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AR   73.85        National Housing for Professio   14.39        El Ahli Investment and Develop   4.87        Egyptian Saudi Finance Bank   10.79        Ismailia National Food Industr   5.16        National Societe Generale Bank   25.52        Acrow Misr   19.16        Alexandria Mineral Oils Compan   63.63        Paper Middle East (Simo)   5.59        Egypt Aluminum   12.31        Giza General Contracting   13.12        Middle Egypt Flour Mills   5.82        Extracted Oils   0.6        Assiut Islamic Trading   4.56        Engineering Industries (ICON)   3.95        North Cairo Mills   15.3        Arab Pharmaceuticals   11.88        Grand Capital   5.38        El Ahram Co. For Printing And    10.68        Minapharm Pharmaceuticals   25.49        El Arabia Engineering Industri   13.52        El Nasr For Manufacturing Agri   9.71        Naeem portfolio and fund Manag   1.7        Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt -   6.76        Natural Gas & Mining Project (   68.26        Housing & Development Bank   13.95        East Delta Flour Mills   31.5        Orascom Development Holding (A   3.22        Memphis Pharmaceuticals   11.12        Abou Kir Fertilizers   134.23        Delta Insurance   5        Cairo Investment & Real Estate   12.18        Cairo Oils & Soap   12.98        Egyptian Arabian (cmar) Securi   0.36        Egyptian Real Estate Group Bea   15.56        Alexandria Containers and good   85.51        Upper Egypt Flour Mills   45.78        Development & Engineering Cons   9.94        Sinai Cement   15.18        Medical Union Pharmaceuticals   28.01        Torah Cement   24.2        Alexandria New Medical Center   46.55        Export Development Bank of Egy   5.04        Egyptian Company for Mobile Se   92.02        Middle & West Delta Flour Mill   32.7        El Kahera El Watania Investmen   4.18        Mansourah Poultry   12.41        Delta Sugar   11.04        Misr Beni Suef Cement   41.21        Egyptian Satellites (NileSat)   6.14        Cairo Educational Services   17.75        Lecico Egypt   7.55        Sharm Dreams Co. for Tourism I   5.3        General Silos & Storage   10.77        Al Moasher for Programming and   0.66        UTOPIA   5.28        Arab Ceramics (Aracemco)   25.4        Barbary Investment Group ( BIG   0.98        

News - International News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-22 08:06:06
Japanese voters deliver their verdict on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nearly five years in power in an election on Sunday that could give him the clout to push ahead with his cherished goal of revising the post-war, pacifist constitution. Media forecasts show Abe's gamble on the snap poll is likely to pay off, with his conservative Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition closing in on the two-thirds "super majority" it had in parliament's lower house before dissolution. A hefty victory would raise the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012 promising to bolster defense and reboot the economy, will win a third term as LDP leader next September and go on to become Japan’s longest-serving premier. It would also reenergize Abe’s push to revise the war-renouncing constitution by clarifying the status of the military, while maintaining his “Abenomics” growth strategy centered on the Bank of Japan’s hyper-easy monetary policy. The constitution’s Article 9, if taken literally, bans the maintenance of armed forces. But Japanese governments have interpreted it to allow a military exclusively for self-defense. Backers of Abe’s proposal say it would just codify the status quo. Critics fear it would allow an expanded role overseas for the military. The LDP’s junior partner, the Komeito, is cautious about changing the constitution, but media have forecast that the LDP and pro-revision opposition parties are on track for the two-thirds majority needed to begin to change the charter. A weak LDP showing, however, could trigger moves to replace Abe when his term as party chief ends, and cloud the outlook for amending the constitution. Abe, 63, has already led the LDP to four landslide wins since he took the helm of the party, but turnout has been low and the LDP has typically won with about 25 percent of eligible votes. Others either stayed home or backed opposition parties. This time, Abe said he needed a new mandate to tackle a “national crisis” from North Korea’s missile and nuclear threat and a fast-ageing population. He called the poll amid confusion in the opposition camp and an uptick in his ratings, dented earlier in the year by suspected cronyism scandals. Abe has backed U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough stance toward Pyongyang that all options including military action are on the table. Trump is to visit Japan Nov. 5-7 to reaffirm the leaders’ tight ties. “The situation in the world is not stable in many aspects and I believe the LDP is the only party to rely on,” 78-year-old Kyoko Ichida said after voting in the capital. As voters went to the polls, powerful Typhoon Lan was dumping heavy rain on much of Japan, threatening to lower turnout. Voting ends at 8 p.m. (11:00 GMT) and media issue exit polls thereafter. Final official results will be early Monday morning. Abe’s move had seemed risky after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, often floated as a possible first Japanese female premier, launched her conservative Party of Hope. The Party of Hope absorbed a big chunk of the