October 26, 2017 Last Updated 8:26 am

Anonymous hacker group briefly takes down Spanish newspaper website; New elections reportedly to be called in Catalunya

Morning Brief: Mark Halperin to leave NBC News after admitting he that ‘did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me’ in a statement to CNN

The earnings season begins in earnest for media companies when Meredith and New Media Investment Group report today before the markets open (check the News section for those reports later this morning) and Amazon and Alphabet (Google) report after the markets close this afternoon.

Meanwhile, today was to be the day many independence supporters hoped Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont would formally ask parliament to declare its intention to secede from Spain, a day or two before Spain’s prime minister Mariana Rajoy was to formally implement Article 155 of the constitution and end Catalunya’s autonomy.

But the separatists have blinked again, and Puigdemont will instead call new elections in hopes that this will split the Spanish government in such a way as to prevent Rajoy from acting. But the Spanish right’s blood is up and so it will be difficult to stop the momentum towards violence.

(Update: Events are moving fast today, with reports that Puigdemont was to give a televised address, then that he would address the parliament. But now even that has been delayed. To keep up with events I recommend reading the La Vanguardia or ARA.cat websites using Chrome to translate.)

Spain’s media mostly supports the right-wing government’s insistence that the October 1 referendum was illegal, with El País particularly transparent in their calls for the use of force against separatists. This morning, the site was briefly offline after it was attacked by a DDoS attack. The hacker group Anonymous claimed credit. El País, though, said that a “majority of web traffic came from countries such as China or Turkey.”

Other Spanish websites such as for Spain’s ruling PP party, and the football club Real Madrid, have also been hit recently.

La Vanguardia, Isabel Garcia Pagan:

Puigdemont will call elections in Catalonia for Wednesday, December 20

(Google Translate, edited) La Vanguardia has learned that a call for newelections in Catalonia is imminent. The date will be Wednesday, December 20. It will be announced by the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont at 13.30 on Thursday.

After a seven hour meeting last night, and contacts held during the morning, the possibility of a declaration of independence has turned towards a strategy that helps curb or mitigate the application ofArticle 155 of the Constitution and the intervention of the Catalan self-government.

El País:

Hackers attack the EL PAÍS website

A group of hackers have led a coordinated series of denial of service (DDoS) attacks against the EL PAÍS digital platform which prevented readers from accessing the websites two hours intermittently between 1.30 and 4.00 in the morning. Last week, the Anonymous collective threatened a campaign in defense of the independence of Catalonia and against the digital environment of various Spanish institutions, among which the Constitutional Court, the Royal House and the Government have already been affected…

…Since the Catalan crisis was exacerbated by the call for an illegal referendum on October 1, EL PAÍS has published abundant information on the support of Russian digital networks for independence and on the support of hackers from countries in Russia’s orbit to the logistics of the query. Hours before the attack, this newspaper revealed the visit to Barcelona of an ally of Putin in South Ossetia, a Georgian area in the orbit of the Kremlin whose independence, proclaimed in the 90s in a war context, only recognize Nicaragua, Venezuela and the own Russia.



Kenyans go to the polls again today in yet another election that will end up being contested. The country voted previously in August, but in September the country’s Supreme Court annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory over opposition leader Raila Odinga because of allegations of fraud. The decision was cheered by many, but the opposition has alleged that the new elections will be as corrupted as the August vote and have called for a boycott.

The Washington Post, Brandon Bartels, Jeremy Horowitz and Eric Kramon:

Kenyans vote again today. Here’s what they think about the current election crisis.

But however pathbreaking the court’s ruling may be, the country’s electoral institutions are in crisis. In the weeks since the court’s ruling, Odinga has withdrawn from the race, citing a lack of confidence in the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC) and calling on his supporters to boycott today’s voting. One of the IEBC’s commissioners, Roselyn Akombe, recently fled to the United States, claiming that the commission had been compromised by partisan forces and saying her life had been threatened. The IEBC’s embattled leader, Wafula Chebukati, admitted last week that he wasn’t sure the commission could guarantee a fair and impartial election…

…Almost half (46 percent) of all respondents do not trust the IEBC “to administer future presidential elections fairly,” despite important institutional reforms under a new constitution passed in 2010. These reforms were supposed to fix difficulties that had existed with the IEBC’s predecessor, the Electoral Commission of Kenya. That earlier body had hastily certified the results of the highly contested 2007 election — a decision that helped set off widespread ethnic protest and fighting, in which more than 1,000 people were killed and another 350,000 displaced from their homes.



I have always found Mark Halperin to be, well, creepy.

The guy appears to have very fungible political beliefs and a love for celebrity, which made him perfect example of the political analyst who can laugh at Trump when no thought I might win, and become a defender once he did. I’ve never understood why NBC and Bloomberg thought him someone worth employing.

Now, this:

CNN, Oliver Darcy:

Five women accuse journalist and ‘Game Change’ co-author Mark Halperin of sexual harassment

“During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me,” Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesday night. “I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.”

MSNBC, where Halperin makes frequent appearances on “Morning Joe,” said early Thursday that Halperin would leave his roles at that network and as an analyst at NBC News.

“We find the story and the allegations very troubling,” MSNBC said in a statement. “Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood.”

Top Photo: Demanding to vote! by Joan Campderrós-i-Canas, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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