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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont signs an independence declaration after a parliamentary session Tuesday in Barcelona, Spain.

  • Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks at the Spanish parliament in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Rajoy said he rejected offers of mediation in the Catalonia crisis, and called for respect of Spanish law while addressing Spain's parliament a day after Catalan officials signed what they called a declaration of independence from Spain. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:00 am

Nation/World

Spain pressuring separatists

News Services

Spanish authorities gave Catalonia's separatist leader five days to explain whether his ambiguous statement on secession was a formal declaration of independence and warned Wednesday that his answer dictated whether they would apply never-used constitutional powers to curtail the region's autonomy.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont announced Tuesday that he was using the victory in a banned Oct. 1 referendum to proceed with a declaration of Catalan independence but proposed freezing its implementation for a few weeks to allow for dialogue and mediation with the government in Madrid.

Poll: Most dislike Trump on N. Korea

North Korea's nuclear weapons development is spooking most Americans, and two-thirds of them say President Donald Trump's war of words with the isolated nation's leader is making the situation worse. Less than 1 in 10 thinks Trump's comments are making it better.

Those are the findings of a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The poll found that 65 percent of Americans think Trump's comments have made the situation between the U.S. and North Korea worse.

Freedom of press disgusts president

President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at the independence of the news media, declaring that it is “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”

The president was reacting to an NBC News report that he pushed senior aides for a major expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Earlier in the day, Trump on Twitter dismissed that report as “pure fiction” and raised the possibility that he would support stripping the broadcast licenses of news networks that report what he believes to be inaccurate information.

The network itself doesn't need a license to operate, but individual stations do.

VA drops effort to end ethics law

The Department of Veterans Affairs abruptly dropped plans Wednesday to suspend an ethics law barring employees from receiving benefits from for-profit colleges. The move comes after criticism from government watchdogs who warned of financial entanglements with private companies vying for millions in GI Bill tuition.

In a statement to The Associated Press, the VA said it had received “constructive comments” on the Trump administration plan and as a result would delay action.

Workers killed by Amtrak on drugs

Two Amtrak maintenance workers were using opioids or cocaine when they were struck and killed south of Philadelphia last year by a passenger train whose engineer had marijuana in his system, federal officials said.

The revelation and the nationwide opioid epidemic led House Democrats on Tuesday to ask Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to require transportation industry workers – truck drivers, bus drivers and railroad operators – to be tested for four prescription opioids.

Transportation workers are governed by testing protocols established in 1989 to check for substances such as marijuana, cocaine and phencyclidine.

Chicago repeals hated drink tax

The Chicago-area's penny-per-ounce tax on soda and sweetened drinks was repealed Wednesday after a monthslong conflict that included a court battle and millions of dollars' worth of television ads on both sides.

The Cook County Board voted 15-2 to end the tax starting Dec. 1. The vote came just more than two months after the tax took effect Aug. 2.

The tax prompted lawsuits, a warning from a federal agency that Illinois could lose millions in funding for food stamp benefits, and complaints of plummeting sales from store owners.

No custody for rapist after all

A spokesman says a Michigan judge wasn't aware of a sex offender's criminal background when he granted the man joint legal custody of a child born to a woman who said the man raped her when she was 12.

Michigan Supreme Court spokesman John Nevin told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Sanilac County Judge Gregory Ross didn't know 27-year-old Christopher Mirasolo had two criminal sexual conduct convictions, including one concerning the woman.

Nevin says the judge put the order on hold Tuesday after learning of Mirasolo's criminal past.

Weinstein wife's shift spares brand

Designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig are two fashion swans worthy of the red carpet gowns they create for A-list stars. So how will their dramatic luxury brand Marchesa fare in the onslaught of sexual abuse claims against Chapman's disgraced husband, Harvey Weinstein?

Chapman took a brand-saving leap as allegations against Weinstein mounted, breaking her silence when she told People on Tuesday she was leaving the film mogul she married in 2007. The divorce revelation, following Weinstein's remarks last week that she was standing by her man, came as some on social media called for a Marchesa boycott.