failed main opposition Democratic Party. But voter enthusiasm soon seemed to wane despite its calls for popular policies such as an exit from nuclear power and a freeze on a planned sales tax rise. Koike is not running for a lower house seat herself - she will be in Paris for a climate change event on Sunday - and has failed to say whom her party would back for prime minister. Fish wholesaler Kazuo Takeguchi, 71, said he had had hopes for Koike’s party but was disappointed when she decided not to run. Instead, he voted for the Japanese Communist Party, in part because of the cronyism scandals that had eroded Abe’s ratings. “I can’t help wonder if you are entitled to do whatever you want to if you are sole strong party,” Takeguchi said. “I want some party to emerge as a force to defeat the LDP,” he said, adding, however, that the JCP was unlikely to play that role. A new Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), formed by liberal DP members, is now vying with Koike’s party for the top opposition spot, though both will have just a sliver of the LDP’s presence if forecasts prove accurate. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-22 07:39:37
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that, subject to receipt of further information, he planned to allow the opening of long-secret files on the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy due for release next week. Politico magazine earlier quoted Trump administration and other U.S. government officials as saying the president would almost certainly block the release of information from some of the thousands of classified files, which the U.S. National Archives is scheduled to make public by an Oct. 26 deadline. “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump said in a tweet. “The president believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise,” a White House official said. The Nov. 22 1963 assassination cut short “Camelot,” as the 1,000 days of the Kennedy presidency became known. Kennedy was 46 and remains one of the most admired U.S. presidents. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-22 07:36:31
Catalonia’s leaders said on Saturday they would not accept direct rule imposed on the region by the Spanish government, as a political crisis that has rattled the economy and raised fears of prolonged unrest showed no signs of easing. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced earlier on Saturday he would invoke special constitutional powers to fire the regional government and force a new election to counter the region’s move towards independence. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who made a symbolic declaration of independence on Oct. 10 after a referendum to secede, called Rajoy’s moves the “worst attacks against the people of Catalonia” since Spain’s military dictatorship. It is the first time since Spain’s return to democracy that the central government has used its powers to seize control of a regional administration. Rajoy said it was necessary to end a crisis that has fractured the country and prompted Spain to reduce growth forecasts for the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy. After taking party in peaceful demonstration, Puigdemont expressed his rejection of Madrid’s move, but stopped short of saying he would make good his threat to push ahead with the independence bid before direct rule takes effect. “I ask the (Catalan) parliament to meet in a plenary session during which we, the representatives of the citizens’ sovereignty, will be able to decide over this attempt to liquidate our government and our democracy, and act in consequence,” Puigdemont said in a televised address. Rajoy, who acted with backing from the main opposition party in Madrid and King Felipe, needs the authorization of Spain’s upper house of parliament to impose direct rule. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-21 10:23:10
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to pressure China’s president when they meet next month in Beijing to do more to rein in North Korea out of a belief that Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power should give him more authority to do so. Trump leaves Nov. 3 on a trip that will take him to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. It will be his first tour of Asia since taking power in January and one with a major priority: Preventing the standoff with North Korea from spiraling out of control. Xi is immersed in a Communist Party Congress expected to culminate in him consolidating his control and potentially retaining power beyond 2022, when the next congress takes place. Trump believes that Xi should have even more leverage to work on the North Korea problem. “The president’s view is you have even less of an excuse now,” said one official. “He’s not going to step lightly.” Trump wants to gain some serious cooperation from China to persuade Pyongyang to either change its mind or help deprive it of so much resources that it has no choice but to alter its behavior, the official said. Trump has heaped praise on Xi in recent weeks in hopes of gaining Chinese cooperation and has held back from major punitive trade measures. In an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Trump said he wants to “keep things very, very low key” with Xi until the Chinese leader emerges from the party congress. “I believe he’s got the power to do something very significant with respect to North Korea. We’ll see what happens. Now with that being said, we’re prepared for anything. We are so prepared, like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said in the interview, to air on Sunday. Trump has traded bitter insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, using his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month to dismiss Kim as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission for his repeated nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. He said if threatened, the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea. Kim in recent weeks said the United States would face an “unimaginable strike” from North Korea if provoked. CIA chief Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that North Korea could be only “months” away from gaining the ability to hit the United States with nuclear weapons. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-21 10:20:33
The Spanish Cabinet was meeting on Saturday to prepare to impose direct rule on Catalonia and thwart a drive by the autonomous region to breakaway from Spain. It will be the first time in Spain’s four decades of democracy that Madrid has invoked the constitutional right to take control of a region and rule it directly from Madrid. Independence supporters were due to rally in the Catalan capital Barcelona on Saturday afternoon. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists that Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who heads the wealthy northeastern region’s government, has broken the law several times in pushing for independence, thus justifying the imposition of central government control. Direct rule would be temporary and could range from dismissing the regional government to a softer approach of removing heads of specific departments. The exact measures must be agreed and voted upon in Spain’s upper house, the Senate, and Rajoy wants the broadest consensus possible. The main opposition Socialists said on Friday they would back special measures and had agreed on the holding of regional elections in January. The government declined to confirm this, saying only that regional elections were likely and the details would be announced on Saturday. Rajoy received the backing of the head of state, King Felipe, on Friday, who said at a public ceremony that “Catalonia is and will remain an essential part” of Spain. “Spain needs to face up to an unacceptable secession attempt on its national territory, which it will resolve through its legitimate democratic institutions,” said the king, a ceremonial figure who had criticized Catalan leaders earlier this month. The independence push has brought on Spain’s worst political crisis since a failed military coup in 1981 several years after the end of the Franco dictatorship. It has met with strong opposition across the rest of Spain, divided Catalonia itself, and raised the prospect of prolonged street protests It has also led Madrid to cut economic growth forecasts and prompted hundreds of firms to move their headquarters from Catalonia. Spain has the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy and Catalonia accounts for a fifth of it. Pro-independence groups have mustered more than one million people onto the streets in protest at Madrid’s refusal to negotiate a solution. Heavy-handed police tactics to shut down a an independence referendum on Oct. 1 that the government had declared illegal drew criticism from human rights groups. Regional authorities said about 90 percent of those who cast ballots voted for independence. But only 43 percent of voters participated and opponents of secession mostly stayed home. Activist organizations ANC and Omnium have called on their supporters to rally at 1500 GMT in Barcelona, the region’s principal city, in protest at the jailing of their leaders over sedition accusations. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-21 09:46:38
U.S. President Donald Trump’s reversals in the past week on maintaining Obamacare subsidies to insurers are sowing new confusion over what kind of health insurance will be available to consumers, and at what price, when enrollment for 2018 begins in two weeks. Trump said last week his administration would stop paying billions of dollars in subsidies that help insurers give discounts to low-income households, one of several moves to dismantle the signature healthcare law of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. Since then, Trump has alternately supported, and dismissed, an effort by Republican and Democratic senators that would reinstate the subsidies for two years, until a broader replacement to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, can be negotiated. ”We are worried that consumers on (Obamacare) plans will be confused by all the back and forth and proposed policy changes and that this will cause them to not seek out assistance,” said Bryna Koch, special projects coordinator at the Arizona Center for Rural Health, which helps consumers choose and sign up for individual health plans offered under Obamacare. Trump, who promised during his election campaign to repeal and replace Obamacare, which he has called a “disaster,” has said the subsidies amount to a bailout for insurance companies. By law, health insurers must still offer the discounts on deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs, even if the government stops reimbursing them. Insurers say they do not profit from the subsidies. Anticipating Trump’s move, insurers proposed higher prices on monthly premiums in 2018 to recoup the money. In all but a handful of states, they submitted