Spain’s central government in Madrid will suspend Catalonia’s autonomy unless the region stops its push for independence by 10 am local time.
Deputy Prime Minister Soraya de Santamaria reiterated on Wednesday that Madrid would take direct control of the territory should Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont declare the region independent.
Local newspaper La Vangaurdia reported that the Catalan president told Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that Catalonia was “ready for independence” early on Thursday.
Rajoy promised for weeks that Spanish would stop Barcelona from raising tensions, and pressure is raising for him to revoke Catalan’s current autonomy.
Puigdemont also has the option from Madrid to declare a regional election, submitting defeat of the popular independence movement.
After positive results in the Oct 1 independence referendum, Mr Puigdemont signed a declaration of independence but blocked its implementation until negotiations could occur between Madrid and Barcelona.
Spain gave the deadline to clarify whether it has declared independence or not in response to Mr Puigdemont’s speech on Oct 10.
Reports say Puigdemont told his Catalan Democratic Party that he plans to make a more formal declaration of independence.
If Puigdemont pushes for separation on Thursday, he will be given another three days to rescind the declaration before Article 155 of the national constitution is triggered, according to Efe news agency.
If the article is activated, Catalonia would lose the right to its semi-autonomy and be put under direct rule by Madrid.
Two separatists arrested
Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart are being held by the national police and investigated for sedition – a move which many see as a politically motivated arrest.
Both Jordi’s were leading figures during the independence vote on Oct 1.
Mandate to declare independence
Mr Puigdemont said the independence referendum results gave his regional government a mandate to declare independence, but that he would hold off “a few weeks” to explore negotiations with Madrid.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that his officials had asked Catalonia to clarify whether a declaration had been given, with a deadline of five days, according to local media.
If Catalonia confirms independence, Puigdement will be given another three days to rescind the declaration before Article 155 of the national constitution is triggered, according to Efe news agency.
The constitution allows Madrid to dismiss the region’s current semi-autonomy and launch direct rule on Catalonia after the three days.
Basketball great Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash
The L.A. Lakers star won five championships.
Basketball legend and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant died in a California helicopter crash on Sunday along with at least one of his daughters and seven others, reports and officials said.
LIVE: Coverage from CBS News
A fire broke out sending his Sikorsky S-76 helicopter spiralling out of an overcast sky above Calabasas and killing all five on board. It has been widely reported that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore is among the dead.
During a brief initial press conference on Sunday evening, authorities said that there were nine killed in the crash. Police received a call at 9:47 a.m. that a helicopter may have crashed, officials said.
The Bryants were on their way to Mamba Academy for basketball practice, reports say.
Allen Kenitzer, an FAA spokesman, said his agency and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating. Sikorsky says it is cooperating with authorities to find out the cause of the crash.
Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 17, Bianka, three, and Capri, sevens months.
The L.A. Lakers star is considered one of greatest basketball players of all time. He spent his entire 20-year National Basketball Association career with the California team.
Bryant, 41, won five championships and was an 18-time all-star. He is known for scoring 81 points in a single game.
The basketball great’s final tweet was sent out on Saturday evening, congratulating LeBron James for taking his position as third on the ladder in overall career points.
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 but began a new career in Hollywood. In 2018, he won an Oscar along with director Glen Keane for the animated short film “Dear Basketball”, the L.A. Times reports.
IGNITE Vice President Ryan Stafford, who represents Lakeshore Campus, posted a tribute to the basketball legend on his Instagram Story.
The following obituary was posted by Reuters news agency:
“A transcendent star who went straight from high school to the game’s biggest stage, Bryant won five NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers and was the face of the franchise during his 20-year career.”
“Bryant, a small forward and shooting guard, averaged 25 points during his career and twice led the NBA in scoring.”
“He was an 18-times NBA All-Star who wore the jersey numbers 24 and 8 – both of which were retired by the Lakers – and continued the ‘Showtime’ tradition of the storied franchise that has been home to the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.”
U.S. President Donald Trump called the development “terrible news”. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Bryant “will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.”
An NBA game taking place at the time the news broke took a moment of silence and soccer superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. made a “24” symbol with his fingers after scoring a goal on Sunday. ■
1st possible case of coronavirus in Canada hits Toronto
Provincial officials make an announcement.
Provincial health officials announced Canada’s first “presumptive” confirmed case of the new coronavirus on Saturday with a male patient in Toronto.
