October 16, 2017 Last Updated 8:32 am

Hurricane Ophelia hits Ireland and UK; Cosmopolitan magazine catalyst for Utah lawmaker’s drive to revive state porn czar

Morning Brief: Catalan leader refuses to clarify regional declaration of independence status, demands end to repression, but Spanish government likely will move to implement ‘Article 155’ ending regional autonomy

The last I think of when I think of Ireland is hurricanes. But Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland yesterday, bringing power cutting high winds. Authorities are worried that the storm could cause €1.5bn in damages across the island.

Climate change is a bit like the old joke about the drowning man who prays to God to be save and then rejects help from his fellow citizens because he has faith God will save him. But when he drowns he says to God “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!” To this God replies, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

No matter the weather channel is telling us, today one political party says to us that the concept of manmade climate change is a hoax. Only in this story, we all drown.

BBC:

Hurricane Ophelia: Every part of Ireland will bear brunt of Ophelia ‘for three hours’ – Met Éireann warns

The whole of Ireland will experience “violent” winds from weather phenomenon Ophelia, with each part of the country bearing the brunt of the storm for approximately three hours, a forecaster has warned…

…The senior officer has also asked people not to be led “into a false sense of security” in areas not yet effected, warning: “be prepared”.

“Our appeal to the public this morning is, if your journey is not absolutely essential, do not go on the road. We know that this storm has arrived. I’ve been speaking to my colleagues in the south west this morning. We have trees down in Co Kerry, and trees and power lines down in West Cork. Parts of Clonakilty are out because of the storm damage and this is just the start of the storm.

“My appeal particularly to motorcyclists, cyclists and drivers of high sided vehicles. You are particularly vulnerable out there in this storm. Unless your journey is absolutely essential, we don’t want you to put yourselves or indeed emergency services at risk by being out on the road,” Mr Finn said.

ArsTechnica, Eric Berger:

Ophelia became a major hurricane where no storm had before

Forecasters marveled at the intensification of Ophelia on Saturday, as it reached Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale and became a major hurricane. For a storm in the Atlantic basin, this is the farthest east that a major hurricane has been recorded during the satellite era of observations. Additionally, it was the furthest north that a major hurricane, at 35.9 degrees north, that an Atlantic major hurricane existed this late in the year since 1939.

“Ophelia is breaking new ground for a major hurricane,” National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake wrote on Twitter. “Typically those waters much too cool for anything this strong.” He also added, “I really can’t believe I’m seeing a major just south of the Azores.” Seas near where Ophelia intensified Saturday were 1-2° C degrees above normal.



The Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy gave Catalan president Carles Puigdemont until today to declare what his intentions are regarding independence. That there is any confusion was caused when Puigdemont declared independence last week, then immediately suspended the declaration in order to allow for negotiations.

It was a cute ploy that was all about appearing reasonable in the face of the Spanish government, which had reacted to the October 1 referendum with violence.

Today, Puigdemont continued the game by refusing to give Rajoy his answer. Rajoy, whose People’s Party governs Spain, won’t play the game and will continue to crack down on Catalunya, and likely will at some point jail Puigdemont. Despite the PP holding less than a majority of seats in parliament, is continues to maintain its hold on the government by aligning itself with other parties who do not seem to mind the internal use of force.

The next step for the central government is the implementation of ‘Article 155’ which allows the suspension of regional government in Catalunya. It would, no doubt, result in a general strike, more police violence, and eventually bloodshed.

Europe, meanwhile, is supporting Rajoy, but will it continue to do so even if Spain resorts to move violence? Its reaction to Catalunya has made me reassess whether those that voted for Brexit may have been right, at least in regards to whether the EU can be trusted to safe guard the interests of Democracy.

ARA, Gerard Pruna:

Puigdemont did not specify whether he declared independence and gave two months to Rajoy for the dialogue

The president of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, responded this Monday morning to the request of the president of the Spanish government, Mariano Rajoy, and he did, as explained by the ARA, without giving a clear answer that the Spanish government demanded. That is, without clarifying whether last Tuesday Parliament declared its independence. Puigdemont, on the other hand, gives Rajoy a period of two months to seek dialogue and mediation, and calls for the repression to stop…

…(A)nticipating a possible ambiguous response from Puigdemont, the Spanish government again warned last night that should they not receive a clear answer denying that the independence of Catalonia was declared, it would imply opening the second countdown of the Rajoy’s request, which ends Thursday morning, and entails the final activation of article 155 in the Senate.

Catalan News, ACN:

People’s Party opens door to banning political parties’ electoral programs that favor independence

The People’s Party (PP), the ruling political party in Spain, opened the door on Monday to banning political parties’ electoral programs that favor independence, saying they seek to “destroy Spain”. In comments to the press, the PP leader in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, said that if new elections are called, political platforms that advocate for an independent Catalonia should not be allowed to run.

“I hope that if someone has the temptation to say that if they win an election they will declare the Republic, the rule of law will act and won’t allow anyone to run on a platform that seeks to destroy Spain,” García Albiol said.

The New York Times, Susi Dennison:

Where’s the E.U. in the Catalonia Crisis?

The key to a referendum is the ability to frame the question. The 2016 Brexit vote is a clear example. Although the referendum was posed a straightforward question (“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”), discussion around the issue incorporated everything from austerity to “the establishment” to feelings about the government.

In Catalonia, the referendum — which didn’t have constitutional approval — asked whether Catalonia should choose independence from Spain. But in holding the vote illegitimately, the independence movement provoked a response from the Spanish government that changed the question to whether the Spanish government is handling some Catalans’ desire for independence respectfully and peacefully, and indeed why other actors, like the European Union, are not ensuring that it does so. In widening the issue, the separatists have won more sympathy for their cause than they had before the vote.



Let’s face it, there is a lot going on in government these days, so it is hard to keep track of just what every crazy politician is proposing. When on political party goes completely off the rails, while its opponents prove completely incompetent in reacting to it, we end up with wackadoodles like this guy in Utah, which wants to crack down on what he perceives as pornography.

That could include the magazine Cosmopolitan, which apparently Utah lawmaker Todd Weiler thinks is porn, rather than what it really is, a magazine that has completely run out of ideas.

The Salt Lake Tribune, Lee Davidson:

Instead of wiping old ‘porn czar’ law from books, Utah lawmaker may push to revive — and expand — it

Utah legislators are moving to erase from statute the state’s long-dormant “obscenity and pornography complaints ombudsman” — popularly dubbed the porn czar — that once generated international jokes and razzing.

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, says he may try instead to revive that office with a wider scope “not just to focus on pornography,” allowing residents to seek legal guidance from the state on many issues. Weiler was the sponsor of Utah’s resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis, as well as legislation that allows parents to sue pornographers for the cost of counseling that children may need after viewing smut. He says he became convinced that the obscenity and pornography complaints office may be needed because of an ad campaign attacking Cosmopolitan magazine as illegal porn.

Reason.com, Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

Utah May Bring Back Porn Czar to Target ‘Obscenity’ Like Cosmo Magazine

Weiler suggests that an obscenity ombudsman could focus on things like providing guidance to retailers. But the position also has the power to monitor and punish business owners for daring to display magazines that mention sex.

Victoria Hearst, the public face of the Cosmo campaign that so inspired the Utah senator, thinks that Cosmopolitan should not only be kept out of the eyesight of children but also prohibited for anyone under age 21.

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