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Putin says ‘happy’ about protests

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Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who is running for president in Sunday’s polls, said the mass protests against him made him “happy”, but expressed confidence that the majority of people support him.

“I am very happy about this situation, because that means that the authorities… have to actively react to what is happening in the country, to people’s sentiments, and to meet expectations,” Putin said while meeting editors of foreign newspapers in the Moscow region, his website said Friday.

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Tens of thousands of people have staged several rallies in Moscow over the past three months against unfair elections and Putin’s monopoly on power, and many plan to demonstrate next Monday, after the presidential polls.

“I think this is a very good experience for Russia,” Putin said.

“There is noting surprising that criticism focuses on the majority party, which has carried the burden of responsibility for the situation in the country for quite some time,” Putin said.

However he distanced himself from his party, adding that most Russian people support him despite wide protests in the capital.

“You said the urban population is against. They are not against,” Putin told one of the editors, who said polls indicated the urban middle class is rejecting Putin.

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“There are less of my supporters (there), that is true. But all in all, my supporters are in the majority, even in large cities.

“We have to be objective and see reality, not what we want to see,” said Putin, advising they should consult “serious polls”.

Putin also said he has not yet decided whether he will stay in power beyond 2018, when the presidential mandate he is set to win in the weekend’s elections will expire.

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“I don’t know if I want to stay for over 20 years. I have not decided this for myself yet,” he told the meeting of editors.

The presidential mandate is now six years, due to constitutional changes that expanded the term from the four years that Medvedev has served.

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American Airlines ordered passengers to stop social distancing — because they hadn’t paid for exit seats

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On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the flight crew on an American Airlines trip ordered two passengers to stop social distancing and move back to their seats.

The reason? The empty row they moved into cost slightly more.

"On a June 30 flight on American Airlines from Dallas to Newark, Joy Gonzalez, an aviation engineer based in Seattle, found herself seated at a window with two older passengers beside her in the middle and aisle seats," reported Elaine Glusac. "In order to gain more social distance, she and the aisle passenger both moved to seats behind them where two rows were empty. But before takeoff, a flight attendant ordered them back to their assigned seats, telling them they had not paid for those exit row seats, which are more expensive."

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US artist’s holiday park sculpture fetches millions

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A huge sculpture by American artist Alexander Calder sold at auction in Paris on Wednesday for over 4.9 million euros, auctioneers Artcurial said, after nearly six decades on display at a holiday park in southern France.

The influential sculptor is known primarily for his colorful and abstract mobiles, of which he made thousands over the course of his career.

But he also made "stabiles" -- the opposite of mobiles -- one of which remained concealed from the general public in La Colle-sur-Loup village, a few dozen kilometres from the ritzy city Cannes.

The black steel 3,5 meter (11 foot) structure was made by Calder in 1963.

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Joe Shapiro’s wife disputes Mary Trump’s claim her husband took SATs for Trump

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Mary Trump's upcoming tell-all book alleges that President Donald Trump's sister did his homework and friend and fellow University of Pennsylvania graduate, Joe Shapiro, took his SATs for him.

ABC News reported Wednesday that Pam Shriver, Shapiro's widow, said that he would never have done something like that.

"He always did the right thing, and that's why this hurts," said Shriver.

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