Photo Islamic State strikes Baghdad

Nearly 120 people were killed and 200 wounded in two bombings overnight in Baghdad, most of them in a busy shopping area as residents celebrated Ramadan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spain seeks to jointly govern Gibraltar

Spain seeks to jointly govern Gibraltar after the British territory voted in favor of remaining in the EU.
 Spain will seek to jointly govern Gibraltar with Britain following the British vote to leave the European Union, acting foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said on Friday. The peninsula on Spain’s south coast, a British territory since 1713 known to its 30,000 residents as “the Rock”, is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations. Spain has long claimed sovereignty over the enclave.
“It’s a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time. I hope the formula of co-sovereignty – to be clear, the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before,” Garcia-Margallo said. Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament there would be no talks on such a deal. Co-sovereignty with Spain was rejected by around 99 percent of Gibraltarians in a referendum in 2002.
“Let others make irrelevant noises about flying flags over our Rock if they want to waste their breath. Such ideas will never prosper,” he said. The majority of people living in Gibraltar – designated as a British Overseas Territory – are British citizens with British passports, although thousands of Spaniards cross from mainland Spain every day for work. Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly in favor of Britain remaining in the European Union but were outnumbered in Thursday’s referendum and now face the consequences.
Garcia-Margallo said Spain would push to keep Gibraltar out of any general Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union and will aim for bilateral talks to seek co-sovereignty and eventually Spanish control of the peninsula. Britain rejects any notion of Spanish sovereignty against the wishes of the people of Gibraltar, one of the most prosperous regions in Europe with a thriving economy based on financial services, tourism and Internet gambling. The mood was subdued in Gibraltar on Friday, with people apprehensive and confused about what the result may mean for the movement of labor and capital over the border with Spain.
  

Venezuela economic crisis means fewer meals, more starch

Venezuela is a powder keg. Once a rich country held together by strong leadership and heavy social spending, it is now in economic disaster and could slide into widespread social disorder, triggering instability throughout Latin America. Drastic shortages of food, medicine, electricity and other necessities are causing small riots. Organized crime and extrajudicial police killings have given Venezuela a frighteningly high rate of murder and violence, with narco-traffickers allegedly in cahoots with corrupt allies in the government and security forces. Runaway inflation means that from March 2015 to 2016 a basket of basic goods for a family of five became 524 percent more expensive. According to a local NGO, Venezuela faced 170 lootings or attempted lootings from January to April 2016.
The highly unpopular socialist government of Nicolas Maduro announced electricity rationing and drastic cutbacks to the state work schedule, in part because of a drought and in part because world oil prices have collapsed, cutting government revenues dramatically. Meanwhile, the National Assembly, which is controlled by Maduro’s opposition, declared the country’s health sector a national emergency. As if this weren’t enough, the government is taking steps toward authoritarian control over its opposition.
Maduro is the handpicked successor of former president Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) and leader of the chavista political movement’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Maduro’s PSUV controls the Supreme Court and all national institutions. The lone exception was the National Assembly, where a heterogeneous coalition of opposition parties had a three-fifths majority. Maduro recently declared a 60-day state of emergency, after alleging that his opposition was conspiring to launch a coup. Now Maduro is threatening to effectively close the assembly down.
The emergency decree already grants the president super powers by invalidating congressional authority to review key budgetary issues budget or issue motions of censure against his cabinet. Even more ominously, the decree expands the military’s role in the maintenance of public order. Sectors of the opposition have termed the decree an “auto-golpe” — self-coup — and a “tipping point” in the country’s crisis.

 

 

Lionel Messi : Argentina star retires from international football

Lionel Messi has retired from international duty after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years. “For me, the national team is over,” he said after defeat by Chile in the Copa America final. “I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion.”Messi, 29, has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with Spanish side Barcelona. But his only major international honour is Olympic gold at the 2008 Games. As well as losing two Copa America finals on penalties to Chile, Messi was in the Argentina side beaten 1-0 by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final. The forward, who was been awarded the Ballon d’Or five times, was also on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Falluja after Islamic State

Iraqi special forces launched an operation on one of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) most emblematic bastions, Fallujah, as the group counter-attacked in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria. In January 2014, it became the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIL – also known as ISIS – and it subsequently overran wide areas of the north and west of Iraq, declaring a caliphate that included seized territory in Syria. Army units advanced to the southern entrance to Fallujah, “steadily advancing” under air cover from the US-led coalition, according to a military statement read out on state TV. A Reuters TV crew at the scene said explosions and gunfire were ripping through Fallujah’s southern Naimiya district. The offensive is causing alarm among international aid organisations over the humanitarian situation in the city, where more than 50,000 civilians remain trapped with limited access to water, food and healthcare. Fallujah is the second-largest Iraqi city under control of ISIL, after Mosul, the group’s de facto capital in the north that had a pre-war population of about two million.

