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From Bikes to Planes To Political Games – This Is World News In Focus

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Spain: On Saturday (Sept. 23), police forces across Spain were told to report directly to the interior ministry in Madrid to block the referendum for independence to be held in Catalonia on 1 October.

In June, the Catalonian government called for a referendum, which would cause the Catalan parliament to declare independence within 48 hours of a favourable majority vote.

But the central government in Madrid, which labeled the referendum an illegal act, is determined to block it with police and court action.  Thousands of state officers will reinforce the state police already based in Catalonia.

In the meantime, Spanish police have been searching newspapers and printing companies, banning political meetings, seizing referendum material and threatening to imprison democratically elected politicians.  Fourteen high-ranking government officials have been arrested as part of the anti-referendum operation.

On Saturday, thousands of students rallied outside the University of Barcelona demanding an end to the government crackdown.

For more we go to France 24 English:

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Business: Europe’s largest airline Ryanair plans to shed some 2,000 flights from its schedule by the end of October due to pilot shortages, according to reports.

Up to 400,000 passengers planning to fly to and from cities including Barcelona, Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid, Milan and Rome will be affected.

CEO Michael O’Leary explained in the airline’s annual general meeting on Thursday (Sept. 21) that the decision to cancel between 40 and 50 flights per day until the end of October was to improve the budget airline’s declining punctuality, which was affected by a loss of pilots.

The plan is likely to cost up to 20 million euros ($23.9 million) in compensation claims and 5 million euros in lost fares, according to Ryanair.

For more we go to the BBC:

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Business: Giant toy store chain Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday (Sept. 18).

CEO Dave Brandon assured customers that its 1,600 Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us stores would carry on operating as usual.

The retail behemoth is being out-competed by the rise of big-box stores like Walmart and e-commerce giants such as Amazon.

The chain – which is carrying a heavy debt of $5 billion – was bought by three private-equity firms, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Bain Capital, as well as the real estate firm Vornado Realty Trust, in 2005 in a leveraged buyout.

As a result of its debt, the retail chain has to pay around $400 million a year in interest costs, draining its resources from investing in the business.

Toys “R” Us was originally started by Charles Lazarus, a World War II veteran, as a single store for baby carriages and cribs in Washington, D.C. in 1948. It soon became a favorite destination for children’s toys.

For more we go to Fox News:

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North Korea: US President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday (Sept. 19).

The US President called North Korea’s autocracy a “band of criminals” and its leader Kim Jong-un a “Rocket Man” on “a suicide mission.”

In the subsequent verbal exchanges, the North Korean leader called Donald Trump a “mentally deranged dotard” on Friday (Sept. 22).  But his reply carried a more sinister menace of taking the “highest level of hardline countermeasure in history” against the US.

North Korea foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho did not elaborate what countermeasure his leader had in mind, but, without giving details, he told reporters that the country might test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean area.

For more we go to Today:

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Lead-In Image (Toys “R” Us Shop) Courtesy of  Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com