Sunday news round-up: May 18th-24th

Top Story: Republic of Ireland says “yes” to equal marriage: The Republic of Ireland has become the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by a popular vote. Voters headed to the polls on Friday and early exit polls suggested a sure win for the “Yes” campaign. Final results show that over 1,200,000 people voted to legalize equal marriage, with just over 700,000 voting against. Commentators say this is a remarkable results for a country that has languished under puritanical interpretations of religion for decades. In the same referendum package, Irish voters overwhelmingly rejected the initiative to lower the eligibility age for the Presidency to 21. Northern Ireland is now the only place in the British Isles that does not allow same-sex marriage.

Dominant parties drained in Spanish regional elections: Although Spain’s governing party, People’s Party, has secured the most votes in this year’s regional and local elections, its grip on parts of Spain appears to be at an end, due to the pervasive lack of transparency, the state of the Spanish economy, and the controversial gagging law. Left-wing party Podemos and the Ciudadanos Party both made gains in the election, with Podemos-supported Ada Colau becoming the Mayor of Barcelona. Colau is an anti-eviction activist who has campaigned on behalf of those languishing under unfair debt burdens.

China reduces carbon emissions to UK levels: Unlike most Western nations, China’s enormous carbon output affects its local environment almost immediately, with some urban areas like Beijing and Shenyang being subject to toxic waves of smog. While mainland China attempts to rectify environmental damage, elsewhere, the nation’s island-building initiative in the South China sea is having devastating effects on the coral reef.

Netanyahu suspends West Bank bus segregation proposal: Just hours after Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon approved a proposal which would segregate buses in the occupied West Bank, Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu has halted the plan. Thousands of Palestinians are forced to work in Israel, with buses being the main means of transportation. Under the segregation plan, Palestinians entering Israel would be required to return to the West Bank using the same checkpoint, and be refused access to buses being used by Israelis. Despite Netanyahu halting the plan, Ya’alon insists it will go ahead.

David Cameron announces plan to steal illegal immigrants’ wages: British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to seize wages earned by those who do not have the right to work in the UK, in order to make the country less attractive to foreign workers. The PM announced in a recent speech that immigration authorities would be given the power to cross-reference bank accounts with people who are living in the UK but do not have the right to work, and seize the contents of the bank account if the funds had been obtained by illegal work.

French PM rejects migrant crisis initiative: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has rejected EU proposals to grant asylum seeker status to 20,000 migrants fleeing their home countries, it has emerged. Speaking at the French-Italian border, Valls called for an equal distribution of all “genuine” asylum seekers but bemoaned the fact that 75% of seekers are resettled in North-Western Europe. British Home Secretary Theresa May rejected the same initiative last week for similar reasons, and called for the forced deportation of Mediterranean migrants who enter the EU by sea.

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