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Daesh ‘defeated’ in key Afghan province: official

MADRID: Spain held its second parliamentary election this year on Sunday, with voters seen likely to deliver no clear winner, an even more fragmented parliament and a sizeable boost to the far right.Opinion polls ahead of the vote have shown no single party winning a majority. The Socialists are again the front-runners but likely to…

Daesh ‘defeated’ in key Afghan province: official

MADRID: Spain held its second parliamentary election this year on Sunday, with voters seen likely to deliver no clear winner, an even more fragmented parliament and a sizeable boost to the far right.Opinion polls ahead of the vote have shown no single party winning a majority. The Socialists are again the front-runners but likely to win slightly fewer seats than in the last ballot in April, while the conservative People’s Party (PP) could gain votes.The far-right Vox could become the third-largest party just months after winning its first parliamentary seats — its popularity boosted by violent separatist protests in Catalonia that have overshadowed the whole campaign.Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the election — the fourth in four years — betting that a new vote would strengthen his hand after his Socialist Party won in April but then failed to forge the alliances needed to form a government.Spain has struggled to put stable governments together since new parties emerged from the financial crisis, following decades during which power oscillated between the Socialists and the PP.Esperanza de Antonio, a 64-year old retired history teacher voting in Madrid for the Socialists, was concerned over the rise of Vox, which she called a danger to democracy.“I’m saying this because I’ve taught about fascism for 30 years,” she told Reuters. Older Spaniards still remember first-hand the 1939-1975 dictatorship of Francisco Franco.But Carmen Queral, a 44-year old primary school teacher, said a strong Vox was precisely what Spain needed. “We need change,” she said after voting at a central Madrid polling station.One thing was certain on Sunday: voters are increasingly fed up of being called to the polls — there were also regional and European Union elections this year. That alone increases the chances that parties will make more of an effort this time to reach a deal over governing and shy away from a repeat ballot.“Well I’m bored because this is not normal,” voter Elisa Varea said. “It’s not normal that they don’t reach an agreement. If there are no absolute majority, the least they could to is to support each other to lift the country because like this we are not going anywhere.”Official turnout data at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT), showed a drop in voter numbers from the previous election — around 56.8% compared with 60.7% in April. Polls close at 8 p.m. and the vast majority of results should be known by midnight.
’WORKING TOGETHER’A minority government led by the Socialists appears the most likely outcome, opinion polls showed, but a bigger question is who the Socialists may ally with and how long any government can last with a very fragmented parliament.Pablo Iglesias, leader of the far-left Unidas Podemos, which had tried and failed to hammer out a coalition government deal with Sanchez, made a new call for a leftist alliance.“On our behalf we are going to leave the arguments behind and start working together,” he told reporters after voting.Sanchez avoided questions on Sunday about a likely political stalemate, only calling on Spaniards to get out and vote.
CATALAN ISSUEThe fiercely anti-separatist rhetoric of Vox and to a lesser degree the PP has struck a chord with many voters in light of the wave of separatist demonstrations in Catalonia in the country’s extreme northeast.Polls suggest that support for Vox could as much as double, even if pollsters have found it difficult to estimate the new party’s popularity.In the Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona, Anna Torres, 72, said she voted for the left-wing, pro-independence ERC.“We have to protest because we disagree. It’s an injustice,” she said, referring to the long prison sentences handed down to nine separatist leaders in mid-October.She criticized Catalonia’s three main separatist parties for not running under one platform and said her vote would be useless because Spain would most likely have another election soon because no party would reach a majority.Madrid sent 2,500 additional national police officers to reinforce Catalonia’s regional police force.In total more than 92,000 police will be deployed across Spain to safeguard the vote.

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Prince Harry’s wife Meghan returns to Canada amid royal storm

LONDON: Prince Harry’s wife Meghan has returned to Canada following the couple’s bombshell announcement that they were quitting their frontline royal duties, their spokeswoman said on Friday. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent an extended Christmas break in Canada with their baby son Archie, before returning to break the news that has rocked the…

Prince Harry’s wife Meghan returns to Canada amid royal storm

LONDON: Prince Harry’s wife Meghan has returned to Canada following the couple’s bombshell announcement that they were quitting their frontline royal duties, their spokeswoman said on Friday.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent an extended Christmas break in Canada with their baby son Archie, before returning to break the news that has rocked the royal family.
“I can confirm reports that the duchess is in Canada,” the couple’s spokeswoman told AFP, without providing further details.
The Daily Mail newspaper reported that the royals left eight-month-old Archie with his nanny in Canada when they flew to Britain earlier this week.
It said Meghan, a former US television actress, headed back to rejoin him on Thursday and “she may stay there for the foreseeable future.”
An unnamed source was quoted as saying by the domestic Press Association news agency the duchess had traveled to the UK “to attend some meetings” before returning to Canada
Senior royals were caught off guard by Wednesday’s announcement that the couple wanted to “step back” from their roles.
Queen Elizabeth II reportedly held crisis calls on Thursday involving Harry, his brother Prince William and their father Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.
William, Harry and their wives have been viewed as the modern face of the royal family, hailed for bringing fresh energy into the institution.
But Harry and Meghan last year admitted to struggling with the spotlight following their wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and Archie’s birth a year later.
The couple have lashed out at negative news coverage — Harry calling some of it racist — and taken several papers to court.
The prince also confirmed he was growing apart from his brother, who is second in line to the throne.
The couple said they wanted to forge “a progressive new role,” split their time between Britain and North America and become financially independent.
A palace source on Thursday said the queen had instructed aides to work “at pace” with Meghan and Harry and the government “to find workable solutions.”
Key questions include whether they will keep their royal titles and how much of their funding — mostly from Prince Charles — they will maintain.
The couple’s decision follows a turbulent year for the wider royal family.
Prince Andrew announced he was retiring from public duties after a disastrous TV interview about his friendship with the late US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
 

