Fears Of More Violence In Barcelona As Separatists Call For New Protest

 

Barcelona was bracing for fresh violence Saturday after nearly 200 people were hurt in a night of clashes with radical separatists hurling rocks and fireworks at police who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

A radical movement of young separatists, Arran, called for a new demonstration “against repression” for 1600 GMT in central Barcelona.

The Catalan capital resembled a chaotic battleground Friday, the fifth consecutive day of protests over a Spanish court’s jailing of nine separatist leaders on sedition charges over a failed independence bid two years ago.

Emergency services said Saturday that 152 people had been injured in overnight clashes in Barcelona, with dozens more hurt in the rest of Catalonia, taking the total to 182.

Authorities had already reported 500 injured since Monday even before the latest clashes erupted.

According to the interior ministry, 83 people were detained in the overnight violence, in addition to the 128 arrests police had reported before Friday’s march.

Smell of Burning

“This can’t go on, Barcelona does not deserve this,” said Ada Colau, the city’s leftist mayor on Saturday, condemning “all kinds of violence”.

The air in the Catalan capital was still heavy with a burning stench as municipal workers cleared the streets of broken glass, rocks and rubber bullets, and repaired pavements where bricks had been ripped out.

“All this is very sad, and is not helping our cause,” said Assumpcio Segui, a 75-year old pro-independence pensioner.

Around half a million people had rallied in Barcelona on Friday in the biggest gathering since Monday’s court ruling as separatists also called a general strike in the major tourist destination.

While most marchers appeared peaceful, hordes of young protesters went on the rampage near the police headquarters, igniting a huge blaze that sent plumes of black smoke into the air, as police fired teargas to disperse them, an AFP correspondent said.

Other fires raged near Plaza de Catalunya at the top of the tourist hotspot Las Ramblas, where hundreds of demonstrators rallied in defiance of the police, who tried to disperse them with water cannon.

‘Our Streets’

“Anti-fascist Catalonia!” they roared. “The streets will always be ours!”

Scores of police vans could be seen fanning out around the streets, their sirens screaming as the regional police warned people in a message in English on Twitter “not to approach” the city centre.

Earlier, many thousands of “freedom marchers”, who had set out to walk from five regional towns on Wednesday, arrived in Barcelona wearing walking boots and carrying hiking poles.

The rally coincided with the general strike, prompting the cancellation of flights, the closure of shops, business and several top tourist attractions, and slowing public transport to a trickle in a region that accounts for about a fifth of Spain’s economic output.

Activists also cut off Catalonia’s main cross-border highway with France.

‘No Surrender’

In downtown Barcelona, many shops and luxury outlets were closed on the city’s Paseo de Gracia, with blackened, charred patches a testimony to the nightly clashes that have raged since Monday.

“With these demonstrations bringing this large city to a halt, we are using Barcelona like a microphone,” said 23-year-old engineering student Ramon Pararada.

“It’s all in reaction to the injustice,” he said.

Retired lawyer Jaume Enrich said the court sentence was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

“Madrid is putting Spanish unity above everything, including basic rights,” he told AFP, wearing a badge saying “No surrender”.

Spain’s top tourist destination, the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona closed as protesters massed outside, and the Liceu opera house cancelled Friday night’s performance.

Spain’s Clasico Postponed

With the region mired in chaos, football authorities cancelled the Barcelona and Real Madrid Clasico set for October 26 at the Camp Nou stadium. Both clubs had reportedly refused an offer to hold the match in Madrid.

And Manchester City’s Catalan manager Pep Guardiola, an outspoken campaigner for the independence movement, urged European intervention to ease the crisis.

“The international community must help us to solve the conflict between Catalonia and Spain,” he said. “Some mediator from outside (must) help us sit (down) and talk.”

The Supreme Court’s explosive decision has thrust the Catalan dispute to the heart of the political debate as Spain heads towards a fourth election in as many years, which will be held on November 10.

Six Killed As Gunmen Attack Pro-Government Forces In Mali

 

 

Six people were killed late Friday when unknown assailants attacked a post held by armed pro-government groups in strife-torn northeastern Mali, the groups said in a statement.

Four more people were missing after the attack in Aguelhok, an alliance of pro-government forces calling itself Platform of the June 2014 Movements said.

The security situation in Mali has been deteriorating steadily with separatists, salafists and jihadists mounting deadly insurrections since 2012.

No military or political solution appears in sight for Mali, despite the deployment of French, African and UN troops in the country.

Northern Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked jihadists after Mali’s army failed to quash a Tuareg rebellion in 2012.

The following year, a French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back.

