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Batecs de Hyde Park (1): La caverna

Batecs de Hyde Park (1): La caverna | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

Si s’ha d’anar alguna vegada a Hyde Park, que sigui un dia assolellat. El parc es mostra amb tot el seu esplendor i l’ambient és indescriptible. Als jardins italians, a la porta nord-oest del parc, el temps sembla que s’hagi aturat, amb el borboll constant de l’aigua caient de les fonts i una tranquil·litat infinita.

Presideix el jardí l’estàtua d’Edward Jenner, el pare de la vacunació moderna. El jardí està envoltat d’estàtues i d’escultures clàssiques, de bancs i de flors. En un dels bancs, una noia amb trets asiàtics ensenya xinés a un senyor anglès. Hi ha un petit monticle ple d’hamaques verdes i blanques amb gent ajaguda. Al fons, Long Water, l’extrem allargat del llac Serpentine.

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Lionel Messi could have joined Arsenal as a teenager, says Arsène Wenger - Guardian

Lionel Messi could have joined Arsenal as a teenager, says Arsène Wenger - Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Arsène Wenger has said that Lionel Messi could have joined Arsenal from Barcelona as a teenager along with Cesc Fàbregas and Gerard Piqué

 

Messi, the Argentina captain, developed into one of the world’s greatest players, but was considering a switch to England when he was 15 years old in the Barcelona academy La Masia...

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Letter from Barcelona: Inside the battle for Catalan independence - New Statesman

Letter from Barcelona: Inside the battle for Catalan independence - New Statesman | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
This crisis could have been avoided. In recent years, Madrid has run a masterclass in how not to handle breakaway nationalism.

 

Barcelona is a city draped in flags. Only a handful of windows surrounding my rented apartment in El Born – a fashionably ramshackle district close to the harbour – are flag-free. From the rest hang Esteladas, the distinctive blue-and-white-starred symbol of Catalan national sovereignty.

 

Catalonia has become increasingly polarised in recent years as requests for enhanced autonomy – consistently rejected by Madrid – have hardened into demands for outright independence from Spain. Polls suggest as many as 45 per cent of Catalans support secession, while 25 per cent favour federalism and a further 20 per cent support the constitutional status quo...

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Prosecutors in Spain to charge Catalonia leader Mas - BBC

Prosecutors in Spain to charge Catalonia leader Mas - BBC | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

Spanish prosecutors are to file criminal charges against Catalan President Artur Mas in response to a 9 November unofficial independence vote.

 

The non-binding vote went ahead despite fierce opposition by the Spanish government and a ruling by Spain's constitutional court.

Catalan officials say more than 80% of those who voted backed independence.

 

Charges will also be laid against Mr Mas's deputy, Joana Ortega, and Catalan Education Minister Irene Rigau.

 

The three politicians face accusations ranging from disobedience and perverting the course of justice to misuse of public funds.

When the Spanish government appealed against the autonomous north-eastern region's plans for a referendum, Spain's constitutional court suspended the vote and ordered a ban on campaigning...

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Spain files suit against Catalonia head over secession vote - Reuters

Spain files suit against Catalonia head over secession vote - Reuters | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's state prosecutor will sue Catalan leader Artur Mas for defying a court ruling and holding a symbolic vote on the regions's independence from the rest of the country.If successful,...

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Let them vote - The Economist

Let them vote - The Economist | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

SECESSION is a nasty business. A century and a half ago, America fought a civil war to prevent it.

 

Yet there are both principled and pragmatic reasons why the government should permit a vote. On the first, it is right to be cautious about breaking up countries, but when a region is a recognisable cultural, ethnic or linguistic entity, outright refusal to allow a vote is perverse. It would have been wrong to force Slovakia to remain in Czechoslovakia or Kosovo in Serbia, just as it was wrong for Britain to fight Irish independence. It would be just as wrong to make Flanders remain Belgian, Quebec stay Canadian or Scotland continue to be British, if a clear majority of voters preferred independence.


(...)


