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News from Europe: Spain, France, Germany, Russia...
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Joined: 02 Feb 2010
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Location: France

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:31 pm    Post subject: News from Europe: Spain, France, Germany, Russia... Reply with quote

This is weird. I did a Search on the Catalonia referendum for independence. The AV system found two matches, but nothing came on screen. I distinctly remember Anémone being very vocal on the subject, did a search with her name and once again there were two invisible matches. Very weird. Shocked

Admin's Note: Those threads disappeared in the crash. They still exist in the system's memory but our server GoDaddy didn't restore them. Nothing we can do... Sad

Anyway, here's the latest that I could find.

Catalonia’s Election Yields a Crisis That Is Here to Stay

BARCELONA, Spain — Since taking charge of Spain six years ago, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has done his best to remain aloof from the gathering threat of secessionism in Catalonia.

He did not engage Catalonia’s leadership until it finally declared unilateral independence in October, prompting him to take direct control of the region. Before then, Mr. Rajoy seemed to hope that the problem would eventually fade, along with a Spanish financial crisis that had helped fuel the movement.

But after Catalonia’s regional election on Thursday, in which separatist parties won a majority of seats in the regional parliament, it is now clear that the independence movement is not going away.

Spain is staring at a festering, long-term conflict, unfolding in a deeply divided region and driven by emboldened separatists whose demands could now be harder than ever to ignore.

“As a minimum, we’ve won the right to be listened to,” Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan leader whom Mr. Rajoy dismissed in October, said at a news conference in Brussels, where he has taken up self-imposed exile. “Whether you like or not the topic, you have to have a dialogue.”

Mr. Puigdemont called on the prime minister to end his emergency control over Catalonia immediately and allow him to start a new mandate as the region’s leader, even as he faces prosecution. He also offered to meet Mr. Rajoy in Brussels or another location outside of Spain.

Yet even now Mr. Rajoy seems reluctant to take an approach to the Catalan crisis any different from the one that has pushed Spain nearly to the point of fracturing.

On Friday, the prime minister repeated his insistence that he was open to dialogue, but not with Catalan politicians who do not respect Spain’s Constitution.

Yet that is seemingly whom Catalans have returned to power in the balloting on Thursday. The separatists won 70 of the 135 seats in the regional parliament, narrowly maintaining the majority that they won in 2015. Together they received 47.5 percent of the vote but were bolstered by a proportional representation system that rewards their rural dominance.

Instead, Mr. Rajoy chose to emphasize the success of the anti-secessionist party, Cuidadanos, led in Catalonia by Inés Arrimadas. It received the largest percentage of the vote — 25 percent — but is still likely to be in the opposition.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:34 pm    Post subject: Madrid and Barcelona need to talk. That’s not on the cards Reply with quote

Madrid and Barcelona need to talk. That’s not on the cards
Miguel-Anxo Murado
Dialogue appears to be the only way forward for Catalonia, but neither the government nor nationalists seem prepared to compromise

When Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy decided to impose direct rule over Catalonia in October, and call a snap election to replace its regional parliament – after it had declared independence from Spain – he thought he was “restoring normality” to Catalan politics and putting an end to the conflict.

Instead, the election has shown that conflict is the new normal. The pro-independence parties have again secured an absolute majority, and they vow to restore the same government Rajoy dismissed two months ago.

But far from a deja vu, this will be something never seen before, for the likely president of that government, Carles Puigdemont, is in self-imposed exile in Belgium, some of his ministers are in jail in Spain, and all are accused by the supreme court of rebellion, a charge that could result in up to 30 years in prison. Rajoy’s gamble has certainly backfired. It could be argued that he didn’t have much choice, once the Catalan parliament had broken the law. And the move did defuse the declaration of independence. But the idea that it would permanently resolve the crisis was predicated on an assumption that is very popular in Spain but is wrong: that there is a “hidden pro-Spain majority” in Catalonia, which has never been allowed to express itself at the polls, cowed by the prevailing nationalist atmosphere.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:47 pm    Post subject: Catalonia crisis: What next for Spain? Reply with quote

Catalonia crisis: What next for Spain?

It is the biggest political crisis in Spain for 40 years and a major challenge for the European Union.

After years of mutual hostility, independence supporters have proclaimed Catalonia a republic - and Spain has responded by imposing direct rule on the autonomous region.

So how could events unfold in Catalonia now?

How did we arrive here?

Years of Catalan ill-feeling over the level of autonomy the region had under the Spanish constitution culminated in a surge towards independence this autumn.

On 27 October, the regional parliament, where separatist MPs made up the majority, officially declared independence, just as the Spanish Senate met to discuss the government's response.
Media captionThe moment Catalan parliament declared independence

The Catalan MPs voted to transfer legal power from Spain, a constitutional monarchy, to an independent republic. That means they no longer recognise the Spanish constitution.

