Good morning and happy Friday. You’ve probably played a game or two of “The Floor is Lava” (if not, you’re missing out), but a Florida man is about to take it to the next level. The so-called ‘King of the Wire’ has laid out plans to walk a 1,800-foot tightrope across the active Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua on March 4.
“Do, or do not. There is no “try.”
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed constitutional changes that would limit the powers of the president, and instead bolster the authority granted to the prime minister. Later that day, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that he and his cabinet would be stepping down.
This sounds familiar…
First Presidency: Putin first became acting president on Dec. 31, 1999, when Boris Yeltsin resigned. He was officially elected with 53% of the vote in 2000, then won a second term in 2004.
Premiership: The Russian Constitution prohibits more than two consecutive terms in the presidency. In 2008, Deputy PM Dmitry Medvedev was elected as Putin’s successor. Medvedev immediately nominated Putin for Prime Minister, where he remained the country’s dominant politician.
Second Presidency: In 2012, Putin won a contentious election amid allegations of vote-rigging. He then nominated Medvedev as his Prime Minister. Medvedev had previously signed a law extending the presidential term from four to six years, and in 2018 Putin won his fourth presidential term.
So, what’s next? Putin has reportedly set up a working group of about 75 people to draw up concrete proposals for his reforms, with some kind of public confirmation vote expected before the summer. Putin has nominated Mikhail Mishustin to replace former Prime Minister Medvedev, who was appointed to the Russian Security Council.
So… what are people saying?
Vladimir Putin’s naked power grab could have unexpected benefits
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Congressional Watchdog Report
Yesterday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) – an independent, nonpartisan government watchdog – issued an 8-page report concluding the Trump Administration violated the law when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) froze nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in July. An OMB spokesperson said it disagrees with the GAO’s assessment.
The Ukranian national police announced they have opened an investigation into whether former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance by Trump associates in Kyiv. The investigation is centered around documents provided by Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
U.S. officials have confirmed that 11 American troops were treated for injury following last week’s Iranian missile strike on an Iraqi base housing U.S. servicemen. The Iranian attack was in response to the Jan. 3 death of General Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike.
Bose has announced plans to close all retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The company cited demand for e-commerce as the reason for the closings, which will likely result in hundreds of lay-offs (though official numbers have yet to be released).
T is for Trillion
Google parent company Alphabet on Thursday reached a market capitalization of $1 trillion, just the fourth U.S. company ever to do so. Apple was the first to reach a trillion dollars in 2018, closely followed by Microsoft and Amazon, who has since fallen below that mark.
According to the WSJ ($), in recent months Facebook-owned WhatsApp disbanded a team of employees that had been directed to find the best way to integrate ads into the platform – an issue that caused both co-founders to quit the company. Facebook bought WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014 but has struggled to monetize the messaging service after eliminating download and subscription fees.
Mother of the (Half)Century
Raising children takes a large helping of patience, strength, and love. 75-year-old Linda Herring possesses ample amounts of all three – the Iowa woman is being recognized for fostering more than 600 kids over the last 50 years! Linda’s life as a foster mom began in the 1970s, when she was working two jobs and volunteering as a first responder. Although incredibly busy, she was always able to make her children feel at home, providing them with clean clothes, hot meals, and a warm bed.
Linda made it a point to advocate for families and siblings staying together whenever possible, and was accustomed to caring for children with special needs. In October, she retired from foster parenthood for health reasons. This week, she was honored by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors for her years of care and service to foster children. Linda Herring’s life of giving to children has had a ripple effect, as her children and grandchildren are continuing her legacy of foster parenthood, something any mother would be proud of.
It’s easy to get down when you feel like you can’t help other people in need. Six-year-old Owen Colley, however, found a way he could make a difference simply by creating and sharing what he loved. Owen spent the first three years of his life living in Australia and was devastated to learn of the hundreds of thousands of animals that have been lost in recent brush fires. So he and his family formulated a plan – Owen would create small koala bears made of silver clay to raise money for Wildlife Rescue South Coast, an animal rescue organization.
The idea is simple: every person who donates at least $50 receives a genuine Owen Colley original koala sculpture. Owen’s original goal was to raise $1,000, but as of today, he’s raised $57,000 to aid the animal rescue group. Together with his adorable koala sculptures, this kind and creative boy has found a way to take his love of home and animals and give back in his own way.