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Putin announces 2018 re-election bid, ends long speculation

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 10:04 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 10:03 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he would seek re-election next year in a race he is poised to win easily, putting him on track to become the nation's longest-serving ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Putin's approval ratings regularly top 80 percent, making him all but certain to win the March election by a broad margin. While few doubted the 65-year-old leader would run, the delay in his declaring so fueled some conspiracy theories and was seen as the Kremlin's political maneuvering.

The 65-year-old Russian leader's potential rivals include several luckless candidates from past contests and a notable newcomer — TV host Ksenia Sobchak, 36, the daughter of Putin's one-time boss.

The president chose to make his re-election announcement at the GAZ automobile factory in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. The factory is a symbol of Russian's industrial might, and Putin found an enthusiastic audience in the blue-collar workers who make up the core of his base.

"I couldn't find a better place and moment," he said to massive applause at the plant. "Thank you for your support. I will run for president."

For months, Putin fended off questions about his plans for 2018, fueling speculation about why he would not say if he would seek re-election. Some theorized he might step down and name a preferred successor.

The Kremlin has been worried about growing voter apathy, and the uncertainty over Putin's plans seemed intended to encourage public interest in the race.

"It was necessary to ensure electoral mobilization," Dmitry Orlov, a political consultant close to the Kremlin, said in televised remarks.

Putin has been in power in Russia since 2000. He served two presidential terms during 2000-2008, then shifted into the prime minister's seat because of term limits. As prime minister, he still called the shots while his ally, Dmitry Medvedev, served as the placeholder president.

Medvedev had the president's term extended to six years and then stepped down to let Putin reclaim the office in 2012. If Putin serves another six-year term, which would run through 2024, he would reach the milestone of having the longest tenure since Stalin, who ruled for nearly 30 years.

Earlier Wednesday, Putin was asked about his intentions at a meeting with young volunteers in Moscow. He said he would decide shortly, then showed up at the GAZ factory making his announcement.

The plant is one of the country's most emblematic industrial giants. It was built during the Soviet industrialization drive in 1932 and has churned out millions of vehicles, from vans and military trucks to Volga sedans and luxury cars for the Soviet elite.

"Thank you for your work, for your attitude to your jobs, your factory, your city and your country!" Putin told factory workers. "I'm sure that together we will succeed."

A stream of fawning comments from officials and lawmakers followed his declaration.

Chechnya's regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, hailed the president's announcement, saying on Instagram that only Putin can "resist a massive shameless and unprecedented" pressure by the West.

Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, said Putin's decision helped end "anxiety and tensions in the society."

The upper house is expected to authorize the start of formal election campaigning later this month.

Veterans of past campaigns — Communist chief Gennady Zyuganov, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky — all have declared their intention to run. They will likely be joined by Sobchak, a well-known television host who is the daughter of the late St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who was Putin's boss in the 1990s.

"I don't trust a system where Putin makes all decisions," said Sobchak, who also met with voters in Nizhny Novgorod Wednesday. "Let's believe in our ability to change the situation."

The most visible Putin foe, Alexei Navalny, also wants to join the race, even though a conviction he calls politically motivated bars him from running. He has organized a grassroots campaign and staged rallies across Russia to raise pressure on the government to allow him to run.

In a signal that the Kremlin isn't going to budge, Navalny's campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, last week was sentenced to a month in jail for staging an unauthorized rally in Nizhny Novgorod. Navalny himself spent 20 days in jail in October for organizing another rally.

"The best illustration of how elections work in Russia is my campaign chief Leonid Volkov sitting in jail just one kilometer (less than a mile) from the venue where Putin declared his bid," Navalny tweeted.

Hopping wallaby stops traffic on Australian highway

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:34 AM

WATCH: Police Chase Hopping Suspect

A wallaby hopping down a highway is not something you see everyday, but that’s exactly what happened Tuesday in Sydney, Australia.

The marsupial found its way onto the road, making drivers wonder what they were seeing as they crossed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, ABC News in Australia reported.

Some described the animal as a kangaroo, including traffic controllers with the Transport Management Center.