Catalan MPs opposed to independence, who won about 40% of the vote at Catalonia's last regional election, boycotted the vote.

They had likewise boycotted the self-determination referendum on 1 October, which Spain tried to ban. That ballot, according to the organisers, resulted in a Yes vote of 90%, with turnout of 43%.

How did Madrid respond?

It used new emergency powers, under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, to sack Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his entire cabinet, and dissolve the regional parliament.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's loyal right hand, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, has been appointed to run the region temporarily.

An early regional election has been called for 21 December.

Catalonia's 17,000-strong local police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, was taken over by the Spanish Ministry of Interior. The force's popular chief, Josep Lluís Trapero, was also dismissed and replaced by his low-profile deputy, Ferran López.
What do the Catalan separatists do now?

Mr Puigdemont said he and his allies would resist "democratically" the imposition of direct rule.

The ousted president then travelled to Belgium, saying it was for "for safety purposes" and because he wanted to be able to speak freely.

Meanwhile, grassroots independence activists have been calling for mass demonstrations to "defend the republic".

It is likely that the separatists will organise strikes, boycotts and more mass rallies in response to Madrid's actions.

The main separatist grassroots group, the Catalan National Assembly, regards the Rajoy administration as a "foreign government".

It has called on the region's civil servants not to follow orders from the Spanish government in a display of "peaceful resistance".
Do the secessionists face legal action?

Mr Puigdemont and 13 of his deputies from the ousted Catalan government have been ordered to appear in court in Madrid. They are accused of rebellion - which carries a maximum 30-year jail term - as well as sedition and misuse of funds.

They are yet to be formally charged. A High Court judge will have to decide whether the officials should go to jail pending an investigation that could potentially lead to a trial.

Nine of the sacked politicians attended the court summons on Thursday. However, Mr Puigdemont said he would not return from Belgium without a guarantee of a fair trial.

The same charges have been drawn up against the Catalan parliament's speaker, Carme Forcadell, and five other senior MPs - but because they have parliamentary immunity, their case is being heard by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the former Mossos chief could also be charged with sedition. Mr Trapero is accused of failing to help national police officers tackle pro-independence protesters during an incident in Barcelona during the run-up to the referendum.

Two key figures in the grassroots separatist movement, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, are in custody in a prison near Madrid awaiting the outcome of an investigation into the same incident.
Can Madrid really regain control?

It is not clear how quickly or effectively Spain can reassert central control over Catalonia.

It is reported that Mossos officers have been urged to remain neutral as they begin taking orders from Madrid.

The plan is for the special measures to remain in place until the election in December.

On paper, the plan is clear, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports, but implementing that in practice is a complex process, and one bound to meet stiff resistance from those who just voted for independence.

Any use of force by the security services will be closely watched after the uproar over police brutality on polling day.

Videos showed police dragging some voters away from ballot boxes and hitting them with batons.

Reality Check: Were Catalonia police violence photos fake?

Is there still room for compromise?

The two sides are poles apart after the proclamation of independence and imposition of direct rule.

One significant gesture the Spanish government could still make to appease Catalan nationalists is to restore some constitutional amendments from 2006 which boosted Catalonia's status.

They were struck down four years later at the request of Mr Rajoy's own Popular Party.
How great is the economic factor?

Madrid has powerful economic levers, even though Catalonia is one of Spain's wealthiest regions.

More than 1,600 companies, including the banks Caixa and Sabadell and several utility companies, have decided to move their legal headquarters out of Catalonia since the referendum.

Catalonia accounts for about a fifth of Spain's economic output but Catalonia also has a huge pile of debt and owes €52bn (£47bn; $61bn) to the Spanish government.
Will the outside world act over Catalonia?

The cause of Catalan statehood has long been argued abroad by the separatists and since the referendum they have been calling for international mediation.

The motion passed by the Catalan parliament urges the EU to "intervene to stop the violation of civic and political rights" by the Spanish government.

However, the EU and its individual member states, as well as the US, have made clear they see the crisis as an internal matter for Spain.

"Catalonia is an integral part of Spain, and the United States supports the Spanish government's constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united," a US state department statement said.

It is very hard for any region to achieve independence under international law.

Kosovo discovered that when it broke away from Serbia, even though it had a strong case on human rights grounds and the support of Nato and much of the EU but not, significantly, Spain.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:50 pm    Post subject: No place in Paris Reply with quote

No place in Paris - translated from German by Internet

In the French capital, rents and house prices have become priceless

French President Emmanuel Macron had a lot to say during his New Year speech on television, which watched more than eleven million of his compatriots in front of the television. One of the sayings of the man in the Élysée Palace with its gilded banisters and marble steps: He would soon see "no one sleeping on the street". He meant the people without permanent residence, as homeless people in the official language. That may have been a real wish of the head of state so shortly after Christmas. His announcement has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of the Paris housing market. Priceless rents and the astronomical growing purchase prices for apartments drive more and more capital residents to the province every day or, worse, to sidewalks and park benches.

