Polls have opened in #Catalonia for snap #election that could pave way for #Spain’s largest region to gain statehood.
Polls have opened in Catalonia for a snap election that could pave the way for Spain’s largest region to gain statehood.
Artur Mas, the Catalan president, has promised 5.4 million voters he will hold a referendum on self-determination if he wins a mandate.
Al Jazeera’s Tim Friend, reporting from Barcelona, said Sunday’s vote “could be a step into the unknown” and that the crisis in Spain’s economy was pushing the Catalans to seek self-determination.
He said a huge match was held in September to mark Catalonia’s national day and that Catalans signalled they were ready to secede from Spain.
Mas called the poll two years early after failing to negotiate a new financial deal with Madrid, which would have given officials greater autonomy over taxation.
“This decision [is] for our self determination, our freedom and, I hope, our own state within the free nations of Europe and the rest of the world,” Mas said.
“This decision, and this is the great compromise, will be taken by the Catalan people during the next four years.”
With 135 parliamentary seats available in Sunday’s regional elections, Mas’ centre-right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) is ahead in the polls.
Some in Catalonia feel that the weak national economy is having a negative effect on the northeastern region’s financial stability.
The CiU has made independence from Spain a central issue and Mas’ rallies have bristled with European Union flags, with the 56-year-old politician expressing optimism that an independent Catalonia would be swiftly embraced by the 27-nation bloc.
“It will be convenient for the European Union, because from day one of membership Catalonia would be a net contributor,” said journalist and political consultant Antoni Maria Pique.
“It is a good deal for the European Union. I think that in Brussels they would try to persuade Spain it should not block the development of the European Union over issues of pride and nationalism.”
Some of Catalonia’s 7.5 million people already see it as a separate nation, with its own language and culture.
“We sold on September 11 (Catalonia’s national day) more than we had sold during the previous eight years,” said textile shop owner Margarita Bascompte.
“We sold a lot. An awful lot. We sold to order. And our fabric supplier collapsed because of so many orders. He had to manufacture a lot more to cope with the demand.”
But not everyone in the region, which already holds a degree of autonomy under Spain’s federal system of governance, agrees with the move for further independence.
Albert Rivera, a candidate representing Ciutadan, a Spanish nationalist party opposed to Catalan independence, said “co-existence” should be defended.
“People from the pro-independence side say that those of us who defend the union with Spain within the European Union give a speech of fear,” he said.
“And of course we do, because we feel fear. [Fear about] a president that has said he will ignore the constitution and any legal ruling and that nobody will stop him. All this in a democratic country obviously will cause you fear. We want to defend co-existence and we will try to avoid the Catalan citizenship being divided in two classes. We don’t want Catalonia to slip away from the rest of Spain. We want to build bridges, not raise fences.”
Catalonians say they contribute $21bn more to the Spanish exchequer than they get back, yet infrastructure spending from Madrid goes to poorer regions, while projects such as the Mediterranean rail corridor are left unfunded.
Opponents say that prosperity will fade if – as is possible – Spain were to veto any EU membership application by an independent Catalonia and the uncertainty will drive out many businesses.
A survey published by El Pais newspaper this month showed that nearly half of Catalans support independence, but the number falls to 37 per cent if it means dropping out of the EU.
Sunday’s poll comes as Spain’s armed Basque separatist group ETA said it was ready to discuss disbanding with the French and Spanish authorities if certain conditions were met.
The group, which last year said it had abandoned violence after a four-decade campaign for an independent homeland in southern France and northern Spain resulted in the deaths of more than 800 lives, said one outstanding issue was the transfer of Basque prisoners to jails closer to home.
Flash fire injures 4 in US State Department building during construction repairs, fire officials say
Flash fire injures 4 in US State Department building during construction repairs, fire officials say
Washington (CNN) – A flash fire in the ductwork of the State Department injured four people Saturday, including three who were sent to a hospital, fire officials said.
One person was in a “life-threatening condition” and the other two people were in serious but non-life threatening condition at Washington Hospital Center, authorities said.
MIAMI, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — A Florida woman, who spent more than four decades in a diabetic coma and was always cared for by her mother, and whose tragic story inspired a book, died at her home on Wednesday without ever regaining consciousness, her family said. She was 59.
Edwarda O’Bara died Wednesday at her home in Miami Gardens, a suburb of Miami, while with her sister who continued to care for her after their mother died in 2008. Edwarda, who was diabetic, became ill with the flu in early 1970 and went into a coma after suffering from complications which made her dangerously sick.
“It is with great sadness I inform everyone my sister Edwarda is now with the Lord in Heaven,” Colleen O’Bara, Edwarda’s sister, said in a brief statement. “While taking care of Edwarda I noticed her looking directly at me and gave me the biggest smile I had ever seen. She then closed her eyes and joined my Mom in Heaven.”