But the jihadist regrouped and widened their trademark hit-and-run raids and roadmine attacks to central and southern Mali and from there into Burkina Faso and Niger where they often fan existing inter-communal strife which has left hundreds dead.

England Send Out World Cup Message With Big Win Over Australia

England’s lock Maro Itoje (R) catches the ball in a lineout during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match between England and Australia at the Oita Stadium in Oita on October 19, 2019.
CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

 

England showed they will take some beating at the Rugby World Cup as they thumped their old enemy Australia 40-16 to become the first team to reach the semi-finals on Saturday.

Wing Jonny May scored the first two of England’s four tries in three first-half minutes as they set up a last-four clash against defending champions New Zealand or Ireland, who play later.

Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson crossed in the second half and 20 points flowed from Owen Farrell’s perfect kicking as Eddie Jones’s men throttled the Wallabies’ attempts to claw their way back into it.

“We did what’s needed. We had the lead and obviously Australia were throwing everything at us,” said Farrell. “We wanted to play the game at our pace not theirs, and we did that in the second half.”

With his contract up after the World Cup, the defeat appears to have ended Michael Cheika’s five-year stint as Wallabies coach whose highlight was reaching the World Cup final in 2015.

“The better team won, that’s the way it is. You’ve got to suck that up sometimes,” said a disconsolate Cheika, a former team-mate of Jones at Sydney’s Randwick club.

“I was supposed to get this done for the people here and the Australians. It’s so disappointing.”

Australia looked dangerous early on but England seized the advantage with May’s quickfire try double.

England stretched the Australian defence as they attacked right and then left, before man of the match Tom Curry drew the final defender to give the left wing an easy score in the corner.

Henry Slade then intercepted the ball on halfway and raced towards the try-line before chipping into space with a kick that was deftly gathered by the England wing.

‘Little bit Surreal’

Three Christian Lealiifano penalties kept Australia in touch at 17-9 at half-time, and they came storming back after the restart when Marika Koroibete skinned Elliot Daly to cross for the Wallabies.

But England hit back almost immediately when Farrell picked out Sinckler with a bullet pass and the prop burst through a gap for his first international try.

Watson’s late intercept try completed the job for England, who equalled their record margin of victory against Australia — and beat them for a third time in the World Cup quarter-finals.

In Saturday’s second match the All Blacks, going for their third straight title, will start as firm favourites against an Ireland team who are yet to hit their stride in Japan.

However, both teams are mindful of the fact that Ireland have won two of their last three games against the world’s top-ranked side, after 2016’s 40-29 win in Chicago and a 16-9 victory in Dublin last year.

Conor Murray and World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton, one of the world’s most settled and formidable half-back pairings, lead Irish hopes against a youthful New Zealand backline.

Beauden Barrett remains at fullback behind fly-half Richie Mo’unga in Hansen’s double playmaker ploy, while Jack Goodhue comes into the centres and Sevu Reece and George Bridge are on the wings.

“It’s a little bit surreal, it’s a little bit ‘I can’t believe it’s finally here’. This time four years ago I was a spectator like you guys and it’s not a great place to be,” said Sexton, who missed Ireland’s 2015 quarter-final — a 43-20 defeat to Argentina — with a groin strain.

“So I’m really looking forward to going out there on the biggest stage and trying to show what we can do against the best team in the world, a team that hasn’t lost for two World Cups.”

On Sunday, Wales face France in Oita and hosts Japan, the tournament’s surprise package, play the first World Cup quarter-final in their history against South Africa in Tokyo.

Five Children Killed In Russian Fire

 

Five young children and two adults were killed when a fire ripped through a two-storey residential building in the central Russian city of Rostov early Saturday, authorities said.

The youngest child to have died was 15 months old and the oldest six, a spokeswoman for the emergencies ministry told AFP.

Three more people were hospitalised with various injuries, said Sergei Shokin, head of the Rostov municipal district.

Rostov is located some 200 kilometres (124 miles) northeast of the capital Moscow.

Officials did not immediately say what caused the fire but confirmed investigators were working at the scene.

The Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal probe.

Gowon Remains A Symbol Of National Unity – Gbajabiamila

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has described a former Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, as a symbol of national unity.

In a message to mark the 85th birthday of the former Head of State, Gbajabiamila eulogised Gowon’s love for Nigeria and his belief in the oneness of the country.

One of the significant things which he credited to Gowon’s love for the country was his establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 1973.

The Speaker, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said “On this day, I join millions of Nigerians, and friends of Nigeria, to celebrate this icon and symbol of national unity as he marks 85 years on earth.