At the end of the year, INSEE, the National Institute of Statistics, soberly announced that the beautiful metropolis on the Seine is losing "its inhabitants." 37,345 Parisians left their city in 2017 - they are no longer registered as tenants. Above all, the particularly chic quarters of the "Rive Gauche", the left bank of the river, are affected. However, more than eleven percent of the residents also turned their backs to the 8th district on the right bank of the Seine, the capital's luxury district with its high-end boutiques and high-end department stores. Its main street, Avenue Eugène Haussmann, named after the former prefect and protagonist of the restoration, is firmly in the hands of wealthy shopping clients from Japan, China, Russia or the Arab Emirates.

Even in the so-called popular neighborhoods where "real Parisians" still live today - people who were born, raised and gone to school in their city - it has long been difficult or impossible to rent even a small apartment. In the 10th arrondissement between the Place de la République and the Gare de l'Est, the Ostbahnhof, a 65 square meter small two-room apartment can easily be rented for between € 1,500 and € 1,800 per month - unaffordable to a Parisian normal earner. To buy an apartment of similar size, the many hundreds of real estate traders sticking to the city like carrion flies charge no less than 650,000 euros. For less than 10,000 euros per square meter, there is nothing to buy in Paris.

It is also known from other European countries that working people have to sleep in their cars because their monthly wages are no longer enough to pay for a shelter. However, the housing shortage in Paris, which is exacerbated in other metropolises, is due to the enormous demand on the part of particularly wealthy clients for a "second home" and, on the other hand, so-called investors who use their existing living space for tourism. The sleeping places available to nearly 50 million tourists each year are missing from the local population.

Florent Gueguen, director of the FNARS Solidarity Community, which is organizing the fight against homelessness in Paris by numerous relief organizations, complained this week: "We have a terrible shortage of social housing, whose rent would be affordable. The whole system is frozen and rotten. To get it moving again, a few thousand units would need to be built and leased at very low prices. "Working people whose wages are not enough for the usual rent could finally find a home again, and the homeless would be incapacitated, Especially in winter, find at least a place for the night in the waiting, but currently overcrowded dormitories.

Against this background, President Macron prefers not to mention that Paris is already preparing for the 2024 Olympic Games. In the run-up to this bread-and-play spectacle, which is so important to big capitalism, rental and real estate prices are likely to continue to rise.
Roule, tambour d'Arcole!!
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:25 am    Post subject: Catalonia crisis Reply with quote

Catalonia crisis: Spanish supreme court refuses to release former Vice President accused of rebellion
Oriol Junqueras also faces charges of sedition and misuse of public funds for independence bid
Lydia Smith

Supreme Court judges have ruled against allowing deposed former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras out of jail.

He faces charges of potential rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for going ahead with an illegal independence bid for the region of Catalonia.

In the decision on Friday, the judges said there was a risk that Mr Junqueras might again commit crimes as there was no sign he intended changing his ways.

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Dans un mois, dans un an, comment souffrirons-nous
Seigneur, que tant de mers me séparent de vous?
Et que le jour commence, et que le jour finisse
Sans que jamais Titus puisse voir Bérénice?

In a month, in a year, how will we steel our hearts
My lord, to being from each other oceans apart?
And that day after day dawns and then dies
Without our ever being able to see each other's eyes?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:44 pm    Post subject: Russia Meddling Deepens in Europe Reply with quote

Russia Meddling Deepens in Europe—Threat to Midterms

Russian meddling in Western democracies throughout Europe is worsening, a new 200-page report released Wednesday by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) warns. The report is the first of its kind from Congress, and it details Russian attempts to undermine governments in 19 European nations following alleged Kremlin interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “Never before has a U.S. president so clearly ignored such a grave and growing threat to U.S. national security,” the report says of President Trump, who has taken little action in the wake of such evidence. The report was not signed by any Republicans. Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he commissioned the paper so that American citizens can view for themselves the “true scope and scale” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s work to undermine democracy globally.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:08 am    Post subject: Merkel seeks to revive grand coalition Reply with quote

Cornered Merkel upbeat as seeks to revive grand coalition
By Michelle Martin BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel is optimistic her conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) can cut a deal, she said on Sunday as the parties began five days of talks about reviving the 'grand coalition' that has governed Germany since

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:59 am    Post subject: Germans Get Blueprint For New Coalition Reply with quote

German Leaders Emerge From Marathon Talks With Blueprint For New Coalition
•January 12, 2018

It may have taken a marathon — but the party leaders who walked into a negotiating room in Berlin roughly 24 hours earlier emerged Friday morning with smiles on their faces and a preliminary deal in hand.

