Connect with us


Ahead Of Talks With Spain, Catalonia Set To Celebrate National Day



Ahead Of Talks With Spain, Catalonia Set To Celebrate National Day

Catalonia’s deeply divided separatist movement will put its mobilisation skills to the test on Saturday as the northeastern region celebrates its national day ahead of fresh talks with Spain’s government.

The annual “Diada” on September 11 marks the fall of Barcelona to Spain in 1714 and normally draws vast crowds of more than one million people.

This year’s celebrations will be the first since Spain pardoned nine separatist leaders who were serving long jail terms over their involvement in a failed 2017 independence bid.

Under the slogan, “We will fight for independence and win”, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the region’s biggest grassroots separatist movement, is planning to march through Barcelona in an annual rally that at its peak brought 1.5 million people onto the streets.

READ ALSO: Afghan Women To Be Banned From Playing Sport

But many things have changed since the frenetic autumn of 2017 when the Catalan regional government staged a referendum banned by Madrid and then issued a short-lived declaration of independence, triggering Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

Those behind the move were arrested, tried and sentenced to long jail terms by Spain’s top court, while others fled abroad to avoid prosecution, leaving the movement deeply disappointed and sharply at odds over how to proceed.

“Since 2017, morale has hit a real low, but the fact that there were political prisoners (in jail) gave them something to keep fighting for,” Berta Barbet, a political scientist from Barcelona’s Autonomous University, told AFP.

“Now that is gone (following the prisoners’ pardon), the real lack of driving force is clear for all to see.”

Also weighing on the mood is friction within Catalonia’s new separatist-led government, which groups the moderate leftist ERC that favours a negotiated strategy to achieve independence, and its more radical junior partner, JxC, which wants to keep up a confrontational approach.

Such pressures have depleted the numbers at recent Diadas, with only 600,000 hitting the streets in 2019, the lowest number in many years.

In 2020, coronavirus-related health restrictions reduced the celebrations to a handful of separate events which drew fewer than 60,000 people.

The separatist camp also suffered a setback this week before the European Court of Human Rights, which dismissed complaints from two people who say they were the victims of police violence during the 2017 referendum.

Despite everything, independence is deeply rooted within this wealthy region of 7.8 million residents.

“Even though it is going through a difficult moment politically, the independence movement is still very strong on the street,” said Barbet.

And that was on show in regional elections in February when the separatists managed to garner more than 50 percent of the votes.

Following weeks of tense negotiations, Pere Aragones, a moderate ERC separatist, was finally installed as regional leader in May.

A small player within Spain’s parliament, ERC has offered crucial support to the minority government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and when it took over as senior partner in the Catalan administration, it had an immediate effect.

Within weeks, the Spanish government had pardoned the separatist leaders and agreed to resume top-level talks on resolving the Catalan crisis.

READ ALSO: ECOWAS Suspends Guinea Over Military Coup

Sanchez and Aragones are scheduled to meet next week, although there is still no fixed date and it remains unclear whether the Spanish premier will attend the talks in person.

What is clear is that both sides will come to the table with radically different roadmaps.

The Spanish government is against the key demands of the separatists — namely, an amnesty for all those involved in the failed independence bid, which would exonerate those who fled abroad, and a referendum on self-determination, this time with Madrid’s approval.

“There is little or no room for agreement”, said Lluis Orriols, a political scientist at Madrid’s Carlos III University.

“The central government can offer greater regional powers, it can seek to hold a referendum with different parameters, but only as long as it doesn’t infringe on Spain’s constitution,” he said.

Still, there is hope that the negotiations will ease tensions at a key moment of economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.


Continue Reading
Click to comment


Police Fine British Prime Minister For Not Wearing Seatbelt In Car



Police Fine British Prime Minister For Not Wearing Seat Belt In Car

The British Police have fined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not wearing a seatbelt in the back of a moving car while on a trip to northern England.

Sunak, who recorded an Instagram video on Thursday, was seen turning in his seat to talk to the camera without a seatbelt on, a video that has now been deleted from the social media site.

The PM’s office at Downing Street said the incident was a “brief error of judgment”, but Lancashire constabulary announced they were fining Sunak for the infraction, The Guardian UK says.

The force said: “You will be aware that a video has been circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seatbelt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire.

“After looking into this matter, we have today issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.”

Reacting, a spokesperson for Sunak said: “The prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty.”

A fixed penalty means Sunak can pay a fine to avoid a court hearing.

The police did not disclose how much they had fined the prime minister, but according to the government’s safety campaign, any driver or passenger not wearing a seatbelt is breaking the law and is liable to be fined up to £500 if the case goes to court, according to The Guardian UK.

