Political News from Yahoo

Catalan anti-independence enclave clings to Spain

Red and yellow Spanish flags fly proudly in the town of Badalona as thousands flock to watch the national basketball team play. Separatist urges may have surged here in the northeastern Catalonia region, where leaders are vowing a vote on independence, but this is one corner that clings to Spain. "I feel proud to be Spanish and proud to be Catalan," said Javier Vargas, a 41-year-old engineer. The mood in Badalona stands in contrast to many nearby towns where the striped Catalan flag prevails, hung by those who want Catalonia to break away from the rest of the country.


Israel plans to expropriate 400 hectares of West Bank, army says

Israel announced Sunday it will expropriate 400 hectares (988 acres) of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, angering the Palestinians and alarming Israeli peace campaigners. Israel has named three Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron as being behind the murders.


House, Senate intel chiefs flag Islamic State risk

WASHINGTON (AP) — Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees on Sunday prodded President Barack Obama to take decisive action against what they say are growing threats from Islamic State militants on U.S. soil.


Fresh round of Mali peace talks to begin in Algiers

Malian government negotiators will sit down with separatist militias on Monday, hoping to end the conflicts that continue to rage in the country a year after it returned to democracy. Riven by ethnic rivalries, a Tuareg rebellion and an Islamist insurgency in its vast desert north, the west African nation has struggled for stability and peace since a military coup in 2012. The second round of talks in the capital of neighbouring Algeria will bring together various warring factions who signed an interim agreement in June last year to pave the way for nationwide elections. Since President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came to power negotiations have stalled, however, and northern Mali has seen a spike in violence by Islamist and separatist militants.


Shebab rebels target Somali intelligence HQ in car bomb attack

Somalia's Shebab rebels carried out a major car bomb and gun attack against an intelligence headquarters in central Mogadishu on Sunday, leaving at least seven militants and four others dead. The Al-Qaeda-linked militia claimed responsibility for the raid against the complex, which also houses a major detention facility, saying it was being used for the "torture and humiliation" of "innocent Muslims". The coordinated attack also came a day after Somalia's national army and African Union forces said they had captured a Shebab stronghold as part of a joint offensive aimed at seizing key ports and cutting off a key source of revenue for the Islamist rebels. One of them blew himself in the car while the six others were killed by the security forces," interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Yusuf told reporters, adding that three members of the security forces and a civilian were also killed.


Israel downs drone from Syria over occupied Golan: army

Israel downed a drone over the occupied Golan Heights on Sunday, the army said, amid mounting tension on the UN-patrolled armistice line with Syria on the strategic plateau. Air defences "successfully intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that breached Israel airspace above the border with Syria," an army statement said. Heavy fighting between Syrian government troops and opposition forces flowed into the buffer zone separating Syrian and Israeli-occupied territory at the weekend. Dozens of Filipino UN peacekeepers escaped the hot zone overnight after rebels rammed their Golan Heights outpost with armed trucks, the Philippine military said.


Iraq breaks months-long jihadist siege

It is the biggest offensive success for the Iraqi government since militants led by the Sunni Islamic State (IS) jihadist group overran large areas of five provinces in June, sweeping security forces aside. The breakthrough came as America carried out limited strikes outside north Iraq for the first time since its air campaign against militants began more than three weeks ago, and aircraft from several countries dropped humanitarian aid to Amerli. "Our forces entered Amerli and broke the siege," Iraqi security spokesman Lieutenant General Qassem Atta told AFP, an account confirmed by a local official and a fighter from the town. The operation was launched on Saturday after days of preparations in which Iraqi security forces, Shiite militiamen and Kurdish fighters deployed for the assault and Iraqi aircraft carried out strikes against militants.

Turkish army warns over 'red lines' in Kurdish peace talks

Turkey's army chief has warned that the army will do whatever is necessary if its "red lines" are not respected in peace talks with Kurdish rebels. His comments came amid intensified efforts by the government to restart stalled peace talks with the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), which launched an insurgency seeking self-rule in the southeast in 1984. "We have made clear that we will do and say whatever necessary if our red lines have been crossed..." Turkish armed forces chief of staff Necdet Ozel said late Saturday, adding that these included "territorial integrity". "We have been fighting this struggle for 30 years," he added during a reception hosted by newly inaugurated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Cankaya presidential palace for Victory Day, a national holiday marking the final battle in the Turkish War of Independence.


US trained Alaskans as secret 'stay-behind agents'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fearing a Russian invasion and occupation of Alaska, the U.S. government in the early Cold War years recruited and trained fishermen, bush pilots, trappers and other private citizens across Alaska for a covert network to feed wartime intelligence to the military, newly declassified Air Force and FBI documents show.


Brace yourselves: Campaign cash buying tons of ads

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's airwaves are already jammed with ads, most of them negative, in one of the Senate races nationwide that will decide which party claims the majority.


Tunisia renews search for shipwreck victims as 42nd body found

Tunisian coastguards on Sunday resumed the search for more bodies of drowned migrants, thought to be mainly Syrians, after finding a 42nd shipwreck victim, officials said. "Forty-two bodies have been recovered: 31 were buried on the spot and 11 others will be during the day," said Tahar Souid, coordinator of the emergency centre set up at Ben Guerdane in southeast Tunisia where the first bodies were discovered on Friday. By Saturday evening when the search was called off for the night, the body count from the sinking, thought to have happened off the Libyan coast, had reached 41. The victims were found in an area that has seen many boatloads of illegal migrants capsize.


