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The scene tonight in Barcelona. Photo: Clara Margais/Getty Images

Spain’s supreme court today sentenced 9 Catalan politicians to between 9 and 13 years for their roles in an unauthorized 2017 independence referendum.

The latest: Protestors outraged by the severe sentences for sedition and misuse of public funds filled the streets in cities across the semi-autonomous region and flooded into Barcelona’s airport, causing more than 100 flight cancellations.

  • The trial of 12 separatist leaders, 3 of whom were convicted today of lesser charges, captivated Spain. The verdict comes ahead of a general election next month — the 4th in 4 years.

What’s next: Asked where the independence movement goes from here, Catalonia’s secretary for foreign affairs, Mireia Borrell Porta, says the Catalan government continues to push for dialogue with Madrid, but “right now there’s no one at the other side of the table.”

  • Pedro Sánchez, the center-left prime minister, has been “unable and unwilling to solve this issue," she says. He's distanced himself from the separatists since they helped him gain power.
  • “I think the verdict has shown that Spain is really not a well-functioning democracy,” she argues.

Asked why what she calls a clear "violation of fundamental rights" hasn’t generated backlash from countries across Europe, she says:

“The European Union is a club of states and this is realpolitik. There’s been a lot of pressure from the Spanish government for leaders of other countries to treat this as an internal issue.”

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.