“We’re pretty well 95 per cent sure” that the patient has the virus, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams during a press conference. Authorities will give a new update if the patient upgrades to a confirmed case of the virus.
Williams was flanked by provincial officials, including Health Minister Christine Elliott.
The 50-year-old patient had returned back on a plane from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated from before being admitted to hospital feeling “quite ill”, an official said.
The patient is being treated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and is in stable condition.
“Toronto Public Health is continuing to work closely with provincial and federal health colleagues to actively monitor the situation and respond as appropriate,” Mayor John Tory said in a separate statement.
The Canadian case is just the latest of several confirmations that have sprung up around the world over the last week.
The province has set up an information webpage that will have daily updates. ■
‘Nothing new’: Panel talks China’s human rights violations
Experts invited to Concordia University give their take.
STORY VIA THE CONCORDIAN
(CUP) — A panel on China’s human rights violations was held in Concordia University’s Faubourg building on Jan. 15.
The experts, who were invited by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), expressed concerns about the Uyghur Muslim concentration camps in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in Western China. They also discussed the brutal repression in Hong Kong and Tibet, as well as China’s increasing influence on the Western world and its implication for the future of democracy.
The event took place just days after Human Rights Watch (HRW) executive director Kenneth Roth was denied entry into Hong Kong and HRW’s launch event for its World Report2020 was disrupted by protestors, according to MIGS executive director Kyle Matthews.
“Human rights issues in China are nothing new,” said speaker Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, Senior Fellow at both the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy and the University of Alberta’s China Institute. She listed historical events such as the Cultural Revolution, the Xidan Democracy Wall, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre which she said “trampled on individual human rights in a myriad of ways.”
McCuaig-Johnston continued to explain that although China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty since 1978, this is not the same as ensuring individual human rights. She described how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses detention as a pressure tactic against dissidents and the abusive conditions under which they are detained, which were revealed by HRW’s interviews with former prisoners. She also explained the social credit system, in place since 2014, and the CCP’s widespread interference in Western countries.
Both McCuaig-Johnston and Benjamin Fung, a Canada Research Chair in Data Mining for Cybersecurity and an Action Free Hong Kong Montreal activist, highlighted the CCP’s infiltration in Canadian academics and described the pressure on faculty and Chinese students to self-censor criticism of the Chinese government.
The CCP’s use of technology, such as facial and voice recognition for repression, was also extensively discussed by both experts. Fung additionally focused on Chinese companies’ goal to expand the 5G network––he explained that the CCP controls every large corporation in China and that technology companies are obligated to cooperate with Chinese intelligence units.
“It’s about trust, you trust Apple to update your iPhone because it is a private company,” Fung explained, adding that we cannot trust Chinese companies who would introduce malware into the 5G network if the CCP asked them to.
Fung also spoke in detail about China’s one country, two systems policy and the CCP’s broken promise: its decision to maintain control over Hong Kong’s government instead of allowing universal suffrage, which Fung asserts was promised in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. He described what he called an ongoing humanitarian crisis and a system of police brutality, lengthy prison sentences, sexual assault, and white terror––attacks on pro-democracy activists.
The situation in Tibet was discussed by Sherap Therchin, executive director of the Canada-Tibet Committee, who explained it has been 70 years since China illegally invaded Tibet, and the Western world seems to have forgotten about it. He described the CCP’s reflexive control strategy: how they have been feeding manufactured information about Tibet to target groups so consistently that the Western world now believes their narrative that Tibet was historically part of China.
Therchin continued to explain that in the Western world’s eyes, control over Tibet is now an internal issue––a problem for China to deal with without Western influence.
Finally, Dilmurat Mahmut, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University’s Faculty of Education, talked about the Uyghur re-education camps in place since 2017. According to documents obtained through an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, an estimated 1 million Uyghur Muslims are detained in these camps, but Mahmut said these numbers could be as high as 3 million. He explained the history of the region of Xinjiang, originally East Turkistan, and the CCP’s labeling of all Turkic Muslims in the region as potential terrorists or pre-criminals.
Mahmut described the conditions in what the CCP calls vocational training centres, and explained that Uyghur children are being forcibly detained and sent to state-run orphanages where they are forbidden from learning the Uyghur language and, instead, only learn the Chinese culture—he called this cultural genocide. Mahmut finished his presentation with a warning from Roth on the dangers of not challenging Chinese human rights abuses and worldwide interference.
Syndicated via the Canadian University Press from The Concordian. ■
Davis scores career-high in Raptors win over Bulls
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