>> Read more trending news 

“Traffic controllers had quite a surprise early this morning when we saw a kangaroo making its way down lane No. 8 of Sydney Harbour Bridge, coming from the north side,” Dave Wright told ABC News.

“It basically continued to hop, making its way from lane 8 all the way over to lane 1 ... down the Cahill Expressway and down to Macquarie Street,” Wright said.

Officers were able to corner the animal which turned out to be a male adult swamp wallaby. It was taken to a vet who checked it out. It had a few scratches on its face and hind legs, but had no major injuries, 9 News reported.

Some believe the wallaby may have come from a nearby golf course, but groundskeepers and golfers said they’ve never seen a wallaby or kangaroo on the course before, 9 News reported.

Wallabies at Cockle Creek at the overnight camp during The Cadbury Schweppes Mark Webber Challenge November 13, 2003 in Tasmania, Australia.

Reporter ‘attacked’ by lemurs during report

Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 8:33 AM

WATCH: Reporter "Attacked" By Lemurs During Report

A reporter apparently never heard the saying about not working with animals or children, but thank goodness he didn’t, because we wouldn’t have the Friday laughs some may need.

>> Read more trending news 

Alexander Dunlop was supposed to do a quick standup about England’s Banham Zoo’s annual counting of the park’s animals. 

But it didn’t go as planned.

A group of lemurs, called a conspiracy, yes really, a conspiracy of lemurs, had a plan to attack Dunlop, ABC News reported.

Brave lemur fans can have a “lemur encounter” and get up close and personal with the wild animals.

FILE PHOTO: A lemur jumps from a tree in Antananarivo, Madagascar. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)(David Rogers/Getty Images)

Princess Charlotte is learning second language at age of 2

Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 7:35 AM

Fun Facts about Princess Charlotte

Experts say the best time to learn a second language is when you’re young, and apparently Prince William and Duchess Katherine are following suit, allowing Princess Charlotte to start learning Spanish.

It doesn’t hurt that she’s a member of the royal family and her nanny has been working with the little princess.

>> Read more trending news 

Metro reported that Princess Charlotte has been learning Spanish phrases from nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo. 

And the 2-year-old isn’t alone in expanding her vocabulary. Prince George is said to be able to count to 10 in Spanish, Metro reported

Princess Charlotte recently started full-time nursery school at Willcocks Nursery School in London, the Associated Press reported.

In this handout picture provided by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Britain's Princess Charlotte smiles as she prepares for her first day of nursery at the Willcocks Nursery School, in London, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. (Duchess of Cambridge via AP)(The Duchess of Cambridge/AP)

She turns 3 in May and is fourth in line to the throne, behind Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George, the AP reported

Prince George started primary school in September at Thomas’s Battersea, Metro reported.

Experts at Cornell have studied the learning of languages and have found that the earlier children learn a second language, the more likely they will be able to speak like a native speaker.

Related

Must see: Dog interrupts tied soccer match

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 7:06 AM

A dog runs onto the pitch during the Europa League group L soccer match between Vardar and Rosenborg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Boris Grdanoski/AP
A dog runs onto the pitch during the Europa League group L soccer match between Vardar and Rosenborg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)(Boris Grdanoski/AP)

It’s not every day that a tied soccer game gets interrupted by a fan running on the pitch, especially when that fan is a four-footed furry one.

A husky appeared on the field during a match between teams from Macedonia and Norway, Business Insider reported.

>> Read more trending news

The game was tied 1-1 at the 73rd minute mark when the dog dropped in front of the Macedonian team’s goalkeeper to have its belly rubbed.

Vardar's goalkeeper Filip Gacevski, left, tries to catch a dog that entered the pitch during the Europa League group L soccer match between Vardar and Rosenborg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)(Boris Grdanoski/AP)

The entire event was caught on video.

Eventually, security was able to herd the dog to the tunnel so the game could continue and the match ended in a 1-1 tie.

Vardar's goalkeeper Filip Gacevski, left, tries to catch a dog that entered the pitch during the Europa League group L soccer match between Vardar and Rosenborg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)(Boris Grdanoski/AP)