Edwarda, then 16, had asked her mother, Kaye O’Bara, to never leave her shortly before slipping into a coma. “I said: ‘I sure will be, baby. I never left you before.’ And I have,” Kaye told “Inside Edition” in 1996. Kaye continued to daily care for her daughter until she passed away herself in 2008.
Kaye said caring for Edwarda was never a burden on the family, but paying bills became a problem due to the expensive care at home. At the time of the “Inside Edition” broadcast in 1996, the family was nearly $60,000 in debt. But Kaye never left her daughter’s side, turning her every two hours to prevent bedsores, giving her insulin, and feeding her through a tube.
The tragic story inspired the book “A Promise Is A Promise: An Almost Unbelievable Story of a Mother’s Unconditional Love and What It Can Teach Us,” by Dr. Wayne Dyer. The publicity prompted people from across the world to travel to Miami Gardens, and many of them made a contribution to help the family.
Funeral services for Edwarda, which are open to the public, will be held on Tuesday in North Miami. A church service will be held on Wednesday.
Irish Daily Star editor resigns as a result of its Sep 15 edition showing topless photos of duchess of Cambridge,
Irish Daily Star editor resigns as a result of its September 15 edition showing topless photos of duchess of Cambridge, paper says.
CAIRO, Nov 24 (Reuters) – The body representing Egypt’s judges called on Saturday for an immediate strike in all courts and prosecutors offices in protest against President Mohamed Mursi’s decree expanding his powers.
At a meeting in Cairo, the Judges Club called on Mursi to retract the decree and to reinstate Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, the Hosni Mubarak-era prosecutor general who was sacked as part of the decision unveiled on Thursday.
At least 8 killed in Bangladesh factory fire, local TV reports
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Local television stations are reporting that a fire at a multi-story garment factory on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, has killed at least eight people and injured scores more.
Television stations Boishakhi and ATN News reported that the fire broke out late Saturday in the factory in the Ashulia industrial district, just outside Dhaka.
Fire Department Control Room Official Mohammad Ali would not confirm any casualty figures, but says firefighters are trying to douse the flames racing through the factory operated by Tajnin Fashion. He would not provide any further details.
Best friends discover they are brothers separated when they were younger because of their mother’s ill health
Best friends to brothers: Lucas de Lima Alves (left) and Thiago Lima dos Santos (right) met at school and became fast friends, unaware that they shared the same mother
The two boys became friends at school, unaware of their real relationship
Lucas de Lima Alves knew he had a long-lost brother and told his teacher
The teacher made the amazing discovery
Two long-lost brothers were reunited by chance after discovering that they attended the same school and had become best friends.
The two boys – Thiago Lima dos Santos, 12, and Lucas de Lim Alves, 14 – were in the same year group, spent break times together and played football together in Sao Mateus, Brazil, unaware that their bond was more than just friendship.
It was only by chance that their school head teacher made the discovery that the boys shared a mother after they had been separated from a young age due to ther illness. The teacher described it as ‘something out of a soap opera’.
Lucas had grown up with his father and stepmother while Thiago had been raised by his paternal grandmother in another town just 15 miles away in south east state of Espirito Santo.
Their mother reportedly suffered health problems and was unable to look after them.
Lucas had been told he had a long-lost brother three months ago and was desperate to find him.
Lucas told Brazil’s A Gazeta newspaper: ‘I got really down when I found out. I wanted to find him to talk with him, play with him and be his friend.’
Lucas confided in the school’s head teacher, Deuseli de Souza, 40, who tried to help for him by searching through the register of names at other schools in the region, but had no luck.
Then fate seemed to step in. Thiago moved to Sao Mateus two months ago and enrolled at the Joao Pinto Bandeira college, the same school Lucas had been studying at for the past three years.
They fast became good friends and only by chance that Ms de Souza discovered the two were brothers.
She said: ‘Lucas’ story stuck in my head.
‘One day the geography teacher left a pile of coursework on my desk. One of them was by Thiago Lima, who had just enrolled in school.’
Ms de Souza said she called both of them separately and asked each for their mother’s name.
She said: ‘To find out how close they were to each other was a surprise and an immense coincidence.
‘With their families’ permission we introduced them to each other.
‘It was like something out of a soap opera.’
Thiago said: ‘At the start I was really confused, I didn’t know how to act.
‘Now we spend more time together and talk a lot.
‘We’re going to spend the weekends at each other’s houses.
‘I’m liking my new brother very much.’
Lucas said: ‘It’s all very new, we’re starting to trust in each other and becoming even closer friends.’
Thiago’s grandmother, Janira dos Santos, 62, said: ‘I’m thrilled to see my grandson’s happiness in finding his brother.
‘He knew he had a brother, but never imagined that one day he would find him. I thank God for this.
‘I’ve got to know Lucas and he’s very polite. I hope they’ll become the very best of friends.’