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CATALAN POLITICS: ‘Long Road’ to Independence: Puigdemont Says

CATALAN POLITICS: ‘Long Road’ to Independence: Puigdemont Says

Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont’s announcement that he would accept the regional election on Dec. 21 signaled that the Madrid government had for now at least gained the upper hand in the protracted struggle over Catalonia, a wealthy northeastern region that already had considerable autonomy.

Despite his dash to the European Union’s power centre, Puigdemont’s hopes of engaging the bloc in his cause seem dim. Member states lined up after Friday’s independence declaration to assert their support for Madrid. EU institutions in Brussels say they will deal only with Madrid and that the dispute remains an internal matter.

“Our position remains unchanged,” EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said in Brussels on Tuesday.

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SPAIN POLITICS: China Stands Shoulder-to-Shoulder With Mariano Rajoy Amid Catalonia Crisis

SPAIN POLITICS: China Stands Shoulder-to-Shoulder With Mariano Rajoy Amid Catalonia Crisis

China’s position on the issue was clear and consistent, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, reiterating support previously offered to the Spanish government.

“We think this is an internal affair for Spain, and understand and support the Spanish government’s efforts to protect national and ethnic unity and territorial integrity, and oppose actions to split the country and damage the rule of law,” she told a daily news briefing on Monday.

“We believe that Spain has the ability to protect social order and guarantee citizens’ rights under the framework of the law.”

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FRANCE POLITICS: UN Rights Experts to France: Provide Safe Water, Sanitation for Migrants in ‘Calais Jungle’

FRANCE POLITICS: UN Rights Experts to France: Provide Safe Water, Sanitation for Migrants in ‘Calais Jungle’

“It is worrying that approximately 700 migrants in Calais and the greater area of Calais temporarily rely on only 10 portable lavatories and water from 10 taps,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, Léo Heller, in a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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CATALONIA POLITICS: Catalan History. Catalan Background

CATALONIA POLITICS: Catalan History. Catalan Background

Proud of its own identity and language, Catalonia is one of Spain’s richest and most highly industrialised regions, and also one of the most independent-minded.
With a distinct history stretching back to the early middle ages, many Catalans think of themselves as a separate nation from the rest of Spain.

This feeling is fed by memories of the Franco dictatorship, which attempted to suppress Catalan identity, and is nowhere more clearly expressed than in the fierce rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, Spain’s top football clubs.

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SPAIN POLITICS: Catalonia Top Stories Now

SPAIN POLITICS: Catalonia Top Stories Now

The political turmoil in Spain intensified on Friday as the Madrid government dismissed Catalonia’s president and parliament hours after the region declared independence.

Pena Nieto made it clear he will stand beside Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he confronts the nation’s most acute political crisis since it embraced democracy in 1978.

“Mexico will not recognise the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia,” Pena Nieto wrote. “We hope for a political and peaceful solution.”

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SPAIN POLITICS: Catalan Police Chief Josep Lluis Trapero Sacked By Spain

SPAIN POLITICS: Catalan Police Chief Josep Lluis Trapero Sacked By Spain

“Given that there is it is likely to be an increase in gatherings and rallies of citizens in all the territory and that there are people of different thoughts, we must remember that it is our responsibility to guarantee the security of all and help these to take place without incident,” the memo said.

chief of Catalonia’s regional police force, Josep Lluis Trapero’s dismissal was signed off by Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido.

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UK POLITICS: UK Universities Fear Censorship After MP Asks How They Teach Brexit

UK POLITICS: UK Universities Fear Censorship After MP Asks How They Teach Brexit

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK which represents university principals, said: “This request suggests an alarming attempt to censor or challenge academic freedom.”

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said Heaton-Harris sent the letter in his capacity as a Member of Parliament, not on behalf of the government.

“What the Prime Minister has always been very clear on is her respect for the freedom and independence of universities and the role the play in creating open and stimulating debate,” he said.

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UK POLITICS: UK ‘Leaving EU Without Any Deal Ok’: More Britons Say

UK POLITICS: UK ‘Leaving EU Without Any Deal Ok’: More Britons Say

The survey published by Opinium on Sunday showed that 37 percent of Brits wanted UK Prime Minister Theresa May to walk away from Brexit negotiations without a deal, a possibility that she has not ruled out.

This is while 25 percent of voters favored Brexit but wanted May to push for the current plan, which involves a transition period after the negotiations until a satisfactory deal is struck about Britain’s access to the EU single market.

The poll also showed that 23 percent of voters were opposed to the whole idea of Brexit and wanted to stay in the EU.

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ITALY POLITICS: Veneto, Lombardy Go to Polls Over Autonomy

ITALY POLITICS: Veneto, Lombardy Go to Polls Over Autonomy

The results of the referenda are legally non-binding even if the majority of people in both regions vote ‘yes’ to greater autonomy. It is however thought that they will help Veneto and Lombardy – governed by the euroskeptic, anti-immigrant Northern League right-wing party – have more leverage in negotiations with Rome.

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UK POLITICS: 5 Year Old Syrian Girl Dies in ‘Concentration Camp’ Funded By UK Taxpayers

UK POLITICS: 5 Year Old Syrian Girl Dies in ‘Concentration Camp’ Funded By UK Taxpayers

“I crawled inside and the blankets on the floor were wet, it was so cold and dirty and damp,” Daliah, a volunteer and former protection team employee who visited the family, told RT UK.

“Their daughter had just died and they were left there. They had nothing. No visit from a psychiatrist. The mother was silent. They were in shock and the children were saying ‘my sister died – she died just here.’

“There was a volunteer there in tears. He told me they just pulled her out like a dog and took her away. There was no dignity.”

