The Daily Cut: Barcelona protest | Cuban diplomats | Ecuador vice president | Nobel Prize in physics | US ambassador to Russia
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The Daily Cut: Barcelona protest | Cuban diplomats | Ecuador vice president | Nobel Prize in physics | US ambassador to Russia

October 3, 2017

Around 300,000 in Barcelona protest Sunday’s independence referendum violence

Demonstrators in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday reportedly protested the violent actions of police during Catalonia’s independence referendum on Sunday. The city’s police said there were about 300,000 demonstrators. Protests also took place elsewhere in Catalonia on Tuesday and trade unions and pro-independence groups called for a general strike.

BBC reported there were more than 50 roadblocks around the city, and Barcelona’s metro ran at 25 percent capacity during rush hour. Tourist attractions, like La Sagrada Familia, and a number of small businesses were closed. BBC reported the city’s airport and taxis were operating normally.

For more information on Sunday’s referendum, read our coverage here.

(Sources: BBC, Reuters)

15 Cuban diplomats asked to leave embassy in Washington

The U.S. Department of State asked Cuba to withdraw 15 diplomats from its embassy in Washington on Tuesday. They have seven days to leave, according to BBC. U.S. officials said the request was made to ensure there were similar numbers of diplomats at each country’s embassies; last Friday, the U.S. recalled 60 percent of about 50 staff members from its embassy in Havana. The withdrawal happened due to concerns over a number of unexplained health issues experienced by the Havana embassy staff.

Since late 2016, a number of U.S. embassy staff in Havana have reported hearing loss, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping. Twenty-one diplomats and family members have been affected.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement the U.S. was investigating the cause of the health issues and would maintain diplomatic ties with Cuba. Cuba has denied involvement in the incidents.

On Friday, the State Department also issued a travel warning, saying U.S. citizens may be at risk if they travel to Cuba.

(Sources: The Associated Press, BBC)

Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas arrested in bribe investigation

On Monday, Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas was arrested and detained on orders from the Supreme Court. Glas is under investigation for allegedly accepting money from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in return for construction contracts. Before his arrest, Glas posted a video on Twitter saying he was innocent and his arrest was illegal.

Glas, 48, is alleged to have led a network of politicians and government officials that, according to Odebrecht, received $33 million from the company between 2013 and 2017.

(Sources: The Associated Press, Miami Herald)

3 US scientists win Nobel Prize in physics for work on gravitational waves

On Tuesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne have won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics for their work on gravitational waves and building an observatory to measure them. The prize comes with a 9 million Swedish Krona cash reward (approximately $1.1 million). Half of the prize money will go to Weiss, and the other half will be shared between Barish and Thorne.

Gravitational waves, first theorized by Albert Einstein in 1916, have been described as “ripples in the fabric of space-time,” and they happen when black holes merge. Weiss, 85, and Thorne, 77, proposed building a facility to measure these waves in the 1980s. Barish joined them in the 1990s. They built a Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) that can detect gravitational waves with laser beams. In 2015, they successfully detected waves from the collision and merging of two black holes, each about 30 times the mass of the sun.

(Sources: Reuters, NPR)

Jon Huntsman officially begins term as new US ambassador to Russia

Jon Huntsman Jr. officially began his role as the U.S. ambassador to Russia on Tuesday when he, along with other new ambassadors, presented his credentials to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Huntsman, whose nomination was confirmed by the Senate last week, arrived in Moscow on Monday. He took over the role from John Tefft.

Huntsman, 57, attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor’s degree in international politics in 1987. Prior to that, he worked as a White House staff assistant in 1983 and then as state director in Utah for the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1984. In 1992, he was appointed ambassador to Singapore by then President George H.W. Bush. From 1993 to 2001, he worked at his father’s Huntsman Corporation, a chemicals manufacturer. In 2005, he returned to politics when he was elected governor of Utah, a position he held until 2009. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the U.S. ambassador to China during Barack Obama’s presidency.

In May 2011, Huntsman announced his plans to run for president of the U.S. as a Republican candidate. In January 2012, he withdrew from the race and endorsed Mitt Romney instead.

(Sources: CBS, The Associated Press, TASS, The New York Times)