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Spain faces divide after blocking Catalan referendum

Spain faced a national divide Wednesday after its lawmakers overwhelmingly shot down Catalonia's bid for an independence referendum. Spain's parliament refused the northeastern region's request to hold a November 9 referendum by a landslide 299 votes to 47 after a seven-hour debate Tuesday. But Catalonia's head of government Artur Mas vowed to find a way to hold a legal popular vote over his region's independence. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy led parliament in spurning Catalonia's secessionist bid, refusing to countenance a breakup of Spain.

Spanish parliament rejects Catalonia independence bid

Spain's parliament on Tuesday shot down a Catalan petition to call a referendum on secession, setting the stage for a bitter sovereignty struggle between the government and the country's economic engine. "I defend that Catalonia should remain in Spain because I can't conceive of Spain without Catalonia nor of Catalonia outside of Spain and Europe," Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told the assembly before the vote.

Barcelona ruins become symbol of Catalan independence drive

Protected by the massive cast-iron frame of a former market, the ruins of an 18th century Barcelona neighbourhood have become a symbol of Catalonia's drive to break away from the rest of Spain. A huge red and yellow Catalan flag greets visitors to the Mercat de Born cultural centre, whose hulking skeleton covers what remains of the shops, taverns and houses in the Catalan capital's La Ribera neighbourhood.

Catalans keep up pressure for vote to split from Spain

Student Marc Cots believes Catalans want an independence referendum so badly, they would turn out to vote even if Spain sent tanks to the region to stop them. "We have to vote. If they want, on the day of the referendum they can bring tanks to Catalonia but we are going to vote all the same," said the 20-year-old after signing a petition in central Barcelona in favour of the referendum. The Catalan government has already set November 9 as the date for the referendum -- two months after an independence vote in Scotland that has been authorised by the British government.

Spain to appeal for damages over Prestige oil spill

Spain will appeal for damages over the Prestige tanker disaster which choked its northwest coast in oil, the government said Monday, after a court acquitted all defendants of causing the spill. The court on Thursday acquitted the ship's crew and a top Spanish maritime official and awarded no compensation for the 2002 wreck, one of Europe's worst environmental disasters. Its only sentence was a nine-month jail term for the ship's captain for resisting attempts to tow the wreck away from shore before it spilled its load, killing tens of thousands of seabirds.

Spanish singer Manolo Escobar dies at 82

Benidorm, Spain, Oct 24 (EFE).- Singer Manolo Escobar died Thursday at his home in Benidorm, the city in southeastern Spain where he had been hospitalized recently for treatment of cancer, sources close to his family told Efe. He was 82. The singer, who had been battling the disease for several years, entered a clinic in early October due to kidney and other problems. He was released a few days ago and had been recuperating at home. Escobar's family said in the past few days that he was doing well and had recovered from his recent health problems.

Catalans form human chain to press for independence from Spain

By Julien Toyer BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Catalans held hands in a 400-km (250-mile) human chain across their region on Wednesday to press the Spanish government to let them vote on breaking away and forming their own country. Demonstrators in yellow T-shirts and draped in blue, red and yellow separatist banners raised their joined hands through cities and along rural roads, jumping and shouting in celebration when the chain was completed.

Catalans form vast human chain for independence from Spain

Catalans massed in a vast human chain stretching hundreds of kilometres along the Mediterranean coast on Wednesday, demanding independence from Spain in the face of fierce opposition from the national government. Hundreds of thousands of people in yellow t-shirts joined in, according to organisers, yelling "Independence!". They linked hands along highways and through towns in the northeastern region, amid countless pro-independence flags bearing the red and yellow stripes of Catalonia overlaid with a white star on a blue background.

Pro-independence Catalans marshal 'human chain' demo

Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces on Wednesday for a 400-kilometre (250-mile) human chain in a bold push to break from Spain despite fierce opposition from Madrid. Demonstrators in yellow t-shirts bearing the slogan "Catalonian Way Towards Independence" prepared for the chain, which organisers said would unite hundreds of thousands of people.

Case for and against Catalan independence

Independence-seeking Catalans united Wednesday for a 400-kilometre (250-mile) human chain in a bold push to break from Spain despite fierce opposition from Madrid. Catalan nationalists want a referendum on nationhood for the northeastern region of Spain, a demand that is rejected by the central government. Here are the main arguments for and against Catalan independence: LANGUAGE Catalans speak a language that has some similarities but is quite distinct from the Castilian Spanish spoken in the rest of Spain.
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