Following her “unexplained” death, her tiny body was buried without an Islamic funeral and without her mother being present.

“She became nothing but a number – she didn’t even get her last respect,” Daliah said.

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UK POLITICS: Theresa May Offers Olive Branch to EU Leaders

UK POLITICS: Theresa May Offers Olive Branch to EU Leaders

Theresa May will say: “We are in touching distance of agreement” of securing the rights of the around 3 million people from other EU countries in Britain.

“I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay,” Theresa May wrote on her Facebook page, adding she would set up a group of those affected and experts to make sure the process is smooth.

“I know both sides will consider each other’s proposals for finalizing the agreement with an open mind. And with flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident that we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.”

Offering concessions, Theresa May will say that EU citizens settling in Britain will no longer need to have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance, as they currently require under EU rules.

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EUROPE POLITICS: EU-US Data Transfer Pact to Pass First Annual Review

EUROPE POLITICS: EU-US Data Transfer Pact to Pass First Annual Review

The European Commission last month conducted its first annual review of the framework as it seeks to ensure the United States lives up to its promises to better protect Europeans’ data when they are transferred across the Atlantic – failing which it could suspend the Privacy Shield.

The EU executive however is satisfied that the framework continues to ensure adequate protection of Europeans’ personal data although it will address a number of recommendations to Washington, an EU source told Reuters.

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GERMANY POLITICS: 88-Year-Old Ursula Haverbeck ‘Nazi Grandma’ Punished For Holocaust Denial

GERMANY POLITICS: 88-Year-Old Ursula Haverbeck ‘Nazi Grandma’ Punished For Holocaust Denial

Ursula Haverbeck and her late husband Werner Georg Haverbeck, who was an active NSDAP member in the run-up to and during World War II, founded a right-wing education center called Collegium Humanum, which has been banned since 2008.

Haverbeck has written for the right-wing magazine Stimme des Reiches (Voice of the Empire), in which she also denied the existence of the Holocaust.

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UK POLITICS: Angela Merkel Ally to Theresa May: Stand Up to Boris Johnson

UK POLITICS: Angela Merkel Ally to Theresa May: Stand Up to Boris Johnson

Michael Fuchs, the vice chairman of the German Chancellor’s party said, “Theresa May has to come up with decent proposals,” Dr Fuchs said. “Whatever she is offering, Boris Johnson is saying it’s too much.”

Arguing his influence was “pretty strong”, Dr Fuchs added: “Otherwise she would come up with other proposals. The problem is she has internal trouble in the Tories.”

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AUSTRIA POLITICS: Austrian Vote Gives Mandate to Far Right to Enter Coalition Talks

AUSTRIA POLITICS: Austrian Vote Gives Mandate to Far Right to Enter Coalition Talks

Kurz’s party will probably need a coalition partner. An alliance with the FPO is the most likely option, although Kurz kept his options open.

“Neither a coalition with the FPO nor one with the SPO has been agreed,” Kurz told broadcaster ORF when pressed on his plans. “We have to wait for the result”

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AUSTRIA POLITICS: Sebastian Kurz on Track to Become Austria’s Next Leader

AUSTRIA POLITICS: Sebastian Kurz on Track to Become Austria’s Next Leader

FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who has accused Kurz of stealing his party’s ideas, declined to be drawn on his preferred partner.

“Anything is possible,” he told ORF. “We are pleased with this great success and one thing is clear: nearly 60 percent of the Austrian population voted for the FPO program.”

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SPAIN POLITICS: Spanish Government Will Take Control of Catalonia If Carles Puigdemont Replies Ambiguously to Madrid’s Question

SPAIN POLITICS: Spanish Government Will Take Control of Catalonia If Carles Puigdemont Replies Ambiguously to Madrid’s Question

“The answer must be without any ambiguity. He must say ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido told Cope radio.

“If he answers ambiguously, it means he doesn’t want dialogue and thus the Spanish government will have to take action,” he also said.

Puigdemont, who is holding consultations with local parties to prepare his answer, faces a tough dilemma.

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FRANCE POLITICS: Epic Fail! Clumsy SCRT Spy Agent Accidentally Texts Radical Islamist Suspect He Was Spying On

FRANCE POLITICS: Epic Fail! Clumsy SCRT Spy Agent Accidentally Texts Radical Islamist Suspect He Was Spying On

The agent for the Central Service of Territorial Surveillance (SCRT) was tasked with monitoring a Paris cleric suspected of preaching an extremist interpretation of Islam.

The suspect was reportedly quick to respond to the text, mocking the SCRT employee for his incompetence. He also warned his associates that they might be under government surveillance.

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EUROPE POLITICS: ‘Devastating Consequences’ of Any War With North Korea: NATO Chief Warns

EUROPE POLITICS: ‘Devastating Consequences’ of Any War With North Korea: NATO Chief Warns

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “The use of military force will have devastating consequences, I think nobody really wants that, therefore we need to continue to push for a negotiated solution.”

The NATO chief urged a diplomatic solution to the Korean Peninsula crisis.

“The US has the right to defend itself, to defend its allies, but at [the] same time, I am absolutely certain no one wants a military solution, so we still see a united effort to try to step up the pressure against North Korea,” Stoltenberg added.

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UK POLITICS: US Drone Kills British Jihadist Sally Jones

UK POLITICS: US Drone Kills British Jihadist Sally Jones

Sally Jones became known as the White Widow after her British jihadist husband Junaid Hussain was killed in a US drone strike in August 2015.

Following the death of Hussain, Sally Jones was reportedly placed in charge of the female wing of IS’ Anwar al-Awlaki batallion – a foreign fighter unit formed with the purpose of planning and executing attacks in the West.

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