at an unclassified meeting, the official said.

    A fifth source familiar with the meetings said HHS staffers often weren’t informed about coronavirus developments because they didn’t have adequate clearance. He said he was told that the matters were classified "because it had to do with China."

    The coronavirus epidemic originated in China and the administration’s main focus to prevent spread early on was to restrict travel by non-U.S. citizens coming from China and to authorize the quarantine of people entering the United States who may have been exposed to the virus.

    One of the administration officials suggested the security clearances for meetings at HHS were imposed not to protect national security but to keep the information within a tight circle, to prevent leaks.

    “It seemed to be a tool for the White House - for the NSC - to keep participation in these meetings low,” the official said.

     

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-white-house-told-federal-163043805.html

     

     

    WTF????

     

    B/A


  12. MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian parliament approved a sweeping constitutional reform in the third and final reading Wednesday, a move that will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power for another 12 years after his current term ends in 2024.

    The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma, endorsed a set of amendments to the constitution and a provision resetting the term count for Putin after the revised constitution goes into force. It passed by a 383-0 vote with 43 abstentions, and was approved by the upper house, the Federation Council, several hours later.

    A nationwide vote on the proposed amendments is set for April 22.

    Kremlin critics condemned the move as a cynical manipulation and called for protests.

    Putin, a 67-year-old former KGB officer, has ruled Russia for more than 20 years. After serving for two consecutive four-year terms — a limit outlined in the current version of the constitution — Putin shifted to prime minister's seat in 2008, with his close ally Dmitry Medvedev becoming a placeholder president.

    The length of the presidency was extended to six years under Medvedev, and in 2012 Putin returned to the Kremlin as president. In 2018, he was re-elected for another six years.

    Putin has weathered several international storms during his 20 years in power. The 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, which prompted a drawn-out, years-long conflict with Ukraine, significantly boosted his approval ratings back at home.

    As Moscow’s relations with the West soured over the 2014 annexation and more scandals followed, the Kremlin kept Putin's popularity high by painting Russia as a besieged fortress in need of a strong leader to withstand the outside pressure.

    The constitutional reform passed by the Duma on Wednesday would allow Putin to run for presidency two more times after 2024. Before the national vote, it will be reviewed by Russia's Constitutional Court.

    The changes redistribute the executive powers of the Russian government in Moscow and further strengthen the power of the presidency, while also banning same-sex marriage and listing “a belief in God” as one of Russia's traditional values.

    The proposal to restart the term clock for the current president was put forward by 83-year-old former Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, now a Duma deputy, during the second reading of the amendments on Tuesday. Following Tereshkova's speech, Putin quickly arrived at parliament to address the lawmakers and supported the idea.

    The move prompted immediate calls for protests from various opposition groups. On Tuesday night, about 200 people gathered near the Kremlin and lined up to hold solo pickets — the only form of protest in Russia that it legal without prior authorization from the government — against the reform.

    “It was clear from the start that it is being done to keep Putin in power forever,” opposition activist Alexei Miniaylo, who called for the pickets on his Facebook page on Tuesday, told The Associated Press. “But the brazen manner in which it was done elicited outrage.”

    Two opposition groups called for a bigger rally in Moscow on March 21 or March 22 and applied for authorization with the city authorities. Soon after, Moscow City Hall announced banning outdoor events with attendance of more than 5,000 until April 10, saying it was part of precautionary steps to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

    Activists remained unfazed, however, and on Wednesday morning refiled their requests, amending the maximum number of participants from 50,000 to 4,500. “Our position is that if the coronarivus is such a dangerous threat, then they should cancel the vote (on the constitutional reform), as it can expose millions of people to infection,” Mikhail Svetov, leader of the Civil Society movement, told the AP. “And if it is not that dangerous, then rallies should be allowed.”

    Pickets and protests were being organized in other Russian cities as well, said Tatyana Usmanova, an activist with the “No” group formed two months ago to coordinate the opposition effort against the reform.

    “It gets to people, because it is totally out of line,” Usmanova said.

    Activists and analysts agree, however, that large-scale protests will be harder to organize because of coronavirus fears that are likely to deter people from taking to the streets.

     

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-passes-bill-allowing-putin-085423653.html

     

    B/A

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