Things to Know in the World for Sept. 21

A citizen protests Wednesday in Barcelona. Thousands took to the streets to support the Catalan effort to hold a vote on whether to split from Spain. Police arrested a dozen regional officials.   AP
A citizen protests Wednesday in Barcelona. Thousands took to the streets to support the Catalan effort to hold a vote on whether to split from Spain. Police arrested a dozen regional officials. AP
Published Sept. 20, 2017


Clash over Catalan vote heats up

Thousands of people supporting a contested referendum to split Catalonia from Spain took to Barcelona's streets amid an intensifying government crackdown on the independence vote that included the arrests of a dozen regional officials Wednesday and the seizure of 10 million ballot papers. The arrests — the first involving Catalan officials since the vote campaign began in earnest in 2011 — prompted the regional government and some of its supporters to say casting a ballot was as much about dignity as whether to break away from Spain. Regional Catalan officials so far have vowed to ignore a Constitutional Court order to suspend the Oct. 1 referendum while judges assess its legality. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned them of "greater harm" if they don't drop the bid, calling it a "totalitarian act." Catalan nationalists argue self-determination is an inalienable right. Rajoy has backing from the main Spanish opposition parties. Spanish Interior Ministry officials would not identify the arrested regional officials. The Catalan regional government confirmed among them were Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs, and Lluis Salvado, secretary of taxation. Jove is the No. 2 to the region's vice president and economy chief, Oriol Junqueras.


High court nixed election result because it couldn't see data

Kenya's Supreme Court said Wednesday it nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election largely because the electoral commission refused to allow an investigation of its computerized system that transmitted results. The judges said the court thus had no option but to agree with the claim by opposition leader Raila Odinga that the computerized data of the August presidential elections had been interfered with. Outside the court, demonstrators protested for and against the Supreme Court's ruling. The court annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election earlier this month, saying there were irregularities and illegalities. It made the decision in response to Odinga's petition challenging the official results that Kenyatta won with 54 percent of the vote. The electoral commission has set Oct. 17 as the date for a fresh election. The Supreme Court said its order to view the computerized data was "a golden opportunity" for the electoral commission to present evidence to debunk Odinga's claim. The judgement also said the electoral commission also failed to implement verification measures required by law and the constitution to ensure the election was credible.

United Nations

Iranian president calls Trump's U.N. comments 'ignorant, absurd'

Iran's president warned Wednesday that his country will "respond decisively" to any violation of the agreement that reins in its nuclear program and called President Donald Trump's "ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric" about Iran unfit for the United Nations. Hassan Rouhani told the U.N. General Assembly: "It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics." He added: "The world will have lost a great opportunity, but such unfortunate behavior will never impede Iran's course of progress and advancement." Rouhani's speech came a day after Trump, in his address to the assembly, called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal "an embarrassment" to the United States. And Trump hinted his administration, which has accused Tehran of aiding terrorism in the Middle East, could soon declare Iran out of compliance with the deal. That could unravel it. Meanwhile on Wednesday, Trump declared he had reached a verdict on the deal's future, setting the stage for a contentious meeting of the nuclear accord's parties. Pressed for details, Trump replied: "I'll let you know."

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Pelting rain, relocation add to woes for Rohingya Muslims

Weary and uncertain, they carried whatever they could on their backs, trudging through monsoon rains and enduring relocations and extortion attempts as they struggle to find small patches of land that can be their own, at least for a moment. Groups of Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar were on the move again Tuesday and Wednesday, forced by the rains to salvage what was left of their shanties and move toward drier ground in hopes of some relief — if the mudslides don't come next. Several Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar are flooded from three days of unrelenting downpours."We made a shelter here and now it's washed away, and I don't know what to do now," said Mohammad Isaq, 50. "I haven't eaten properly in three days. I'm too weak to take all our belongings to another place." The initial arrivals in the most recent exodus from violence in Myanmar settled on whatever patch of land they could find, building shelters of bamboo sticks and plastic sheets. But as their numbers soared to more than 420,000 in a matter of weeks, the local government has started moving them to newly allocated refugee camp areas. Many refused to move, terrified of being without shelter at all. But the rains washed away many shanties or made them uninhabitable. So they're moving again. — tbt* wires