two sets of premium rates – a lower rate to use if the subsidies remained, and a higher rate to use if the funding was cut. The fate of the subsidies remained in limbo on Thursday. A senior White House aide said that Trump would demand steps toward repealing Obamacare in any healthcare legislation, comments that cast doubt on the prospects for the bipartisan effort to shore up insurance markets. A California court is expected to consider on Monday a request by Democratic attorneys general to keep the subsidies flowing until a legal challenge to Trump’s decision is resolved. If the funding is not restored when 2018 enrollment opens on Nov.ember 1, many consumers will see premium rates that are on average 20 percent higher than they would have been otherwise. Even before Trump’s decision on the subsidies, the Congressional Budget Office said the Republican president’s policies to roll back Obamacare enrollment efforts would lead to 4 million fewer people signing up for insurance in 2018 than previously forecast. The CBO still expects 11 million people to sign up for next year - an increase from this year’s enrollment of 10 million. The federal government has already halted a subsidy payment to the insurance industry for October. But leading insurers are not yet sure whether that is the last word. Anthem Inc Chief Executive Officer Joseph Swedish told Reuters he could not yet predict how ending the subsidies or restating them through “potential congressional action” would affect pricing next year. Anthem has submitted premium rates that account for the subsidies being cut. Should the subsidies be restored at any time after Nov. 1, insurers may be able to revert to the lower monthly premium rates, or provide rebates for consumers. “A midyear change in premiums would be highly unusual, but this would be the right thing to do,” said Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, a Utah-based health plan and hospital chain. “Intermountain Healthcare would pursue this.” Washington state’s insurance regulator said it would allow insurers to change rates as soon as practical - even the next month - if lawmakers reinstate the funding, an approach backed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. But that could run up against federal government objections. The Affordable Care Act does not allow for changes to premium rates after they have been finalized, an official for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. At the same time, the administration is working to approve higher rates in several states that did not take into account Trump’s cut in subsidies for 2018. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-21 09:44:12
A U.S. appeals court on Friday prevented an illegal immigrant teenager detained by the government from immediately obtaining an abortion, although it left open the possibility she could undergo the procedure within days. The decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit panel gave the government until Oct. 31 to approve a sponsor, who could help the 17-year-old obtain the procedure without the government’s assistance. If the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) signed off on the sponsor, she “will be lawfully able, if she chooses, to obtain an abortion on her own,” the court said. It said the requirement that a sponsor be found did not “unduly burden” the immigrant’s right to an abortion under Supreme Court precedent. The panel was made up of two Republican-appointed judges and one Democratic appointee, Patricia Millett, who wrote the sole dissenting opinion. “What reason does the federal government offer for taking over (her) decision completely and forcing her to continue an unwanted pregnancy that Texas law permits her to terminate? None that remotely qualifies under the Constitution, or that even makes sense,” Millett wrote. The teen, from an unidentified country, is currently detained in Texas and 15 weeks pregnant. She entered the United States without any family in September and was immediately detained by the government and placed in a shelter. A federal judge in Washington this week ruled the abortion procedure could go ahead. But the government obtained a temporary order blocking the decision until the appeals court ruled. The appeals court said that if the teen could not find a sponsor, she could renew her legal claim. She had sought and received a Texas court order to approve the abortion because she is under 18, and had scheduled a sonogram and consultation with a physician, as required by state law. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an arm of the HHS, refused to let her leave the detention center to carry out those steps, however. The Administration for Children and Families, a division of HHS, issued the following statement later on Friday: “For however much time we are given, the Office of Refugee Resettlement and HHS will protect the well-being of this minor and all children and their babies in our facilities, and we will defend human dignity for all in our care.” The American Civil Liberties Union, which has taken up the case, said in a court filing that the Office of Refugee Resettlement revised its procedures in March to mandate that abortions for under-age detainees required office approval. The policy change came weeks after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican who campaigned on promises to clamp down on illegal immigration and seek new restrictions on women’s access to abortions. “Justice is delayed yet again for this courageous and persistent young woman,” said ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri in a statement. “She continues to be held hostage and prevented from getting an abortion because the Trump administration disagrees with her personal decision.” More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-21 09:40:38
