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Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah ‘reach deal’ in Cairo

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Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah 'reach deal' in Cairo

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hamas runs Gaza and Fatah controls the West Bank

The Palestinian group Hamas says it has reached an agreement with rival group Fatah, ending a decade-long rift.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said details of the deal would be released later on Thursday. Fatah has not commented.

Egypt has been brokering reconciliation talks in Cairo.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been ruled separately since deadly clashes between the two groups broke out in 2007.

Hamas won parliamentary elections in the occupied territories the previous year, and reinforced its power in Gaza after ousting Fatah from the enclave.

The pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre announced the agreement, saying details would be revealed at a news conference in Cairo at midday.

  • Who are Hamas?
  • Who are Fatah?
  • Has Hamas changed?
  • Where are the Palestinian territories?

On Wednesday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the talks in Cairo had been "serious and deep".

"The talks are positive and the Egyptian side is even-handed," he said, according to the Palestinian Information Centre.

Last month, Hamas agreed to dissolve the committee that rules Gaza.

The move had been a key demand of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whose Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority governs parts of the West Bank.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah then made a rare trip to Gaza.

He said the Palestinian Authority would begin taking control of Gaza's administrative affairs and "security responsibilities".

Egypt and Israel, Hamas' chief adversary, have maintained a blockade around Gaza since 2006. Hamas calls for Israel's destruction and has fought three wars with the Jewish state.

Israel resolutely opposes any involvement by Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. It considers Hamas a terrorist group and has said it will not deal with a Palestinian government that contains Hamas members.

Hamas as a whole, or in some cases its military wing, is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, UK and other powers.


Source – bbc.com

World

Hamas and Fatah ‘reach agreement’ at Cairo talks

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Hamas and Fatah 'reach agreement' at Cairo talks

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hamas runs Gaza and Fatah controls the West Bank

The Palestinian group Hamas says it has reached an agreement with rival group Fatah, ending a decade-long rift.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said details of the deal would be released later on Thursday. Fatah has not commented.

Egypt has been brokering reconciliation talks in Cairo.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been ruled separately since deadly clashes between the two groups broke out in 2007.

Hamas won parliamentary elections in the occupied territories the previous year, and reinforced its power in Gaza after ousting Fatah from the enclave.

The pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre announced the agreement, saying details would be revealed at a news conference in Cairo at midday.

  • Who are Hamas?
  • Who are Fatah?
  • Has Hamas changed?
  • Where are the Palestinian territories?

On Wednesday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the talks in Cairo had been "serious and deep".

"The talks are positive and the Egyptian side is even-handed," he said, according to the Palestinian Information Centre.

Last month, Hamas agreed to dissolve the committee that rules Gaza.

The move had been a key demand of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whose Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority governs parts of the West Bank.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah then made a rare trip to Gaza.

He said the Palestinian Authority would begin taking control of Gaza's administrative affairs and "security responsibilities".

Egypt and Israel, Hamas' chief adversary, have maintained a blockade around Gaza since 2006. Hamas calls for Israel's destruction and has fought three wars with the Jewish state.

Israel resolutely opposes any involvement by Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. It considers Hamas a terrorist group and has said it will not deal with a Palestinian government that contains Hamas members.

Hamas as a whole, or in some cases its military wing, is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, UK and other powers.


Source – bbc.com

World

Australia jet and navy data stolen in ‘extensive’ hack

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Australia jet and navy data stolen in 'extensive' hack

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The theft included details about Australia's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, authorities said

Sensitive information about Australia's defence programmes has been stolen in an "extensive" cyber hack.

About 30GB of data was compromised in the hack on a government contractor, including details about new fighter planes and navy vessels.

The data was commercially sensitive but not classified, the government said. It did not know if a state was involved.

Australian cyber security officials dubbed the mystery hacker "Alf", after a character on TV soap Home and Away.

The breach began in July last year, but the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) was not alerted until November. The hacker's identity is not known.

