October 4, 2017 Last Updated 8:21 am

Slow motion disasters in Puerto Rico, Spain; Amazon and Apple get dinged for back taxes by EC

Morning Brief: While the president throws paper towels to Puerto Ricans recovering from Hurricane Maria, the Spanish King goes on television to accuse Catalan leaders of showing ‘inadmissible disloyalty toward the powers of the state’

The news media has, in some ways, never had it so good. Each day a major story is right there for the taking, and the reading public is waiting to devour whatever journalists want to present them with. But, in some ways, things have never been this bad. Advertisers are pulling back their schedules, having discovered that a huge portion of their marketing budget goes to bots and fake accounts, and who can they trust to deliver customers to their brands?

The MPA wants to prove that magazines remain a vital ad product, and they should, and they have a case to make. But ad buyers are often divided into print and digital with the print side getting far fewer dollars each year. To reverse this, brands will need to shift dollars back into print, and I know few looking to do that.

We publishers seem to be chasing our own tails, going after whatever the next big thing is supposed to be, pivoting to video, or AR, or whatever. As I have said many times, publishers need to stop listening to each other at luncheons and events and spend that time with their customers. Few will talk about ‘pivoting to video’ and many will be talking about e-commerce and other ways to get measurable results from their marketing dollars.


The president traveled to Puerto Rico where he threw rolls of paper towels at the crowd gathered there to see him. We were told the island territory was “lucky” because so far the death toll has been smaller than the “real” disaster of Hurricane Katrina.

That we, as a nation, tolerate this level of incompetence is a measure of just how adaptable human beings are. We are experiencing a national disaster in slow motion, yet live our days as if all this is normal.

The Atlantic, David Graham:

Trump’s Puerto Rico Visit Is a Political Disaster

It was a typically strange, disjointed appearance by the president, and it came just days after Trump spent much of the weekend picking fights with the mayor of San Juan and insisting that, against all evidence, the recovery effort had largely responded to Puerto Rico’s needs. At Muñiz Air Force Base, Trump was eager to praise the work of federal agencies, including FEMA, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Coast Guard, amid a chorus of criticism that Washington’s response has been too slow and too small. But that praise led him in strange directions.

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here and what is your death count? Sixteen people, versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”

The Washington Post, Dana Milbank:

Donald Trump’s dog

See Rex.

Rex is a big dog. Rex is the top dog. Rex has a good job. Rex can fly! Rex has a jet. Fly, Rex, fly. Rex flies to other lands. Rex sits. Rex shakes. Rex speaks. When Rex speaks, Rex thinks he speaks for the U.S.A.

See Donald. Donald owns Rex. Rex is Donald’s dog. Donald is loud. Donald is big. Donald is bigger than Rex. Donald is mean to Rex. When Rex speaks, Donald tweets. Donald tweets like a bird. Tweet, Donald, tweet. Donald’s tweets hurt Rex. Donald says: Bad, Rex! Do not speak, Rex. Rex, you do not speak for the U.S.A. Only Donald speaks for the U.S.A.

Fox News: Sen. Cotton calls on Trump to decertify Iran nuke deal
AL.com: Tropical depression expected to develop today and head toward Gulf Coast



Another slow motion disaster is in Europe, as Spain moves slowly, inexorably towards a violent crackdown of Catalunya.

The Spanish King appeared on television last night and said nothing that would cause one to believe that Madrid can reach a compromise with the region and will have to resort to force. Observers are already comparing his speech to that of his grandfather who chose a military dictatorship over democracy and was thrown into exile as a result, only to be saved by the fascist regime of Franco. King Felipe VI has made the same choice, proving that the crown still prefers dictatorship over democracy.

It is 2017, and yet we still see kings and queens in Europe. Growing up is so hard to do. Just ask us Americans, as we watch our elected leader throw paper towels into a crowd.

Meanwhile, Carles Puigdemont, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, will address the region in a televised speech tonight where he is expected to strongly hint that the region will declare its independence, though delaying a formal announcement until early next week.

Los Angeles Times, Lauren Frayer:

Spain’s king says Catalonia leaders pushing independence show ‘inadmissable disloyalty’

Spain’s King Felipe VI on Tuesday accused authorities in the northeast region of Catalonia of disloyalty to the state in what he called their unacceptable push for independence.

“Certain authorities in Catalonia have repeatedly, consciously and deliberately not complied with the constitution,” the king said in a rare televised speech to the nation. “They have systematically violated legally and legitimately approved rules, showing an inadmissible disloyalty toward the powers of the state.

The Washington Post, William Booth:

Spanish court opens sedition probe of Catalonia officials for independence bid

With each passing day, national authorities and the pro-independence forces in Catalonia appear to be moving inexorably toward direct confrontation. Included in the high court’s probe into acts of sedition is the head of Catalonia’s regional police, Josep Lluis Trapero, whose officers disobeyed judicial orders to stop a referendum Sunday that appeared to overwhelmingly back splitting from Spain…

…As the king addressed the nation, trade unions in Catalonia led a powerful general strike Tuesday that shut down businesses, highways and schools in a mass protest against police violence during the region’s chaotic independence vote. Huge crowds poured through the streets of Barcelona and other cities in the region in the latest act of defiance against the central government and its rejection of Sunday’s referendum, in which more than 2 million people voted in support of Catalonia’s bid for nationhood.

Amnesty International:

Spain: Excessive use of force by National Police and Civil Guard in Catalonia

Amnesty International has directly confirmed on the ground that members of the National Police force’s Police Intervention Unit (UIP) and Civil Guard officers used excessive and disproportionate force against demonstrators who were passively resisting in the streets and at the entrances to polling stations. The security forces were acting on the ruling of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), which ordered them to prevent the holding of a referendum…

“In several cases, the actions of National Police and Civil Guard officers involved excessive and unnecessary use of force, and the dangerous use of riot control equipment, injuring hundreds of peaceful protesters,”,said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Under international law, law enforcement officials must only use force when strictly necessary to perform the duties entrusted to them. Actions to enforce the TSJC ruling must comply with international standards regarding the use of force. Amnesty International considers that, in many cases, National Police and Civil Guard officers used disproportionate force.



Here in the States, every time a major company hints that it is willing to consider expanding its operations state governors begin opening up their state’s wallets in order to lure the companies in. It is a policy that costs tax payers dearly and only leads to state budget issues. It also leads, one must add, to bad decisions by corporate executives who want an easy way to explain their decisions.

In Europe, the bad boy of this type of graft has been Luxembourg and Ireland, who have offered Amazon and Apple respectively tax incentives that, the European Commission claims, is not allowed. Today, it ordered the big techs to repay some back taxes. We will see if they actually do.

BBC News:

Amazon and Apple caught in latest EU tax crackdown

Amazon has been ordered to repay €250m (£221m; $293m) in back taxes after the European Commission said it had been given an unfair tax deal in Luxembourg. The Commission also plans to take Ireland to court over its failure to collect €13bn of back taxes from Apple…

“Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits were not taxed,” Ms Vestager added.

She said Amazon paid four times less tax than other local companies. “Member states cannot give selective tax benefits to multinational groups that are not available to others,” she added.

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