September 8, 2017 Last Updated 9:22 am

Major earthquake hits Mexico, as hurricanes continue to ravage the Caribbean

Morning Brief: Regulators, critics continue to ask Facebook for more information on its advertising practices, including asking the company to produce examples of the election-related ads it accepted last year from Russia

The southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca were hit this morning with an 8.1 earthquake, the strongest recorded quake in the country in 100 years. As of this morning it is difficult to assess the damage as the quake occurred in the evening, but so far six deaths have been reported, and over 1 million residents lost power temporarily.

Meanwhile, this weekend will bring the landfall of Hurricane Irma as forecasts of the storm’s track have now converged into a more consistent pattern. Landfall on the Florida coast is expected at around 2am Sunday morning. But the bans of rain associated with the storm should arrive early Saturday. The storm right now looks like a direct hit on the state and remnants of the storm may continue to swing north and could end up over Tennessee next week.

Incredibly, right behind Irma is Jose, which yesterday was upgraded to a Category 3 Category 4 hurricane. (Updated when the National Hurricane Center said Jose had grown even stronger and is now a “4”.)


The Washington Post, Andrew deGrandpre and Lindsey Bever:

The tiny islands ravaged by Irma are in trouble as Hurricane Jose looms

rma somehow spared Antigua, which was open for business by Thursday morning. But on Barbuda, the smaller of the two islands with an area of 62 square miles, the ferocious and historic Category 5 hurricane had turned the typically gentle Caribbean winds into violent gusts that decimated Codrington, its sole town.

“Barbuda right now is literally a rubble,” Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.

Browne said nearly all of the government and personal property on Barbuda was damaged — including the hospital and the airport, which he said had its roof completely blown away. At least one person, a young child, was killed on the island — one of numerous deaths reported across the Caribbean in Irma’s horrific aftermath.

Now, these victims face yet another threat — a second hurricane, Jose, which appears to be coming for the same islands that are trying to dig out from Irma’s devastation.

Miami Herald, Jenny Staletovich:

Models starting to agree: South Florida is going to get a direct hit from Irma

Sometime Saturday, the storm should begin making a critical turn to the north. But the turn will likely be too late to spare Florida from punishing hurricane winds that extend 70 miles from Irma’s center.

Overnight, the hurricane weakened slightly, with sustained winds dropping to 150 mph Friday morning. Fluctuations in intensity are expected, but Irma is still projected to hit as a dangerous Cat 4 storm, something not seen in South Florida since Andrew, a far smaller hurricane, slammed south Dade 25 years ago last month as a Cat 5.

In Spain, the crisis being created with the approval of the October 1 referendum in Catalonia is growing. The Constitutional Court has already ruled the vote illegal, but plans continue to hold the vote, and yesterday the Catalan parliament approved a second bill that set plans for the secession.

One Man DemonstrationThe crisis, though hardly on the radar of most US journalists, is hard to overstate. The Catalan separatist position is that democracy demands that Catalonia has the right to vote on independence; the Spanish position is that democracy demands that the vote cannot take place as it denies the right of those outside Catalonia the right to vote on the matter.

On my Twitter timeline that is no agreement, and no compromise: one is either for independence of Catalonia, or against it. But, ironically, should a vote take place on October 1, the matter may be decided by Catalans who firmly believe both that a vote should take place, but that it is best to vote “No”.

The Spain Report:

Catalan Parliament Passes Bill To Secede From Spain At 1 A.M., After Second Marathon Day In Chamber

71 separatist MPs in the Catalan Parliament, from the governing Junts Pel Sí (“Together For Yes”) coalition and the radical-left CUP, voted to pass a bill that outlines plans for secession from Spain at 12:50 a.m. on Friday morning.

There were 10 abstentions from the Podemos coalition. Opposition groups (Popular Party, Socialist Party, Ciudadanos) walked out when the Speaker announced the vote, after two hours of debate and several more of procedural matters in the chamber.

