The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

Spain cracks down on Catalan independence voters:  Amidst another attempt by Catalans to break away from the Spanish government, police in Barcelona Sunday tried to stop citizens from voting on a referendum that would grant the northeastern region of Spain independence from Madrid.

According to officials cited by the Associated Press, 844 pro-independence protesters and voters in Barcelona and the surrounding area are hurt after being subjected to physical intimidation tactics by riot police, including baton beatings and rubber bullet shootings.

Multiple media outlets are also reporting that Spanish Civil Guard officers have broken into polling stations throughout the region to confiscate ballots and eject individuals attempting to vote.

Merkel re-elected as German chancellor, right-wing nationalist party gains seats Angela Merkela won her fourth term as Germany’s head of state on Sunday, Sept. 24, despite significant losses for her centrist Christian Democratic Union party.

Gaining seats in parliament was the new conservative populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, marking the first time in more than 50 years “far right” premiers will go to Berlin.

Many are attributing rapidly changing immigration patterns to the rise of populist politics in Central and Western Europe, as Germany in particular has admitted over 1 million African and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees since 2015.

With AfD’s rise, Germany’s new coalition government, including the left-wing Greens, will start working on a new immigration policy which may limit new arrivals and more firmly enforce existing laws.

Trump quells Tillerson’s talk of direct negotiations with North Korea:  A day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. is speaking to Pyongyang “directly” about drawing down its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, President Trump tweeted Sunday that America’s chief diplomat is “wasting his time trying to negotiate” with Kim Jong-un.

Speaking with reporters off-camera in China on Saturday, Tillerson said the State Department has “three channels” to communicate with North Korean leadership.

Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also added in a Saturday statement: “Despite assurances that the United States is not interested in promoting the collapse of the current regime, pursuing regime change, accelerating reunification of the peninsula or mobilizing forces north of the DMZ, North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization.”

Saudi Arabian government grants driving privileges to women The Saudi foreign ministry announced Tuesday that the House of Saud has issued a royal decree setting up a committee charged with lifting a nationwide ban on female drivers by mid-2018.

While female activists have pushed for this particular reform from both within and outside of Saudi Arabia, newly crowned prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who serves as the country’s first deputy prime minister, is spearheading a campaign to modernize Saudi Arabia in the coming decades.

“We are trying to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” Salman said. “In order to change women’s participation in the workforce we need them to be able to drive to work.”

Salman also told CNN that once the new law goes into effect Saudi females will not be required to obtain permission from their father, husband or any other male authority figure to learn how to drive.


[BBC News] [Reuters] [ABC News] [CNN]