U.S. President Trump’s administration has drafted a plan to pause a programme that allows family members join refugees already settled in the United States until they can undergo increased security checks, two sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters. The measure is one of several being considered for refugees, the sources said. The administration also may expand the use of intensive security checks by multiple federal agencies, called “security advisory opinions” (SAO) to apply to women from countries designated as high-risk by the U.S. government. Currently there are usually only mandatory SAOs, as they are called, for men from those countries, the sources said. The administration is also considering expanding the categories of refugees required to be fingerprinted, the sources said. The proposals, if implemented, could significantly slow down refugee admissions and leave refugees who thought they were headed to the United States in perilous situations abroad, say refugee advocates and former officials. David Lapan, a spokesman from the Department of Homeland Security said he could not comment on specific proposals that are still in the review process. A State Department official also declined to comment while the review is underway and a White House spokeswoman said they have no announcements at this time. Republican President Donald Trump came into office in January with a goal of sharply cutting refugee admissions and quickly issued temporary bans on refugees and travelers from several Muslim-majority countries that were challenged in court. A 120-day temporary ban on refugees, put in place to study current procedures, expires on Oct. 24. The sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about the plans before they are announced, said the new measures could be announced at the end of the temporary ban. Trump has said “extreme vetting” of refugees and immigrants and visitors is needed to prevent terrorist attacks. The administration could pause the visa issuing process for “following-to-join” spouses and children of refugees who have already made it to the United States, known as V93 cases, the sources said. In 2015, just 3 percent of the nearly 70,000 refugee arrivals were those types of beneficiaries, according to the Department of Homeland Security. “Reports on the type of vetting measures being considered for our refugee resettlement program are disturbing,” said Hans Van de Weerd, the Vice President of U.S. Programs at the International Rescue Committee. They amount “to a desertion of victims of war and heinous persecution, who have done everything asked of them as they prepare to arrive to the US,” he said. Refugees currently undergo differing levels of security checks when applying for admission to the United States in a process that can take 18-24 months. “When you put in additional security checks you can basically halt the system,” said Robert Carey, the former director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under former President Barack Obama, a Democrat. “Every check is only good for a finite period of time and they expire and the whole process has to start all over again,” he said, adding that the level of scrutiny is higher for refugees than most any other visa applicant to the United States. Trump also lowered the maximum number of refugees to be allowed into the United States in 2017 to 50,000 from the 110,000 originally set by Obama. The 2018 level has been set at 45,000, the lowest number in decades. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-21 09:26:23
U.S. President Donald Trump is considering nominating Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell and Stanford University economist John Taylor for the central bank’s top two jobs, in an apparent bid to reassure markets and appease conservatives hungry for change. Under that scenario, either Powell or Taylor would take the reins from Fed Chair Janet Yellen when her term expires in early February, and the other would fill the vice chair position left vacant when Stanley Fischer retired this month. “That is something that is under consideration, but he hasn’t ruled out a number of options. He’ll have an announcement on that soon, in the coming days,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Friday. Making Powell, a soft-spoken centrist who has supported Yellen’s gradual approach to raising interest rates, the next Fed chief would provide the continuity in monetary policy that investors crave. The addition of Taylor, who has backed an overhaul of the Fed and embraced a more rigid rule-oriented monetary policy, would be a feather in the cap of conservative Republicans who feel that monetary policy has been too loose under Yellen, who was named as Fed chair by Democratic President Barack Obama and has led the central bank since February 2014. “I think Powell might be the safer pick insofar as we know what we’re getting,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan Chase. “He’s a guy who obviously knows the Fed culture, how the (policy-setting) committee operates, so for some of those soft skills we know he would be effective.” Powell has embraced the Yellen Fed’s monetary policy, keeping the faith that a tighter