(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

Spain sets clock ticking on Catalan independence row

Spain gave Catalonia’s separatist leader until next week to clarify whether he intends to push ahead with independence, warning that Madrid would take control of the region if it insisted on breaking away.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to do everything in his power to prevent Catalan secession following a banned referendum in the region, which remains deeply divided over independence.

He held an emergency Cabinet meeting after Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont announced on Tuesday that he had accepted the mandate for “Catalonia to become an independent state.”

Rajoy told lawmakers in Madrid he was giving Puigdemont until Monday to decide if he really wanted to take the path of independence. “It is very important that Puigdemont clarify for the rest of Spaniards if he declared independence yesterday or not,” he said.

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Donald Trump denies seeking nearly tenfold increase in US nuclear arsenal

US President Donald Trump denied a report from NBC News that he told his national security advisers in July he wanted to increase the country’s nuclear arsenal by nearly tenfold, saying he argued for its modernisation.

NBC News said the President called for the increase after he was shown a chart indicating the stockpile of US nuclear weapons had slid from a high of 32,000 in the 1960s. Trump said he wanted to have that same number now, NBC reported.

Speaking to reporters at the White House during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said the report was not true.

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North Korea says Donald Trump has ‘lit the wick of war’

US President Donald Trump has “lit the wick of war” with North Korea and his country will be made to pay with “a hail of fire”, a Russian news agency quoted North Korea’s foreign minister as saying on Wednesday.

Tensions between North Korea and the United States have risen in recent weeks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

North Korea has test-fired several missiles and conducted what it said was a test explosion of a hydrogen bomb as it advances toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

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Indonesian bishop accused of having mistress resigns

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of an Indonesian bishop who had been accused by his own priests of having a mistress and skimming US$124,000 (S$168,000) from Church coffers.

Ruteng bishop Hubertus Leteng will be replaced temporarily by Sylvester San, the Bali-based Bishop of Denpasar, pending a new appointment, the Vatican said in an appointments update that did not enter into details of the case.

A total of 69 priests were reported to have resigned in June in protest at Leteng’s conduct, prompting a Vatican probe of allegations he took US$94,000 from the Indonesian bishops’ conference and US$30,000 from his own diocese in unregistered transactions.

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Cara Delevingne says Harvey Weinstein tried to make her kiss another woman

Model and actress Cara Delevingne  accused disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of propositioning her and attempting to kiss her after a meeting about an upcoming film.

In a statement released via her publicist, the 25-year-old  alleged she had initially received an “uncomfortable call” from the producer, during which he questioned her about her sexuality. “He said to me that if I was gay or decided to be with a woman especially in public, that I’d never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood,” Delevingne said.

At a later meeting, Delevingne alleges another woman was in his hotel room and Weinstein asked them to kiss – before she tried to defuse the situation by asking if he knew she could sing and auditioning for him. “After singing, I said again that I had to leave. He walked me to the door and stood in front of it and tried to kiss me on the lips. I stopped him and managed to get out of the room,” she said.

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