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Putin’s Overhaul Gets Initial Approval in Russian Parliament

Putin’s Overhaul Gets Initial Approval in Russian Parliament(Bloomberg) — The lower house of parliament gave initial approval to President Vladimir Putin’s plan to make major changes to the constitution, widely seen as an effort by the Russian leader to extend his 20-year rule.Legislators in the State Duma rose for a standing ovation after voting 432-0 for the proposal, which Putin unveiled in a surprise announcement last week. Discussions on possible amendments are set for next week, with a vote on those scheduled on Feb. 11. The plan will go to a national vote in April and is virtually certain to pass.The amendments, the most dramatic since the constitution was adopted in 1993, would reduce the power of the presidency, giving somewhat more authority to the parliament and strengthening the State Council, now a largely ceremonial body. The overhaul could create options for Putin to retain control after his current term — his last under constitutional limits — ends in 2024.Putin hasn’t given any public hint of his plans and details that have emerged in the days since the announcement have done little to clarify his vision. Wednesday, he told a group of students and teachers that creating a body with power above the president would be “disastrous” because it would split the government. He also ruled out emulating Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew in a father-of-the-nation role, saying it would be unworkable in Russia.READ MORE: Understanding Putin’s Moves to Keep His Hold on Power: QuickTakeBefore the vote Thursday, Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin dismissed criticisms that the changes are being rushed through. “These amendments are hard won,” he told legislators. “Some people have been suffering for these since the time of Imperial Russia, when there was no parliamentarism in Russia.”To contact the reporters on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net;Stepan Kravchenko in Moscow at skravchenko@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Tony HalpinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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Funeral set for Texas sergeant amid anger over initial bond

Funeral set for Texas sergeant amid anger over initial bondFuneral arrangements have been set for a Houston-area police sergeant who was killed this week while trying to arrest a suspect during a traffic stop, officials announced Friday. The details of Nassau Bay police Sgt. Kaila Sullivan’s funeral come as law enforcement agencies and police unions expressed anger the suspect charged in her death was initially given a bond following his arrest. Sullivan’s funeral service has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Grace Church Houston.



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Booker focuses on race relations in initial 2020 White House swing

Booker focuses on race relations in initial 2020 White House swingBooker, 49, a former Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey, frequently discussed incarceration and employment disparities, while also telling his parents’ story of trying to buy a house in an unintegrated New Jersey suburb in the late 1960s with the help of a volunteer civil rights lawyer. Booker’s focus was an overture to the coalition of young, diverse voters that twice elected former Democratic President Barack Obama, while also differentiating his style from that of the first black U.S. president, who rarely discussed race during his campaign. Booker’s emphasis on his personal and mayoral past, as well as his work as a senator on criminal justice issues, may also set him apart in a crowded field of Democratic candidates aiming to take on Republican President Donald Trump in what could be a historic election.



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AFP to cut 95 jobs, CEO says, scaling back initial 125 target

AFP to cut 95 jobs, CEO says, scaling back initial 125 targetAgence France-Presse will cut 95 jobs over the next five years, 30 fewer than announced in October, without affecting targeted savings, CEO Fabrice Fries said Monday. Presenting a revised version of his “transformation plan” to employee representatives, Fries said the company would still save 14 million euros ($ 15.9 million) on wage costs and five million euros on other expenses by 2023. To achieve this, management will convert 15 of the current 175 expatriate postings into local jobs and realise savings through replacing senior employees with younger ones.



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Steam explosion spreads ash fallout at Kilauea summit nearly 40 days after initial eruption

Steam explosion spreads ash fallout at Kilauea summit nearly 40 days after initial eruptionHawaii’s Kilauea volcano has been erupting since May 3, and according to the county of Hawaii's civil defense agency, another small explosion occurred on Sunday morning.



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After initial shock, Republicans line up behind president on Comey firing

After initial shock, Republicans line up behind president on Comey firingThe news of James Comey’s ouster as director of the FBI was met with shock, confusion and condemnation from both sides of the political spectrum — although mostly from Democrats — Tuesday evening. By the next morning, however, Fox News had managed to find plenty of people willing to publicly defend the president’s decision to fire Comey. “I think it couldn’t happen soon enough,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday.



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Macron, Le Pen leading French vote: initial projections

Macron, Le Pen leading French vote: initial projectionsCentrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen will contest the second round of the French presidential election, initial projections suggested Sunday, after a nailbiting vote seen as vital for the future of the EU. Macron was projected to win between 23 and 24 percent in Sunday’s first round, slightly ahead of National Front leader Le Pen with between 21.6 and 23 percent, according to estimates on public television. The outcome capped an extraordinary few months for a deeply divided France, which saw a campaign full of twists and turns and a movement away from traditional parties.



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Porn condom ordinance gets initial approval

The Los Angeles City Council has given preliminary approval to an ordinance that would require porn actors to wear condoms during film shoots.





NBCNews.com: Sexual health

Porn condom ordinance gets initial approval

The Los Angeles City Council has given preliminary approval to an ordinance that would require porn actors to wear condoms during film shoots.
msnbc.com: Sexual health