Jordi Orobitg, speaking for Junts Pel Sí during the debate, said that thanks to the bill—officially titled the “Legal Transition & Foundational Law Of the [Catalan] Republic”—Catalans could now know what to expect.

“Catalonia will be what Catalans want it to be”, he said.

El País, Miquel Noguer and Berta Tena:

Catalan mayors given deadline to decide whether to help with referendum

Spain’s Constitutional Court is to officially remind the 948 mayors of Catalan cities, towns and villages of their duty to refrain from helping organize the independence referendum that is scheduled for October 1. Anyone who fails to observe this ban could face legal action and even criminal charges.

But the Catalan government has already sent letters urging mayors to cooperate by ceding public space to set up ballot boxes for the poll.

With just three weeks to go before a vote that is pitting the central government of the Popular Party (PP) against Catalonia’s ruling coalition Junts pel Sí, officials in Barcelona are racing to ensure that voters across the region will have somewhere to cast their ballot.

If Facebook thought it could avoid trouble by first denying, then sheepishly admitting that it accepted election advertising from Russian agents last year, it was badly mistaken. Criticism of the social network has grown, and combined with European regulators set to rule on is business practices, it may find itself dealing with this issue well into next year.

One thing many journalists and politicians are calling for is the release of examples of the ads to confirm that they may have been part of a scheme orchestrated by the Kremlin to assist the Donald Trump campaign

CNN, Seth Fiegerman and Dylan Byers:

Facebook’s Russia problem: What we know

Facebook has yet another major controversy from its impact on the 2016 election, and this one cuts to the heart of how it makes money…

…The accounts are said to have been created by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company or “troll farm” known for engaging in propaganda campaigns.

Facebook says it found “roughly” 3,000 ads connected to 470 fake accounts and Facebook Pages. It was a mix of traditional ads and sponsored articles focused on divisive subjects for U.S. voters, including immigration, gun rights and LGBT issues.

(Facebook also found another 2,200 ads “that might have originated in Russia” but had “very weak signals of a connection and not associated with any known organized effort.”)

Reuters, Foo Yun Chee:

German competition watchdog to announce Facebook findings by year-end

The initial findings of Germany’s investigation of U.S. social network company Facebook over possible market abuse will be announced by the end of the year, the country’s cartel office said on Friday.

The competition watchdog’s investigation, which kicked off in March last year, was triggered by concerns that users were not properly informed about how Facebook used personal data and that this could violate Germany’s data protection laws…

…Companies can be fined up to 10 percent of their annual turnover by the German competition regulator if found guilty of abusing a dominant market position, though it has never imposed the maximum penalty.

The magazine printing market is consolidating still further as Chicago-based LSC Communications announced yesterday that it had acquired Publishers Press. Anyone who has launched a new magazine, especially one with a smaller run, has dealt with Publishers Press and likely had an excellent experience with the company (at least, that was my experience).

But Publishers Press was a small company compared to LSC Communications, which already controls nearly half the printing of magazines in the US.

For those publishers who often decry the dominance of the major digital newsstand platforms such as Apple, Google and Amazon, they should remind themselves that in print — when looking at printing, newsstand distribution and mailing — those markets are no more competitive than those in digital.

LSC Communications:

LSC Communications Acquires Publishers Press

CHICAGO, Ill. — September 7, 2017 — LSC Communications announced today that it has acquired Publishers Press, a leading family-owned printing and digital solutions provider based in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky from Publishers Printing Company, LLC and certain of its affiliates. Publishers Press’ capabilities include web-offset printing, prepress and distribution services for magazine and retail brands.

Dave Cardona, LSC’s President of Magazine Sales, commented, “With Publishers Press’ strong industry reputation, expertise in publication printing and high volumes in distribution and mailing services, this acquisition will be extremely beneficial for our clients.”

Publishers Press has evolved over five generations in the industry, and is known for printing the first magazine produced with a complete computer-to-plate process. With nearly 1,200 employees in Kentucky, the Publishers Printing Business of Publishers Press is ranked among the largest publication printers in North America.

Photo: A one-man demonstration by Yuri Rapoport, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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