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Catalonia warns of BARCELONA: Leader of Cataloia warned on Monday that the region will open a path to "freedom" unless it reaches a deal with the Spanish government on disputed economic policies. "If there is not an agreement on the economic basis, you know that the way of Catalonia for freedom is open," Catalonia's regional leader Artur Mas said in English at a news conference. He spoke as tens of thousands gathered in Barcelona to mark the northeastern region's national day, or Diada. "My goal is to try to reach an agreement with the central government on the economic area and to try to protect Catalonia and to give our country the tools we need to build our future, our national future," Mas said. Catalonia, whose economy is larger than Portugal's, accounts for a fifth of Spanish output. But it is being squeezed by austerity cuts and an economic crisis that has put one in four people out ...

Manuel Valls defends bullfighting as ban looms PARIS: French Interior Minister Manuel Valls delivered a passionate defence of bullfighting on Tuesday just hours before the country's constitutional council was due to examine a call to ban the bloody sport. "It's something I love, it's part of my family's culture," said the minister who was born in Spain, where bullfighting is hugely popular, and moved with his family to France when he was a child. "It's a culture that we have to preserve," he told ...
Dutch vote headed for pro-Europe coalition HAGUE: Despite a campaign marked by attacks on Brussels, the leading Dutch parties wound up efforts on Tuesday to sway undecided voters to elect a grudgingly Europe-friendly government. Wednesday's vote is shaping into a battle between current Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberal VVD party and rising star Diederick Samsom's centre-left PvdA Labour party, but neither will be able to govern alone. Latest opinion polls predict a middle-of-the-road coalition government involving the pro-austerity VVD and pro-stimulus PvdA will ...
Amnesty hails release of pastor in Iran LONDON: Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday welcomed the release from prison in Iran of a Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, who had been condemned to death for converting from Islam to Christianity. But the London-based group's deputy director for the Middle East, Ann Harrison, emphasised in a statement that the Iranian pastor, who had been in prison for nearly three years, "should have never been arrested, let alone charged and tried." She said he had been arrested ...
Two killed, several seriously injured in Polish bus crash MULHOUSE: At least two people were killed and six seriously injured Tuesday after a Polish bus crashed into a ditch near the eastern French city of Mulhouse, a senior local official said.   Two were confirmed dead and the number could "maybe even be three", said Alain Perret, the prefect of the Haut Rhin department in the Alsace region bordering Germany. He said six were in a serious condition.   Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012 ...
Suicide blast at Istanbul police station, several wounded ISTANBUL: Several people were wounded on Tuesday in an apparent suicide bombing that targeted a police station in central Istanbul, Turkish NTV television reported.   The explosion outside the police station caused the roof to cave in, crushing people inside the building, according to the report. The number of casualties was not immediately known.   Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012 ...
France PARIS: France's richest man, Bernard Arnault, said Monday he would sue a newspaper over a front-page headline -- "Get lost, you rich idiot!" -- which came after he said he was applying for Belgian nationality. "Arnault has no other choice, given the extreme vulgarity and the violence of the headline... but to sue Liberation," his representatives said in a statement explaining why he was suing the left-wing daily for libel. Arnault, the boss of the luxury conglomerate ...


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