"It could be one of a number of different actors," Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Thursday.

"It could be a state actor, [or] a non-state actor. It could be someone who was working for another company."

Mr Pyne said he had been assured the theft was not a risk to national security.

Weaknesses exploited

The hack was described as "extensive and extreme" by ASD incident response manager Mitchell Clarke.

It included information about Australia's new A$17bn (£10bn; $13bn) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, C130 transport plane and P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft, as well as "a few" naval vessels, he said.

Mr Clarke told a Sydney security conference that the hacker had exploited a weakness in software being used by the government contractor. The software had not been updated for 12 months.

The aerospace engineering firm was also using default passwords, he said.

  • N Korea 'hacks US-S Korea war plan'
  • Cyber-threat 'as serious as terrorism'
  • Many cyber-attacks 'a significant threat'

ASD officials began repairing the system in December.

A report by ZDNet said officials referred to the months before ASD intervention as "Alf's mystery happy fun time".

"For those visitors overseas to Australia, Alf is Alf Stewart from an horrific Australia soap opera called Home and Away. It's just a thing we do," Mr Clarke told his audience, according to BuzzFeed.

'Salutary reminder'

The government distanced itself from the Adelaide-based firm, saying it had most likely been employed by another contractor.

"I don't think you can try and sheet blame for a small enterprise having lax cyber security back to the federal government. That is a stretch," Mr Pyne said.

"Fortunately, the data that was taken was commercial data, not military data, but it is still very serious and we will get to the bottom of it."

However, he said "we don't necessarily let the public know" about the identities of hackers, because such investigations often involve confidential information.

The incident was a "salutary reminder" about cyber security, he added.

Last year, Australia announced a surge in defence spending, a move that reflects concern over military expansion in the region.

Military spending would grow by A$29.9bn over 10 years, including plans to buy 72 Joint Strike Fighters, the 2016 Defence White Paper outlined.


Source – bbc.com

World

California wildfires kill 21 including elderly couple

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California wildfires kill 21 including elderly couple

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionFire survivor: 'I don't have any neighbours any more.'

A couple who recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary are among the 21 dead in some of California's worst-ever wildfires.

Charles Rippey, 100, and his wife, Sara, 98, perished in one of 22 blazes that have destroyed 115,000 acres (26,000ha) and 3,500 buildings.

The couple, originally from Wisconsin, first met in primary school, their sons told the New York Times.

Officials in the hard-hit Sonoma County say 380 people are still missing.

Wineries count cost of wildfires disaster

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano earlier said 670 people were missing, adding the situation was changing quickly.

He also said about 150 people have been located and expects that some of those who have been found have yet to update their status on the missing registry.

More evacuations were ordered on Wednesday as the winds shifted. The entire town of Calistoga, in Napa County, was told to leave – about 5,000 residents – and police stopped all traffic trying to approach the area.

Image copyright Family photo

The Rippeys died on Sunday at their home in Napa, California, where the fast-moving fires trapped them inside.

The couple's son, Mike Rippey said he and his brother found their parents' remains near each other amid the rubble of their home on Tuesday.

"We kids would always talk about what it would be like if one of them died and the other was still alive," Mr Rippey, 71, told the newspaper.

"They just couldn't be without each other. The fact that they went together is probably what they would have wanted."

The couple attended the University of Wisconsin and married in 1942 before World War Two took Charles Rippey abroad.

The Rippeys had five children together and lived in the Napa home for 35 years.

Mike Rippey said his father appeared to be heading to his mother's room when he was engulfed in smoke and flames.

"My father certainly wouldn't have left her," he said.

The fires are among the deadliest in California's history and have sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, about 60 miles (100km) away.

Eleven of the deaths have been in Sonoma County, where officials said 530 were still unaccounted for, although that could be due to the chaotic pace of the evacuations.

Family members and friends of those missing have made appeals on social media to locate their loved ones while authorities have urged missing residents to mark themselves safe on the registry.

Six people have died in Mendocino County, two in Yuba County and two in Napa County, Cal Fire spokeswoman Heather Williams told the Los Angeles Times.

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Media captionCalifornia districts wiped out by wildfires

In Sonoma County's city of Santa Rosa, a Hilton hotel and a mobile home park were destroyed. Tens of thousands of Sonoma County residents have fled, authorities said.

In the hills above Santa Rosa, resident Peter Lang was forced to choose between saving his home or more than 1,000 animals that were trapped at his Safari West wildlife preserve, the Press Democrat newspaper reported.

The 77-year-old owner said he did not lose a single animal, but his home was destroyed.

At least four wineries have suffered "total or very significant losses", Napa Valley Vintners said, with nine others reporting some damage to buildings or vineyards.

More than 91,000 homes and businesses are without power.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared emergencies in Sonoma, Napa and five other counties.

US President Donald Trump has also approved a disaster declaration, allowing federal emergency aid to be disbursed.

Before and after

Image copyright Google/Getty
Image caption Santa Rosa Hilton Hotel
Image copyright Google/Getty
Image caption Journey's End Trailer Park in Santa Rosa


Source – bbc.com

Technology

Apple’s Tim Cook prefers augmented reality to VR

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Apple's Tim Cook prefers augmented reality to VR

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Media captionWATCH: Tim Cook explains why he thinks augmented reality is "profound"

Apple's chief executive has suggested he is not very enthusiastic about virtual reality.

Tim Cook said that he felt that the technology could isolate users and voiced a preference for augmented reality instead.

AR involves mixing graphics and real-world views together rather than solely filling a person's view with computer-generated images.

One expert suggested Mr Cook's view was becoming more popular in tech circles.

Mr Cook expressed his opinion at an event hosted by the University of Oxford, in response to a student's question about what technologies would prove transformative.

"I'm incredibly excited by AR because I can see uses for it everywhere," Mr Cook replied.

"I can see uses for it in education, in consumers, in entertainment, in sports. I can see it in every business that I know anything about

"I also like the fact that it doesn't isolate.

"I don't like our products being used a lot. I like our products amplifying thoughts and I think AR can help amplify the human connection.

"I've never been a fan of VR like that because I think it does the opposite.

"There are clearly some cool niche things for VR but it's not profound in my view. AR is profound."

Apple's latest mobile system – iOS 11 – has made it easier for augmented reality features to be added to apps via a set of tools it shared with developers in June called ARKit.

But for now the experiences on offer are restricted to being seen via a smartphone or tablet screen.

Apple has filed several patents relating to augmented reality glasses, which have the potential to provide more immersive views. But Mr Cook acknowledged in an earlier interview that today's display technologies were not adequate to deliver an experience the public would be satisfied with.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWATCH: Rory Cellan-Jones tests some AR apps on the iPhone in September

However, there is a growing number of virtual reality headsets on sale.

And Apple spent part of its recent WWDC developers conference showcasing the fact its latest Mac operating system had introduced support for one of the most popular models – HTC's Vive.

It is also marketing its current range of iMac computers as being well-suited to " create cutting-edge 3D VR content".

"It's fashionable to knock VR in favour of AR at present," commented Kevin Joyce, editor-in-chief of VRFocus, a news site that covers both technologies.

"Augmented reality is attracting more hype at present, but I think things will come back around and VR will be celebrated again once we get more standalone headsets [that don't need to be powered by a PC or smartphone].

"But ultimately there will be a time when they merge and we'll end up with one headset that does both."

He added that he doubted in the short-term that many developers would be discouraged from using Apple's products to create VR experiences as a result of the comments.

Mr Cook's appearance coincided with Mark Zuckerberg's launch of a new Oculus virtual reality headset.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Mark Zuckerberg introduced his company's Oculus Connect event shortly after Mr Cook's apperance

At the event in San Jose, California, Facebook's chief said: "Some people say that VR is isolating and anti-social. I actually think it's the opposite…. opening up more of those experiences to more of us – that's not isolating, that's freeing."

Microsoft also partnered with six hardware manufacturers to launch a range of Windows-powered VR headsets last week.


Source – bbc.com

World

Nafta talks: Trump open to a bilateral Canada-US trade deal

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Nafta talks: Trump open to a bilateral Canada-US trade deal

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption US President Donald Trump greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

President Trump says if talks to reform Nafta fail, he could envisage a US-Canada trade pact, excluding Mexico.

The US president said if there was no deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement, it would be terminated.

He was speaking at the White House with visiting Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

Replying to a question, Mr Trump said he said he would consider a trade pact with Canada minus Mexico, adding that both the US and Canada wanted to protect their workers.

The current round of talks on renegotiating the trade bloc is reported to be stalling, with Mexico opposing a US move to increase the percentage of US-made components in car manufacturing.

Mr Trump's stance has however been criticised by US businesses,

And Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray, speaking ahead of the latest round of talks, said terminating Nafta could harm US-Mexico relations and damage co-operation on issues like fighting drug-trafficking.

  • Nafta talks: The view from the free trade front lines
  • What's at stake as Nafta talks begin?
  • Justin Trudeau, Ivanka Trump attend musical

Mr Trudeau said he believed the Nafta talks could still end in a "win, win, win".

But he said that Canada had to "be ready for anything" if the attempts to modernise the 23-year-old deal faltered.

Overall trade between the three Nafta partners reached $1.1 trillion (£832bn) in 2016.

American and Mexican officials say they want a renegotiated deal by December.

This week the influential US Chamber of Commerce warned it was time to "ring alarm bells" over the Nafta talks.

The business lobby group said there were "several poison pill proposals" put on the table by the US that could tank the renegotiations.

Those include US demands to adjust the rules of origin, which would increase the percentage of the content of car parts and other materials that would come from Nafta countries in order for a good to qualify as duty free – a specific concern for the North American auto industry.

'We disagree vehemently'

The US and Canadian leaders also discussed the Bombardier-Boeing trade dispute.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Workers are watching the Bombardier v Boeing dispute with concern

Canada and the UK are sparring with the US over Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier.

The Trump administration has imposed hefty duties on Bombardier's C-Series jetliner.

American aerospace firm Boeing claims Bombardier received unfair government subsidies to produce its showcase passenger jet.

Bombardier is a significant employer in Northern Ireland and Canada.

Mr Trudeau said he "highlighted to the president how much we disagree vehemently" on the decision to impose anti-dumping duties.


Source – bbc.com

World

Harvey Weinstein: Prosecutors defend lack of action

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Harvey Weinstein: Prosecutors defend lack of action

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Media captionIt was "an open secret" a producer tells the BBC

Prosecutors have defended their decision not to take action against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein after a woman complained about his behaviour in 2015.

The Manhattan district attorney's office says undercover audio of the complainant and Weinstein was "insufficient to prove a crime".

But they said the Oscar winner had a "pattern of mistreating women".

Weinstein says many of the accusations against him are false.

In a statement, Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo said: "If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have.

"Mr Weinstein's pattern of mistreating women, as recounted in recent reports, is disgraceful and shocks the conscience."

  • Harvey Weinstein: The accusers' stories
  • The horror of Weinstein's casting couch
  • Matt Damon denies 'killing' 2004 Weinstein story

Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, 22, had gone to police to accuse Weinstein of touching her inappropriately. She then agreed to meet the producer again while wearing a hidden microphone.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe New Yorker released audio of an alleged undercover sting operation by New York Police (UK users only)

The district attorney's office say police arranged the meeting without informing them. "Prosecutors were not afforded the opportunity before the meeting to counsel investigators on what was necessary to capture in order to prove a misdemeanour sex crime," they said.

They say the "horrifying" audio "was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law" which left prosecutors with "no choice but to conclude the criminal investigation without charges".

In the recording, Weinstein can be heard asking Ms Gutierrez to come into his hotel room. The model asks the producer "why yesterday you touched my breast?" He apologises, saying he "won't do it again".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cara Delevingne is the latest actress to accuse Mr Weinstein of inappropriate behaviour

A string of high-profile actresses, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, have come forward to accuse the movie mogul of sexual harassment or assault.

The British actress and model Cara Delevingne is the latest to accuse Weinstein of inappropriate behaviour. In a statement, she said he tried to kiss her as she attempted to leave a hotel room.

"I felt very powerless and scared," she said.

On Tuesday, Weinstein denied allegations of rape made in The New Yorker magazine. On the same day, his wife Georgina Chapman said she was leaving him.

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Media caption"This is what you will be remembered for" – Playwright's message to Harvey Weinstein

Weinstein's spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister said: "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein. Mr Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.

"Mr Weinstein obviously can't speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.

"Mr Weinstein has begun counselling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path."

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Media captionModel Zoe Brock tells Radio 4's Today that she was one of Harvey Weinstein's victims

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, branded the allegations against Mr Weinstein "abhorrent" and said it will hold a meeting on Saturday to discuss further action.

It comes after Bafta, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts suspended his membership of the organisation.


Source – bbc.com

World

Ten people charged for Louisiana State University hazing death

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Ten people charged for Louisiana State University hazing death

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Mawell Gruver died from excessive alcohol consumption, a coroner ruled

Louisiana police have announced arrest warrants for 10 people accused of a role in forcing a university student to drink himself to death last month.

All of the suspects are affiliated with the social club that police say 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver was attempting to join when he died.

One Louisiana State University student is charged with negligent homicide and nine others are charged with hazing.

Police believe Gruver died after a fraternity ritual called "Bible study".

According to a police affidavit, on the night of 13 September Gruver had been forced to drink during a Phi Delta Theta initiation each time he incorrectly answered questions about the university's all-male club.

Gruver died of "acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration", according to a post-mortem examination by the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner.

The Georgia-native had a blood alcohol level that was over six times the legal limit for driving.

  • Manslaughter charges dropped in fraternity hazing case

"Today's arrests underscore that the ramifications of hazing can be devastating," said university president F King Alexander on Wednesday.

"Maxwell Gruver's family will mourn his loss for the rest of their lives, and several other students are now facing serious consequences – all due to a series of poor decision," he continued.

One suspect, Matthew Naquin, is charged with negligent homicide, which could carry a five-year prison sentence.

The others face charges of hazing, which carry a 10-30 day jail sentence:

  • Matthew Alexander Naquin, 19, of Texas
  • Elliott Eaton, 20, of Louisiana
  • Patrick Forde, 20, Massachusetts
  • Sean Paul Gott, 21, of Louisiana
  • Zachary Hall, 21, of North Carolina
  • Hudson Kirkpatrick, 19, of Louisiana
  • Sean Pennison, 21, of Louisiana
  • Nicholas Taulli, 19, of Texas
  • Ryan Isto, 18, of Canada
  • Zachary Castillo

All 10 suspects are affiliated with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, but two are not currently enrolled at the school.

The charges now go to a grand jury, which will determine if there is enough evidence to warrant a criminal trial.

In September, a judge in Pennsylvania dismissed all the serious charges that had been filed against Pennsylvania State University fraternity members after a student there died during an initiation event.


Source – bbc.com

World

Catalonia: Spain issues deadline to separatists

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Catalonia: Spain issues deadline to separatists

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Media captionMr Rajoy accused the Catalan leader of creating confusion

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given Catalonia's separatist leader five days to say whether or not he has declared independence.

If Carles Puigdemont confirms by Monday that he has, he will be given a further three days to withdraw the declaration.

Failing that, Madrid will invoke Article 155 of the constitution allowing it to suspend the region's autonomy and impose direct rule.

Catalan leaders signed a declaration of independence on Tuesday.

However, they halted its implementation to allow for talks with Madrid.

Spain has been in turmoil since the separatist government held a disputed referendum in Catalonia on 1 October which was declared invalid by the country's Constitutional Court.

Almost 90% of voters backed independence with a turnout of 43%, Catalan officials say. Anti-independence voters largely boycotted the ballot and there were several reports of irregularities.

National police were involved in violent scenes as they tried to stop the vote taking place.

  • Catalan crisis in 300 words
  • Catalans' verdicts on latest turmoil
  • The view from Barcelona v Madrid
  • What are the options now?

Mr Rajoy said his government had asked the regional government to clarify whether or not it had declared independence.

He accused Mr Puigdemont of having created "deliberate confusion" and said he wanted to restore "certainty".

"This call – ahead of any of the measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our constitution – seeks to offer citizens the clarity and security that a question of such importance requires," Mr Rajoy said.

"There is an urgent need to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is going through – to return it to safety, tranquillity and calm and to do that as quickly as possible."

Mr Rajoy was speaking after holding an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the government's next steps.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Catalans are divided on the independence issue

Speaking later in parliament, Mr Rajoy said Spain was facing the most serious threat to its 40-year-old democracy.

He accused the separatists of hatching an "anti-democratic plan foisting their will on all the people of Catalonia", and said the Spanish government had had no choice but to restore order.

"It falls to the Catalan leader to restore constitutional normality," he told deputies, rejecting any suggestion of outside mediation in the dispute.

He added that he was willing to negotiate on the issue of regional autonomy and changes to the constitution – but this had to be within the framework of the law.

What happens next?

Katya Adler, BBC Europe editor, Madrid

Spain's prime minister tried today to put the ball back in the Catalan court. He has asked the Catalan president to clarify if he is making a declaration of independence or not.

In the meantime, sources in the Senate (Spain's upper house of parliament, where Prime Minister Rajoy's Popular Party has a majority) say the request has been made to trigger Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, under which Mr Rajoy would be able to suspend Catalan autonomy – possibly immediately, or bit by bit.

Article 155 has never been used before, so we are in a kind of Brexit situation before Article 50 was triggered. The article legally exists but there are disagreements about how far-reaching it is, how it would/should work (and how quickly) in practice.

Reports in Spanish media have suggested that if the Spanish prime minister were to activate Article 155 in the absence of a response from the Catalan president, pro-independence parties in the Catalan parliament would then declare independence.

The leader of the opposition Socialists, Pedro Sanchez, told reporters that his party and the government had agreed to examine the possibility of using constitutional reform to end the crisis.

This would be focused on "how Catalonia remains in Spain, and not how it leaves", he added.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCatalan leader seeks talks to secure independence

Addressing the Catalan parliament in Barcelona on Tuesday evening, Mr Puigdemont said the autonomous region had won the right to be independent as a result of the vote.

He urged the international community to recognise Catalonia as an independent and sovereign state.

He said the "people's will" was to break away from Madrid but he also said he wanted to "de-escalate" the tension around the issue.

With this in mind he announced that he was "suspending the effects of the declaration of independence" for more talks with the Madrid government, which he said were needed to reach a solution.

He and other Catalan leaders then signed the declaration of independence. It is not clear if the declaration has any legal status.

  • The man who wants to break up Spain
  • Would Catalonia be a viable country?
  • Catalan crisis: Six things you need to know

Crowds of independence supporters in Barcelona cheered Mr Puigdemont's initial remarks but many expressed disappointment as he clarified his stance.

Catalonia is one of Spain's wealthiest regions but a stream of companies has announced plans to move head offices out of the province in response to the crisis.

The European Union has made clear that should Catalonia split from Spain, the region would cease to be part of the EU.

Are you in Catalonia? What do you think of the latest developments? E-mail us at [email protected]

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Or use the form below


Source – bbc.com

World

Trump threatens broadcaster NBC after nuclear report

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Trump threatens broadcaster NBC after nuclear report

Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Trump criticised NBC's report as he welcomed Canada's prime minister to the White House

US President Donald Trump has raised the prospect of challenging media licences for NBC News and other news networks after unfavourable reports.

He took aim at NBC, which made him a star on The Apprentice, after it reported he wanted to boost America's nuclear arsenal almost tenfold.

Mr Trump labelled the report "fake news" and "pure fiction".

NBC also angered the White House last week when it said the secretary of state had called Mr Trump "a moron".

  • Trump's longstanding nuclear fixation
  • Trump and the nuclear codes
  • What is Donald Trump's IQ?

Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning: "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!"

Welcoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington later in the day, the US president denied the NBC story.

"It is frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it," he said at the White House.

When asked if he wanted to increase the country's arsenal, Mr Trump said he only ever discussed keeping it in "perfect condition".

"No, I want to have absolutely perfectly maintained – which we are in the process of doing – nuclear force.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTrump: 'I want nuclear weapons in perfect condition'

"But when they said I want 10 times what we have right now, it's totally unnecessary, believe me."

He added: "I want modernisation and I want total rehabilitation. It's got to be in tip-top shape."

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also disputed NBC's story.

"Recent reports that the President called for an increase in the US nuclear arsenal are absolutely false," he said in a statement.

"This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible."

Skip Twitter post by @pressfreedom

Trump’s assertion that @NBC’s license could be challenged emboldens other gov'ts to embrace authoritarian tendencies https://t.co/h69TvIdbEW

— CPJ (@pressfreedom) October 11, 2017

Report

End of Twitter post by @pressfreedom

The president's tweet about US broadcast networks provoked a free-speech uproar.

Walter Shaub, who led the US Office of Government Ethics under President Barack Obama, said it could lead to "the point when we cease to be a democracy".

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the US president's comment was a poor example for other world leaders.

According to NBC News, Mr Trump told a top-level meeting at the Pentagon in July that he wanted to dramatically boost the American stockpile of atomic missiles.

He reportedly made the request after seeing a downward-sloping curve on a briefing slide charting the gradual decrease in US nuclear weapons since the 1960s.

Attributing its report to three officials in the room, NBC said Mr Trump's request surprised those present, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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Media captionRex Tillerson reacts to a report he called the president a moron.

The network reported that Mr Trump had also called for additional US troops and military equipment.

The US has 7,100 nuclear weapons and Russia has 7,300, according to the US non-partisan Arms Control Association.

Media commentators say the president would struggle to remove broadcasters' licences if he wished to do so.

The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates US broadcasters, issues licences not to networks as a whole, but to local stations.

NBC owns nearly 30 local stations.

It would be difficult to challenge a licence on the basis that coverage is unfair, say pundits.

Trump's unworkable threat

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured reporters that Donald Trump was an "incredible advocate" of constitutional free-press protections. This week, the president is contemplating whether a broadcaster could be forced off the airwaves because he doesn't approve of its news coverage.

Never mind that the federal government licenses local televisions stations, only some of which are owned by national broadcasters like NBC.

Just because a threat is unworkable in the extreme doesn't mean the president won't make it.

Media-bashing is one of Mr Trump's favourite pastimes – a means of venting frustration, apportioning blame and, perhaps, distracting reporters who always enjoy a bit of journalistic navel-gazing.

As with the NFL anthem-kneeling controversy, the cultural battle lines form quickly when it comes to questions of media bias. The president knows this and uses it to his advantage.

Taking pot-shots at journalists is one thing, of course. Contemplating the use of government coercion to stifle a broadcaster because of its news content is another.

Even if such an outcome is unthinkable in the US at the moment, there are places in the world where press freedoms aren't as deeply entrenched. Their leaders are watching the president, too.


Source – bbc.com