Europe

Spain: Ruling party shaken by ex-IMF boss's downfall

A central pillar of the Spanish economic and political establishment came crashing down on Paril 16.

Rodrigo Rato, former deputy prime minister in the 1996-2004 People’s Party (PP) government of Jose Maria Aznar and head of the International Monetary Fund from 2004 to 2007, was detained on suspicion of tax evasion, concealment of assets and fraud.

Racism, war fuel asylum seeker deaths

About 800 refugees were drowned in the Mediterranean on April 18 when a boat carrying them from Libya, and trying to reach the south of Italy, capsized. Just three days earlier, more than 400 people drowned when another boat on the same route sank.

Refugee deaths in the Mediterranean are rising sharply. “According to the UN and the International Organisation for Migration, 1,776 people are dead or missing so far this year, compared with 56 for the same period last year,” the April 24 Guardian reported.

European left rejects racism, backs asylum rights

“Too many people have already lost their lives in the Mediterranean sea, more than a thousand this week, which is a major crime against humanity,” The Party of the European Left (EL) said in a April 20 statement. “We need to stop it immediately!”

The EL, a group made up of left-wing parties from across Europe, said: “We reject any attempt to solve the so-called 'migration problem' by an increased militarisation.”

Alexis Tsipras on asylum seeker deaths: 'We must mobilise to stop this tragedy'

Greek prime minister and leader of Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras, released the statement below on April 20, which is abridged from .

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The latest humanitarian tragedy, with hundreds of casualties off the coast of Lampedusa, fills us with sadness and worry. None of us can remain impassive when hundreds of souls are lost in the Mediterranean, in their effort to escape war and poverty.

An engaging look at Scotland's independence campaign

The People’s Referendum: Why Scotland Will Never Be the Same Again
by Paul Geoghegan
Luath Press 2015
177 pages

The British-wide general election for the Westminster parliament scheduled for May 7 looks set to be very close, perhaps even closer than the 2010 election that resulted in the Labour Party being replaced by a Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

Opinion polls suggest that neither of the two main British parties, Conservative or Labour, will win enough seats for a majority of their own in the House of Commons.

Greece: SYRIZA clashes with creditors — 'Let them try to over throw us'

“A high-ranking official close to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the Greek government is not planning to give in to its creditors’ pressures and go against the program they had promised to the Greek people who brought them to power,” GreekReporter.com said on April 16.

The comment came amid rising tensions between Greece's SYRIZA-led anti-austerity government and its creditors — the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Greece releases migrants from 'barbaric' detention centres

The Greek government said on April 17 that it was releasing detainees in its neglected immigration centers.

“The people that were there, were living an indescribable barbarity,” said Greek immigration minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou. According to Christodoulopoulou, many of the detainees were illegally being held indefinitely.

Spain: Anti-austerity Podemos would win if elections held now, poll finds

Spain's left-wing Podemos party would win a general election if it were held today, a Metroscopa poll released on April 12 found. General elections are scheduled for December.

Podemos, which was founded in January last year, came first with the support of 22.1% of those questioned. The opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) regained lost ground to come second with 21.9% of the vote. The ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) would come third with 20.8% of the vote.

Günter Grass, German author and activist, dies aged 87

Günter Grass, who was one of Germany’s most important post-war novelists, died on April 13 at the age of 87 in the town of Lübeck, in northern Germany.

Grass was perhaps most famous for his 1959 book The Tin Drum, a novel that embodied fantastical elements in its critique of Weimar and Nazi Germany. As such, his style bore resemblances to Latin America’s genre of magical realism. In 1979, the book was turned into an Academy Award winning film by Volker Schlöndorff, which won the Oscar for best foreign film.

Greece: Health fee abolished, medical care strengthened

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on April 2 that his government would strengthen the country's public health system by the hiring of 4500 extra staff and abolishing a compulsory €5 fee for treatment at public hospitals, TeleSUR English said that day.

The measure forms part of a broad package of reforms aimed at overhauling the country’s broken medical system by providing universal access to quality healthcare.

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