While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 22

Thousands rally in Barcelona against the imprisonment of Catalan pro-independent leaders, Oct 21, 2017
Thousands rally in Barcelona against the imprisonment of Catalan pro-independent leaders, Oct 21, 2017.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Huge crowds protest as Spain moves to sack Catalan government

Hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded Barcelona's streets as Spain took drastic measures to stop Catalonia from breaking away, announcing plans to dismiss the region's separatist government and call fresh elections.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his regional executive - who sparked Spain's worst political crisis in decades by holding a banned independence referendum - will be stripped of their jobs and their ministries taken over under measures laid out by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Barcelona police said 450,000 people had joined a protest in the regional capital, many of them chanting the words "freedom" and "independence" and waving Catalonia's yellow, red and blue separatist flag.

Madrid could take direct control over Catalonia's police force and replace its public media chiefs, with Rajoy saying he had no other choice, faced with a grave threat to Spain's national unity. Elections for the semi-autonomous region must be called within six months, he added.

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Populist billionaire Andrej Babis scores big Czech election win, seeks partners to rule

With voters upset over traditional parties and orders from Brussels, billionaire populist Andrej Babis - dubbed the “Czech Trump” - clinched victory in the Czech Republic’s election, while eurosceptics and an anti-Islam group backed by France’s National Front made strong gains.

State election officials citing results from 99.9 per cent of polling stations said Babis’ anti-corruption and anti-euro ANO (Yes) movement won with 29.7 per cent support, followed by the eurosceptic right-wing ODS party on 11.3 per cent. Turnout was at 60 per cent.

Despite the country’s economic success, analysts say many Czechs who are heavily in debt or working long hours for low wages feel they have been left behind and are turning to populist, eurosceptic and far-right anti-EU parties to vent their ire.

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Titanic victim's letter sells for record $226,000

A personal letter found on the body of a man killed in the sinking of the Titanic sold at auction for £126,000 (S$226,000), a record price for correspondence from the doomed liner.

The letter is one of the last known to have survived the sinking and still carries stains from its time in the Atlantic.

Written by first-class passenger Alexander Oskar Holverson on embossed Titanic "on-board" stationary, the letter to his mother describes his impressions of the palatial ship, praising the food and music.

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Football: Man United slip against Huddersfield lets Aguero send Man City five points clear

Manchester United fell to a shock 2-1 defeat at promoted Huddersfield Town as Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring Manchester City moved five points clear at the Premier League summit.

Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre scored at the John Smith’s Stadium to give Huddersfield a first win over United since 1952 and condemn Jose Mourinho’s side to their first loss of the campaign.

City took full advantage of United’s slip by beating Burnley 3-0, with Sergio Aguero equalling Eric Brook’s all-time club scoring record of 177 goals.

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Football: Boufal solo effort for Southampton stuns West Brom

Sofiane Boufal ran almost the length of the pitch to score a stunning 85th-minute goal at the St Mary's Stadium as Southampton beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the Premier League on Saturday (Oct 21).

The Moroccan midfielder picked up the ball just outside his own area and picked his way through Albion's midfield at pace before transferring the ball from one foot to the other and beating the diving Ben Foster in the opposition's goal.

The win was only Southampton's second in 11 home games and was fitting reward after they threatened from the start with Ryan Bertrand's free kick deflected on to the bar and Shane Long, who is without a goal in 26 games for club and country, going close.

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