The 10 most important things in the world right now

One of the installations at Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. (Photo: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

Hello! Here’s what’s happening on Thursday.

1. The heads of Spain and Catalonia are both facing hard deadlines on Thursday. If Catalonia does not retract its claim of independence – although Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said it was on hold – by 10am then Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will impose direct rule on the region for the first time in the country’s history.

2. US President Donald Trump’s decision to roll-back Obamacare subsidies is already affecting healthcare prices. Without government subsidies to offset affordable plans for poorer Americans, a health insurer in North Carolina has announced its 2018 premiums will increase by 14.1%.

3. The EU President has dismissed UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s €20 billion ($AU30 billion) Brexit offer as “peanuts”. May made the self-described “generous offer” for the nation’s Brexit divorce bill on Tuesday, which the EU deemed “not realistic”.

4. May is travelling to Brussels on Thursday and will announce plans for EU citizens living in the UK. As part of a two day summit for EU leaders, May is expected to announce that EU citizens currently living legally in the UK will be able to stay after Brexit.

5. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks set to win this Sunday’s general election. A new poll indicated Abe’s coalition should win two-thirds of the lower house seats, the same number it held before calling an election against a new party established by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

6. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will defeat any independence attempts by Taiwan. The comments were part of Xi’s opening 3.5-hours address to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party that outlines the nation’s five-year plans.

7. A clear up is underway in Raqqa after ISIS was driven out. US-backed forces have begun clearing roads and removing land mines while the UN says it’s ready to enter the city, although it could take years before civilians can return.

8. The world’s first floating wind farm has opened off the coast of Scotland. The project, called Hywind Scotland, involves five wind turbines which float over deep ocean water while loosely tethered to the sea floor and should generate enough power for 20,000 homes.

9. A Californian city will become the first in the US to launch a basic income. Stockton’s 27-year-old Mayor, Michael Tubbs, is launching a three-year experiment to give a select group pf residents US$500 ($AU640) a month. The plan should begin in August 2018.

10. Vanuatu has denied it will accept Bitcoin as payment for its citizenship program. The South Pacific island was responding to reports that its $200,000 citizenship could be purchased with Bitcoin.

And finally…

14 beautiful but brutal images from this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.

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