Politics |Briefing

Briefing: Riot police raid Catalan voting booths, Trump says North Korean diplomacy is “waste of time”

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  • Spanish riot police have fired rubber bullets, confiscated ballots and arrested voters in a violent clash with Catalonians during a disputed referendum on independence. The action, ordered by the Spanish government in Madrid, injured at least 460 civilians and 11 police. The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has issued a statement demanding “an immediate end to police charges against the defenseless population”. The Catalan independence referendum, declared illegal by Spain’s central government, has thrown the country into its worst constitutional crisis in decades and deepened a centuries-old rift between Madrid and Barcelona. The Health Ministry of Catalonia said 465 people required medical assistance, and that two of them were in a serious condition.

  • U.S. President Donald Trump said the efforts of his Secretary of State trying to find a diplomatic solution to a worsening North Korean crisis was “wasting his time.” “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump wrote on Twitter. The comment comes after Tillerson told reporters that the United States was directly communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs. Tillerson hoped to ease tensions with North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un, after a series of missile tests. Critics point to the tweets as an unprecedented undermining of the Secretary of State.

What we’re reading

  • A new documentary shows how disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield still manages to raise big money, even in the wake of a world-famous scandal. This BuzzFeed piece looks at the new film about the man behind the anti-vaccination movement. Wakefield’s discredited study into the link between autism and the MMR vaccine still reverberates throughout the world. “To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one,” says one supporter during the documentary.
  • Journalist Ginny Dougary reveals the tensions that arise behind profiles of celebrities and the credibility of magazines that publish them. She writes in the Guardian of how BBC star Clare Balding was granted “copy approval”, or the ability to see the piece for Saga magazine before publication and then make amendments, all without the knowledge of the journalist. The editor of the magazine said the arrangement was of no consequence. However, Dougary quotes a friend when she says: “It does matter because it erodes the integrity of our public print and means the public stop believing anything they read. Also, just because someone is famous and powerful, they should not be able to bully a publication into writing what they want printed.”

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New Zealand
Charles Anderson is a New Zealand-based editor with WikiTribune. His work has appeared in the International New York Times, the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald and National Geographic Traveller.

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19 January 2018

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