“In the years since he retired from active service, Gen Gowon has worked across the country to see to the establishment of peace and abiding prosperity and it is this work that will long be remembered as his greatest legacy.

“Nigerians will not forget in a hurry that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), which worked to bring Nigerians together at a critical time in our history is the brainchild of this great Nigerian. Indeed, the history of our country will not be complete without a mention of Gowon.

“On this occasion of his 85th birthday, I join fellow Nigerians in offering special prayers to Allah to grant General Gowon continuous good health, protection and guidance”.

Motherhood Is A ‘Struggle’ Under Spotlight, Says Meghan Markle

In this file photo taken on April 25, 2018 US fiancée of Britain’s Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, talks with Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (L) as she arrives to attend a service of commemoration and thanksgiving to mark Anzac Day in Westminster Abbey in London. 
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Meghan Markle has admitted becoming a mother while living under an intense media spotlight has been a “struggle”.

The Duchess of Sussex gave birth to son Archie in May after marrying Prince Harry last year.

Britain’s aggressive press at first welcomed Markle, 38, into the royal fold but coverage has become increasingly hostile, with the tabloids luxuriating in stories about Markle’s fractured American family and rumours of palace rifts.

Speaking to ITV during the couple’s recent tour of southern Africa, she said that: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK”.

“Look, any woman – especially when they are pregnant – you’re really vulnerable and so that was made really challenging, and then when you have a new born – you know?” she said, when asked how she was coping.

“And especially as a woman, it’s a lot.

She added: “And also, thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I’m OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”

Asked if it would be fair to say it had “really been a struggle”, Meghan said: “Yes.”

Her comments come after the couple launched legal action this month against British tabloid the Mail on Sunday for invasion of privacy, with Harry recalling the hounding of his later mother Diana.

Harry told ITV the memories of what happened to his mother was a “wound that festers”.

“I think being part of this family, in this role, in this job… every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back, so in that respect it’s the worst reminder of her life, as opposed to the best,” he said.

The Duke of Sussex is also suing two British tabloid newspaper publishers over alleged phone hacking.

British MPs Hold Knife-Edge Vote On Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks to members of Britain’s military during a reception for the Armed Forces inside 10 Downing Street in Central London on September 18, 2019.
John NGUYEN / POOL / AFP

 

British MPs gathered on Saturday for a knife-edge vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal for a decision that could see the UK leave the EU this month or plunge the country into fresh uncertainty.

The parliament was holding its first Saturday sitting since the 1982 Falklands War to debate the terms of a divorce agreement Johnson struck with European Union leaders Thursday.

Opposition parties and Johnson’s own Northern Irish allies have rejected the text but the prime minister and his team have spent the past 48 hours frantically trying to win the support of wavering MPs.

The vote is widely seen as too close to call but Johnson warned his deal was still the best way out of the tortuous Brexit process that has left Britain in political turmoil since a 2016 referendum.

“Today we MPs have the chance to free you from the never-ending Brexit saga and move this country forward,” he wrote in The Sun newspaper.

“A difficult, divisive and – yes – painful chapter in cour history would be at an end… We need to get Brexit done.”

Johnson is seeking a clear-cut vote that either approves or rejects the divorce treaty.

But MPs are proposing an amendment for approval of the deal to be withheld unless and until the necessary implementing legislation has passed.

They fear is that even if MPs approve the deal, they will not have enough time to debate the formal withdrawal agreement before the deadline, which could see no-deal Brexit by accident.

Heated Debate

Securing a deal was a personal victory for Johnson, a figurehead in the Leave campaign who has vowed to deliver Brexit on October 31 in all circumstances.

But parliament — like the frustrated public — is still divided over how and even if Britain should end 46 years of integration with its closest neighbours.

The debate starts from 0830 GMT and coincides with a mass demonstration to parliament demanding a second referendum, with an option to reverse Brexit.

If the deal passes, Johnson is expected to introduce legislation on Monday to ratify the text, which must be pushed through before the end of the month.

Defeat would trigger a law requiring him to ask EU leaders to delay Brexit for what would be the third time. He has said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than do so.

Any extension would depend on all 27 EU leaders saying yes.

‘Sell-out deal’

Johnson took office in July after his predecessor Theresa May failed three times to get her own divorce deal through parliament.

He insists that Brexit must happen this month to end the uncertainty that has weighed on the economy and dominated political and public debate.

However, the vote rests on a knife-edge.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which supports Johnson’s minority government, will vote against it because of its arrangements for the British province.

The main opposition Labour Party, led by veteran leftist Jeremy Corbyn, is set against the deal.