But the government should let the Catalans have a referendum'

'the issue now is whether Mr Rajoy wants to treat voters as grown-ups who can be trusted to decide sensibly about their own political future. By refusing even to contemplate a referendum for Catalonia on independence, he is failing to do that.

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Catalans who want independence are being thwarted by a flawed Spanish constitution - The Independent

Catalans who want independence are being thwarted by a flawed Spanish constitution - The Independent | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
These are tough times for Spanish politicians. The established parties in Madrid are mired in a corruption scandal for which Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has already been forced to apologise. And now they face a serious challenge ahead of next year’s general election from Podemos, a left-wing grassroots political start-up that was formed only in January, and that already threatens to dismantle many of the country’s political conventions.
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Catalan president facing prosecution after independence vote - The Guardian

Catalan president facing prosecution after independence vote - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Spain expected to charge regional leader Artur Mas with disobeying court order and misuse of government funds.

Public prosecutors in Spain are expecting to press charges against the president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, in the coming days after he held a vote on secession from Spain in defiance of a court injunction, court sources have said.

 

The symbolic referendum, in which 2 million people voted, was described as “a deep failure” by Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, on Wednesday...

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Catalonia calls for 'permanent dialogue' on independence, economy - Reuters

Catalonia calls for 'permanent dialogue' on independence, economy - Reuters | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

(Reuters) - The head of Catalonia's regional government Artur Mas proposed on Tuesday that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy establish a permanent dialogue over Catalan independence and raft of measures to boost its economy.

 

His proposal came after close to 2 million Catalans voted on Sunday in favour of breaking away from Spain in a symbolic consultation organised after the Spanish state blocked in courts a more formal - albeit still non-binding - referendum.

 

"I sent today a letter to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Its first objective is to invite the Spanish government to establish the conditions of a permanent dialogue," Mas told a televised news conference following a meeting of his regional government...

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Spanish yields fall as ECB bets overshadow Catalonian vote - Reuters

Spanish yields fall as ECB bets overshadow Catalonian vote - Reuters | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

LONDON, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Spanish bond yields dipped on Monday as investors shrugged off a symbolic vote on independence in the wealthy Catalonia region, focusing instead on prospects for central bank stimulus.

 

Market sentiment in the rest of Europe was broadly positive on bets that euro zone data this week would support the case for the European Central Bank to expand its asset purchases to government bonds.

 

This has fuelled risk appetite for low-rated, high-yielding debt -- even in Spain where millions of Catalans turned out to participate in Sunday's "consultation of citizens"...

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Catalan independence poll: what happens next? - The Guardian

Catalan independence poll: what happens next? - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Guardian readers in Spain on both sides of the Catalan independence debate on the unofficial independence poll - and what they think should happen next

 

Over 2.3 million Catalans took part in a symbolic independence poll on Sunday. The poll, watered down after exhaustive legal wrangling with the Spanish government, was not an formal vote, but pro-independence supporters hope that it will increase the pressure on Spain’s government to allow one.

The poll’s validity has been dismissed by the Spanish government, with the justice minister calling it “a day of political propaganda” in an official statement.

 

Here are a selection of views from Guardian readers in Spain and Catalonia, on the vote itself and and what its likely impact on the constitutional process will be...

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The Guardian view on Spain’s mishandling of the referendum movement in Catalonia - The Guardian

The Guardian view on Spain’s mishandling of the referendum movement in Catalonia - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

Did Britain, by agreeing that Scots had the right to leave the United Kingdom, pursue a wiser course than Spain, where the government has laid down that a formal vote on Catalan independence is unconstitutional and that Sunday’s informal poll has no legal significance? The answer must be yes. Yet the ultimate outcome may not be so different.

 

(...)

 

A month ago hundreds of thousands of Catalans assembled in a seven-mile-long V-shaped formation in Barcelona, the V standing for votar (voting) and voluntat (will). They may well have been visible from space, but they were apparently not visible from Madrid. Now, after Sunday’s poll, which showed an overwhelming majority for independence on a turnout of about 2.2 million, or approximately 35% of the electorate, there is really no other option for Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, but to adopt the British approach. In a democratic Europe, there can be no argument over that. It is the principle by which we judge the Chinese over Tibet or the Russians in Crimea, the one for denying self-determination, the other for manipulating it.

