World

Spain to Suspend Catalonia’s Leaders, Call Elections (VIDEO)

by Creede Newton – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has confirmed that Spain will go forward with Article 155 after his cabinet held a crisis meeting to decide how to put an end to Catalonia’s secession drive. The previously untapped article of Spain’s constitution will enable Madrid to seize powers from the wealthy northeastern region. Rajoy listed four goals for enacting Article 155: A return to legality, to recover normality and co-existence, to continue with economic recovery and to have an election in Catalonia in “normal political circumstances”. The Catalan government will be dissolved as a result. Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras said new elections were “not the best way of moving forward”. Rajoy told reporters in Madrid that Catalonia’s independence drive has been “unilateral”, calling the October 1 independence vote a “referendum that the whole world knew the Spanish government couldn’t accept”. Catalonia voted in a disputed independence referendum...

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Spain to Trigger Article 155 to Block Catalan Autonomy

by Creede Newton – Spain will enact Article 155 of the Constitution which allows Madrid to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy, the prime minister’s office said in a statement. The measure will be sent to the Senate for approval on Saturday, the statement on Thursday said. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was responding to a letter by Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, which said Catalonia will declare independence should Spain continue to block talks and enact Article 155. Spain denounced the attitude maintained by those responsible for harming “the coexistence and economic structure of Catalonia”, the prime minister’s statement said, promising that Madrid would do everything in its power to restore “legality and constitutional order”. Spanish government spokesperson Inigo Mendez de Vigo told reporters in Madrid: “Cabinet ministers will approve the measures on Saturday, which will be submitted to the Senate to protect the interests of the Spanish people – including the Catalans in Catalonia....

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‘Wake-Up Call for Progressives’ as Far Right Surges in Austrian Elections

by Andrea Germanos – Far-right party head feels “vindicated by the fact that way more than 55 percent” of voters chose its platform. Preliminary results from Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Austria point towards a 31-year-old immigration hardliner becoming the country’s next leader and his conservative party forming a coalition with the neo-Nazi linked Freedom Party. Millennial Sebastian Kurz’s People’s Party (OVP)—which he’s moved further to the right—took in 31.6 percent of the vote, while the Social Democrats and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) each received about 26 percent of the vote. Newsweek writes that Kurz “achieved electoral success partly by adopting some of the Freedom Party’s positioning on” immigration. That fact was noted by FPO head Heinz-Christian Strache. “I’m feeling somewhat vindicated by the fact that way more than 55 percent have voted for the Freedom Party’s platform, because big parts of our program were copied by other parties,” he said on a television panel....

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Hamas: Deal Reached With Palestinian Rival Fatah (VIDEO)

Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas leader and former prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday, without providing further details. Further information will be announced at a noon news conference (10GMT) in Cairo, where unity talks between the rival factions began on Tuesday. “Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today upon a generous Egyptian sponsorship,” Haniyeh said in a statement. The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas in fighting in 2007. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt. The meetings in Cairo are centred around implementing the 2011 Cairo Agreement between the two political parties, in hopes of ending the 10-year political schism. A party to the negotiations, who asked not to be identified, told AFP news agency the agreement would see forces of...

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Who was Che Guevara?

A look back at the life and legacy of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. The life and legacy of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna is in focus this week 50 years after his death on October 9, 1967. We answer some of the key questions about the man behind the moniker “Che”. The man Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, known worldwide as Che, was born on June 14, 1928, into a middle-class family in Rosario, northeast Argentina. He had a left-leaning, and literary, family life before beginning his studies in medicine at Buenos Aires University in 1948. Two years later, Guevara started the first of two motorcycle journeys through Latin America which in successive years would help shape his political views and sense of purpose. Guevara became convinced during his journeys – 4,500km and 8,000km respectively – that the solutions to the widespread poverty and oppression he had witnessed were armed revolution and communism....

