Catalonia holds regional elections +++ Car drives into crowds in Australia +++ Trump hails US tax reforms
News | 21 December 2017
Catalonia holds regional elections
The people of Catalonia are voting in an election to choose a new parliament in a bid to end weeks of political crisis in the Spanish region. Experts say turn-out could reach record levels. The Spanish central government in Madrid dissolved the previous administration in Catalonia after it organized an illegal referendum in October and declared independence. All indications are that the result will be very close. The Catalan writer Jordi Cantavella supports independence but he says it won’t happen overnight and people need to be patient: “We just need to work, to continue with our lives, to vote, to be democratic, (and) never, never, never violent. I respect Spanish people. I hope they respect me.”
Car drives into crowds in Australia
Australian police have arrested two men after a car was driven into a crowd in the center of Melbourne, injuring over a dozen people. Some of those injured, including a small child, are in a critical condition. Police say the detained driver is an Australian of Afghan descent – with a history of drug use and mental health problems. The second man arrested was found to have a bag containing knives and was seen filming the incident.
Trump hails US tax reforms
President Trump has been celebrating the passage of his controversial tax reform bill – the biggest shake-up of the U.S. tax system in three decades. The new law was passed in the U.S. Congress by Republicans, who hold majorities in both houses. The bill slashes taxes for corporations, and Republicans say it will boost economic growth - helping millions of people. But Democrats, who all voted against the bill, argue that it will mainly benefit the rich. Trump says the tax cuts are part of a bigger plan for the country: “I guess it’s very simple when you think you haven’t heard this expression (sic): “We… are making… America… great again!” You haven’t heard that, have you?” (Applause and cheers)
Warning shots as North Korean soldier defects
There’s been firing by troops from both sides of the heavily fortified border zone that separates North and South Korea, after a soldier from the North defected. It’s the second such defection from the North in recent weeks. Officials in Seoul say the low-ranking soldier appeared in front of a South Korean military post in dense fog this morning. Roh Jae-cheon is the spokesman for South Korea's joint chiefs of staff: “A North Korean soldier defected across the mid-western frontline to the South Korean side general outpost. The army has safely secured the defector and the relevant authorities will investigate the reasons and procedures of the defection.”
Mainly overcast, with rain and showers in northern and eastern Austria. It should stay dry in the south. Highs today are ranging from -2C to +6C.
- Paul Brennan