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Putin’s party backs president’s pick for prime minister

Mikhail Mishustin, a former tax official little known both outside and even within Russian political circles, is set to be the nation’s new prime minister, having on Thursday morning received the backing of the governing party. Mishustin has been hand-picked by President Vladimir Putin to oversee a new government, charged with implementing a range of constitutional…

Putin’s party backs president’s pick for prime minister

Mikhail Mishustin, a former tax official little known both outside and even within Russian political circles, is set to be the nation’s new prime minister, having on Thursday morning received the backing of the governing party.
Mishustin has been hand-picked by President Vladimir Putin to oversee a new government, charged with implementing a range of constitutional reforms that could see the Russian president remain in power in some form after his term of office expires in 2024.
More:

Russian parliament to review Putin PM pick after shock overhaul

Is Putin attempting to carve out a ‘father of the nation’ role?

Russian gov’t quits after Putin proposes constitutional reform

Wednesday’s shock resignation of Russia’s entire government followed Putin’s calls for widespread reforms to Russia’s power structures, with former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev saying the president deserved to have the type of government he wanted while the reforms were pushed through.
Medvedev will remain in office until his successor formally takes over, when the long-standing Putin ally will begin a new role in charge of defence and security in Russia’s highly influential Security Council.

Government resigns as Putin plans his future (2:31)

Some analysts are suggesting 67-year-old Putin, who is two years into his fourth presidential term and has steered the country since 1999, could be laying the groundwork to assume a new position or remain in a powerful behind-the-scenes role.
It is unclear whether Mishustin, a technocrat whose recent career revolved around the tax service, is a temporary placeholder or could be groomed as Putin’s successor.
But his approval was imminent after the United Russia party – which holds 75 percent of seats in the lower house of the Russian parliament – gave its backing on Thursday morning.
“We decided to unanimously support the candidature suggested by our national leader for the post of the head of government,” the head of United Russia’s parliamentary faction, Sergei Neverov, told journalists.
Legislators are due to discuss and vote on Mishustin’s nomination at a plenary session at 11:00 GMT.
‘Staying number one’
In his state of the nation speech, Putin said he wanted more authority transferred to Parliament from the president, including the power to choose the prime minister and cabinet members.
He also called for the power of the State Council, an advisory body, to be expanded and enshrined in the constitution – adding to conjecture that Putin could take it over after 2024 to preserve power.
Outlining the proposals, which would be the first significant changes to the country’s constitution since it was adopted in 1993, Putin said there was a “demand for change” among Russians.
He was set to meet on Thursday with a newly created working group to develop constitutional amendments.
A list of more than 70 names joining the group published by the Kremlin includes conservative public figures as well as celebrities like actor Vladimir Mashkov and pianist Denis Matsuev.
Independent political analyst Maria Lipman said the announcements indicated that Putin wanted to “stay on as number one in the country, without any competitors”.
She said he could be deliberately weakening the presidency before relinquishing the role.
Russia’s opposition also said the proposals indicate Putin’s desire to stay in power.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny said on Twitter that Putin’s only goal was to “remain the sole leader for life”.
‘Faceless functionary’ 
Once 53-year-old Mishustin is appointed he will have a week to propose a new government and ministers.
He told United Russia that some changes in the cabinet would be made but did not elaborate, legislator Viktor Vodolatsky told Interfax.
Mishustin, the former head of an investment group who trained as an engineer, has a PhD in economics and has led Russia’s Federal Tax Service since 2010.
He shares Putin’s love for hockey and has been seen at matches with security services officials.
Former opposition legislator Gennadiy Gudkov called Mishustin “a new faceless functionary without ambition” who embodies a system that is “detrimental for the economy”.
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Democratic

Democratic Party platform includes federal judiciary overhaul, court-packing agenda

Liberal activists made an overhaul of the federal judiciary, including court-packing, part of the 2020 platform adopted this week at the Democratic National Convention. The platform’s call for “structural court reforms” is short on specifics, but advocacy groups have begun recruiting liberal judicial candidates for a court-packing agenda in a potential Biden administration next year.…

Democratic Party platform includes federal judiciary overhaul, court-packing agenda

Liberal activists made an overhaul of the federal judiciary, including court-packing, part of the 2020 platform adopted this week at the Democratic National Convention.

