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Putin, on eve of vote that could extend his rule, to review Red Square military parade



By Andrew Osborn

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin will review a spectacular Red Square military parade later on Wednesday on the eve of a nationwide vote that could extend his rule until 2036, a patriotic display critics say is designed to lift his lower than usual ratings.

The parade, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s World War Two victory over the Nazis, was postponed from May 9 because of the novel coronavirus outbreak and critics say it is irresponsible to go ahead with it now.

The Kremlin has dismissed that however, saying new daily infections, though still in the thousands, are on the wane, especially in the Russian capital, the original epicentre of the outbreak, and that all safety precautions will be taken.

Opening a military cathedral on Monday, Putin said the Soviet wartime victory remained a touchstone for modern Russia, calling it a sacred memory.

“It’s always with us and gives us strength, strength to serve our country and moral messages which we do not have the right to resile from and will never do so,” said Putin.

The results of a survey released by state pollster VTsIOM on Tuesday showed that 95% of Russians regarded the 1945 Soviet victory as the most important event of the 20th century for Russia.

The vote from June 25 until July 1 on constitutional changes, including an amendment that would allow Putin two more six-year terms as president if re-elected. Current constitutional limits bar him from seeking re-election when his mandate ends in 2024.

Experts from state pollster VTsIOM have forecast that 67-71% of voters will endorse the changes. Kremlin critics say the vote is a sham they fear will be falsified.

Putin’s approval rating is 59%, according to Levada, an independent pollster whose research the Kremlin has said it is not inclined to trust. Though high by most countries’ standards, it is at its lowest since 1999.

Polls show people’s willingness to protest has risen as lower oil prices and a prolonged lockdown have battered the economy, unemployment has risen, and a Kremlin plan to reverse years of falling real wages has been knocked off course.

More than 14,000 troops, over 200 armoured vehicles and 75 aircraft will take part in Wednesday’s parade, as well as representatives from 13 other countries.

Sergei Aleksashenko, an economist who has been critical of Putin, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Tuesday that the Russian leader was determined to hold the parade despite the pandemic.

“Vladimir Putin believes that the parade is a reaffirmation of his greatness, the greatness of the country and of our historical memory,” said Aleksashenko.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Grant McCool)

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Canada pushes back on U.S. Congress members’ call to reopen border amid coronavirus – Global News



The federal government is softly pushing back against an effort from U.S. Congress members to reopen the border with Canada amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying any decision will be made “by Canadians, for Canadians.”

A bipartisan group of 29 federal lawmakers led by New York representatives Blaine Higgins and Elise Stefanik sent a letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf late last week, urging both countries to “immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border.”

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The group also calls for interim measures to ease restrictions on family members and property owners, particularly those with property only accessible through cross-border travel, and “restore the social bond that unites our two nations.”

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“We hope that our legacy of binational cooperation would lend to the development of a thorough plan to protect the health of our shared communities and reinvigorate them in this time of recovery,” the letter reads.

The Canada-U.S. border was shut down to all but essential travel, including transportation of goods and work-related travel, on March 21. The closure has been extended by 30-day periods after assessments of the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries, pushing the deadline most recently to July 21.

‘We’re very concerned’: Dr. Bonnie Henry on COVID-19 transmission coming from U.S.

‘We’re very concerned’: Dr. Bonnie Henry on COVID-19 transmission coming from U.S.

The Congress members argue those regular extensions have created “unnecessary tension” and uncertainty for individuals and the shared economy,

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“Continuing to extend border restrictions at 30-day intervals is untenable for the communities that have been separated from family and unable to tend to their property for over three months,” the group argues.

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As travel increases, Canada boosting presence of health officials at airports, U.S. border

Higgins, a Democrat, and Republican member Stefanik are co-chairs of the Northern Border Caucus, which focuses on cross-border commerce and investment as well as border infrastructure.

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said while conversations between Canada and the U.S. about the border are ongoing, “both sides agree that the current measures in place” have “worked well.”

