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World in Brief Friday September 18 2020

NIGERIA: Kaduna state Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai has introduced “drastic penalties” for rapists following a surge in reported cases during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The maximum penalty for raping someone over 14 has been increased from 21 years’ imprisonment to life behind bars and surgical castration, while for the rape of children under that age it has been increased from life to death.

AUSTRIA: Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Koestinger has rejected US President Donald Trump’s claim that Austrians “live in the forest.”.
Mr Trump said this week: “You look at countries, Austria ... They live in the forest, they’re considered forest cities. So many of them. And they don’t have fires like [the recent wildfires in California]. And they have more explosive trees.”
In an article in the Independent, Ms Koestringer said that Austrians “don’t live in the forest” and added: “To clarify: No, we don’t have any exploding trees.”

SPAIN: Catalan President Quim Torra said his fellow separatists must not “cede one inch in our political convictions and goals” as Madrid’s Supreme Court heard the closing arguments on whether to bar him from holding public office.
Mr Torra displayed a banner reading Free Political Prisoners and Exiles on his office building during an election campaign in violation of rules against using public buildings for electoral purposes. He was referring to Catalan politicians jailed or driven abroad for holding an unconstitutional independence referendum.

FRANCE: The CGT union said yesterday that Japan-based company Bridgestone should return state aid to the public coffers after it said it would shut a tyre factory in Bethune and lay off 900 workers.
Trade unionists protested outside the factory yesterday, setting off flares. They were addressed by French Communist Party leader Fabien Roussel, who denounced the “brutal, unfair, inhuman” decision, and by Communist Party senator Cathy Apourceau-Poly, who said the closure was an indictment of the French government’s lack of an industrial strategy.

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