The platform’s call for “structural court reforms” is short on specifics, but advocacy groups have begun recruiting liberal judicial candidates for a court-packing agenda in a potential Biden administration next year.

Every president appoints federal judges to fill vacancies, but liberal activists have lobbied for years to expand the number of federal judges when Democrats take the White House, enabling them to tilt the federal bench markedly to the left.

In 2016, the Democratic Party platform made a fleeting reference to the federal judiciary. It said Democrats would install judges defending “liberty and equality for all,” particularly on the issues of abortion and billionaires’ purported influence over elections.

Buckling under pressure from liberal activists, who are furious about President Trump’s 200-plus judicial appointments, Democratic Party officials incorporated the court-packing agenda.

“Since 1990, the United States has grown by one-third, the number of cases in federal district courts has increased by 38 percent, federal circuit court filings have risen by 40 percent, and federal cases involving a felony defendant are up 60 percent, but we have not expanded the federal judiciary to reflect this reality in nearly 30 years,” reads the 2020 platform document. “Democrats will commit to creating new federal district and circuit judgeships consistent with recommendations from the Judicial Conference.”

Liberal activists celebrated the Democrats’ commitment to creating more judgeships as the party establishment finally accepted calls for court-packing.

Brian Fallon, executive director of liberal judicial advocacy group Demand Justice, labeled the move a “historic call” and took credit on Twitter for helping to push Democrats to the left on efforts to pack the federal judiciary.

Mr. Fallon, who was a top aide to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, called for expanding the Supreme Court and other federal courts and led attacks on Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court in 2018.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, is a close ally of Mr. Fallon and has rallied with him in opposition to Mr. Trump’s judicial picks.

To ensure that the liberal court-packing agenda does not disappear after the convention and coming elections, the liberal activists at Alliance for Justice have developed a “Building the Bench” initiative focused on creating a leftist farm system of judges for a Democratic president to use.

“It is painfully obvious that Republicans weaponize the courts to do their dirty work in an attempt to dismantle health care protections, civil rights and more,” Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice founder, said in a statement. “With any future legislation that strengthens access to healthcare or civil rights, Republicans will again turn to this dirty trick, so any progressive agenda must prioritize the judiciary to safeguard this progress. Our Building the Bench initiative is identifying and assisting in the confirmation of judges under the next administration who will serve the cause of justice for all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.”

The group’s efforts are being guided by a council led by lawyers from law schools such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford, from large law firms such as Arnold & Porter, and from the activist community including the Transformative Justice Coalition.

The Building the Bench initiative is “prioritizing demographic diversity” and promises to “help prospective judicial nominees navigate their way through the process.”

While presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden has pledged to put a Black woman on the Supreme Court whenever a seat opens, liberal activists also want Mr. Biden to remake the demographics of the federal bench.

Alliance for Justice’s activists are concerned that the courts will not always be front-and-center during the party’s national convention this week. The convention’s largely virtual format makes it more difficult for liberal activists to pressure Democratic Party leaders, so the group is organizing its grassroots activists on social media around #CourtsMatter to show that liberals care about the issue.

Courts have recently mattered more to conservative voters. President Trump leveraged the politics of the federal judiciary and a Supreme Court vacancy to win over skeptical conservatives in 2016.

Mike Davis, president of the conservative Article III Project that supports Mr. Trump’s judicial picks, said he is considering buying ads that point out the Democratic Party Platform. The left’s “radical court-packing scheme” would motivate Mr. Trump’s base for the November election, he said.

