The 10 most important things in the world right now

A woman walks in severe air pollution from coal burning in Harbin, China. (Photo: Tao Zhang/Getty Images)

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

1. North Korea’s Foreign Minister said US President Donald Trump has ‘lit the wick of war’. Speaking with Russian media, Ri Yong Ho said the US will pay with a “a hail of fire” and that North Korea has “inexhaustible power”.

2. The Spanish Prime Minister has given Catalonia’s leader five days to make a clearer announcement on independence. Mariano Rajoy delivered a speech on Wednesday where he accused Catalonia’s Carles Puigdemont of creating confusion by signing a symbolic declaration of independence while also announcing its suspension to allow for talks with Spain. Rajoy has warned that, if independence is announced, the Spanish government could invoke Article 155 of Spain’s constitution and take over direct rule of the region. Spain will also be celebrating its National Day on October 12.

3. UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the nation’s economy is being affected by the uncertainty of the Brexit process. Hammond says there’s evidence that businesses and consumers are delaying investment and consumption decisions until more progress is made with Brexit negotiations. Hammond also brought up one likely scenario of a “no deal” Brexit — there may be no air traffic between the UK and EU on March 29, 2019.

4. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered police and the military to pull out of the nation’s war on drugs. The memorandum said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will be the “sole agency” responsible for drug operations, which echoed a similar announcement in January. The move comes after a teenager was killed by police, causing international uproar. More than 3,900 Filipinos have been killed during the 15-month crackdown.

5. Iraqi government and paramilitary forces are “preparing a major attack” in the Kurdish region. Iraq is seen to be cracking down on the semi-autonomous region in the wake of an independence referendum where Kurds overwhelmingly voted for statehood.

6. Sensitive data about Australian military planes and ships have been stolen from a defence subcontractor. An Australian intelligence employee told a security conference on Wednesday that “a significant amount of data was stolen”. The information contained commercially sensitive – but not classified — data on on military planes and navy vessels. The person or group responsible is not yet known.

7. The US airforce dropped 751 bombs on Afghanistan in September, up 50% from August. Trump unveiled a new strategy for Afghanistan in August and has now overseen the highest monthly bomb total in seven years.

8. The Chinese government might be looking to get directly involved in the country’s biggest tech companies. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese internet regulators have looked at buying 1% stakes, with a role in corporate decisions, of Weibo, Tencent and an Alibaba subsidiary.

9. Hurricane Ophelia is headed towards the northeast coast of Spain. The storm, upgraded to hurricane status on Wednesday evening, at this stage is expected to stay offshore, although its path could change in coming days. By Monday, it could hit the Irish coast as an extra-tropical storm.

10. The President of Turkmenistan has gifted Russian President Vladimir Putin a puppy. The alabai dog was a belated gift for Putin’s 65th birthday on the weekend and came during talks on the sideline of a summit of ex-Sovet states in Sochi, Russia. Putin is a “self-proclaimed dog lover” and has received rare breeds from Japan and Bulgaria in the past.

And finally…

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