 

In Spain, earlier, concessions on autonomy, tax and language might have been sufficient to head off a vote. Not now. The Catalans, including some who wish to stay in Spain, want their vote, and they are going to get it. The well over half of registered voters who did not take part in Sunday’s poll presumably include many who did not want a break and many who were undecided, but probably few who didn’t think they should have a vote if they wanted one. Forecasts of how a real vote would go point to a narrow win for separatists, but to a defeat if a better economic deal for Catalonia were on the table. So if Mr Rajoy swiftly changes his strategy and works to amend the constitution to permit a vote, and if Catalans are ready for a fair debate among themselves and with others in the country, he has a chance of persuading Catalonia to remain part of Spain. But, just as with Britain, it will not be the same Spain.

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Pep Guardiola says he will never return to Barcelona manager role - The Guardian

Pep Guardiola says he will never return to Barcelona manager role - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
The Bayern Munich coach said the ‘cycle in life’ that included his spell at Barcelona is over and he will not return to the club

 

Pep Guardiola, the Bayern Munich coach, says he will never return to take charge of former club Barcelona. “In principle I won’t coach Barça again,” he told Mundo Deportivo. “I think that there are cycles in life and that mine [at the club] finished.”

 

Guardiola, who was in Catalonia last weekend to vote in an informal consultation on the region’s independence, managed at Camp Nou from 2008 until 2012 after a playing career which included 11 years at the club. During his time in charge his side won La Liga three times, two Champions League titles, two Copa del Reys, and two each of the Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup...

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Where will Barcelona and Espanyol play if Catalonia gets independence? - The Guardian

Where will Barcelona and Espanyol play if Catalonia gets independence? - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Sid Lowe: With 80% of Catalan voters keen to leave Spain, Barcelona and Espanyol could find themselves cut out of La Liga

 

Xavi Hernández had in his hand a piece of paper. So did his team-mates Sergi Roberto and Martín Montoya. So too did Sandro Rosell, Joan Laporta and Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona presidents past, present and probably future. Pep Guardiola also had one. Barcelona’s players had travelled back from Almería the previous night, where they had come from behind to win 2-1, while Guardiola had flown in from Munich. Just after midday on Sunday he appeared at the Institut CIC, one of 1,317 polling stations in Catalonia. He was among the two million people who turned out to vote in the Catalan “referendum”, around 35% of those eligible...

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Lionel Messi may leave Spain over tax jail threat - Guardian

Lionel Messi may leave Spain over tax jail threat - Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Sources close to Barcelona football star say he feels he is being singled out by having to stand trial over undeclared income

 

Lionel Messi, hailed by many as the greatest footballer of all time, may leave Spain after continuing to fall foul of the tax authorities, sources have said.

 

The player, who earlier this year agreed a new €50m (£40m) salary with Barcelona, has complained that he is being singled out for special treatment compared with other elite sports players in Spain with disputed tax affairs...

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What next for independence movements in Europe? - Future of the UK and Scotland

What next for independence movements in Europe? - Future of the UK and Scotland | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
One can imagine that the European Commission breathed a collective sigh of relief when the results of the Scottish independence referendum were announced on 19 September 2014.
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Lionel Messi sends mixed messages over his Barcelona future - The Guardian

Lionel Messi sends mixed messages over his Barcelona future - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
The Argentina captain Lionel Messi has given the strongest hint yet he could consider leaving Barcelona, saying “things can change a lot in soccer”
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Peret: Singer known as 'The King of the Catalan rumba' who worked with Manu Chao, Tom Jones and David Byrne - The Independent

Peret: Singer known as 'The King of the Catalan rumba' who worked with Manu Chao, Tom Jones and David Byrne - The Independent | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

The singer and guitarist Peret was known as the King of the Catalan rumba, the fusion of flamenco with South American rhythms that became a favourite of Barcelona high society at the end of the 1950s and was rediscovered by the jet set when the Gipsy Kings revived the genre in the '80s. An instrumentalist comparable to fellow gypsies Django Reinhardt, José Reyes and Manitas de Plata, he was credited with pioneering the rhythmic strumming combined with the guitar body slamming that are the trademarks of the Catalan rumba...

