Briefing :- 5/10/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 5th of October, 2017 :-

1. Catalan President vows region will declare independence within days:-

Tension mounted in Spain on Wednesday after Catalonia’s leader vowed that the region would declare independence within days, defying a stern warning from the country’s king that national stability was in peril.

The courts meanwhile placed Catalan police officials and pro-independence civil leaders under investigation for alleged “sedition” as Spain sank deeper into its worst political crisis in decades.

King Felipe VI branded the independence drive illegal and undemocratic, throwing his weight behind the national government.

But Catalan leaders dug in, buoyed by anger at a violent police crackdown against voters during Sunday’s referendum on independence which had been banned by Madrid and the courts.

The Catalan government will “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next” to declare independence, its leader Carles Puigdemont told the BBC in an interview.

He was scheduled to give a further televised address at 1900 GMT on Wednesday.

The Catalan government’s spokesman Jordi Turull said that regional authorities had “nearly finished counting the votes.”

The result will be submitted to the regional parliament which will have two days “to proclaim the independence of Catalonia,” he said in a television interview.

The move would intensify the standoff with the central government, which along with the national courts has branded the referendum illegal.

Madrid has the power to suspend the semi-autonomous status that Catalonia currently enjoys under Spain’s system of regional governments.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has yet to respond publicly to Sunday’s vote, but the king’s intervention could clear the way for him to act.

“It is the responsibility of the legitimate state powers to ensure constitutional order,” Felipe said.

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied in fury on Tuesday during a general strike over violence by Spanish riot police against voters taking part in the referendum on Sunday.

2. No Indian soldiers in Afghanistan because of Pakistan complexity: US Defense Secretary Mattis :-

US defence secretary James Mattis who recently visited India, praised India’s role in Afghanistan before the House Armed Services Committee today.

“It is really a very holistic approach that India is taking. You’ll notice I left off (Indian) boots (soldiers) on the ground because of the complexity that would bring to Pakistan,” he told the US House Armed Services Committee.

On Wednesday, Mattis had warned Pakistan to address the problem of terrorism but if it failed then the “US president would be prepared to take whatever steps necessary”.

“We’re trying to make this an inclusive strategy and we don’t want them to get a sense that they’re vulnerable to any Indian Army people from their western flank, that’s not necessary,” Mattis told the Congressional panel.

The defense secretary told the committee that he would like to see India and Pakistan be open to trade as it would be “great economic advantage to both countries”.

“I believe India wants that(trade) to happen, but it’s very hard to do that if your concern is that you open the border to one thing, and you get something else,” Mattis said in reference to cross-border infiltration.

“New Delhi has been generous over many years with Afghanistan. Because of its very generous funding over the years, India has achieved a degree of affection from the Afghan people as a result,” he told the committee.

“India intends to continue this effort and broaden it. Furthermore, they are providing training for Afghan military officers and NCOs at their schools,” he added.

On India-US joint military drills, the defense secretary said it is not an exclusive strategy.

“Any nation that wants to be part of the counter-terror effort and this stability effort in South Asia can sign-up,” he asserted.

3. Prince Charles leaves out Myanmar visit in southeast Asia tour :-

Britain’s Prince Charles will tour southeast Asia and India later this month, but the heir to the throne will not visit Myanmar, after a spate of violence and allegations that authorities are carrying out ethnic cleansing.

Media reports last month said an official visit to Myanmar was being suggested for the trip, which the prince is undertaking on behalf of the British government, and aides acknowledged it had been considered as part of the schedule.

But it was omitted from the final programme issued on Wednesday. Charles and his wife Camilla will travel to Singapore, Malaysia and then to India where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We looked at a range of options in the region and, as we’re announcing today, we’re going ahead with the visit to Singapore and Malaysia,” Philip Malone, Deputy Head of Department at Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told reporters.

Malone and royal aides declined to elaborate.

More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the past month since insurgents attacked security posts near the border, triggering fierce military retaliation that the United Nations has branded ethnic cleansing.

Last month Britain suspended its training programme for the military in Myanmar because of the violence, and diplomatic relations have deteriorated.

Rights campaigners had argued against a royal visit.

“To have someone of Prince Charles’s stature go to visit the country would be seen as a reward, and giving legitimacy to the government and the military that are currently violating international law,” said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK.

Charles and Camilla will begin their tour in Singapore on Oct. 31 before going to Malaysia, where they will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic ties since the former British colony became independent, before concluding the 11-day tour in India.

4. Suu Kyi stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’ award amid Rohingya crisis :-

A few days after Oxford took down the portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, the University decided to stip her of the Freedom of Oxford award over her handling of the Rohingya crisis in  Myanmar.

Suu Kyi is an alumnus of Oxford University having graduated in philosophy, politics and economics in 1967 from St Hugh’s college before completing her masters in politics in 1968.

The Oxford City Council voted unanimously to support a motion that said it was “no longer appropriate” to celebrate Suu Kyi, who has come under fierce criticism for inaction in the face of reported atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, Britain’s The Independent reported.

On Saturday, Oxford had decided to place her portrait in storage at St Hugh’s college and replace it with a new painting gifted by Japanese artist Yoshihiro Takada.

“The painting of Aung San Suu Kyi has meanwhile been moved to a secure location,” the college had said in a statement.

Oxford’s decision to strip Suu Kyi of the Freedom award and the removal of her 1997 portrait comes a few days before new students arrive at the college to start their course.

5. British author Kazuo Ishiguro wins Nobel Prize for Literature :-

Kazuo Ishiguro, the 62-year-old British writer of Japanese origin who is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday, is one of the country’s most successful, yet lesser-known, novelists.

A prodigious writer since the early 1980s, he has penned a series of acclaimed novels which have been translated into dozens of foreign languages but has remained more reclusive than some of his contemporary peers.

Ishiguro is perhaps best known for “The Remains of the Day”, which secured him the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989 and was turned into a successful film starring Anthony Hopkins.

He later admitted to writing the book in a prolific four-week period.

The author’s first two novels also landed notable literary awards, “A Pale View of Hills” won the 1982 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize while his follow-up, “An Artist of the Floating World”, claimed the 1986 Whitbread Prize.

He has also found fame with “Never Let Go”, his 2005 novel, and “When We Were Orphans”, published in 2007.


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