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Spain court rules proposed Catalan leader must stay in jail

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Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request by Catalonia’s pro-independence presidential candidate Jordi Sanchez to be let out of jail and sworn in as regional head.

The Catalan parliament had been scheduled to hold a debate and vote on Sanchez’s candidacy on Friday, but after the court’s ruling Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent announced on Twitter he had suspended the session indefinitely.

Sanchez was remanded in custody in October pending charges over his role in last year’s failed Catalan independence bid.

An attempt to appoint him as president failed last month after Spain’s Supreme Court turned down a request for his release from jail.

But Torrent put Sanchez’s name forward as a candidate again earlier this month after the United Nations Human Rights Committee defended his political rights.

In letters sent last month to Spanish authorities and Sanchez’s lawyers, the UN committee requested the state take all steps to ensure he is allowed to exercise his political rights.

Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena once again turned down Sanchez’s request, arguing there were signs that he could “move in the direction of a rupture of the constitutional order”.

The judge argues it was justified in limiting Sanchez’s political rights given the risk that his release would pose to the collective rights “of the rest of the community”.

Torrent had appealed earlier on Thursday for the judge to agree to let Sanchez, a former leader of influential grassroots independence group ANC who was elected to the Catalan parliament in snap polls in December, leave jail to be sworn in.

“The court has the opportunity to take note of international law and the protection of political rights or write another dark chapter in the history of the Supreme Court,” he said in an interview to news radio station Cadena Ser.

The court ruling comes as Barcelona is gearing up for a huge protest on Sunday to mark the six month anniversary of the jailing of Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leader of another separatist organisation.

Catalonia in political limbo

Catalonia has been in political limbo since Spain’s conservative central government imposed direct rule on the region after it unilaterally declared independence in October.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

Separately, the National Court, which handles terrorism and other top criminal cases, released a woman who was arrested on Tuesday for “rebellion” and “terrorism” in a probe of pro-independence activists in Catalonia.

National Court judge Diego de Egea dismissed those two charges against her, saying she should instead be prosecuted for the lesser crime of causing public disorder, which carries a possible jail sentence of between six months and six years.

The woman is allegedly a member of the radical pro-independence activist groups called the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) which formed last year before an independence referendum on October 1.

In recent weeks, the groups have protested against the jailing of pro-independence Catalan leaders and the detention of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in Germany by blocking major roads in Catalonia, sometimes with burning tires.

At the end of March, the protesters blocked major roads in Catalonia and tried to occupy the central government’s representative office, heavily guarded by police, on several occasions. The resulting clashes left dozens injured.

 

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Trump to unveil $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan

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Donald Trump’s administration will sketch out more details of its plan to invest in America’s creaking infrastructure Monday, hoping it can leverage up to $1.5 trillion for the cause. Senior White House officials said the president’s budget, due to be released on Monday, will include $200 billion earmarked for projects to fix roads, bridges and
Source: The New Age

Horse and carriage for Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding

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A horse-drawn carriage will take Prince Harry and his American bride Meghan Markle down Windsor’s main street after they marry in the town’s castle in May, Kensington Palace said Sunday. Following a noon ceremony in St George’s Chapel the newlyweds will make a “short journey” in the carriage, leaving the castle at around 1 pm
Source: The New Age

Kim Jong Un’s sister arrives in South Korea

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister landed in the South Friday, the first member of Pyongyang’s ruling dynasty to set foot in its rival since the Korean War. Kim Yo Jong was part of a high-level diplomatic delegation led by the North’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam — its highest-level official ever
Source: The New Age

Oil tanker with 22 Indian crew missing in Gulf of Guinea since Friday

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A ship carrying 22 Indian crew and 13,500 tons of gasoline is missing in the Gulf of Guinea after contact was lost in Benin on Friday, the company and India’s minister of external affairs said on Sunday. The Gulf of Guinea has become an increasing target for pirates who steal cargo and demand ransoms, even
Source: The New Age

Trump to be ‘best salesperson’ for US economy at Davos

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US President Donald Trump is aiming to be the “best salesperson” for American economic interests when he goes to Davos later this week, the White House said on Tuesday.

Trump is set to speak Friday at the World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of the global pro-trade elite at the Swiss ski resort, in a move that has raised eyebrows because of his protectionist “America First” policies.

“We’re going to the World Economic Forum to share President Trump’s economic story and to tell the world that America is open for business,” said Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

“We want the world to invest in America and to create jobs for hard working Americans,” he continued, adding that Trump’s economic agenda focused on aggressive deregulation and corporate tax cuts had “unleashed the US economy.”

The former real estate tycoon is “firmly committed to being the best salesperson the US has to drive economic growth and drive prosperity and drive a better quality of life for American citizens,” Cohn said.

He continued: “America First is not America alone. I said in my remarks, when we grow, the world grows. When the world grows, we grow.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly lashed out at allegedly unfair trade agreements and practices, slapping additional import duties on products from across the world, claiming they benefited from unfair state subsidies.

Soon after he took office, Trump announced the US was pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signed in 2015 by a dozen nations that accounted for 40 percent of the global economy.

The remaining 11 countries announced Tuesday they would move forward with the deal without Washington.

He has also repeatedly threatened to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is currently being renegotiated between its three participants Canada, Mexico and the US.

Cohn suggested, however, that the US was working on new bilateral agreements, without providing further details.

