‘Forty members of the Spanish ruling party and a number of prominent businessmen will stand trial in the country’s biggest political corruption scandal since the end of the Franco regime.
Judge Pablo Ruz, of the National Court in Madrid, yesterday ordered a former health minister and three former treasurers of the centre-right Popular party to stand trial, along with 36 others, on 12 charges, including bribery, cash-for-favours in office, and embezzling €449 million of taxpayers’ money.’
‘A majority of people in Catalonia would vote to stay part of Spain, a poll by the regional government showed on Friday, the first in years to show a majority against independence.
The margin was very slim, with 45.3 percent saying they would vote “no” to an independent state of Catalonia, and 44.5 percent “yes”. It is the first time the “no” vote has taken the lead since Catalan head Artur Mas began his drive for secession in 2012.
Catalans cast ballots on Nov. 9 in a symbolic vote on independence after Madrid blocked a formal referendum in the courts on the grounds it was against Spain’s constitution.
Some 80 percent of just over 2 million people who voted backed secession, but the turnout was less than half.’
‘The conservative-led Spanish parliament passed an anti-protest bill on Thursday against heavy opposition from politicians and activist groups, who say the law violates the right to protest, limits freedom of expression and gives more power to police.
The measure essentially limits demonstrations to authorized gatherings and imposes heavy fines on unauthorized protesters. Although it was watered down from a draft introduced last year, opponents say it still disregards democracy in a country that only emerged from right-wing dictatorship in the late 1970s.’
- Chart Shows Who Didn’t Participate In Catalan’s Symbolic Referendum
- Catalonia vote: 80% back independence, says official
- Catalonia Votes For Independence; Spain Says It Won’t Happen
- Catalonia’s quest for statehood (25 min programme)
- ‘The more the state stops us, the more we will push for freedom’
- Catalans hope for big turnout in symbolic independence vote
- Catalan independence rivals plan to skip referendum
- Spain’s PM calls for dialogue with Catalan leaders
‘The number of people living in poverty in Spain has risen by 4.4 million since the country was battered by an economic crisis to reach 11.7 million, or one in four, a leading Catholic charity said Tuesday.
The proportion of people living in social exclusion stood at 25.1 percent in mid-2013, up from 16.3 percent in 2007, a year before a decade-long housing bubble collapsed sending the economy into a tailspin, Caritas said in a massive 700-page report.
Of the 11.7 million people who live in social exclusion, 77.1 percent do not have a job and 61.7 percent struggle to keep a roof over their heads.’
Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, New Zealand and Spain win U.N. Security Council seats, Turkey bid fails
‘Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, New Zealand and Spain won seats on the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for two years from Jan. 1, 2015. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela with 181 votes, Malaysia with 187 votes, Angola with 190 votes.
All three countries campaigned unopposed for their seats after being chosen as the candidates for their respective regional groups, but still needed to win the votes of two-thirds of the General Assembly to secure their spots.
The only contest was between New Zealand, Spain and Turkey for two seats given to the Western European and others group. New Zealand won a seat during the first round of voting with 145 votes. Spain beat Turkey in a third round of run-off voting.’
- Turkey fails in bid to join UN Security Council
- Venezuela elected to UN security council
- Spain wins seat on UN Security Council
- New Zealand wins seat on UN Security Council
- Angola Goes Big On UN Security Council
- Malaysia: How Will It Perform on the UN Security Council?
- Has America Stopped Even Pretending to Care About the U.N. Security Council?
Spanish Independence Movements and the Recolonization of Southern Europe: Interview with Sister Teresa Forcades
- Spanish economy on the road to recovery, say OECD
- Domestic demand drives Spanish economy as prices fall
- Why a little economic growth won’t see an end to the pain in Spain
- Spain’s crash landlords: empty homes spawn black housing market
- Distrust and anger at Spain’s bungling banks
- 2013: Is Spain on the verge of a public health-care crisis?
