September 25, 2017 Last Updated 8:16 am

Countdown to independence vote in Catalunya, and Repeal and Replace effort in the Senate

Morning Brief: News from the print publishing industry grows increasingly grim as major publishers look to exit print for the promise of greater revenue and profits elsewhere

This week will be decisive for the future of the ACA, Spain, and possibly some along the US east coast. Two of these involves votes — the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, and the vote on Sunday for Catalan independence — while the other involves whether Hurricane Maria will cause damage as it swings by the Carolinas.

Catalunya flags

We are now exactly a week away from the date set for Catalans to vote in a referendum with just simple question on the ballot: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”

The referendum has been deemed illegal by the courts, and the prime minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, has done much to try and prevent the vote, including having the police seize ballots, jailing Catalan officials, and threatening more arrests. Still, the clock ticks down to the vote and Catalan officials pledge it will happen.

Spain’s position may be solid according to the law, but few countries have ever been created without the resistance of another. This is how revolutions work — and though no one wants to use that word, this is really what this is about. Spain, therefore, has a choice, enforce its views through more oppression, or let the vote occur and hope it can still prevent the break-up of the country. But every move it has made so far has led more Catalans to believe independence may be the best course, and other European countries to believe that Spain is going too far to prevent the vote.

El País, Live Blog:

The Attorney General says that the detention of Puigdemont is an option that “is open”

The State Attorney General, José Manuel Maza, said Monday that the prosecutor’s office has not considered it “opportune” to demand the arrest of the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, for a crime of embezzlement, although he has admitted that it is “open” to the possibility…

…The deputy of Citizens in the Parlament Lorena Roldán has warned President Carles Puigdemont Monday that “he does not have a card of impunity” and, if he breaches the law, he will have to face the legal consequences. He also said that the October 1 referendum suspended by the Constitutional is only an “alibi” for a unilateral declaration of independence.

Catalan News:

Spain’s Guardia Civil enter local city government buildings in Catalonia for the first time

Spain’s Guardia Civil officers entered several local city halls on Monday morning looking for referendum documents. Officers delivered court order to 31 local councils asking for information about preparations for referendum. They went to towns in the Lleida region, in western and northern Catalonia, including Oliana, Tàrrega, Alpicat and Almacelles.

This is the first time that Spanish agents have entered city government buildings since the Spanish prosecutor ordered an investigation into the more than 750 Catalan mayors that have publicly showed their support for the independence referendum.



Catalonia is not the only place looking to vote on independence. Today, Iraqi Kurds are going to the polls to vote on the question of independence. But in the case of the Kurds, this vote in more similar to the earlier vote in Catalonia on independence in that this vote is non-binding. The Sunday vote in Catalonia, on the other hand, is seen as decisive.

CBS News, Reuters:

Iraqi Kurds vote in independence referendum

Polls opened in Iraq’s Kurdish region and disputed territories on Monday as Iraqi Kurds cast ballots on whether to support independence from Baghdad in a historic but non-binding vote.

Millions are expected to vote across the three provinces that make up the Kurdish autonomous region, as well as residents in disputed territories – areas claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.



Will there be a vote this week on the plan put forward by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy to replace the Affordable Care Act? More and more it appears that the Senate will once again fail to approve a plan.

One sign that the plan is failing to garner the necessary votes came yesterday when Sen. Ted Cruz signaled that he might vote No. Many saw this as a sign that the votes were not there, and Cruz was being Cruz, lining up on the winning side.

If Majority Leader McConnell fails this time it really will be the end of efforts to repeal and replace the ACA as any new effort would have to get 60 votes.

One of those who has said he would No on the Graham-Cassidy bill is Arizona Senator John McCain, who told 60 Minutes last night that his doctors have given him grim news concerning his condition.

The Hill, Alexander Bolton:

GOP facing likely failure on ObamaCare repeal

Senate Republicans have yet to throw in the towel, but it seems more than likely their nine-month odyssey will be unsuccessful, with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) opposed to the measure and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) leaning strongly against it.

Republicans can lose just two votes and still muscle the bill through the Senate in the face of unanimous Democratic opposition. They also face a Sept. 30 deadline. After this week, they will lose the ability to use special budgetary rules on ObamaCare repeal that prevent a Democratic filibuster.

The Arizona Republic, Dan Nowicki:

Sen. John McCain: Doctors gave me ‘poor prognosis’ on cancer fight

They said that it’s very serious, that the prognosis is very, very serious,” the 81-year-old McCain, R-Ariz., said during the segment titled “The Fighter.”

“Some say 3 percent, some say 14 percent. You know, it’s a very poor prognosis,” he continued. “So I just said, ‘I understand. Now we’re gonna do what we can, get the best doctors we can find and do the best we can.’ And, at the same time, celebrate, with gratitude, a life well-lived.”



The talk of a revival for print has died away. Instead, the mood in the industry — both newspapers and magazines is very grim.

The reason is simple: earnings and revenue are down sharply at many publishing companies, and some are either looking to sell completely (like Rodale and Wenner) or else are trimming their portfolios aggressively (such as Time Inc.)

But for all the talk about print’s decline, it should be remembered that publishing companies have been move away from print and towards other revenue lines for quite some time now. Both trade magazines that cover the magazine industry in the US have moved more towards events, with one exiting print completely.

The New York Times, Sydney Ember and Michael M. Grynbaum:

The Not-So-Glossy Future of Magazines

Suddenly, it seemed, longstanding predictions about the collapse of magazines had come to pass.

Magazines have sputtered for years, their monopoly on readers and advertising erased by Facebook, Google and more nimble online competitors. But editors and executives said the abrupt churn in the senior leadership ranks signaled that the romance of the business was now yielding to financial realities.

As publishers grasp for new revenue streams, a ‘‘try-anything’’ approach has taken hold. Time Inc. has a new streaming TV show, “Paws & Claws,” that features viral videos of animals. Hearst started a magazine with the online rental service Airbnb. Increasingly, the longtime core of the business — the print product — is an afterthought, overshadowed by investments in live events, podcasts, video, and partnerships with outside brands.

Jackson County Newspapers, Editorial:

Who cares if local newspapers fold? You should

We are a nation plagued with an entertainment-driven culture. The story that appears to be the most sensational will command the largest audience. Important stories and features can be lost because they don’t have good enough video or art to excite the audience.And while sensationalism might be good for ratings, it does little to affect change in our local communities.

Enter the local media.

…It is the local newsrooms that provide the investigative and feature writing that is inherently vital to the best needs of our communities. Often times, the local council meeting is far from sensational. But we’re there to inform our fellow citizens that a property tax increase is coming or that local sports programs may be cut.

Photo Above: Catalunya flags by Oscar Miño Peralta, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Home Page Photo: Emilio Morenatti/AP

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