“Boris Johnson’s sell-out deal risks triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections: putting food safety at risk, cutting environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up our NHS (National Health Service) to a takeover by US corporations,” said Corbyn.

‘Sick and Tired’

Eurosceptic newspapers urged MPs to back the deal.

The Daily Express front page said: “Respect the will of the people and let’s move on.”

The Daily Telegraph said it was Britain’s best chance for an orderly departure.

“People are sick and tired of the delay and fed up with procedural trickery,” it said of the proposed amendment.

An online Survation poll of 1,025 adults on Thursday and Friday for the Daily Mail found that 50 per cent said MPs should vote for the deal, while 38 per cent said not.

Meanwhile, The Times said: “On behalf of a bored and disillusioned country, increasingly angry with Westminster, MPs should back the deal.”

EU leaders in Brussels this week urged lawmakers to back the deal, to allow both sides to move on to discussing their future relationship.

The deal covers Britain’s financial settlement, protects the rights of EU citizens and sets out a post-Brexit transition period potentially until 2022 to allow both sides to agree new trade terms.

Three Charged With Gang-Raping French Tourist In Cambodia

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

A Cambodian court has charged three men with gang-raping a French tourist in the coastal province of Kampot after offering her a ride in their car, police said Saturday.

The three suspects were arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday, days after the 43-year-old woman reported the sexual assault to police on October 12, Kampot provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith told AFP.

He said the men had offered the tourist a ride to her accommodation while she was walking alone at 3 am before forcing her into the vehicle, driving her to a quiet area and raping her.

“They were charged with rape and placed in pre-trial detention on Friday evening,” he said.

The men — a 36-year-old taxi driver and two construction workers aged 19 and 23 — face up to 15 years in jail if convicted, according to court documents seen by AFP.

Kampot, four hours southwest of the capital Phnom Penh, is a popular destination for foreign tourists looking for a quiet beach alternative to better-known hotspots like Siem Reap, home of the Angkor Wat temple complex.

But the coastal province has in recent years gained a reputation for drug use, attracting foreign and local traffickers eager to sell to a hard-partying backpacker crowd.

In 2013, the town was rocked by the discovery of a mutilated body of a 25-year-old Frenchwoman floating in a river.

A Belgian was charged with the alleged rape and murder of the woman, but released on bail a year later due to a lack of evidence.

Chile President Declares State Of Emergency After Violent Protests

Protesters gesture as the Macul Metro station burns during a mass fare-dodging protest in Santiago, on October 19, 2019. JAVIER TORRES / AFP

 

Chile’s president declared a state of emergency in Santiago Friday night and gave the military responsibility for security after a day of violent protests over an increase in the price of metro tickets.

Throughout Friday, protestors clashed with riot police in several parts of the capital and the subway system was shut after attacks on stations in some of the worst violence the city has seen in years.

At least 16 buses were torched and a dozen metro stations totally destroyed.

Around midnight President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency and appointed Major General Javier Iturriaga del Campo as head of national defense.

“The objective of this state of emergency is very simple but very profound: to ensure public order and peace for the inhabitants of Santiago,” Pinera said in a statement.

The state of emergency is initially for 15 days and restricts freedom of movement and assembly. Due to the emergency, the National Football Association has suspended matches this weekend.

General Iturriaga said the military would patrol major trouble spots in the city of seven million but would not impose a curfew at present.

“We are not going to restrict any personal freedom for now,” he said.

Violent clashes escalated as night fell and the headquarters of the ENEL Chile power company and a Banco Chile branch, both in the city center, were set on fire and several metro stations hit with Molotov cocktails. The ENEL tower blaze was put out with no one injured, firefighters said.

Barricades were erected in several parts of the city and masked protestors armed with sticks and stones clashed with riot police, who repelled them with water cannon and tear gas.

Residents in many districts of Santiago banged their pots in a show of support for the protestors.

 

Attacks on Metro Stations

The unrest started as a fare-dodging protest mainly by students against the hike in metro ticket prices, which increased from 800 to 830 peso ($1.13 to $1.17) for peak-hour travel, following a 20 peso rise in January.

The fare hike was blamed on rising oil prices and a weaker peso.

There had been several fare-dodging actions in recent days, organized on social media, but the protests escalated Friday, tapping into general discontent among many Chileans amid an economic slowdown and calls for reforms to labor and tax laws and the pension system.

Attacks on metro stations forced the closure of the entire subway system — the key form of public transport in the congested and polluted city, carrying three million passengers a day.

“The entire network is closed due to riots and destruction that prevent the minimum security conditions for passengers and workers,” the metro operator said on Twitter, after attacks against nearly all the 164 stations where many gates and turnstiles were destroyed.