“The US is pulling back from nothing,” he said.

“When the president was in Asia he talked about trade agreements and his willingness to have bilateral trade agreements with many of the countries he visited in Asia. We are more than willing to have bilateral trade agreements.”

 

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US government shutdown looms

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The United States government could be shutdown for the first time in four years as Republicans and Senate Democrats struggle to reach consensus on measures to be included in a bill to fund the government.

Federal funding runs out at midnight on Friday.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a stopgap continuing resolution or “CR” to keep the government funded for the next month, but the real battle looms in the Senate where a super majority of 60 votes is required for any passage on a spending bill – that would require at least 9 Democrats to vote with Republicans in a move that is increasingly looking unlikely.

The last time the government was shutdown was in 2013 when Republican lawmakers tried to include language in a spending bill that would have delayed or defunded the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.

In this instance, Senate Democrats are refusing to budge unless the bill protects young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children among other measures.

“I ask the American people to understand this: The only people standing in the way of keeping the government open are Senate Democrats. Whether there is a government shutdown or not is now entirely up to them. I also want people to understand that Senate Democrats do not oppose any efforts in this bill. They’re just holding this critical funding hostage for a deal on it completely unrelated the immigration issue,” said Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.

“The American people want to government open for veterans, military families and the vulnerable. They want food and drug inspections to continue without interruptions. They want death benefits to continue to go out to families of service members killed in action. They want children and low-income families to continue to receive health coverage through SCHIP. They want a sensible compromise on immigration. But they cannot, Madame President, for the life of them understand why, why some senators would hold the entire country hostage,” said Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor.

Trust deficit between the two sides is at a historic low, particularly after the racist comments attributed to the President in the Oval office last week.

“The leader is looking to deflect blame, but it just won’t work. We all know what the problem is. It is complete disarray on the Republicans side. The bottom line is very simple – our leader, our republican leader has said that he will not negotiate, until he knows where President Trump stands. That’s why negotiations haven’t gotten anywhere,” said Democratic Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, responding to McConnell .

Schumer indicated they are open to a short-term continuing resolution to allow for negotiations to conclude.

“There is no promise, and no likelihood that another kicking of the can down the road will get something done. We have to sit down together and solve this, with the President, or without. Until that happens, no amount of CR’s will get this done. I would suggest that we all vote for the motion to proceed, but instead, move a very short-term CR and we will negotiate it ourselves, or the president will join us and we can get the job done,” he added.

If a compromise is not found, the shutdown will happen midnight Friday affecting payments to active military personnel, national parks and museums could be closed while over 800,000 government employees could be furloughed on a daily basis.

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U.S, North Korea tensions continue

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The United States has warned North Korea it will pursue a military option if Pyongyang fails to engage in discussions. The warning comes after a meeting between the U.S. and Canada, which China says was one that displayed a Cold War mentality.

Tension between the U.S and Korea continues with both countries sounding threats against each other.

Now the U.S. has warned of a military option.  U.S Secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, says: “If North Korea does not choose the pathway of engagement, discussion, negotiation, then they themselves will trigger an option.”

It’s a strong message from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Pyongyan, at a meeting in Vancouver where 20 nations gathered to talk about the regime’s weapons program and enforce tougher sanctions against the North.

Both China and Russia were not at the meeting and diplomats say any agreements made in Vancouver are limited at best.

The meeting also comes as the two Koreas sit down for their first talks after two years of soaring tensions, but across the globe warnings that the world shouldn’t be fooled by Pyongyang playing nice.

Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono, says: “It is not the time to ease pressure or reward North Korea.”

The majority of nations in Vancouver supported South Korea during the Korean War and the North’s allies, China and Russia, have slammed the meeting calling it an example of what they refer to as “Cold War”-era thinking.

China’s foreign ministry, Lu Kang, elaborates: “This can only create divisions within the international community and damage the joint efforts made to promote a proper settlement to the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. The main channel to handle and resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula should still be the framework of six-party talks and the United Nations Security Council and also because of this, this meeting’s legitimacy and representativeness was in doubt from the beginning by the international community.”

Twenty nations agreed to consider tougher sanctions to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, but the country has refused to give up the development of nuclear missiles in spite of increasingly severe U.N. sanctions, raising fears of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

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Ethiopia frees prominent opposition leader

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Prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina was freed from jail on Wednesday after the government dropped charges against him as part of a wider prisoner amnesty, state media reported. In his first reported comments after his release, Merera urged the government to hold “honest negotiations” with political organisations to consolidate a national consensus. Merera is
Source: The New Age

UN Secretary defends immigration development

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The United Nations Secretary General has defended immigration as a positive development for countries while arguing that the global organisation would continue to fight racism in all its forms.

He was responding to a question on US President Donald Trump’s alleged derogatory statements regarding immigration from Africa and Haiti to the United States.

UN Chief Antonio Guterres says: “As far as I understand, the United States President has denied that he has said that. Our position is very clear, we need to have relations of mutual respect with all peoples in the world and in particular migration is a positive aspect.”

“And migrants contribute not only to the welfare to their countries of origin but to the welfare of the countries where they are part of the development process.”

“The respect for migrants and the respect for diversity, the ethnic diversity, religious diversity, is a fundamental pillar of the UN and it will be a fundamental pillar of the action of the Secretary General.”

Related video click below:

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