- 2013: Optimism on Spanish banks grows as oligopoly looms
- 2013: Big Spanish banks rise profits fourfold to €8bn
- 2013: Worst Not Over for Spain Banks After Big Writedowns
- 2013: Marinaleda, Spain’s communist model village
- 2013: Resisting evictions Spanish style
- 2012: German banks win big from Spain bailout
- 2012: Spain’s Four Biggest Banks To Get $50B In Bailout Funds
- 2012: Spanish homeowners rally together to fight evictions by banks
- 2009: What Makes Spain’s Health Care System The Best?
- Catalonia independence referendum halted by Spain’s constitutional court
- Spanish government asks court to declare Catalonia vote illegal
- Catalonian leader orders referendum on independence from Spain
- Poll: Majority of Catalans want independence from Spain
- Catalonia passes law to authorize independence vote
- Catalonia call independence vote despite Scottish ‘no’
‘Margaret Thatcher now ranks between Columbus and Goya. Not between the men and their achievements, but in between their namesakes in the Madrid street map. There, near Columbus Square, with it’s gigantic, Brobdingnagian Spanish flag and Goya Street, with its row of expensive fashion stores, now lies Plaza Margaret Thatcher, the only such tribute to the Iron Lady outside the UK.’
‘Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired a last-minute broadside on Wednesday against Scotland’s independence referendum, warning that such events “torpedo” the foundations of Europe and wreak economic recessions.
Rajoy’s center-right government has been trying to quell calls in the northern Spanish region of Catalonia for a similar vote on breaking away, denouncing such a move as illegal.
With the regional government in Barcelona – which has penciled in a consultation on independence on November 9 – set to potentially give such a vote a green light on Friday, the spotlight could turn to Catalonia’s drive to cut ties with Spain a day after Scots are due to vote on whether to stay in Britain.’
- Spain Warns It Will Block Independence Vote in Catalonia
- Rajoy Says Scotland And Catalonia Would Wait Years To Join EU
- Catalan MPs set to approve law on independence vote
- Four Catalonians drive 1500 miles to support Yes
- 1.8mn people, 11km line: Catalonians stage their biggest independence rally
- Analysts: Spain pressured to negotiate on Catalonia
- Scottish independence resonates in Spain’s Catalonia
- Barcelona to drop home kit for Catalan colours against Athletic Bilbao
‘Spain is among the European countries hardest hit by the so-called ‘brain drain’ effect with thousands of professionals including nurses and teachers taking steps to leave the country in recent years, new figures from the European Union show.
One of the most damaging aspects of Spain’s economic crisis has been the departure from the country of university graduates and highly skilled professionals. With jobs hard to come by and research and development funding slashed in many industries, anecdotal evidence suggests many people have decided to make the move elsewhere.’
- Spain’s public debt passes €1 trillion
- Suspect accuses Spanish royal family of embezzling funds
- Spanish court makes first conviction of bankers since start of crisis
- 2013: Spain experiencing brain drain as weak economy lingers
- 2012: Brain drain in Spain as 1m graduates swell the ranks of the unemployed
‘A majority of Catalans believe a planned independence vote in November should not go ahead if, as expected, the referendum is declared illegal, two polls showed on Sunday, as the Spanish region prepares for a stand-off with Madrid.
Catalan President Artur Mas has promised a referendum allowing Catalans to decide whether they want the northeastern region to break away from Spain. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to block the move in the courts, saying such a vote would be unconstitutional.’
- Scotland vs. Catalonia: Two independence quests, different paths
- Independence for Catalonia says Pep Guardiola again
- ‘Catalonia could be the shock Spain needs’
- Catalan Leader: ‘Liberty comes at a price’
- ‘Investors will quit Spain if Catalan vote is shelved’
- Catalan anti-independence enclave clings to Spain
- Why are many Catalans desperately hoping that Scotland will vote ‘yes’?
- Catalonia opens door to independence vote delay
‘[…] The intense nervousness over how the Scots might vote extends far beyond the territory’s rugged mountains. Many in Europe fear that Scotland’s independence fervor could ripple across the continent, where a number of separatist campaigns have simmered for years. The hotspots range from the mountainous Basque region at the border of Spain and France to the Mediterranean island of Corsica to the lowlands of Belgium, where many in the Flemish majority want to say tot ziens to their French-speaking countrymen. Some of these movements have a history of violence; several more seem merely rhetorical—and, well, quixotic (independent Venice?). But taken together, the sovereignty pushes are yet another reminder of how tenuous the notion of one cohesive “European Union” truly is.’
