Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 22nd 2015 Contents A19
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Spain's two biggest
left-wing parties ruled
out supporting a
government led by the
ruling People's Party
Rajoy's efforts to build
a coalition to stay in
power after a tight
Parties began stak-
ing out positions for
what are expected to
be weeks of complex
talks on forming a gov-
ernment after Rajoy s
centre-right PP won
most votes in Sunday s
election but fell well
short of the 176 seats
needed for a parlia-
Podemos ("We can")
and the liberal Ciu-
entered the main-
stream for the first
time, ending domina-
tion by the PP and
back to soon after dic-
tator Francisco Franco s
death in 1975.
The two parties won
scores of seats in par-
liament, tapping wide-
spread anger over a
nomic slump and
in the European
Union s fifth-largest
The close vote,
which put the Social-
ists in second place
ahead of Podemos and
Ciudadanos, makes it
extremely difficult for
any party to win
majority support, rais-
ing the possibility of a
deadlock that could
force new elections in
the new year.
Russia is tightening trade sanctions
on Ukraine in retaliation for Kiev s sanc-
tions and its EU free trade deal.
Russia will apply new tariffs to Ukrain-
ian exports from January 1, when the free
trade deal takes effect. Earlier Russia
announced a ban on imported Ukrainian
food---also from January 1---because
Ukraine blacklisted many Russian banks,
defence firms and airlines, in line with
Russia s annexation of Crimea in 2014
triggered wide-ranging EU sanctions.
The EU has decided to extend the sanc-
tions for another six months because the
Minsk peace deal, aimed at settling the
eastern Ukraine conflict, will not be ful-
filled as was envisaged by the end of this
month. The sanctions were ratcheted up
after pro-Russian separatists seized a
large swathe of eastern Ukraine and
declared independence from Kiev in 2014.
Russia has sent heavy weapons and troops
to help them, Western leaders say - some-
thing that Moscow denies.
The US and some other Western coun-
tries also imposed sanctions on Russia.
Slovenians have rejected same-sex marriage
by a large margin in a referendum.
Almost two-thirds of voters said no to a bill that
defined marriage as a union between two consenting
Parliament passed a law giving marriage equality
in March, but opponents challenged it before any
gay couples could marry.
Conservatives were especially opposed to allowing
same-sex couples to adopt children.
"This result presents a victory for our children,"
said Ales Primc from the group Children Are At
The result demonstrates a cultural split in the
EU, where western member states are granting
greater rights to gay people but newer central and
eastern member states are resisting such moves.
Slovenia s conservatives were backed by Pope
Francis, who called on the mainly Catholic country
to "back the family as the structural reference point
for the life of society."
But MPs from the United Left party, which ini-
tially proposed the change in the law, said the result
was a temporary setback.
"It s not over yet. Sooner or later the law will
be accepted," said United Left MP Violeta Tomic.
Slovenia is considered to be among the more
liberal former communist countries but gay rights
remain a contentious issue there.
In 2012, voters rejected granting more rights to
gay couples in a referendum. (AP)
NEW YORK---Cheap is the new chic for holiday
Jana Montero, who has in the past bought
loved ones iPods and tablets for Christmas, has
changed her attitude about gift giving: This
holiday season, she s grabbing candle sets and
serving dishes that cost under $30 to give to
family and friends.
Montero, who lives in New York and is saving
to buy a home with her husband, said: "We
want to make sure we re conscious of what
we re spending."
More holiday shoppers are expected to be like
Montero this holiday season in the latest twist
in a theme that has played out since the reces-
sion. For nearly a decade, shoppers have been
more cautious and practical about their spend-
ing, doing more bargain shopping and hunting
But recently, shoppers have taken that practice
a step further.
They re becoming more open to buying gifts
that in the past might have been considered
downright cheap. So, they re not just looking
for big discounts on extravagant, expensive
designer and brand name goods; they re starting
out with the intention of getting less expensive
items that they might not have considered buy-
ing as gifts in the past. (AP)
brated for a little more than two
minutes what appeared to be
an unprecedented feat for this
beauty pageant-obsessed South
American nation: back-to-back
Miss Universe titles.
From President Juan Manuel
Santos to Miss Colombia s rel-
atives in the Caribbean port city
of Barranquilla, millions of
Colombians who tuned in for
Sunday s pageant screamed joy-
ously when it was announced
that Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo
had won this year s crown.
But the celebrating turned to
shouts of fraud seconds later as
host Steve Harvey announced
on live television from Las Vegas
that he had mistakenly read
from the cue card. The contest-
ant from the Philippines was the
new Miss Universe, not Miss
Colombia. "They took away her
crown," and "the shortest reign
in history" was the sentiment
expressed almost universally on
Twitter, where the hashtag
"Respect the Crown" was the
country s top trending topic.
"The entire country, and our
family, was overcome with emo-
tion," Alvaro Arevalo, the
Colombian runner-up s cousin,
told Blu Radio in an interview
Monday. "The truth is we re a
The sudden reversal even
caught by the president by sur-
prise, forcing him to reverse his
initial celebratory tweet.
"I was watching Miss Universe
with my family. We started a
huge celebration when they said
Colombia had won the Miss
Universe title for the second
straight year," Santos told Radio
Nacional on Monday.
"They put the crown on her
head. The photos are there to
prove it. To me, as a Colombian,
she is still Miss Universe," he
Colombians are obsessed with
beauty and pageants are a major
draw across social classes. But
unlike neighbouring Venezuela,
which has won seven Miss Uni-
verse titles, Colombians are
accustomed to falling short of
the crown, with five runner-up
appearances since 1992 includ-
ing Sunday s.
Before last year s crowning of
Paulina Vega, only one other
Colombian had won the Miss
Universe title, in 1958.
For her part, Gutierrez in her
initial remarks seemed saddened
but resigned to her fate.
"Everything happens for a
reason," she said, wiping back
a tear, in a backstage video post-
ed on the organiser s website in
which she also thanked the
judges who voted for her. (AP)
look for blame
Consumers buying less
expensive gifts this year
Slovenia rejects gay
marriage in referendum
Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, left, stands by as Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vegas transfers the crown
to winner Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, right, during the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant in Las
Vegas, Nevada, Sunday. Miss Colombia was originally announced as the winner but the host Steve Harvey
said he made a mistake when reading the card. REUTERS PHOTO
Russia hits Ukraine with trade sanctions over EU deal
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