Before a cluster of media in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her center-left counterparts announced they have agreed to a draft deal for a coalition government. The 28-page blueprint lays out a proposed compromise between Merkel's conservative bloc and the Social Democrats, who have governed Germany together for years but lately have shown signs of significant friction.

Now, the leaders must take the deal back to lawmakers in their own parties, who will determine whether to confirm, change or reject Friday's agreement.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:05 am    Post subject: The Czechs’ Clear Choice: Russia or Europe Reply with quote

The Czechs’ Clear Choice: A Future for the Young With Europe, or Nostalgia and Dependence on Putin
Jiri Drahos, the pro-Europe challenger to incumbent president and Putin crony Milos Zeman, looks like he just might win the second round runoff.
BY Anna Nemtsova

RomanNOVE VESELI, Czech Republic—On the day of the first round in this country’s presidential election, Linda Jamborova, a 23-year-old coffee shop manager, was busy chatting with her clients in a provincial town in Vysocina region. With a big smile, a contagious sense of humor, and her golden skin glowing after a visit to the tanning salon on this gray and misty day, she generated an air of youth and health. Jamborova was speaking about her dreams, her political views, and the generational clash between young and old in the Czech Republic.

Prague was once a cultural beacon, hip and dynamic, led by the literary icon Vaclav Havel through a smooth transition from communism. Now, the country is known for retrograde politics, and strangely, a leaning toward Russia, even nostalgia for old East Bloc ties. Among the elites, at least, the Velvet Revolution led by the late Havel seems to have been folded up and put away in a drawer.

Like many young women in her country, Jamborova was frustrated that all nine candidates running for president in the first round of voting last Friday were male. She seemed to have a hard time choosing which of these unremarkable, gray figures should be the one to represent her country on the international scene.

But one thing Jamborova felt confident about: she did not want to see 73-year-old President Milos Zeman re-elected to stay in Prague Castle on top of the hill in her country’s capital for another term. At least in this, the election offered Czechs like Jamborova a chance to regain some of their country's old moral high ground. “Every time I see him, he is drunk, and his face looks stupid. I would hate it if he wins,” Jamborova told The Daily Beast.

In the event, President Zeman failed to win re-election in the first round, with only 38.5 percent of vote, and after two weeks Czech citizens will vote again. All the other candidates endorsed the leading opposition candidate in the run-off, Jiri Drahos, the former president of the Czech Academy of Sciences. He had placed second with 26.6 percent of the vote, and Czech Television subsequently gave him a 48.5 percent to 44 percent lead over Zeman.

If Zeman is defeated, many would see it as a setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to win over the leaders of countries that once were part of the Soviet Bloc.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:35 am    Post subject: 'Mercron' Hits Davos Reply with quote

Mercron hits Davos
Merkel, Macron (and Europe) take center stage.

DAVOS, Switzerland — Hey, Donald Trump! Europe’s back.

That was the clear message from Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron in their double act at the global elite shindig in the Swiss Alps. They didn’t take to the Davos stage at the same time on Wednesday, but they might as well have.

They obviously wanted to make this occasion count, to use the Davos stage to show off Europe’s strengths at a time of international turmoil. The Brits may have lost it and voted for Brexit, the Americans really lost it and chose Trump, but Europe is on the up, politically and economically. The Old Continent offers both stability (that’s the Merkel part of the double act) and a desire to make bold new moves (step forward, Monsieur Macron).

Merkel was up first. Fresh from her political near-death experience, and with the Social Democrats (almost) safely in hand as her coalition partner, the veteran chancellor spent far less time discussing her recent difficulties back home than she did talking about compromising with fellow EU leaders on reforms to the bloc.

“We need to be patient,” she said, presenting her pitch for how the world should be run. That may be an old-school and boring approach, but it sums up Merkel and Merkelism to a tee — and in her view, and telling, represents a better bet than being unpredictable in one’s decision-making. The dig at U.S. President Donald Trump, who is due in Davos on Thursday, was missed by no one.

“For people from outside, it is a cultural experience to see how we find solutions in Europe,” Merkel said. “It takes a while” to sit down and find a compromise with 27 other leaders, she added, but she’s being doing it for long enough to advocate “the laborious but rewarding attempt to act multilaterally.”

“Germany is a country committed to finding multilateral solutions. Unilateral action and protectionism are not the answer,” she said, bluntly criticizing Trump’s approach to trade and taxation. “Let us not shut ourselves off from the world. Let us keep pace with the best in the world and prepare ourselves to withstand the crises of the future.”

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