‘German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s opposition to a proposed independence referendum in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia.
Speaking alongside Rajoy on Monday, Merkel said that while the Catalan question was an internal Spanish one, she thought Rajoy’s views were logical and deserved support.
Rajoy described the referendum as “a mad idea” and reiterated it would not be held because it was illegal. He said it went against the trend toward greater unity within the European Union.’
‘[…] As the Catalan vote nears, analysts are raising alarms that it could set off a separatist spiral that would dismember Spain, as well as have a domino effect among other independence-minded European regions that should make defenders of the 28-nation European Union sit up and take note. A meeting last week between Artur Mas, the leader of the Catalan regional Parliament, and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain did nothing to forestall the independence drive, and Mr. Mas vowed to go ahead with the vote as scheduled on Nov. 9.
If Catalonia does vote on independence, the Basque Country and other regions will quickly want to stage similar votes, potentially paving the way for the eradication of the Spanish state, said Emilio Lamo de Espinosa, the president of the Real Instituto Elcano, a political research group in Madrid. And if Spain splinters, it “would destroy the E.U. project, which is based on union and not division and splitting,” he added. The Catalans are set to vote just weeks after the Scottish hold their own referendum on independence from the United Kingdom on Sept. 18, and the Scottish outcome is being regarded as something of a bellwether here. But if the United Kingdom has something to worry about in Scotland’s referendum, then Spain arguably faces larger trouble.’
- List of active separatist movements in Europe
- The facts: European separatist movements
- Europe cannot afford to give in to the separatists
- 2012: Across Europe, leaders fear spectre of separatists breaking countries apart
- 2011: This economic collapse is a ‘crisis of bigness’
- The Breakdown of Nations by Leopold Kohr (Book)
- Wikipedia Profile: Leopold Kohr
‘Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy repeated on Friday his threat to block attempts by leaders of the economically powerful Catalonia region to hold an independence referendum in November.
“The head of the government is obliged to enforce the law and this (referendum) is illegal,” he said at his first news conference since holding talks on Wednesday with the president of the regional government of Catalonia, Artur Mas.
During the meeting, the first between the two leaders since August 2013, Mas told Rajoy that he was “absolutely determined” to hold the referendum.’
‘The hyperlink is a crazy thing if you think about it. One of HTML’s most basic building blocks has completely changed the news industry, turning black text into blue (or in Motherboard’s case, purple), and taking a practice that was one completely verboten in journalism—snagging a competitor’s work—and making it commonplace. But soon, if you want to use them in Spain, it’s gonna cost you.
The law, called canon AEDE, would put a tax on aggregation, and would make it illegal for blogs, news sites, and perhaps even Google News to link out to original sources without paying a fee. Make no mistake, this would fundamentally change how the media industry’s link economy currently works (at least in Spain—we’ll see if others follow suit).’
- Spain’s ‘Google Tax’ Law A Reaction To Silicon Valley’s International Tax Evasion
- Hyperlinking Isn’t Illegal: The Bulk of Barrett Brown’s Charges Were Dropped
- Nobody seems quite sure how Spain’s new “Google tax” will work
- Canon AEDE: “The most infamous law in the history of internet”
- The ‘canon AEDE’ would have a negative impact of 1,133 million euros to Internet
- Google Joins Apple Avoiding Taxes With Stateless Income
‘Spanish princess Cristina de Borbon has been charged with fraud and money laundering as part of a major corruption investigation that has tarnished the royal family’s reputation. On Wednesday, a Palma de Mallorca court formalised the charges against the princess following a two-year long investigation into her husband Inaki Urdangarin’s business dealings.
[…] The couple could now be put on trial just days after her brother, Felipe, was crowned King of Spain after Juan Carlos announced he would abdicate in favour on his son on 2 June following a series of scandals, including an expensive elephant hunting trip that infuriated many Spaniards facing mass unemployment. Princess Cristina did not attend the ceremony last week and reports suggest the relationship between the two is almost non-existent as Felipe seeks to distance himself from the scandal. Her husband has been barred from attending public events.’