job market will eventually push wages higher and end a lengthy period of worryingly low inflation. Taylor has spent the last two decades refining and advocating wider use of a rule that lays out where interest rates ought to be, given certain conditions of inflation and the broader economy. His rule implies that rates should be higher than they are now. Yellen, speaking at an economic conference in Washington on Friday evening, mounted a strong defense of the tools the Fed has used to fight the sharp economic downturn triggered by the financial crisis and said there was a risk of another crisis in which those “unconventional policies” may be needed again. Yellen, who Trump has indicated could still be named to another term as Fed chair, was not asked about the Fed job and did not offer any comment on the selection process.Although Taylor is highly regarded within the Fed, his rule-based rate-setting position has spurred criticism that he would handcuff U.S. monetary policy. Taylor pushed back at a meeting at the Boston Fed on Saturday, saying he favored a flexible implementation of policy rules and did not want to tie the Fed’s hands or suggest that he was motivated by a distrust of policymakers. “I think that’s completely incorrect,” he said. “I trust policymakers; (rules) are an effort to make policy better.” Some analysts suggest that fears that Taylor would bring an inflexible monetary policy with him to the Fed, as some Republicans in Congress hope, are likely exaggerated. “There is some scope for disappointment if people think putting Taylor in will just lead to mechanical-based policy,” Feroli said. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, speaking with reporters on Friday, seemed to agree. “Even if you pick a rule, the rule itself would need to be modified given the structure of the economy,” she said. “But I do think being systematic, looking at the kinds of information we look at systematically over time, articulating our strategy for policy and being less discretionary is a good idea.” At the same time, there are concerns that the combination of Powell and Taylor atop the world’s most powerful central bank could send a confusing signal to markets. It is unclear whether Trump, who has criticized Yellen’s stewardship but also said on several occasions that he preferred rates to stay low, wants to dramatically alter the Fed’s direction. Although he appears to be tilting to Powell and Taylor, in addition to Yellen the Republican president has interviewed his top economic adviser Gary Cohn and former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh for the Fed chief position. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2017-10-19 09:47:18
Spain's central government has said it will move to halt Catalonia's autonomy after the regional leader failed to withdraw a bid for independence. In a statement on Spain's government website Thursday morning, Madrid said that the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont had refused to comply with a request to confirm whether the region had declared independence. Consequently, it said it would "continue with the procedures provided for in Article 155 of the constitution to restore legality in the self-government of Catalonia." Meaning, the government is set to meet Saturday to propose measures to strip Catalonia of some powers and officially trigger Article 155 of the Constitution. Puigdemont was given until 10 a.m. local time Thursday (4 a.m. ET) to withdraw the declaration of independence he made — albeit ambiguously — last week. Before the deadline passed Puigdemont said the regional parliament could vote on a formal declaration of independence from Spain if no talks were held between Catalonia and Madrid. He again failed to clarify whether the region had declared independence. Equivocal response Puigdemont refused to clarify his government's intentions at an earlier deadline on Monday, at which point the Spanish government gave him one last chance to retract his equivocal response. With no last-minute change of heart, Rajoy has said he will invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — its "nuclear option" that would allow Madrid to take control of the region, following approval from the Spanish Senate. The effects of Article 155 are not likely to be felt for several days due to it requiring approval from the upper house of parliament. The unprecedented triggering of Article 155 is a constitutional crisis for Spain, however, and is likely to spook financial markets. There could also be more social unrest in the wealthy northeastern region. Crisis a long-time coming The current political crisis facing Catalonia and Spain has been long-coming. There has been a strong sense of separatism and regional identity in Catalonia, a wealthy region in the northeast of Spain, for decades. There have also been several unrecognized and unofficial referenda on independence in recent years. The latest vote took place October 1 — 90 percent of 2.26 million regional voters opted for independence. Turnout was low at around 43 percent, however, and thousands of Catalans also took to the streets to protest against independence. Puigdemont caused confusion following the vote by appearing to declare independence and then immediately suspend it, calling for dialogue with Spain, a request so far denied. His request for the European Union to mediate in the dispute has also fallen on deaf ears with the EU supporting the Rajoy government and saying it would not recognize an independent Catalonia. More»