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Germany: The Rise of the Right

by Gwynne Dyer – A general trend towards the authoritarian, ultra-nationalist right in Western politics has emerged. Angela Merkel’s slogan in her campaign for a fourth term as Chancellor was terminally bland and smug – “For a Germany in which we live well and love living” – but it did the job, sort of. Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is back as the largest party, so Merkel gets to form the next coalition government. But the neo-fascists are now in the Bundestag (parliament) too, for the first time since the collapse of Nazi Germany. It’s not Merkel’s fault, exactly, but the numbers tell the tale. The CDU had its worst result ever, down from 40 percent of the vote at the last election to only 33 percent this time. And it looks like the 7 percent of the vote that the CDU lost went straight to the Alternative for Germany (AfD),...

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German Election: Angela Merkel Wins Fourth Term (VIDEO)

Chancellor’s bloc secures most votes, as a far-right party enters parliament for first time in decades. “There is very leftish wing in the Greens party, and there is a very conservative, even close to nationalism, wing in the FDP,” he added. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a fourth term in office after a general election that has surged an overtly nationalist party to enter parliament for the first time in decades. Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union party secured 33 percent of the vote on Sunday, down about nine percent compared to the last election in 2013. Their main rival and current coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats led by Martin Schulz, got around 21 percent of the vote – their worst result in post-war Germany. But the biggest change to Germany’s political scene was the emergence of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as the country’s third biggest political...

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Schulz Fails to Make Headway Against Chancellor Merkel (VIDEO)

by Laurence Lee – With just a few days to go before what is expected to be a comfortable victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sunday’s elections, her main contender on the left is facing mounting criticism for his campaign. Martin Schulz, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) candidate, is stuck in polls of about 20 percent support, seemingly unable to make any headway against the CDU’s Merkel. “He is an extremely accomplished politician,” Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from Karlsruhe, said, referring to Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament. “And yet, at a time when many Germans are unsure about Angela Merkel, he has made precisely no progress against her.” Some supporters of the SPD have pointed out that there is little to distinguish their party leader from Merkel. “Sometimes I feel like they are a long married couple,” Jan Siebenbrock told Al Jazeera. The choice of German leader could affect...

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PM May On Way Out As Leader of the Free World Looks Forward to Election Victory

by Lib Dem FoP – Two pieces of Euro-news. Opinion polls put Angela Merkel in an unbeatable position to remain as German Chancellor after federal elections on September 24. The second is the start of the exit of Theresa May as British Prime Minister. The latter needs a bit of “reading the runes” but bear with me. The latest opinion polls give Merkel’s CDU/CSU (the aligned parties have different names in some lande) 38% and the main rival Social Democrats 22%. Four smaller parties; the Left Party, the Greens, the centrist liberal Free Democrats and the neo-Nazi AfD (“Alternative for Germany”) are all hovering around the 9-10% mark. Germany’s proportional system means that no party will have overall control but it is probable that the “grand coalition” of the CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats will continue. The leader of the Free World therefore appears to be safe to continue her work. Theresa...

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UN: Israel Settlements Big Hurdle to Two-State Solution

Antonio Guterres condemns ‘illegal’ Israeli settlement construction, calling it an ‘obstacle’ that needs to be removed. Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, has lashed out at Israel’s illegal settlement activity, calling it a “major obstacle” to achieving a two-state solution and peace with the Palestinians. “There is no plan B to the two-state solution,” he said on Tuesday after meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “A two-state solution, end to occupation, creating conditions to end the suffering of the Palestinian people are the only way to guarantee that peace is established,” Guterres added. His remarks came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to never uproot any West Bank settlement – just days after a White House envoy was in the region trying to restart peace talks with the Palestinians. “We have returned here for good,” Netanyahu said. “There will...

