Good morning to you all, Graham Russell bringing you the key news headlines today.
Spain’s decision to impose direct rule on Catalonia could draw the region’s president into unilaterally declaring independence this week as the secessionist battle descended into personal rancour. Regional spokesman Jordi Turull said “doing nothing doesn’t figure in our plans” and rejected fresh elections as a way to break the standoff. Any declaration – which Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has signed but suspended – could pit the regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, against the thousands of Spanish Guardia Civil and national police officers deployed in Catalonia. If Puigdemont holds back, many Catalans – including police and civil servants – may decide not to obey orders from Madrid.
Our foreign affairs columnist, Simon Tisdall, says the battle has become personal. Spain’s “Maybot-style” PM Mariano Rajoy has personally criticised former journalist Puigdemont, who in turn has likened Rajoy to Franco. How this crisis plays out could influence similar struggles across Europe. Case in point: northern Italy, where two wealthy regions voted yesterday for greater autonomy.
Brexit begging bowl? – Theresa May “begged for help”, seemed “tormented” as well as “despondent and discouraged” during her dinner with Jean-Claude Juncker a week ago, a German newspaper has reported. The leak – the content of which is unconfirmed – adds a fresh angle to the failed effort to end the Brexit stalemate. Nick Timothy, May’s former chief of staff, appeared to blame Juncker’s chief, Martin Selmayr, for the leak. Meanwhile, five of the UK’s biggest lobby groups have teamed up to call for a speedy transitional deal that mirrors existing arrangements, citing fears industry will have to make plans to take jobs abroad unless there is more progress.
James Toback – Long-time Hollywood director James Toback has been accused of sexual harassment by 38 women after dozens of them went on the record with allegations of unpleasant personal encounters. A recurring theme was the promise of stardom to newcomers in return for sexual acts. Like Weinstein, rumours have been around for decades. Scott Derrickson, the director of Doctor Strange, wrote: “If there is a Hell, James Toback will be in it.” The 72-year-old denied meeting any of the women, or if he had, it was brief and he had no recollection.
O’Reilly bill – The sexual harassment furore (pre-Weinstein) that played out in the US media could harm the Murdochs’ attempt to take over Sky. Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has said revelations Fox News rewarded presenter Bill O’Reilly with an improved contract after paying £24m in a sexual harassment lawsuit against him showed Sky pursuer 21st Century Fox was an unsuitable owner. “It raises yet more questions about the corporate culture at 21st Century Fox,” Watson said.
Trust me, I’m a GP – A new campaign aimed at staving off the “antibiotic apocalypse” is urging people not to keep asking for antibiotics and to instead trust their doctor’s advice. England’s chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said the drugs were not always needed and the public needed to help the fight to beat superbugs. Public Health England estimates 5,000 people a year are already dying from infections against which antibiotics have become ineffective.
Speaking of doctors … Joining Jodie Whittaker will be three new companions, covering an array of acting experience. Game show veteran Bradley Walsh – a fan of some 50 years – will feature on Doctor Who alongside Hollyoaks regular Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole, who had a role in Star Wars: the Force Awakens.
Lunchtime read: life on the edge in Kiribati
The 33 islands of Kiribati are extremely shallow; the highest point is just two metres above sea level. As the waters steadily rise, villages are moved and sources of fresh water become harder to reach. Infrastructure is creaking and the new government is focusing more on domestic issues than the global threat of climate change. Guardian Australia’s photographer-at-large Mike Bowers returns to the poverty-stricken area after four years to see how its people are suffering.
Lewis Hamilton has beaten Sebastian Vettel into second in the United States Grand Prix to edge closer to a fourth world title. Hamilton has as good as claimed the crown, and needs only to finish fifth in Mexico to seal the win with three races to go.
Meanwhile, a former doctor for the Chinese Olympic team has revealed that more than 10,000 of the country’s athletes were involved in a systematic doping programme across all sports, and that every one of China’s medals in major tournaments in the 1980s and 90s came from performance-enhancing drugs.
In Premier League news, Jürgen Klopp lambasted Liverpool’s hapless defence after a rout that condemned the club to their worst defensive start to a season since 1964-65. While Everton suffered a 5-2 defeat against Arsenal, a defiant Ronald Koeman claimed he was still the man to arrest Everton’s alarming decline.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid has said the housing crisis will be tackled by borrowing to invest in new homes, marking a change from the principles of austerity. He said there was an urgent need to build up to 300,000 homes a year and that there could be an announcement in next month’s budget. And Ireland is seeking to set up Dublin as the ideal home for the European Medical Agency after Brexit. It faces competition from 19 other cities.
The pound is buying $1.319 and €1.121.
A dash of Brexit, a hint of storm and a varied treatment of transgender-related issues sums up most of today’s front pages on the customarily wide range of topics to start the week.
The Guardian focuses on fears of a Brexit-related business exodus, with calls for David Davis to quickly secure a transition deal that keeps everything as it is for now. It carries a picture story on the Nuneaton hostage situation and Spain denying it is trying to stage a coup in Catalonia. The Independent also goes Brexit, carrying campaigner Gina Miller’s calls for MPs to be shown “50 secret Brexit reports” which she believes contain the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit plus the government’s official legal stance on a revocation of Article 50.
The Express is continuing its cherished storm theme, bearing the surprise warning that there will be more storms during winter.
The Mirror carries the story of 50 children a week being sent to see gender reassignment doctors, with one expert saying this represents a “massive increase” and exploring what might be behind the rise. The front page is designed in a remarkably neutral fashion, (and here is the story), leaving readers to decide. The Sun leaves its readers in no doubt how they should feel about the Foreign Office’s request to the UN human rights committee not to exclude transgender people from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “Fury at government drivel” runs the banner, above the headline “Don’t call mums women”. It reports the suggestion has “infuriated feminists, who branded it the latest example of ‘making women unmentionable’”.
The FT goes big with Japan’s prime minister winning a landslide election victory, plus a mere downpager on UK business leaders criticising the state of capitalism today and saying it needs reform.
The Telegraph takes aim at the SNP, saying the NHS in Scotland is in the midst of a £110m bed-blocking crisis caused by the party’s years of local authority cuts. It also features a serene-looking Sir David Attenborough publicising Blue Planet II, Boris Johnson backing Trump on North Korea and minister Rory Stewart saying British Isis fighters should be killed in most cases.
The Mail says police should be catching people smugglers rather than indulging in stunts such as painting their nails and the Times has another bash at “toxic” chanceller Philip Hammond in the lead-up to next month’s budget, saying some of his measures could spark a Tory backbench revolt.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in theguardian by by Graham Russell