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Voting in their hearts - The Economist

Voting in their hearts - The Economist | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

MANUEL MOLINS remembers being called a “Catalan dog” after Spain’s civil war in the 1930s. But the 93-year-old had his revenge on November 9th, when he voted for the region’s independence in Lleida, one of Catalonia’s four provincial capitals. “Catalonia is important for Spain, but they treat us badly. If they didn’t, I might think differently,” he said. Mr Molins’ vote brought no consequences. He was one of 1.9m Catalans (out of 6.3m who were eligible) to vote for independence at a mock referendum called by the region’s president, Artur Mas. The turnout of 37% was hailed as a triumph by Mr Mas and a resounding failure by his opponents....

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The people of Catalonia have voted. Let democracy take its course - President Mas - The Guardian

The people of Catalonia have voted. Let democracy take its course - President Mas - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Following the Catalans’ overwhelming backing for independence, Spain needs to listen and give us an official Scottish-style referendum 

On Sunday, 2,305,290 people voted at 1,317 polling stations across Catalonia, in addition to 13,573 Catalans who voted worldwide. This was a similar turnout to May’s European elections. A cross-party international delegation of observers, which included members of different European and national parliaments, stated that the vote was “conducted successfully in challenging circumstances” and they emphasised the calm that dominated every aspect of the vote.

Up to 80.7% of the voters chose “yes-yes” in answer to the two-part question of “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” and, if so, “Do you want that state to be independent?”. Another 10% voted “yes” to Catalonia being a state but “no” to that state being independent, while 4.5% voted a clear “no” to Catalonia being a state at all.

 

The Spanish government refused all of our requests for dialogue, and instead of seeking a political solution to a political problem opted for legal tactics to block every way we tried to hold a democratic vote on Catalonia’s future. We sought to have an authorised referendum like Scotland and Quebec, and the Spanish parliament refused that. The constitutional court then suspended our call for a non-binding consultation. When we then moved to a non-binding participatory process, they likewise tried to suspend that.

 

But a huge majority of Catalans, whether in favour of independence or not, just wanted to express their wishes at the ballot box having given my government and the Catalan parliament a mandate for that in the last parliamentary elections in November 2012. Therefore, despite constant threats from the Spanish government, we were not intimidated and went ahead with our vote. If the Spanish public prosecutor is looking for someone to blame, that person should be no one else but me...

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Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano at career peaks for Upton Park return - The Guardian

Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano at career peaks for Upton Park return - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Marcela Mora y Araujo: Eight years after arriving at West Ham the two players team up again in England having forged memorable journeys in European football
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Fitch: Catalan result exacerbates independence tensions - Reuters

Fitch: Catalan result exacerbates independence tensions - Reuters | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

(The following statement was released by the rating agency) 


Fitch Ratings' Report: Catalonia: Stalemate between Region and Central Government Creates Uncertainty here


LONDON/BARCELONA, November 10 (Fitch) The Catalan government is likely to use the result of Sunday's non-binding consultative vote to push its agenda for reform and a formal referendum, Fitch Ratings says. But fierce opposition from the central government means the process and outcome are unpredictable. About 90% of votes were in favour of a Catalan state, with around 80% in favour of an independent state. The non-binding and disputed nature of the process meant turnout was lower than it would have been for a referendum, at around 40% of eligible voters, compared with around 70% at a general election and 85% in the recent Scottish referendum on independence. We have analysed three possible scenarios for this issue in our report Catalonia: Stalemate between Region and Central Government Creates Uncertainty, published today. The most likely is that the central and Catalan governments negotiate further devolution. The precedents for this are the Basque Country and Navarre, which have large tax-setting powers and keep most of the tax they collect. The impact on Spain's sovereign credit profile would be mildly positive because it would have eased one source of political risk over the medium term - provided any eventual settlement does not compromise its fiscal strategy at general government level. We would also expect an increase in Catalonia's fiscal revenues as it is a net contributor to the central government.