“Our absolute priority is the health and safety of Canadians,” Katherine Cuplinskas said in an email. “That is why we want to be clear that decisions about Canada’s border are made by Canadians, for Canadians.”

Coronavirus: Why reopening the Canada-US border too soon could mean a ‘second wave’

Coronavirus: Why reopening the Canada-US border too soon could mean a ‘second wave’

Cuplinskas did not give any suggestion either way as to whether the July 21 deadline will be extended yet again.

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Public polling has suggested Canadians are mostly supportive of the decision to keep the U.S. border closed to limit the spread of COVID-19, and has remained steadfast as cases have surged south of the border at an alarming rate.

Read more:
Canadians living in U.S. hunker down as coronavirus cases surge

The U.S. topped three million infections Wednesday, just 28 days after crossing the two-million mark — cutting by nearly half the time it took to grow from a million to two million cases.

Spikes in several states have lead to continuous record-breaking daily case counts, which have been blamed in part on aggressive moves to reopen local economies.

A Globe and Mail/Nanos poll released Monday, three days after Higgins’ and Stefaniuk’s letter was sent to Blair and Wolf, found 81 per cent of those surveyed want the border to remain closed “for the foreseeable future.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Online Casinos & COVID-19- The Beginning Of A New Boom



The outbreak of the pandemic has changed human lives in the most unexpected ways. No one expected businesses to go remote for several months in a row. And who could have ever thought that people would self-quarantine and shun social outings for such a long time? Still, there is nothing more real than the fact that COVID-19 has made social distancing the way of life. While some businesses have witnessed a complete downfall during this period, others have come ahead as winners.

Of course, healthcare organizations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other essential service providers have found opportunities to grow. Apart from the very obvious, there is a surprise winner in the list- online casinos. Again the reason for this boom is very obvious- people are looking for ways to keep themselves entertained while being mandated to stay at home. Let us discover the major factors that have led to the online casino boom in the COVID era.

Amazing source of indoor entertainment

Life has taken an unprecedented turn after the virus struck and things are not likely to change much in the foreseeable future. Even the post-pandemic era will emphasize on social distancing. Movie theaters, bars, and restaurants have shut their doors. Sports arenas, conferences, and concerts have been canceled. No wonder, people are looking for a sense of normalcy and only indoor entertainment can help. They have been indulging in activities like cooking, reading, exercising, gardening, and chatting with friends and family to be busy and engaged. However, when it comes to an amazing and exciting form of entertainment, online gaming definitely takes the cake. More so, online casinos bring the thrill factor of winning as well.

Luck is all one needs to win

When it comes to online gaming, there are a lot of options for people of all ages and interests. But you cannot expect to ace with skill-based virtual games unless you have the right kind of dexterity, expertise, and experience. With casino games, however, sheer luck is what keeps you going and even helps you win. You need not cultivate special skills and gain experience with this category of esports. Just place your bet where your intuition tells you and you can make big money if you are fortunate enough. What’s more, you can access your favorite casino website anytime with just a good internet connection and try your luck!

Opportunity to make a fortune

Perhaps the biggest reason why online casinos are experiencing a major boom in the COVID season is that they give the players an opportunity to make a fortune. Money is tight these days, with pay cuts and job losses being rampant. In such circumstances, even a few dollars made can give your finances all the support and stability they need. You can start with a small gambling bankroll and make it big in no time, if you have luck on your side and learn the basics of betting. And you can even embrace the games for supplementing your income in the post-pandemic period because you can expect economic tightness ahead. Online gambling surely has the potential to be a lucrative and entertaining side hustle.

There are options galore

Versatility is another factor that makes this activity a hot favorite for people looking for great entertainment indoors. It is easy to find a game that gets your adrenaline rushing and brings you big dollars as well. Check leovegas and you can find the incredible range in table games and esports. You have the freedom to play as many as you want to and choose the ones you would want to play again and again. There couldn’t be anything more thrilling than having a new one to try every single day. And you even have the chance to grab a jackpot or two!