“Republicans need to see, and maybe the Democratic platform will do it, that there is a clear threat to a conservative majority on the [Supreme] Court,” Mr. Davis said. “Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s vice-presidential pick, has endorsed a radical scheme to add at least two more justices to the nine on the Supreme Court, something that even [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt] failed to accomplish and now the Biden-Harris ticket is explicitly endorsing court-packing in their platform.”

With no current Supreme Court vacancy, pro-Trump conservatives have gossiped that one of the justices appointed by a Republican president may retire soon in hopes that such fears will galvanize conservatives. Fears of a liberal court-packing scheme, however, may prove to be a more potent argument for conservatives this year.

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Green

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins: Donald Trump is ‘toast’ after coronavirus, George Floyd killing

President Trump’s poor handling of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and recent unrest caused by George Floyd’s killing is on course to cost him reelection, a likely rival of his in the White House race told The Washington Times. Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s presumptive nominee in November’s presidential election, said he expects Mr. Trump’s…

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins: Donald Trump is ‘toast’ after coronavirus, George Floyd killing

President Trump’s poor handling of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and recent unrest caused by George Floyd’s killing is on course to cost him reelection, a likely rival of his in the White House race told The Washington Times.

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s presumptive nominee in November’s presidential election, said he expects Mr. Trump’s response to both crises are top among the reasons Americans will vote to stop him from securing a second term in office.

Mr. Hawkins, a longtime activist who co-founded the Green Party, acknowledged it will likely be Democratic challenger Joseph R. Biden if anybody who takes Mr. Trump’s place, however.

The longshot White House hopeful spoke to The Times by phone from Syracuse, New York, where he has done most of his campaigning since the country essentially shut down in March due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, the contagious disease caused by the coronavirus. Speaking as nationwide protests erupted over Floyd’s racially charged killing in police custody, Mr. Hawkins predicted that outrage over the Trump administration’s “insensitive” response to the unrest it sparked play a big part in hurting the president at the polls.

“First of all, I think Trump is toast,” Mr. Hawkins told The Times. “Between the COVID crisis, his insensitive response to what’s going on now and the economic situation – I mean, if Biden can’t beat him then the Democrats can’t do anything,”

Mr. Hawkins, 67, also said that recent protests held across the country following Floyd’s killing are unlike practically any other he’s seen in his last half-century of activism.

“The only thing I’ve seen on this scale is anti-Vietnam war, particularly 1969 and 1970, and anti-Iraq war leading up to the invasion in 2003,” Mr. Hawkins told The Times, noting the only protests that he would compare to those held recently are demonstrations that happened after the National Guard fatally shot four students at Kent State in 1970.

“The other thing that’s different this time is it’s multi-racial,” he added. “The anti-Vietnam war movement was mostly white, the civil rights movement and the urban uprisings in the 60s were predominantly black, and this is multi-racial, which I think is a hopeful harbinger for our future.”

Mr. Hawkins, a Marine veteran who has unsuccessfully campaigned several times in the past for lower office, is currently leading the race for the Green Party’s presidential nomination ahead of its national convention taking place next month. Greens have fared poorly against Republicans and Democrats in recent White House elections, however, albeit not without making considerable noise in some election cycles.

Ralph Nader received 2.74% of the popular vote in 2000, including a considerable number in Florida that caused some to suggest he spoiled the race for failed Democratic nominee Al Gore that year; More recently, Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate during the last White House contest in 2016, received around 1.4 million votes, or roughly 1.1% of total ballots cast that election.

Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after being restrained for nearly nine minutes by several members of the Minneapolis Police Department in Minnesota, sparking protests against systemic racism and police brutality to take place across the country in the days since. Mr. Trump has subsequently faced condemnations from critics over his administration’s response to outrage over Floyd’s killing, including notably his mobilization of the military on U.S. soil and threat to deploy troops against Americans in cities where riots have erupted amid that unrest.

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