NORMA REACHES HURRICANE STRENGTH IN PACIFIC NEAR MEXICO – NHC
MEXICO CITY: Tropical Storm Norma surged to hurricane strength late Friday off Mexico’s Pacific coast which was pounded just hours earlier by Tropical Storm Max. Norma looked likely to churn toward the Los Cabos resort area, according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami. At 0300 GMT, Norma was 270 miles ( 435 km) south of Cabo San Lucas, packing top sustained winds of 75 mph ( 120 km/ h). It was expected to strengthen in coming days the NHC said. After barreling into Mexico’s Pacific coast as a Category One hurricane, Max was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday. That storm, still packing maximum sustained winds of 110 kilometers ( 70 miles) per hour, was moving inland over southern Mexico at approximately 13 kilometers per hour, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
US ACTOR HARRY DEAN STANTON DEAD AT 91
LOS ANGELES: Harry Dean Stanton, whose grizzled looks and acclaimed acting talent earned him a prolific Hollywood career playing mainly supporting roles, died at a Los Angeles hospital on Friday. He was 91 years old. He “passed away from natural causes” at Cedars-Sinai medical center, according to his agent John S Kelly. Despite over 150 television and film appearances spanning six decades, including roles in the Alien, The Green Mile, Pretty in Pink and The Avengers, Stanton was not a household name— though his weathered, drooping face is instantly recognizable. One of his rare leading roles came in the 1984 road movie Paris, Texas where his turn as a father suffering from amnesia helped director Wim Wenders win the 1984 Palme D’Or. A close friend of Hollywood luminaries Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn and Marlon Brando, the drinker and smoker worked with David Lynch on TV’s Twin Peaks. Stanton’s more recent work includes playing polygamist patriarch Roman Grant in TV’s Big Love and a voice role in animated feature Rango with Johnny Depp. Born July 14, 1926 in Kentucky, Stanton was the eldest of three children of a hairdressing mother and a tobacco- growing Baptist.
SPAIN TIGHTENS CONTROL OVER CATALAN SPENDING AS TENSIONS SOAR
MADRID: Spain’s central government launched its latest salvo against Catalonia on Friday, tightening control over regional spending and brushing aside a last-ditch separatist demand for dialogue to allow a banned referendum. “The rule of law works. Maybe some have not noticed, and it would be best if they noticed, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told a meeting of his conservative Popular Party in Barcelona. “The state will keep acting, because that is its duty,” he added to applause from the audience, which gave him a standing ovation at the end of his speech. State authorities have piled pressure on Catalonia, threatening to arrest mayors if they facilitate the referendum and ordering police to seize any item that could be used in the vote in a region sharply divided over whether it wants independence. Madrid went a step further Friday by tightening control over Catalonia’s spending to prevent the region from using money to organize the referendum. Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said Spain’s central government would take over the payments of essential services and public workers’ salaries in the region to make sure the cash went just to them.
ICELAND PM CALLS FOR SNAP ELECTION AFTER GOVERNMENT FALLS
REYKJAVIK: Iceland’s prime minister on Friday called for a second snap election in less than a year after a party quit the coalition government because he hid his father’s involvement in seeking a clean record for a convicted pedophile. Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson said he preferred the election to be held in November, just over a year after the last snap vote which was triggered by the Panama Papers scandal. “It came as a considerable disappointment that we seem to be in the same place as after the general elections in 2016,” Benediktsson told a news conference in Reykjavik. The government collapsed on Friday after Bright Future left the three-party, center-right coalition, stripping it of its one-seat parliamentary majority. “This situation was uncalled for but we will have an election... to let the voters decide,” Benediktsson said. “It is impossible to put together a strong majority government which is what Iceland needs now,” Benediktsson later told Agence France-Presse.