October’s News Bytes

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The people of Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain, voted for independence on Oct. 1 in a referendum and on Oct. 27, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, declared the region independent from Spain. The Spanish government has since taken over the Catalan government by dismissing its leaders and placing the region’s independent police force under the control of Spain’s interior ministry.

Sixty women have come forward with allegations that Harvey Weinstein, a film producer and former studio executive, sexually harassed them. This has led to a recognition of the problem of nonconsensual sexual advancements in the film industry, as well as in society. As a result, the hashtag #MeToo began trending on social media as women shared their stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted. New York police are looking to build a case to arrest Weinstein after an actress said he sexually harassed her in 2010. On Oct. 30, actor Anthony Rapp came forward to accuse Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting him in 1986 when he was 14 years old and when Spacey was 26. Spacey responded to Rapp’s accusation by tweeting that he did not remember the encounter “[b]ut if I did behave then as [Rapp] describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior […].” Netflix announced that it has suspended production for season 6 of “House of Cards,” the web television series that stars Spacey.

President Donald Trump has formally declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. Although the directive does little in the way of directing funds to combat the issue, Trump’s aids promise that the president will introduce new requests for monetary aid. Meanwhile, Trump has indicated his plan will entail an ad campaign persuading kids not to do drugs, as well as intensifying efforts to block shipments of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, from China into the U.S. Many Democrats are disappointed that the opioid crisis was not declared a national emergency, which would have immediately allocated funds toward dealing with the crisis, as opposed to needing additional appeals to gain funds.

On Oct. 30, Robert Mueller’s investigation team publicly issued the first indictments in the investigation into Trump’s campaign’s connections to the Russian government. Former chair of Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort, and his deputy Rick Gates have been indicted on twelve charges, including money laundering, tax evasion and foreign lobbying crimes. Earlier in October, former foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to contacting Russian government officials to establish meetings between them and members of the campaign. The Trump administration has addressed the issue of possible collusion by stating that these crimes occurred prior to any involvement in the campaign and by minimizing the significance of Papadopoulos within the campaign.

On October 31 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, Sayfullo Saipov drove a pickup truck into a bike lane and later smashed the truck into a school bus. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared this event, which killed eight people and injured 11 more, a terrorist attack and afterward the president condoned the use of capital punishment upon Saipov.