Kat Ashton

Kat Ashton

CATALAN separatists prepare to declare independence from Spain following Spanish Government's decision to impose direct rule.

Around 450,000 people took to the streets of Barcelona today (Saturday) to protest Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's announcement that members of the Catalan parliament will be sacked and elections will be held in the region within the next six months.

The march was headed by important regional officials, including Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont gave a speech to address the situation, declaring that imposing direct rule was an “attack” on the region. He revealed that he will call a meeting of the Catalan parliament to discuss the next steps towards separating from Spain.

He also claimed that “all attempts at dialogue (with Madrid) have been met by the same response: either silence or repression”.

Protesters also demanded the release of pro-independence activists Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart who were arrested last week and sent to prison for allegedly provoking disobedience.

Marta Rovira, the general secretary of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), said that “the Parliament needs to start building this republic without further delay," claiming that it is the only way to give the Catalan people back their rights.

SPANISH Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared that Catalan officials, including leader Carles Puigdemont, will be removed from office to restore order to the region.

The news was announced following a two-hour emergency Cabinet meeting held today (Saturday) in Madrid.

Rajoy also revealed that the central government plans to hold regional elections in Cataluña “as soon as normality is restored”.  

The emergency measures are the result of invoking Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows the central government to impose direct rule on regional authorities if they breach the law.

This is the first time that the article has been invoked since the constitution was established in 1978.

Cabinet's decision will not be implemented straightaway as the measures still require approval by the Senate, who will vote on the matter next week.

The announcement comes nearly three weeks after Catalans voted on whether the region should declare independence from Spain with 90 per cent of the turnout voting in favour, according to Catalan authorities.

Mr Puigdemont had ignored the government’s pleas to surrender his campaign, and refused to confirm whether or not the region had declared independence.

Rajoy claimed that the Catalan authorities’ actions were "contrary to the law and seeking confrontation", and left him no choice but to impose direct rule on the region.  

POLICE confirm four people have been injured by a man wielding a knife in Munich, Germany.

Officers are hunting for the man, who allegedly fled the scene on a bicycle after the attack.

The man’s motive remains unknown, and residents have been warned to stay indoors while the suspect remains on the loose.

Theattacker allegedly came at the victims in the city's Rosenheimer Platz at round 6am this morning (Saturday). None of those hurt reportedly suffered serious injuries during the incident.

The man is believed to be about 40-years-old and has been described as having short blond hair, wearing a green jacket and carrying a backpack and sleeping mat.

Mind matters

October 19, 2017

LAST Monday marked the 25th anniversary of World Mental Health Day, which helps to raise awareness of mental health issues and fight the stigma surrounding them.

Around a quarter of all adults in the UK experience struggles with mental health each year, but only around 15 per cent of these actually get help. Many people don’t realise that mental health is just as important as physical health and has a significant impact upon your general wellbeing.

While levels of anxiety and other symptoms seem to be on the rise, there are several things you can do if it all starts to get on top of you. Although some mental health problems require a more in-depth approach, these small lifestyle changes could really help make a difference to your day-to-day life.

A lot of research also shows that exercise is incredibly beneficial for mental health, so try to fit as many workouts into the week as possible, even if you just pop out of the house for a quick walk. 

If you’ve hoarded up all your sick days but are starting to feel the pressure at work, don’t feel guilty about taking one or two off to make yourself feel better, even if you have no physical symptoms. Your employers will prefer that you take these days to boost your mood and your energy levels rather than running yourself into the ground.

Even setting aside a mental-health day at the weekend could help work wonders. Clear your plans for 24 hours if you can and schedule in some much needed me-time. Only do things that you know will make you happy, whether it’s taking the dog out or baking your favourite sweet treat. 

If the feelings persist, always seek help from a recommended mental health professional.

Work it out

October 13, 2017

WHILE the typical urge following a stressful day is go and blow off some steam, not everyone immediately thinks of hitting the gym. 

Although long baths and meditations are also great ways to help you unwind, exercise has long been proven to release mood-boosting endorphins and will help get you in shape at the same time. So the next time you feel the world is getting you down, use some of that frustration to help you meet a new exercise goal and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.   

However, not all workouts were created equal and there are some that are better than others for tackling stress in particular. Yoga usually tops the list as it combines mind and body exercises which focus specifically on relaxation. Not only does it help you to zone out but also reduces muscular tension and spasm that can build up from stress. 

If yoga’s not your thing, maybe try Tai Chi instead. The ancient martial arts form is performed through a series of movements which aim to connect mind and body - promoting a sense of calm and serenity at the same time. Although peaceful in nature, Tai Chi is still a great work out as it engages your entire body while helping you to stay in the moment. 

Kickboxing is also an effective way of getting rid of tension. What better way to shake off the day’s problems than by punching and kicking them out of your system? As the movements are performed with discipline, it promotes staying in control but can also be a rigorous workout at the same time. It also improves flexibility, balance and coordination.

BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May confessed that she “didn’t know” what the future of UK citizens living in Europe would be if Britain leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal on the table.

In an interview on British radio, Theresa May claimed that the government was working on “every possible outcome”, and was negotiating with the other 27 member states over the rights of the other 1.2 million UK nationals living on the continent.

However, she was unable to give her word that their right to stay in these countries would be protected should the deal fall through.

She also declined to guarantee that the 3 million EU citizens currently living in Britain would still be welcome should they choose to remain in the country.

The prime minister was challenged by Nina, an EU citizen based in London, who asked if she would be able to carry on living in Britain if the country leaves the union with no deal in 18 months time.

While May claimed that she wants “EU citizens to stay here in the UK”, she was unable to promise that Nina that she could stay, warning that EU citizens rights might “fall away” if an agreement is not reached between the UK and other European countries.

In the same show, the prime minister also refused to reveal how she would vote if there was another Brexit referendum, claiming that "I voted Remain for good reasons at the time but circumstances move on and I think the important thing now is that we should all be focused on delivering Brexit and delivering the best deal."

A CRIMINAL gang involved in international drug trafficking has been derailed following a joint operation by the Spanish police and tax agency.

Officers intercepted one of the lorries during the investigation where they discovered cannabis stashed between boxes of fruit and vegetables.

Fifty-one people belonging to the organisation have been arrested for drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery, the illegal possession of weapons and forging documents.

Police seized over 270 kilos of high-quality marijuana, 46 high-end vehicles, a lorry and nearly €500,000 in cash during the investigation.

The confiscated vehicles were reportedly bought by the gang as a means to legalise their drug profits and launder money.

Authorities raided over 23 homes throughout Granada province during the operation and were able to track down and arrest all the gang members.

The police reported that the ringleaders of the organisation were all from the city of Alhendin and belonged to the same family.

The crime ring was involved in several international drug trafficking plots and ran operations in various other European countries.

The gang leaders allegedly concealed the bundles of cannabis among food or appliances in trucks to smuggle them across borders.

A HAIRDRESSER from Oxford had her dream holiday turned into a nightmare when she was scammed out of over €2,500 for a Mallorca villa.

Jayne Morris, aged 50, didn’t realise she had been scammed until she arrived in Mallorca to discover that the owner of the villa she had booked hadn’t received her payment.

Jayne, who works as a hairdresser in Kidlington, Oxford, reportedly booked her accommodation last December through the HomeAway.co.uk website.

She had travelled to Mallorca with her husband, her elderly father and her son’s family including two young children aged two and four months. Her daughter and son-in-law had also planned to join the party later. 

Upon arrival, the villa’s owner informed them that they had not received the payment for the holiday and the family owed the full amount of over €3,000.

Jayne realised she had been scammed and contacted HomeAway and her bank who were unable to help her.

After further investigation on the matter, HomeAway confirmed to media sources that Jayne’s email to the owner of the villa had been intercepted by a scammer who then passed on details to a bank account that wasn’t linked to the listing on the website.

The scammer told Jayne that she could save 15 per cent if she paid the full amount upfront, which she did last December. 

She even received an email to confirm that the money had been received and continued to discuss holiday details with the ‘owner’ over the next few months.

The family stayed in the villa for two nights while they tried to resolve the problem. On the third day the owners told them they had to pay up or leave so they booked a different villa which cost them a further €4,400.

HomeAway told media sources that fraud was a very rare occurrence on their website, but as Ms. Morris had paid through a bank transfer, her payment was not protected and her bank was unable to get it back. 

SPANISH authorities have held seven drug traffickers who attempted to smuggle almost 4 tonnes of cocaine worth an estimated €220 million into the country.

The bust comes following a tip off from international investigators.

Authorities intercepted a tug boat while it was crossing the Atlantic around 540 miles from the Canary Islands.

The vessel was towed into the Spanish port of Cadiz where police officers arrested the crew.

They found over 160 individual packets of the drug, each weighing around 23kg, stashed away in a watertight compartment under the boat’s kitchen.

The Spanish authorities confirmed they received assistance from the Columbian drug trafficking authorities (DIRAN) throughout the operation.

The incident is the second major international drug bust to take place in the Atlantic in recent weeks, after the Portuguese navy ambushed a yacht believed to be transporting cocaine to Europe from the Caribbean. 

OWNERS of a number of businesses throughout the Vega Baja have condemned the proposal of implementing a form of ‘tourist tax.’

Members of the Hotels and Tourist Association in the area have come out against the imposition of such a tax, stating that it would significantly reduce the spending capacity of the many thousands of tourists that visit the Vega Baja throughout the year.

They say that there is no support whatsoever among those working in the tourism sector and that its purpose is not at all clear.

It’s also considered that it would encourage more illegal and unregulated holiday rentals.

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