Deadline looms for Cyprus vote on crucial foreclosures bill

International lenders will withhold the next payment in Cyprus's 10 billion euros bailout unless parliament this week passes a crucial law speeding up foreclosures of non-performing bank loans (NPLs). Around 45 percent of loans by Cyprus banks are classed as non-performing because borrowers are seriously late with their payments, and under current laws it can take banks 20 years to regain the loan through the courts. Cyprus's level of NPLs is the highest in Europe at almost 140 percent of GDP, the International Monetary Fund has said. The troika of lenders -- the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank -- says that unless the new law is passed the NPLs must be classed as non-recoverable and Cyprus banks will fail EU stress tests due in the autumn.


Bahrain activist Khawaja on hunger strike, daughter arrested

Jailed Bahraini activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been on hunger strike for a week seeking release, his lawyer said on Sunday, adding that authorities have arrested his daughter at the airport. "Abdulhadi is continuing with the hunger strike he began on August 25" in Jaw prison near Manama, said lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi. Jailed for life for plotting to overthrow the monarchy, 54-year-old Khawaja staged a 110-day hunger strike in 2012 over his imprisonment. Bahraini authorities said they will continue to monitor Khawaja's health.


N. Korea slams UK TV show on its nukes as 'hideous farce'

North Korea Sunday slammed a new British TV drama series revolving around its nuclear weapons programme, urging the British government to scrap the "slanderous farce" if it wants to maintain diplomatic ties. "Opposite Number" -- a series commissioned by Channel 4 -- features a British nuclear scientist captured in the North during a covert mission and forced to help weaponise its nuclear technology. The 10-part series will take viewers inside the "closed worlds of North Korea" with "opposing CIA and MI6 agents secretly deployed on the ground in Pyongyang, as the clock ticks on a global-scale nuclear crisis", Channel 4 said on its website. The TV show is "nothing but a slanderous farce" to insult and distort the North's nuclear capability, said the country's top military body, the National Defence Commission (NDC).


Obamas attend wedding of their longtime chef

POCANTICO HILLS, N.Y. (AP) — Setting aside for a few hours the pressures of trying to calm the world's trouble spots, President Barack Obama assumed the role of spectator for something more joyous: the wedding of the first family's longtime chef and friend.


Guatemala Mayans: from victims of discrimination to perpetrators?

Fearful of losing their culture and land, ethnic Maya people in Guatemala -- who have faced centuries of discrimination themselves -- drove out a group of 230 ultra-Orthodox Jews, experts say. The Jewish group's departure from San Juan La Laguna, on the banks of Lake Atitlan some 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the capital Guatemala City, followed failed efforts reach a deal Wednesday. "We are very pleased with the decision made by that group to avoid conflicts with (local) people," Miguel Vasquez, spokesman for the San Juan Council of Elders, told AFP by phone. Most members of the small Jewish community are from the United States, Israel, Britain and Russia, and around 40 are Guatemalan.


Cuba to Florida swimmer Diana Nyad gets Cuban award

US swimmer Diana Nyad -- the first to swim across the Florida Straits without a shark cage -- was presented with Cuba's Order of Sporting Merit, the first American athlete to receive the award. Nyad, after four failed attempts, successfully swam from Cuba to Key West Florida in September 2013 without a shark cage, in a 53-hour feat. First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, also head of Cuba's Olympic Committee, said Nyad had been given the award in "recognition of her prowess, as a symbol of friendship between our peoples." Nyad said her next attempted feat of endurance will be to walk across the United States from California to Washington "to draw attention to the problem of obesity," followed by another project in Cuba to try to boost US-Cuba relations.


African extremists: Islamic State offers grim inspiration

Amid fears Islamic State fighters are inspiring jihadists outside the Middle East, analysts warn it has emboldened extremists in Africa operating in voids left by weak governments and rampant corruption. The United States has described the IS group in Iraq and Syria as the strongest-ever Islamist threat with its "apocalyptic end of days" ideology. Their advance has sparked concern in Africa, with leaders from across the continent meeting Tuesday in Kenya to discuss the threat, the first such conference organised by the African Union. Islamist groups who belong to the Al-Qaeda franchise have already firmly implanted themselves across swathes of territory: from Nigeria's Boko Haram, extremists in the Sahel to Shebab fighters in the Horn of Africa.


Impatience grows in Turkey over Syrian 'guests'

Cengiz, a street seller who plies his trade selling bread rings in the centre of Istanbul, is usually a fervent supporter of Turkey's newly-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has maintained an "open door" policy for all those fleeing Syria's civil war, with the result that there are now some 1.2 million Syrian refugees living in the country. It is these refugees who have become the source of an upsurge in tensions in Turkey, where local authorities appear to have been initially poorly prepared for the huge influx. The refugees have become an increasingly visible presence in cities including Istanbul, with entire families huddled together on carpets and begging in the middle of the pavement in the city centre.


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