It’s a showdown. Spain is mired in a major constitutional crisis after Catalonia’s parliament on Friday declared independence — a move which compelled the Spanish Senate to approve direct rule over the disobedient region. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the central government is firing Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet, as well as dissolving the regional parliament and calling new elections for Dec. 21. As Spain enters its worst political crisis in decades, many are wondering: What happens next?
The Presidential Daily Brief
“We cannot allow this to continue.” So said President Donald Trump, who yesterday officially pronounced the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. The status lasts 90 days and directs public health officials across the country to use all their resources to stem the crisis, which is estimated to kill 100 people per day. Yet the designation — more measured than a national state of emergency, which the president had originally promised — won’t provide any new funds for the effort, prompting critics like Nancy Pelosi to say, “Show me the money.”
Their seats were taken outback. Five Australian lawmakers, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, have lost their seats as the country’s high court deemed them disqualified for office due to their dual citizenship. Under Australia’s Constitution, citizens of other countries are not eligible to run for Parliament, though some of the targeted politicians had not even realized they held other citizenship rights. Joyce’s ouster erases Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s one-seat majority — but since he’s now renounced his New Zealand citizenship, he’ll likely run again to regain his position.
The rich get richer. Yesterday stocks spiked for three of the globe’s most powerful companies — Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon — after they reported huge quarterly growth. Amazon beat the pack, announcing a 34 percent jump in revenue. Analysts say it’s a sign that the industry is consolidating, with the biggest companies pushing out smaller ones by expanding into new territory, like Amazon’s reported foray into pharmaceutical supplies in some states. With increasing internet usage only fueling the rise of Big Tech, the boom is unlikely to slow anytime soon.
Know This: The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed a budget measure that could allow the GOP to push through tax reform proposals without consulting Democrats. The U.N. has found that Bashar Assad’s forces were responsible for a chemical weapon attack on a Syrian town that killed 87 people. And turnout in yesterday’s Kenyan election rerun was less than 34 percent, though nearly 80 percent of the electorate voted in the original poll this summer.
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“I don’t expect any bombshells, but one never knows.” So said Barbara Perry, the University of Virginia’s director of Presidential Studies, as 2,891 documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy were released by the White House. Hundreds more were delayed six months for security reasons, reportedly at the CIA and FBI’s request, though they must be released by April 26 if the agencies can’t make a strong case for continued secrecy. WikiLeaks has offered $100,000 for the withheld documents — as long as they show wrongdoing.
They’re a day late and a ruble short. Twitter has announced it will no longer feature ads from RT and Sputnik, two major Russian news agencies widely seen as mouthpieces for Kremlin propaganda. Citing the outlets’ interference in the 2016 U.S. election “on behalf of the Russian government,“ the social network also said it’ll donate the nearly $2 million in revenue it received from RT toward research examining civic engagement. Twitter representatives are expected to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week about Moscow’s meddling in the election.
But will she be allowed to drive? Android Sophia, created by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, spoke at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh this week — and was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, the first robot to be given that privilege. Some social media users were annoyed that Sophia wasn’t accompanied by a male companion or wearing an abaya, which women in Saudi Arabia must legally do, though others argued that a robot has no gender. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman says planned Saudi mega city Neom will have more robots than people.
No complaints were filed. But five women say the veteran journalist and co-author of Game Change sexually harassed them during his tenure at ABC. He’s been suspended from his current gig at MSNBC over the “very troubling” allegations. The anonymous women report that Halperin propositioned them for sex and kissed and grabbed them without consent. The latest in a series of powerful men whose alleged past misconduct is now coming to light, Halperin’s already seeing further fallout: HBO has dropped a planned project tied to his upcoming book.
Ten years and you’re out. The New York Yankees announced yesterday they won’t be renewing manager Joe Girardi’s contract after the Astros cut their season short in Game 7 of the ALCS. The former catcher spent 15 years in the majors, winning three World Series in four years with the Yankees. Over his decade managing the team, Girardi guided them to the playoffs six times and to victory in the 2009 World Series. With no obvious replacement candidate, some worry this puts the talented young team’s immediate future in jeopardy.