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Curated top stories
- Catalonia goes to the polls on Thursday for a pivotal regional election that could reignite the crisis in Spain following a controversial independence referendum. The Spanish government hopes the vote will strip pro-independence parties of their control of Catalan and end the push to split with Spain.
- No clear winner is in sight, as the country looks poised for a hung parliament, The Guardian reports. But Reuters reports that though separatist unionist parties are running neck-and-neck, a pro-independence majority remains likely.
- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the vote in October with the aim of of returning Catalonia to “normality” after violence broke out between voters and Spanish police in the separatist region on the day of the referendum. Rajoy sacked the previous Catalan government for declaring independence and holding what it said was an illegal referendum.
- Two men were arrested in Melbourne after a vehicle plowed into a crowd of pedestrians, injuring 14 people. Police arrested the driver of the vehicle and are calling the crash on Flinders Street, a busy intersection in the center of the Australian city “a deliberate act,” reports The Guardian.
- Attackers have increasingly turned to vehicles as weapons in incidents around the world over the past two years, which include three vehicle-ramming attacks in London, a truck mowing down people on Bastille Day in Nice and a car attack in Barcelona. (See WikiTribune‘s coverage of vehicle attacks from earlier this year.)
- President Donald Trump is threatening to cut off U.S. funding to countries that refuse to back his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. An upcoming resolution at the United Nations would declare that Jerusalem’s status could only be changed by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, who also claim the capital as their own. Trump decried nations that “take our money and then vote against us,” backing Ambassador Nikki Haley who said earlier that the U.S. would be “taking names” of countries that didn’t support the president. The vote, expected Thursday, will come in a rare emergency special session of the 193-member UN General Assembly.
- A commission negotiating the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union has set a deadline: full Brexit in three years. The European Commission says the transition should conclude by the last day of 2020, which coincides with the end of the EU’s seven-year budget cycle. The announcement is the first official confirmation of the deadline. British Prime Minister Theresa May had formally sought a two-year transition (The Independent).
- Lawmakers in Uganda passed legislation easing the way for President Yoweri Museveni, already one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, to rule well past his 75th birthday. Parliament eliminated an age cutoff in the Constitution that would have prevented Museveni from running again in 2021. Critics of the move, including lawmakers suspended for protesting the bill, said it improperly allows the 73-year-old Museveni to become president for life.
- The nine-month battle to free Mosul of the Islamic State group killed up to 11,000 Iraqi civilians, a casualty rate nearly 10 times higher than what has been previously reported, according to an Associated Press investigation. The AP used independent databases from NGOs to determine the death count, which it says has not been acknowledged by the U.S.-led coalition. It said most of the victims of airstrikes, artillery fire or mortar rounds were simply described as “crushed” in health ministry reports.
What we’re reading
- American writer Mara Hvistendahl provides a fascinating look at China’s use of big data to track and rank the country’s 1.4 billion people in “Inside China’s Vast New Experiment in Social Ranking,” her deep dive on modern Chinese life published by Wired. The piece combines her personal experience with trying to climb the Zhima Credit ladder with exhaustive research and keen insights into how smart phone apps expertly tap into both the Chinese competitive spirit and their willingness to give up any hint of a private life. – Jodie DeJonge
- It was 39 years since Kauka had last walked up the steep dirt road to her house in the Timor-Leste highlands, a lifetime since she was taken by an Indonesian soldier on her way home from school. This piece by The Guardian traces her steps back to her mother and traverses a lifetime of wondering as one of the youngest nations in the world came to grips with its identity. — Charles Anderson
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