This, combined with an increase in fiscal powers, would be credit positive and at least stabilise the region's rating. We believe it would address some of the structural problems resulting from the underfunding of essential public services and the reliance on cyclical fiscal revenues such as taxes on property transactions, and could be credit positive. The less likely scenario of full Catalan independence would most likely have negative consequences for Spain's sovereign rating. Even an orderly breakup of the country would pose risks to the national economy; much more so a disorderly breakup. In a disorderly breakup, in which Catalonia gained independence at the cost of leaving the European Union and eurozone, risks to both Spain and Catalonia would be exacerbated. The third scenario is a continuation of the current stalemate and uncertainty. This protracted tension could trigger some near-term deposit outflows, particularly affecting Catalan banks, increase the cost of funding and drive corporates to reduce capex in the region as a protective measure.

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Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling good enough to play for Barcelona, says Xavi - The Guardian

Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling good enough to play for Barcelona, says Xavi - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling has what it takes to play for Barcelona in the future, according to the midfielder Xavi
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Catalonia’s independence vote – illegal, and hopefully irresistible - The Guardian

Catalonia’s independence vote – illegal, and hopefully irresistible - The Guardian | AC Affairs | Scoop.it
Matthew Tree: Within months Catalonia could be the latest of Europe’s new countries: an example to the world of how to resolve border disputes

 

On Sunday I woke up in the 19,000-strong town of Banyoles, in north-east Catalonia. Banyoles has long been festooned with pro-independence estelades – the Catalan flag invented in 1907 in imitation of newly independent Cuba’s – in expectation of the non-binding consultation on independence that was to take place that very day, there in the crisp, firewood-tinged air of this town that could be described as post-Spanish. However, I couldn’t vote in Banyoles myself, being a resident of Barcelona. I arrived in that city at 3pm...

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Catalonia vote: No smiles for Spain - BBC

Catalonia vote: No smiles for Spain - BBC | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

Catalans wanting independence are elated by the outcome of Sunday's non-binding, unofficial vote in the region - but Spain's ruling Popular Party (PP) is sticking to its constitutional guns for now.

 

The head of the regional government, Artur Mas, said Catalans had "earned the right to a referendum", after 80% of voters said they wanted to break away from Spain.

 

However, Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala dismissed the ballot, which had to be conducted outside the normal electoral process because of legal attempts to block it, as a "useless sham"...

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Catalonia's independence vote: Yes and no - The Economist

Catalonia's independence vote: Yes and no - The Economist | AC Affairs | Scoop.it

AFTER months of “will-they, won't-they” brinkmanship, Catalans were finally able to vote Sunday on whether they wanted to become an independent nation. In Lleida, the tranquil capital of a mostly rural province known for its fruit farms and pigs, all was calm at the city's eight voting stations. A single police officer stood outside the Josep Lladanosa secondary school, as citizens braved the winter chill to deposit their votes. The polling had no legal force; Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, contends a vote not sanctioned by Madrid would be unconstitutional, and the country's constitutional court is still deciding the question. Instead it was, depending on your point of view, either a piece of mass civil disobedience led by Catalan president Artur Mas, or an entirely legal mock referendum that puts pressure on Madrid to stage a real one.

 

Voters (including the pro-independence marchers above) were delighted. Mobile phone selfies were the order of the day as, at least in Lleida, even some African immigrants joined the voting queues. Turn-out was 37% of the more than 6m people able to vote. Those who stayed away did so for a mixture of reasons. Some thought the vote was illegal. Others were indifferent. Some struggled to get to the reduced number of voting stations. Still more viewed the whole thing as a separatist ruse, and refused to play what they saw as a game Mr Mas had masterminded—with the help of the tens of thousands of eager pro-independence volunteers who manned the polling stations...

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