 

 

 

 

 

Rising Seas Threaten China’s Sinking Coastal Cities

Flooding, an annual problem in China, has been exacerbated by urban sprawl and poor drainage infrastructure in many cities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Cameron Resigns

David Cameron has resigned, bringing an abrupt end to his six-year premiership, after the British public took the momentous decision to reject his entreaties and turn their back on the European Union. Just a year after he clinched a surprise majority in the general election, a visibly emotional Cameron, standing outside Number 10 on Friday morning alongside his wife, Samantha, said: “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.”
The prime minister campaigned hard in the divisive referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU, appearing at hundreds of public events up and down the country to argue that Brexit would be an act of “economic self-harm”. But a frustrated electorate used the poll to reject the status quo and, as the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, described it, “stick two fingers up” at Britain’s politicians. “I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the EU. I made clear the referendum was about this, and this alone, not the future of any single politician, including myself.

 

 

Colombia’s long war with FARC

The Colombian conflict began approximately in 1964 or 1966 and is a low-intensity asymmetric war between the Colombian government, paramilitary groups, crime syndicates and left-wing guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army (ELN), fighting each other to increase their influence in Colombian territory. It is historically rooted in the conflict known as La Violencia, which was triggered by the 1948 assassination of populist political leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, and in the aftermath of United States-backed strong anti-communist repression in rural Colombia in the 1960s that led liberal and communist militants to re-organize into FARC.
The reasons for fighting vary from group to group. The FARC and other guerrilla movements claim to be fighting for the rights of the poor in Colombia to protect them from government violence and to provide social justice through communism. The Colombian government claims to be fighting for order and stability, and seeking to protect the rights and interests of its citizens. The paramilitary groups claim to be reacting to perceived threats by guerrilla movements. Both guerrilla and paramilitary groups have been accused of engaging in drug trafficking and terrorism. All of the parties engaged in the conflict have been criticized for numerous human rights violations.
 According to a study by Colombia’s National Centre for Historical Memory, 220,000 people have died in the conflict between 1958 and 2013, most of them civilians (177,307 civilians and 40,787 fighters) and more than five million civilians were forced from their homes between 1985 – 2012, generating the world’s second largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs). 15% of the population in Colombia has been a direct victim of the war. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that a peace deal by 20 July 2016 would end the conflict if the talks which started in 2012 were successfully concluded. On 23 June 2016, The Colombian government and the Farc rebels have signed a historic ceasefire deal, bringing them closer to ending more than five decades of conflict.

 Armed conflict 

The armed conflict in Colombia is rooted in a combination of causes that are based on the economic, political and social situation in the country 60 years ago. In the early period (1974-1982), guerrilla groups like the FARC, the ELN and others focused on slogan of greater equality through ommunism, and they came to have support from some sections of the local population. However, the armed action changed since the mid-1980s when Colombia granted greater political independence and strengthened fiscal policy of local governments, that is why the Colombian Government strengthened its institutional presence in the country.  In 1985, the FARC co-created the left-wing Patriotic Union (UP) political party. Eventually, the UP distanced itself from insurgent groups. However, “right-wing paramilitaries apparently linked to the armed forces” committed a mass murder of the party members during the 1980s and 90s.

 Background 

The origin of the armed conflict in Colombia goes back to 1920 with agrarian disputes over the Sumapaz and Tequendama regions. Peasants at the time fought over ownership of coffee lands which caused the liberals and conservative parties to take sides in the conflict, worsening it. In 1948 the assassination of populist Jorge Eliécer Gaitán radically stirred up the armed conflict. It led to the Bogotazo, an urban riot killing more than 4,000 people, and subsequently to ten years of sustained rural warfare between members of Colombian Liberal Party and the Colombian Conservative Party, a period known as La Violencia (“The Violence”), which took the lives of more than 200,000 people throughout the countryside.

 Use of landmines 

Since 1990 over 11,000 people have been killed or wounded by landmines in Colombia. Between 1982 and the end of 2012, 2,038 people have been killed by landmines, according to the Presidential Program for Mine Action. Since 2000, casualties from landmines in Colombia have ranged from 1,300 a year to just around 550. In the past, the Colombian government laid landmines around 34 military bases to protect key infrastructure, but it renounced their use in 1997. Landmines are primarily used by the rebel groups to protect their home bases and illegal drug crops, which fund the conflict. FARC and ELN have deployed antipersonnel mines throughout an estimated area of up to 100 square kilometers. In March 2015, FARC stated that it would begin humanitarian demining in selected parts of Colombia.