- Spanish princess faces 11 years for tax fraud
- Catalonians hold rally against Spanish monarchy
- King Felipe VI calls for ‘new Spain’ as he is sworn in
- Majority in Spain want referendum on future of monarchy
- Basques form 123-km human chain calling for independence vote
- Thousands join republican march in Spain
- Catalan leader says independence vote must go ahead
- Future queen’s aunt calls for end to monarchy
- Anti-Monarchy Protests Break Out Across Spain
- Austerity and spending cuts hit Spain’s young
- 50,000 homes seized by banks in 2013
- Spanish premier offers legal immunity to royals
‘Spain’s King Juan Carlos, who led Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy but faced royal scandals amid the nation’s near financial meltdown, will abdicate so his son can become the country’s next monarch, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told the country Monday in an announcement broadcast nationwide. Rajoy did not say when the handover would happen because the government must now craft a law creating a legal mechanism for the abdication and for 46-year-old Crown Prince Felipe’s assumption of power.’
‘The headline gains were for nationalist and Eurosceptic parties – witness all those pictures of “evil” Nigel Farage smiling into his pint glass, or of Marine Le Pen, whose Front National party triumphed in France, throwing back her head and cackling. But some member nations bucked the trend in the Euro elections and registered a surge towards leftwing candidates.’
- Leftwing Syriza party triumphs in European elections in Greece
- Leftist parties slam Spain’s political status quo
- National Front’s Le Pen urges dissolution of French parliament
- Far-right takes victory in Danish European elections
- Euroskeptics Win Big in EU Parliament Votes
- Eurosceptic ‘earthquake’ rocks EU elections
- Cameron Tells EU Leaders To Reform Bloc In Wake Of Eurosceptic Victories
- Flemish separatists are big winners in Belgian election
- Conservatives win EU vote in Germany, while euroskeptics make major gains
- Slovak PM’s party wins euro election, turnout a record low
- Centrist ANO narrowly wins Czech EU election, PM’s party third
- Turkish Cypriots angry over EU vote in Cyprus
They call him the Robin Hood of the banks, a man who took out dozens of loans worth almost half a million euros with no intention of ever paying them back. Instead, Enric Duran farmed the money out to projects that created and promoted alternatives to capitalism.
After 14 months in hiding, Duran is unapologetic even though his activities could land him in jail. “I’m proud of this action,” he said in an interview by Skype from an undisclosed location. The money, he said, had created opportunities. “It generated a movement that allowed us to push forward with the construction of alternatives. And it allowed us to build a powerful network that groups together these initiatives.”
Members of the Cell Biology in Environmental Toxicology group have found evidence that male fish in the estuaries in Basque Country are becoming “feminised” by chemical pollutants in the water. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) acting as oestrogens – the primary female sex hormones – are seeping into the waters and causing reproductive and developmental disturbances, according to a report published in the Marine Environmental Research journal.
Immature eggs were found in the testicles of a number of male fish, the scientists from the University of the Basque Country said. The chemicals involved are found in everyday products such as pesticides, contraceptive pills and detergents. They are thought to enter the estuaries after getting through the cleaning systems in water treatment plants or as a result of industrial and farming activities.
Several thousand protesters from across the continent turned out today [March 30th] in the European Union capital city of Brussels. Several nations were represented, none of them currently recognized, and all had the same message: secession now.
Officials like to portray secession as a fringe tactic that comes up only in places like Crimea, and then only at the behest of a foreign power hoping to capitalize on it. That’s less and less the case, as secession grows in appeal across Europe.
Scotland aims to separate from Britain, and Catalan hopes to leave Spain. Even Brussels itself is in the midst of a major secession fight, as Flanders hopes to reassert itself as an independent nation, with Brussels as its presumptive capital.
Italy is the king of secessionist movements though, with three distinct major movements going on at once. Venice has already held a referendum on resuming its independence, while Tyrol is mulling a similar division, and Sardinia hopes to go the route of Crimea, ditching Italy in favor of Switzerland.