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Deadlock over Nile dam as Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan look to Washington for talks

LONDON: Prince Harry’s wife Meghan has returned to Canada following the couple’s bombshell announcement that they were quitting their frontline royal duties, their spokeswoman said on Friday.The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent an extended Christmas break in Canada with their baby son Archie, before returning to break the news that has rocked the royal…

Deadlock over Nile dam as Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan look to Washington for talks

LONDON: Prince Harry’s wife Meghan has returned to Canada following the couple’s bombshell announcement that they were quitting their frontline royal duties, their spokeswoman said on Friday.The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent an extended Christmas break in Canada with their baby son Archie, before returning to break the news that has rocked the royal family.“I can confirm reports that the duchess is in Canada,” the couple’s spokeswoman told AFP, without providing further details.The Daily Mail newspaper reported that the royals left eight-month-old Archie with his nanny in Canada when they flew to Britain earlier this week.It said Meghan, a former US television actress, headed back to rejoin him on Thursday and “she may stay there for the foreseeable future.”An unnamed source was quoted as saying by the domestic Press Association news agency the duchess had traveled to the UK “to attend some meetings” before returning to CanadaSenior royals were caught off guard by Wednesday’s announcement that the couple wanted to “step back” from their roles.Queen Elizabeth II reportedly held crisis calls on Thursday involving Harry, his brother Prince William and their father Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.William, Harry and their wives have been viewed as the modern face of the royal family, hailed for bringing fresh energy into the institution.But Harry and Meghan last year admitted to struggling with the spotlight following their wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and Archie’s birth a year later.The couple have lashed out at negative news coverage — Harry calling some of it racist — and taken several papers to court.The prince also confirmed he was growing apart from his brother, who is second in line to the throne.The couple said they wanted to forge “a progressive new role,” split their time between Britain and North America and become financially independent.A palace source on Thursday said the queen had instructed aides to work “at pace” with Meghan and Harry and the government “to find workable solutions.”Key questions include whether they will keep their royal titles and how much of their funding — mostly from Prince Charles — they will maintain.The couple’s decision follows a turbulent year for the wider royal family.Prince Andrew announced he was retiring from public duties after a disastrous TV interview about his friendship with the late US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. 

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Australia bushfires flare as heatwave brings renewed misery

LONDON: Britain’s royal family is hurt and disappointed by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s surprise announcement that they will step back from their senior roles and spend more time in North America, a royal source said.Harry and Meghan’s decision to step away from royal duties sent shock waves through the royal family as neither…

Australia bushfires flare as heatwave brings renewed misery

LONDON: Britain’s royal family is hurt and disappointed by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s surprise announcement that they will step back from their senior roles and spend more time in North America, a royal source said.Harry and Meghan’s decision to step away from royal duties sent shock waves through the royal family as neither Queen Elizabeth nor Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, had been consulted on the announcement, made on Instagram.Elizabeth, who has devoted her life to the public duty of monarchy since she became queen in 1952, and other senior members of the family felt hurt and disappointed by the move, a royal source said.“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” Harry and Meghan said in their statement.“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent.”They said the decision was taken after months of reflection and discussion, and that they would split their time between the United Kingdom and North America to allow their family the space it needs.Cast by the couple as an exciting next step, it was not immediately clear how the couple will become what royal biographers said was akin to being a “half royal” — and who will pay for their transatlantic lifestyles.No senior royal has yet commented on the decision. British tabloids said the announcement had left senior royals such as Prince Charles and Harry’s brother, Prince William, incandescent with rage.Buckingham Palace said discussions with Harry and Meghan were at an early stage and that such complicated issues took time to work out.“MEGXIT” read The Sun’s front page headline. The Daily Mail said Queen Elizabeth was furious about the move.While the manner in which Harry and Meghan have tried to exit the spotlight cast on the world’s most famous family drew criticism, Prince Charles has long sought a slimmer and leaner royal family.The haste of their decision, though, raises questions for a family which had in Elizabeth’s words a “quite bumpy” year that included her son Prince Andrew’s decision to step down due to his relationship with disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein.Royal commentators drew parallels with the abdication crisis of Edward VIII who gave up the throne in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson and lived out his life in France.Opponents of the monarchy were scathing and even supporters questioned how one could be a part-time royal.“This really is wanting to have your cake and eat it,” said Graham Smith, head of Republic which wants to abolish the monarchy.“They have said they will dip in and out of royal duties as it suits them but won’t stop taking public money until they find other sources of income.”Meghan, known for her role in the TV legal drama “Suits”, could return to acting in the United States though it is unclear how that would be viewed by the Palace.“Perhaps she’d have to be careful about what roles she’d do because she is a member of the royal family, so she couldn’t do too many racy sex scenes for instance,” said Royal biographer Penny Junor.Harry and Meghan, an American divorcee, met on a blind date but fell in love in Botswana. They married in May 2018 in a lavish ceremony in Windsor Castle that was heralded at the time as a sign of a more modern monarchy.Yet their relationship with the media turned sour as they struggled to deal with the intense scrutiny it brought.Educated at the exclusive Eton College, Harry’s teenage years were overshadowed by negative headlines. Harry and his brother disliked the press because of the way it had hounded their mother, Princess Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi.There have been negative stories criticizing Harry and Meghan’s use of private jets while promoting environmental causes and the 2.4 million pound ($3.08 million) taxpayer-funded renovation of their new home.The couple, whose titles are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, began legal action against some tabloid newspapers in October over historic phone-hacking and invasion of privacy.Harry described the treatment of his wife as “bullying,” and likened it to that of his mother before her death.

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