Online casinos for everyone

If going to Vegas has always been a distant dream for you, now is the best time to make it true. The wow factor about online casinos is that they are for everyone- you need not be a millionaire to take a luxury flight to a gambling destination and stay at an expensive hotel there. It is easy to access a casino website with just a few clicks, without spending a dollar on being at a physical destination. You can save on the overheads of the trip and splurge on real gambling instead- and have a good chance of making big money too. And that goes for middle-income people who want to fulfill their Vegas dream!

Offers and promotions

While players love online gambling, businesses are also cashing in on the trend and offering the most amazing promotions on the websites. Obviously, you get the opportunity to win more with less. Moreover, online casinos are going the extra mile with the user experience on their website. So you can expect an exciting experience every time you play. There is great emphasis on security as well, so you need not worry about theft of your data and money even as you transact online.

Feel good even in isolation

Social isolation is the biggest impact of the coronavirus as it hits people mentally, even if they save themselves from getting infected. A thrilling activity like online gaming is a great way to beat the lockdown blues and stay happy and motivated even during the crisis. The fact that you have the hope to make big money adds to the positivity, which is a much-needed virtue for everyone these days. And you can probably connect with a group of fellow enthusiasts and create a community where everyone has the opportunity to share their experiences and beat isolation as well.

Certainly, online casinos deserve to be a winning platform because they go a long way in bringing entertainment and positivity for people locked indoors and struggling to stay sane during the crisis situation. The rising figures of traffic to these websites are enough to indicate their popularity and things are going to get only bigger and better in the future. Till then, keep playing and winning!

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Canada not ready for second wave of COVID-19, Senate committee says – CTV News



Canada is ill-prepared for a second wave of COVID-19, says a Senate committee, calling on the federal Liberals to deliver a plan by Labour Day to help people and communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

Seniors, in particular, are a focus of the report from the Senate’s social affairs committee, from those in long-term care homes to those with low incomes.

Just this week, the Liberals rolled out one-time special payments of $300 to the more than six million people who receive old-age security, and $200 more for the 2.2 million who also receive the guaranteed income supplement.

The income supports are meant to help seniors facing increased costs as a result of the pandemic, such as more frequent prescription fees and delivery charges for groceries.

Senators on the committee wrote of evidence of “financial insecurity and increased vulnerability” for low-income seniors as a result of the first wave of the novel coronavirus.

A potential second wave, which could coincide with the annual flu season that starts in the fall, would make the situation even worse for these seniors “without concrete and timely government action,” the report says.

Senators say the Liberals should deliver a plan to help low-income seniors, among other populations vulnerable to economic shocks like new immigrants, no later than the end of August, and contain short- and long-term options.

The report also says the federal government needs to pay urgent attention to seniors in long-term care homes where outbreaks and deaths in the pandemic have been concentrated.

The document made public Thursday morning is the committee’s first set of observations on the government’s response to the pandemic, with a final report expected later this year.

Before then, the Liberals are planning to provide another economic update like the one delivered Wednesday, or possibly a full budget. The government shelved plans to deliver one at the end of March when the House of Commons went on extended hiatus due to the pandemic.

The long-awaited economic “snapshot,” as the Liberals styled it, said federal spending is closing in on $600 billion this fiscal year. That means a deficit of $343 billion, fuelled by emergency pandemic aid that the government budgets at over $230 billion.

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada said the spending figures demand a “full and transparent assessment” to see what worked, what didn’t and what needs to change for an economic recovery.

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said the Liberals should take back up their promise to create a national pharmacare system as the government considers its next steps.

A federal advisory council last year calculated the cost of a program at over $15 billion annually, depending on its design.

“The last thing we want to have is Canadians in frail health as we’re dealing with this pandemic and I think the government really needs to think of that,” Yussuff said in an interview Wednesday.

“Had it not been for the health care system we have right now,” he added later, “think of how this country would have fared in this pandemic.”

The Senate committee’s report also notes the national emergency stockpile of personal protective gear like masks, gowns and gloves wasn’t managed well over the years, nor sufficiently stocked when the pandemic struck.

Committee members added concerns that military members could be deployed without sufficient personal protective equipment because of “inconsistencies from international procurement.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020.

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