Sunak’s transportation habits were already a talking point in the United Kingdom before the incident, a report by AFP says.

 READ  ALSO: Rishi Sunak Becomes UK’s New Prime Minister

His political rivals have taken aim at his use of a private jet to make multiple short flights in recent days.

This is not the first time Sunak has been slapped with a police fine.

He was fined while serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer for attending a Downing Street party in June 2020 that violated the government’s rules on social distancing, according to an AFP report.

The latest fine makes Sunak the second Conservative prime minister to receive a police fine in less than 12 months. The Metropolitan police, in 2020, issued a fixed-penalty notice to Boris Johnson for attending a party during lockdown. Sunak was fined for attending the same event as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Continue Reading


World’s Oldest Nun Dies At 118



World's Oldest Nun Does At 118

French nun Sister André who was the world’s oldest known person died at age 118 in the southern French city of Toulon, the city’s mayor Hubert Falco said on Wednesday.

Born in the southern French town of Ales on Feb. 11, 1904, as Lucile Randon, Sister André was listed as the oldest person alive by the Gerontology Research Group in April 2022.

The Frenchwoman worked as a home teacher in her youth and did not enter a religious community until she was in her early 40s.
Most recently, Sister André was confined to a wheelchair, and for several years she could no longer see properly.

READ ALSO: Eight Shot At Crowded Martin Luther King Day Block Party

She was an honorary citizen of Toulon, where she lived in a retirement home for several years.
Falco praised her as incredibly modern and a nun with a big heart.

Guinness World Records said Lucile, who took the name of Sister André in 1944, was the second-oldest French person and the second-oldest European person ever recorded.
More recently, Sister André received the record for the oldest COVID-19 survivor after an infection in 2021.

“It’s difficult to fathom that someone born before the patenting of plastic, zips or even bras were alive well into the 21st century, and robust enough to beat COVID-19’’, the Guinness World Records editor, Craig Glenday said in a statement.

“It’s been an honour to record her story in the pages of the Guinness World Records book, and she will live on in history as the fourth oldest person ever authenticated.’’

With her death, Maria Branyas Morera, who lived in Spain, assumed the title of the world’s oldest person at age 115.


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading


Eight Shot At Crowded Martin Luther King Day Block Party



Eight Shot At Crowded Martin Luther King Day Block Party

Eight people were shot at a block party packed with more than 1,000 people celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Fort Pierce, Florida, Monday, police said.

All eight of those shot were adults and they were ferried to the hospital for treatment, including one person in critical condition, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Hester said during a news conference.

Six people, including a baby, were killed in a ‘massacre’ that is likely gang-related, California sheriff’s office says.

At least four others were injured as people ran for safety, the sheriff’s office said. One of those injured was a juvenile who was hurt as people rushed to flee the park where the event was being held, Hester said.

“As the shots rang out, people were just running in all directions,” Hester said. “There were people laying behind cars, laying behind anything they could lay behind. It was kind of hard to tell who was a victim and who was just hiding at that point.”

The shooting began at around 5:20 p.m. in Ilous Ellis Park, he said, where the community had gathered for an afternoon car show, dance performances, live DJ and kids activities to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an event flyer shows.

In a video taken by a witness, attendees are seen dancing by their cars and enjoying the music when what sounds like gunfire begins to resonate over the song. People in the crowd start to rush away from the noise, some ducking behind cars or grabbing children’s hands and running across the street.

READ ALSO: A Philosopher’s Spiritual Journey And Bertrand Russell’s Influence

The incident marks the 30th mass shooting in the country this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

So far this year, the US is averaging about two mass shootings per day.

Two sheriff’s deputies who were stationed in the park ran toward the scene and provided aid to those injured, Hester said. Several witnesses also helped to render aid and drive people to the hospital, he added.

The sheriff’s office has not named any suspects in the shooting, but investigators were following up on several leads from witnesses and community members Monday night.

Investigators preliminarily believe the gunfire involved multiple shooters and resulted from “a disagreement of some sort between two parties,” Hester said.

“So many innocent people that were injured or hurt were not part of the disagreement,” he added.

Survivors of mass shootings are left with lifelong wounds — and mounting bills

“It’s really unfortunate and it’s sad that during a celebration of someone who represented peace and equality, a disagreement results in a use of guns and violence,” Hester said.

He estimated as many as 40 sheriff’s office personnel were working the case Monday night as they processed the scene, spoke to victims at the hospital and followed up on leads.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact authorities or submit anonymous tips through CrimeStoppers. The sheriff’s department is handling the case because the Ilous Ellis Park is a St. Lucie County park.

Fort Pierce is a coastal city about an hour’s drive north of West Palm Beach.



Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading

Top Stories

%d bloggers like this: