Catalan parliament passes legislation approving October independence referendum

Catalan’s parliament passed legislation approving the October 1st independence referendum on Wednesday night amidst heavy opposition from Spanish government aligned MPs. The legislation passed by 72 votes despite 52 opposition MPs staging a walk out of the Catalan parliament, reports abc news. The passing of the legislation was denounced by the Spanish government, which has pledged to take legal action against the parliament to stop the independence referendum. Calling the passing of the legislation illegal, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, said, “That something the government and courts...

Syria's government killed civilians with chemical weapons in April finds UN inquiry

Syrian forces dropped chemical weapons on the rebel held town of Khan Sheikhun killing 80 civilians in April, confirmed a UN Commission of Inquiry On Syria on Wednesday. Documenting a litany of rights abuses and violations of international law, the Commission’s press release , said, “Government forces continued to deliberately target civilians, including through the use of chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas. As part of an aerial campaign in northern Hama and southern Idlib, on 4 April the Syrian air force used sarin in Khan Shaykhun, killing over 80 people, most of...

Gauri Lankesh - prominent Indian journalist and critic of Hindu nationalism murdered in Bangalore

Prominent Indian journalist and critic of Hindu nationalist politics, Gauri Lankesh, was shot and killed outside her home in Bangalore on Tuesday night. Ms Lankesh, 55, had previously worked in New Delhi for leading English language newspapers, and was most recently editing her own local-language weekly in the Karnataka capital. She was known for being critical of the BJP and the so-called Hindutva brigade and outspoken against the rise of violent Hindu fundamentalism in India. Ms Lankesh was appealing against a conviction from last year of defaming a BJP lawmaker in Karnataka in a 2008...

Myanmar blocks aid to Rohingya caught up in atrocities and violence

Myanmar has blocked all UN aid agencies from delivering vital supplies to Rohingya caught up in the country’s genocidal campaign, reports the Guardian . The office of the UN resident coordinator in Myanmar said deliveries to northern Rakhine state had been suspended “because the security situation and government field-visit restrictions rendered us unable to distribute assistance”. “The UN is in close contact with authorities to ensure that humanitarian operations can resume as soon as possible,” the office said. Aid was being delivered to other parts of Rakhine state, it added. Staff from...

Bell Pottinger expelled from PR trade body for campaign inciting racial conflict in South Africa

Bell Pottinger, one of the City's leading PR firm, whose former clients include the Rajapaksa government has been expelled from its trade association after an investigation into the firm's secret campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa found it to be the worst breach of ethics in the association's history. The Public Relations and Communications Association said Bell Pottinger was unethical and unprofessional, had brought the industry into disrepute and has banned the firm from its membership for at least five years, reports the Guardian. “Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and...

China calls on BRICS to seek more 'just' international order

China's president, Xi Jingping on Tuesday called on fellow BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa to push for a more "just" international order by ensuring greater representation of developing countries within international bodies. “BRICS countries should push for a more just and reasonable international order,” Mr Xi Jinping told a BRICS conference, Reuters reported. “We should work together to address global challenges," he added. Meeting with his Indian counterpart at the BRICS summit of emerging economies, Mr Jinping also sought to mend ties between the two countries,...

Catalan regional government sets up independent tax administration system ahead of independence referendum

Catalonia’s pro-separatist government has set up its own tax agency that is ready for action if the Catalan people vote for independence on the October 1 referendum. Speaking to reporters, the head of the Catalan regional government Carlos Puigdemont, said “We have put in place the structures necessary for Catalonian to be ready to enforce the will Catalans express in the October 1 Referendum.” The Catalan tax agency has doubled its workforce and implemented a computer scheme to allow it to collect fiscal revenue within a few months of the referendum, reports Agence France Presse . “The goal...

UN calls on ICC to investigate Burundi leadership for crimes against humanity

The International Criminal Court must hold Burundian officials at the highest level accountable for crimes against humanity concluded a United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Monday. “The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity are attributable primarily to state officials at the highest level and to senior officers and members of the National Intelligence Service, the police, the army and the Imbonerakure [youth league of the ruling party],” the report said. Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, the head of the commission Fatsah Ouguergouz labelled the...

Thousands across Argentina demonstrate over disappearance of activist

Thousands of people joined protests across Argentina to demonstrate against the disappearance of a human rights activist last month. Violent clashes took place between protestors and security forces, with reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown at police headquarters in the southern region of Patagonia, where 28 year old Santiago Maldonado disappeared on August 1. At least 23 people were injured and 30 arrested. Campaign groups and non-governmental organisations from across Argentina rallied together to call for the return of Mr Maldonado. He was last seen at a protest march by the Mapuche...

North Korea conducts 6th nuclear test

North Korea on Sunday conducted its sixth nuclear test. The detonation was first detected as a manmade earthquake, which was 10 times more powerful than the tremors created by its test last year. In a statement Pyongyang said the detonation was of an advanced hydrogen bomb, rather than an atomic device, and said it was a "perfect success". The test comes amid heightened tensions between North Korea and the US over recent weeks as Pyongyang remains defiant in the face of US calls to dismantle its development of nuclear weapons. See here , here and here .

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