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Death Toll Continues to Rise in Duterte’s War on Drugs (VIDEOS)

Police claim killing of 25 criminals in Manila’s week of bloodshed as President Duterte continues crackdown. Twenty-five criminals were killed, including 14 in anti-drug operations, overnight in the Philippine capital Manila in a second night of heavy bloodshed this week as President Duterte’s fierce war on drugs intensified. Thursday’s killings across Manila followed 32 deaths in near-simultaneous police operations on Monday night through to Tuesday in Bulacan province, marking the deadliest period of Duterte’s controversial crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos. Philippine police ‘dumping bodies’ of drug war victims Joel Napoleon Coronel, director of Manila Police District, told reporters the 14 were killed in sting operations and 11 other deaths were robbers who were also involved in narcotics. The identity of the killers of the 11 people were not known and the incidents were under investigation, police reports said. On Wednesday, President Duterte praised the operations, adding that he will order the...

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UN: Venezuela Uses ‘excessive force to crush dissent’

UN’s rights office says Venezuela’s security forces are responsible for at least 46 deaths in connection with protests. The United Nations has criticized Venezuela’s “widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions” against protesters, amid worsening tensions and fresh moves against the opposition. The UN’s human rights office based in Switzerland on Tuesday highlighted witness accounts of police and soldiers using “disproportionate force to instill fear, crush dissent, and to prevent demonstrators from assembling, rallying and reaching public institutions to present petitions”. Maduro inaugurates contentious Venezuela assembly The team’s analysis found security forces were allegedly responsible for at least 46 deaths, and pro-government armed groups were allegedly responsible for 27 among 124 deaths being investigated in connection with demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro’s government. The protests have stemmed from anger over the installation of an all-powerful Constituent Assembly that they see as a power grab by Maduro. The dire economic situation also...

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Mueller Investigation Expands Focus to Probe Flynn’s Finances

by Julia Conley – The special counsel is examining whether former national security advisor Michael Flynn concealed payments from the Turkish government. Financial entanglements of former national security advisor became the focus of the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election on Friday night. Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly questioning witnesses about whether Flynn’s company, Flynn Intel Group, received secret payments from the Turkish government late in 2016. The alleged payments were reportedly made in exchange for a campaign discrediting a cleric accused of orchestrating the military coup that threatened to overtake Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016. Investigators also want to determine whether Flynn paid a Turkish businessman to help conceal the source of the payments, which amounted to $530,000. Such payments and the attempt to hide the source of the money could lead to criminal charges for Flynn, including...

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Israel Moves to Close Al Jazeera, Ban its Journalists (VIDEOS)

Request made by Israel’s communication minister targets both the network’s Arabic and English channels. Israel is moving forward to revoke media credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the network’s office in Jerusalem, the country’s communication minister has announced. Ayoub Kara made the announcement on Sunday during a press conference, where Al Jazeera was barred from attending. “We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,” Kara said, adding that the channel is being used by groups to “incite” violence. Kara said he expects Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to consider his request in the next session. “I will go through the legislatory mechanism to create the authority in which I can act freely. We will try to end it as quickly as possible.” Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from Jerusalem on Sunday, said that the request to...

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The UK High Court Is Wrong

by César Chelala – The decision by the UK High Court to block a bid by a former chief of staff of the Iraqi army to bring a private prosecution against Tony Blair for his responsibility over the Iraq War is misguided. It means, essentially, that one of the architects of a war that almost destroyed a country will continue to enjoy immunity for this dreadful act. General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat accuses Mr. Blair of having committed a “crime of aggression” by orchestrating with President George W. Bush the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein. As is widely known, that invasion left hundreds of thousands of civilian victims, many of them children, destroyed the country’s infrastructure and public health system, and dangerously polluted the country’s environment. The Iraqi General’s lawyers had requested permission to seek judicial review from the Supreme Court. They want that highest court...