At the core of all these movements is a single question: is there an inherent right to self-determination, or is secession only acceptable when the major world powers feel it is convenient. It’s an argument that officials are likely to continue to bicker about, but which the secessionist movements see as obvious.
- Crimean annexation does Europe’s separatists no favors
- Scottish independence: ‘Yes’ vote carries substantial risk, says Weir Group
- Italy Troops Crack Down on Secessionists Nationwide
- Italy police seize makeshift tank built by Venice separatists
- All roads lead…out of Rome? Sardinia plans secession referendum
- Spanish court says Catalonia sovereignty claim illegal
- Italy’s separatist spirit takes new shape as Sardinians push to become Swiss
- Venice seeks independence from Italy in unofficial poll
- Catalan Independence Push Gains Steam Amid Spain’s Financial Woes
- Secessionist wave sweeps Belgium
- Dealing With Secession in Europe
- List of active separatist movements in Europe
Report: Investor-state lawsuits worth €1.7 billion rage across Europe, could spiral dramatically under TTIP
Greece, Cyprus and Spain are facing claims from speculative investors worth more than €1.7 billion in a series of eurozone-related investor-state disputes that could spiral dramatically under a proposed EU-US trade deal known as TTIP, a new report says. The study ‘Profiting from Crisis’, is launched today (10 March) by campaigning group Corporate Europe Observatory and the Trans-National Institute, as the EU begins a public consultation on the regulatory implications of any agreement.
The paper finds that “a growing wave” of corporate lawsuits from investors burned in Europe’s recent economic crisis risks repeating the banking sector bail-out that precipitated it. Many of these litigants are “circling vultures” looking for short-term bargains and not long-term investments, the report claims. “At a time when ordinary people across Europe have been stripped of many basic social rights, it is perverse that the EU supports an international investment regime which provides VIP protection to largely speculative foreign investors,” said Cecilia Olivet, the report’s co-author.
Spain’s pioneering universal jurisdiction doctrine, which has enabled judges to prosecute foreigners in connection with human rights crimes committed in other countries, will be shaved back within four months following a vote in Congress Tuesday night [Feb 11th] to reform the judicial code. According to the reform, judges will only be able to open investigations against a suspected human rights violator if the defendant “is Spanish or a foreigner who frequently resides in Spain,” or who is currently in the country and Spanish authorities have refused to allow their extradition.
After an intense debate that pitted the entire opposition against the ruling Popular Party (PP), the final vote stood 179 in favor and 163 against, reflecting the conservatives’ absolute majority in Congress. The new legislation will come into effect within the next four months. Opposition groups roundly condemned the government’s decision and were united in their conviction that pressure from Beijing guided the hand of Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party administration.
Spain’s prime minister has called a referendum on independence for Catalonia “illegal” in his state of the union address. Mariano Rajoy vowed to block the vote, which the Catalan authorities intend to hold on 9 November. Both Spain’s ruling conservative party and the Socialist opposition have long stated their rejection of a referendum. But in recent months, the Catalan regional government has vowed to press ahead even without Madrid’s blessing.
Mr Rajoy told the Spanish parliament during the annual state of the nation debate that “this referendum can’t take place, it is not legal”. He added: “It is the entire Spanish people who have the capacity to decide what Spain is.” Mr Rajoy also addressed Spain’s economic problems in his speech, saying that the country had turned a corner and was “part of the driving engine” of Europe. He also revised the growth forecast upwards from 0.7% to 1% for 2014, and promised tax cuts for 12 million of Spain’s 17 million taxpayers.
‘For 40 years the militant group ETA carried out a bloody campaign for independence in the regions of Spain and France known as Basque country. 800 people lost their lives in the campaign with countless others injured. More than two years ago ETA announced a unilateral, permanent ceasefire in favour of a political agreement but the Spanish government maintains it won’t enter talks with the group until it admits defeat and surrenders unconditionally. But now ETA is expected to announce that it will hand over its weapons and bomb-making equipment.’ (Truthloader)