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EU demands more rights progress from Morocco

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GRANADA, Spain — EU president Herman Van Rompuy called on Morocco during a summit Sunday to make progress in respecting human rights, including in the disputed Western Sahara region.

Van Rompuy said during the EU-Morocco summit that the European Union supported UN efforts “for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution” in the area, where some activists demand independence.

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“We also wish for improvements to the situation of human rights and their defenders on this issue,” he said in Spain’s southern city of Granada.

He appeared to be referring mainly to the case of Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar who held a 32-day hunger strike last year at an airport on Spain’s Canary Islands after Moroccan authorities denied her entry.

Morocco has also been accused by Human Rights Watch of cracking down on people who question the monarchy and Islam.

Van Rompuy said at a press conference at the end of the summit, the first between the EU bloc and the Arab country, that he had sent a “clear and unequivocal message” to Morocco about this demand.

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Led by Haidar, several hundred Polisario backers held a counter-summit in Granada.

Demonstrators criticised the European Union’s 2008 offer to Morocco of “advanced status” relations, which makes the country a privileged partner of the 27-nation bloc particularly on trade.

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Morocco in 1975 annexed the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, sparking a war between its forces and Algerian-backed Polisario guerrillas.

The two sides agreed to a ceasefire in 1991 but the UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara’s future have since made no headway with Rabat pledging widespread autonomy for the region, but ruling out independence.

The Polisario Front wants a referendum on self-determination, with independence as one of the options.

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Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas el Fassi told the same press conference that his country’s territorial integrity could not be “destroyed because of one or two cases”.

He also claimed that 85 percent of people in Western Sahara valued their Moroccan nationality.

The leader criticised the role of Algeria, which supports the Polisario Front, and urged the country’s European partners not to practise double standards.

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He accused the Algerian military of “constantly violating human rights” in refugee camps for people from Western Sahara in Tindouf, southern Algeria, where he said there was no freedom of speech or movement.

The Moroccan side also pressed the EU to quickly ratify an agreement negotiated in December to free up agriculture trade between Europe and Morocco, which has some farmers in France and Spain up in arms.

“Given the importance of the new agriculture agreement… Morocco … regrets the delay in its implementation,” King Mohammed VI said in a written speech delivered at the summit in his absence.

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European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters after the summit that the pact’s ratification hinged on “a favourable vote by the European Parliament” which sets its own agenda.

Some 2,000 Andalusian farmers protested on Sunday in Granada against the agreement, which calls for total customs levies on Moroccan farm products to be cut by 55 percent.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Angry Minnesota farmer bashes ‘insulting’ Trump comments that ‘we’re great patriots’ during his trade war

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President Donald Trump has insulted at least one Minnesota farmer by his claim that farmers are "great patriots" who want him to continue his trade fight against China.

"This wound is self-inflicted, by our president," said Gary Wertish, who is the Minnesota Farm Bureau president. "We definitely agreed with it in the beginning. But it doesn’t appear that there’s a plan B. Some of the callous comments come, especially from the president, you know, that farmers are 'winning,' we’re 'great patriots,' that’s very insulting. That’s coming from someone who never has faced the challenges of a family farmer. I go into the bank and tell the lender I can’t make the payment because we lost our market? The banker is going to tell me you don’t have to make your payment because you’re a patriot."

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MSNBC pundit nails Trump for only attacking Black voices on Fox News

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Democratic strategist Joel Payne called out President Donald Trump Sunday for his attacks on Fox News when he was leaving New Jersey.

Before Trump landed in Marine One at Morristown, New Jersey, he tweeted an attack on Juan Williams, the only Black pundit on the Fox News show "The Five."

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1163167660764532736

Trump briefly addressed Williams, before he told members of the press that he found it appalling Fox News hired a friend of Hillary Clinton's, whose name he couldn't even remember.

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Missouri official choose Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ for swearing-in ceremony instead of ‘The Bible’

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A Missouri county official is being both celebrated and attacked after a decision to forgo The Bible for her swearing-in ceremony and opted for a copy of Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.

The Friendly Atheist at Patheos captured the story, posting a photo of St. Louis City Councilmember Kelli Dunaway's children holding a copy of the book while she took her oath of office.

This was the scene last week at the STLCO government center. Democrats took back control of the council and @DunawayKelli was sworn in on a copy of “Oh the Places you’ll go” with her children❤️ so proud to be part of #TeamKelli pic.twitter.com/iJ1dxfZ1Zg

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