Catalonia declares independence from Spain
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We spent from 5.30am on Sunday morning at the local library, or biblioteca, less than 100m from my home in Sant Cugat del Vallès, a town of 87,000 just over the hill from Barcelona. My partner and her father are from the French part of Catalonia, or Catalunya Nord, as it’s known. None of us could vote in the independence referendum, but after the authoritarian behaviour of the Spanish authorities in recent weeks, we wanted to help protect the voting centres.

We Just Want to Vote - Franco ReturnsDuring a pre referendum social event in Placa Octavia, Sant Cugat del Valles, with dancing and other traditional activities, including castellets, the human towers, pro independence activists question the actions of th
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“We just want to vote” This is the message, in English, that many Catalans have been sending out to the rest of Europe, in the run up to this Sunday’s planned independence referendum. Most Catalans, or more correctly, most people, who can vote here want to have a say, in what the Catalan Generalitat (regional government) has said will be a binding vote. Depending on which polls you read, less than half of voters want independence. While these stats are widely reported, I did read a poll today that suggested there would be 63% or more turnout and an 83% yes vote. There’s plenty of commentators saying that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is right in saying that the Catalan vote is against the Spanish constitution, and that the Catalan government is right because they are fulfilling the mandate given to them by the electorate. Many millions of words have...

Supermoon rising over Parc Collserola
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After taking the monthly arrivals and departures of the moon for granted, my young son is teaching me to pay more attention.

Greenpeace ship Esperanza in the Southern Ocean
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Greenpeace ship Esperanza in the Southern Ocean Via coldreality.org: About a month ago, Deutsche Welle journalist Irene Quaile AKA Iceblogger wrote, in a piece titled Some Arctic good news – not #fakenews! “With the environment and climate under constant fire from the actions of President Trump, it is great to end the week with a little piece of good news”. “One thing that made me smile was the announcement that the famous cruise ship operator Hurtigruten had signed the Arctic Commitment, calling for a ban on the use of marine heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic.” “So let’s go into the weekend with a round of applause for the tireless campaigners for a clean Arctic. It is hard for an environment journalist to be optimistic in these difficult times. But every little helps. And winning over the cruise ship industry which so many people associate with holiday expeditions into...

Massive queues crossing Spain-France Border following controls put in place after November Paris attacks.
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We’re all here, nose to tail, thanks to the “border controls” that the French government, brought into force following the Paris November 13th attacks. In a previous article, I documented my recent slow crossing from Belgium into France. That crossing was rip-roaringly rapid in comparison to today’s torpid crawl. This is the real deal, with three 120 kilometre-an-hour lanes slowed to nothing, then funneled into one. It's a farce.

The Belgian-French Border (c) Dave Walsh 2015
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The French are serious, they’re going to check everything. The road surface will be immaculate. They will ask complicated questions. That’s what this big delay is all about. I have a piano, several lampshades and a box of garden worms in the back of the car. How will I explain myself?

An Beal Bocht, Dave Walsh
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Ireland's dear and glorious leader, Taoiseach Enda Kenny stood manfully astride the COP21 podium in Paris. Holding the lectern in a white-knuckled embrace, Enda rolled out Ireland’s comprehensive plan for taking global leadership on climate change, and he would personally corner Hollande, Obama, Merkel, Putin and Xi Jinping and the rest of them into finally saving the planet.

Brussels Lockdown, Federal Police Cat Meme
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That was a weird weekend. Brussels, the world’s 2nd most cosmopolitan city, with 62% of its population born elsewhere, has been a standstill for three days. The metro is still not running. Music venues, bars, cinemas, suburban swimming pools, all closed. Parents have kept their kids home, waiting for news on whether schools will reopen tomorrow. Soldiers and armed, balaclava wearing police patrol empty streets downtown, and in some of the suburbs. On our roof terrace on Sunday afternoon, the cold November air smelled of barbecues and baking apple pies. There's rumours of a baby-boom in nine months time. Across our street, more lights are on in apartments than seems usual. In one apartment, where the television alternates between cartoons or shoot-em-up games non-stop from 6am till midnight, I can spy revolving news stories showing b-roll of Brussels streets, cut with press conferences with the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel,...

All Stops to the Point, by Suzanne Walsh
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All over the city my friends are losing their homes. The ones you think will last forever, passed from one artist to another, a bit crumbly, with uncertain heating but warm in atmosphere, always with stuff left over from previous inhabitants. Bit by bit they are getting sold or renovated for higher rents and more desirable tenants. But then for others it is worse still: families sleeping in cars, families fleeing conflict across land and sea, braving great dangers for a place to lie safe at night. Where are we all to go?

Admit nothing, blame everyone, be bitter
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I paused at a crossroads. An image of a postcard flashed into my head. A postcard I received from my friend Donal, years and years ago. A black and white image showing two hands barely meeting across a map, with three commandments in red strips overlaid: Admit Nothing. Blame Everyone. Be Bitter.