The Santiago Metro, at 140 kilometers (90 miles) the largest and most modern in South America, is expected to remain closed this weekend and could reopen gradually next week.

Closure of the metro forced many Santiago residents to walk home, sometimes long distances, resulting in scenes of chaos.

Pinera slammed the protestors as criminals.

“This desire to break everything is not a protest, it’s criminal,” he said in a radio interview.

On Thursday, 133 people had been arrested for causing damage to metro stations, estimated at up to 500 million peso ($700,000).

Facebook Says It Will Deliver News Corp Stories

 

Facebook on Friday confirmed that some stories from News Corp, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, will be among the headlines delivered in a news tab the leading social network plans to launch in coming weeks.

Edited by seasoned journalists, the tab will be separate from the feed that displays updates from people’s friends, according to the California-based tech giant.

The new feature marks a departure from Facebook’s longstanding practice of letting algorithms dictate users’ experiences.

“I’m excited we’ll have the opportunity to include award-winning journalism from The Wall Street Journal — and other US News Corp properties — in our news tab,” the firm’s co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

No details were provided about the agreement, but last month Facebook said it plans to pay only a portion of the publishers whose stories appear in the tab.

Facebook and Google currently dominate the market for online advertising, making it harder for traditional news organizations to gain traction in digital.

Zuckerberg and his social network have also come under intense pressure in recent years over the spread of so-called “fake news” and data privacy issues.

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said Facebook “deserves credit for recognizing the principle of journalistic provenance.”

“Mark Zuckerberg seems personally and professionally committed to ensuring that high quality journalism has a viable, valued future,” he added.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Facebook plans to pay about a quarter of the estimated 200 news organizations whose articles will be featured.

A human team will select relevant, reliable breaking and top news stories for the tab and the number of publishers involved will grow over time, Facebook has said.

Aside from human-curated top news, sections of the tab will rely on algorithms to figure out a user’s interests based on “signals” — such as pages followed, interactions with online news or subscriptions to publications.

13 People Die In Dam Failure At Siberian Gold Mine – Ministry

This handout picture released by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry on October 19, 2019, shows a flooding after a dam failure in a gold miners village close to the town of Shchetinkino, about 250 km from the city of Krasnoyarsk. 13 people killed during dam failure at a Siberian gold mine, Russian Emergency Situations Ministry reported.
RUSSIAN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS MINISTRY / AFP

 

At least thirteen people were killed as a result of a dam failure at a gold mine in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk early Saturday, the Russian emergencies ministry said.

“As of now, there’s information about 13 dead,” the ministry said in a statement.

The workers died when a dam on the Seiba River collapsed in the early hours of Saturday and flooded several cabins where they lived, authorities said.

More than 10 people are believed to be missing.

Regional governor Alexander Uss said in televised remarks that some 80 people lived in the temporary settlement south of the city of Krasnoyarsk.

Investigators said separately 14 workers were hospitalised.

More than 270 people were involved in a search-and-rescue operation, the emergencies ministry said.

Investigators said they opened a criminal probe into the violation of safety rules.

‘Farming’ Brought To Fruition A Vision I Carried For So Long – Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

 

British-Nigerian actor, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, has shared some of the experiences that inspired his directorial debut, ‘Farming’.

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, the actor who said he had gone through an identity crisis as a teenager, explained that the movie was an expression of some of those struggles.

According to him, producing the movie “was very surreal, very cathartic, at times very emotional but ultimately it was like the fruition of a vision that (he) had carried for so many years”.

The movie which tells a story of a young Nigerian boy, ‘farmed out’ by his parents to a white British family with hopes of a better future, featured Genevieve Nnaji, Kate Beckinsale, Damson Idris, among others.

Adewale described them as “fantastic” saying, “I couldn’t have got a better cast”.

When asked what Nollywood can do to get international attention, he said the Nigerian film industry has so much potential to be seeking the attention of its foreign counterparts.

“The Nigerian film industry has to have its own identity,” he said.

He further explained that the industry is not lacking with talent and is rapidly expanding in terms of quality of productions.

“A lot of Nollywood was born out of a lack of resources. We were using cameras that were relatively outdated. There’s new technology and artists and filmmakers are now getting access to that and that’s definitely going to improve the quality,” he said.

Beyond that, he believes that the industry does not need to compete with others but rather continue to improve itself and tell its stories in the best ways possible.

“I don’t think you should think of it in terms of improving the quality to compete with Hollywood or anybody else.

“It is improving the quality to be able to tell our stories in the richest texture and the ways that we can and if we stick to that, who knows it may become the dominant channel,” he said.