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Netanyahu’s Former Chief of Staff Turns State’s Evidence in Corruption Probe

by durrati – Wow, times are tough for for RWNJ heads of state out there, with Mueller impaneling a grand jury and now… Former Netanyhau Aide Ari Harow Reaches Deal to Become State’s Witness “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Ari Harow has reached an agreement with the prosecution to turn state’s witness in two corruption cases against Netanyahu. Under the deal, Harow will be convicted of fraud and breach of trust in a separate case, but will avoid jail time. Instead, he will do community service as pay a 700,000-shekel ($193,000) fine. The Israel Police confirmed on Thursday that the prime minister is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu’s bureau rejected the allegations on Thursday, calling them “unfounded claims.” Harow served for two terms in key positions in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 2009 he was appointed bureau chief, but left after a year to pursue private business...

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Venezuelan Opposition Leaders Lopez and Ledezma Sent to Jail

Opposition figures critical of vote sent to jail as court says they were planning to flee, drawing criticism from UN. Two of Venezuela’s leading opposition figures, who were detained a day after a controversial constitutional vote, have been sent to jail on the orders of the country’s top court. The Supreme Court on Tuesday revoked house arrest measures granted to Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma and put them back in jail because the opposition leaders were planning to flee. Lopez, 46, and Ledezma, 62, both former mayors in the capital Caracas, were seized from their homes overnight on Tuesday, according to their relatives and supporters. International condemnation as Venezuelan president celebrates election The opposition, which boycotted the constituent assembly election held on Sunday, says President Nicolas Maduro wants to consolidate power through the new super-legislative body tasked to reform the country’s constitution. The Venezuelan president hailed the election victory, that according...

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Poland is Turning Authoritarian (VIDEOS)

by Claudia Ciobanu – Will the Polish people be able to stop it? Late Friday night, the Polish parliament completed the adoption of a set of laws that amount to the executive taking control of the judiciary. The Constitutional Tribunal, the highest appeals court, and the body responsible for appointing judges – all three – will be largely in the hands of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS), when these laws come into effect. Technically, Polish President Andrzej Duda can still veto the laws. A few days ago, he asked that one of the laws be changed, calling for a larger parliamentary majority than that initially proposed by PiS to dictate changes to the body appointing judges. It’s unclear whether Duda’s gesture was part of a larger PiS calculation to appear compromising to the protesting crowds, or an attempt by the president to gain political capital by resisting unpopular...

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Is Nigeria on the Brink of Another Civil War? (VIDEOS)

by Fisayo Soyombo – On the 50th anniversary of its bloody civil war, Nigeria is struggling to prevent another. On August 1, 1966, after the collapse of last-ditch attempts by Nigeria’s power brokers to prevent the impending civil war, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu said only one thing would make the rebels cease fire: “that the Republic of Nigeria be split into its component parts; and all southerners in the North be repatriated to the South and that Northerners resident in the South be repatriated to the North”. WATCH: Biafra: Young Nigerians renew calls for independence (2:52) On May 30, 1967, Oxford-educated Ojukwu declared Biafra an independent state in the southeast of the country. On July 6, 1967, civil war broke out in Nigeria, which claimed more than a million lives in just three years. Fast-forward to June 2017. Irked by renewed secessionist calls from the same Igbo ethnic group, a coalition of northern groups issued a notice,...

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Hundreds of Thousands Gather in Turkey to ‘Revolt Against Injustice’

by Julia Conley – Opposition declares massive rally in Istanbul the beginning of a pro-democracy movement. Turkey’s opposition leader declared a new beginning for the country and demanded reforms to the country’s current government at a huge pro-democracy rally in Istanbul on Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Turkey’s first city following a peaceful 25-day March for Justice that began 250 miles away in the capital city of Ankara. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), organized the march with other politicians to protest President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian government. Since rising to power as Turkey’s prime minister in 2002, Erdogan has exhibited an increasingly dictatorial style of leadership. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) has muzzled the press and removed judges from the country’s highest courts in an apparent effort to gain control over the judiciary. After a deadly coup attempt in the summer of 2016 by a...

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