Manic Monday Markup 6/29/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Greece, where capital controls and bank closures have been imposed following the utter collapse of talks between the country and its creditors. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a referendum on the creditors’ terms for a renegotiation of its debt—terms, he has rejected calling them humiliating for the Greek people. European leaders are warning Greeks the vote is about staying within the Eurozone, which Greeks, though divided on the bailout program overall, largely wish to do. Tsipras’s gamble may be his undoing as some polls show Greek voters may approve the terms in the July 5 referendum. Meanwhile European leaders insist a deal is still possible.

US officials negotiating with Iran over its nuclear weapons program acknowledge the hard deadline for a deal is July 9, not June 30. Secretary of State John Kerry has flown to Vienna to help jumpstart the talks.

A terrorist attack against foreign tourists in Tunisia has locals worrying.

Greece’s poorer neighbors are unmoved by its complaints about the bailout terms.

Israel acknowledges it is helping Syrian rebels on the promise that the latter’s Druze population will be protected.

Some fear Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s brushing up against term limits may not really mean her exit from the political stage.

The Feds:

After a few pivotal if not shocking sessions last week, the US Supreme Court dispensed with the last of its business including dubiously upholding the questionable use of midazolam in executions, stymieing EPA mercury regulations and affirming voting-initiating independent redistricting commissions. The Court also stayed new abortion regulations in Texas that would have closed more clinics in the state.

All were 5-4 decisions with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also ruled in favor of same-sex marriage last week, as the deciding vote. However, the redistricting commission was perhaps the most impactful (and surprising) ruling today. Kennedy had seemed to be leaning toward quashing the commissions, but instead joined the majority opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who found the commissions as a reasonable means for the people to stop partisan redistricting and, more pertinently, not a violation of state legislature’s right to control federal elections. The case grew out of a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Legislature, which sought to strike down the Independent Arizona Redistricting Commission on the grounds that, under the Constitution, only “the legislature” absent Congressional approval could draw congressional districts.

Following Friday’s ruling establishing marriage equality as a national principle, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton advised county clerks they could continue to deny marriage licenses on the grounds of religious freedom. Jerk.

With one escapee dead and the other capture, New York State’s manhunt for two convicted murderers ends after three weeks.

Connecticut legislators begin rolling back some provisions of its budget that drew complaints from the state’s business community. Both the legislature and Gov. Dannel Malloy are expected to make concessions on signature causes like property tax relief and transportation funding.

Maine Governor Paul LePage’s famously tempestuous mien has alienated even his own party and his latest antics may even lead to impeachment proceedings.

In California potpourri: Los Angeles swears in its first Korean-American City Councilor. Top US Senate candidates are keeping a low profile. The Golden State, which also has an independent redistricting commission, had a lot at stake in today’s SCOTUS ruling.

The State of Things:

Brockton State Senator Thomas Kennedy has died. He was 63.

The Globe profiles the women in Gov. Charlie Baker’s Department of Administration & Finance.

Masslive writes that Holyoke mayoral candidate Fran O’Connell has slapped down at least $15,000 on the table for introduction broadcast television ads. That buys a lot in Springfield rather cheap ad market, but it also seems a bit much this early for a race that affects only a fraction of the Greater Springfield broadcast area.

Thought heavily Springfield-tilted, our report on regional LGBT response to SCOTUS’s ruling. Also, former Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, who wrote the groundbreaking opinion that started the marriage equality avalanche, reflects on Friday’s decision.

The Fourth Estatements:

Politico considered several media outlets’ decision to change their social media icons to include rainbow images following last Friday’s ruling. Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post were among those that did so, stating that the ruling reflected their values and was consistent with policies that in some areas “there are not two sides.” WMassP&I likewise changed its social media icons for largely the same reasons.

City Slickers:

State Historic Preservation officials and MGM meet in Boston tomorrow to try and hammer out an agreement about preserving more of the armory and establishing a historic preservation fund.

More broadly, Paul Tuthill of Northeastern Public Radio reports on Mayor Domenic Sarno’s proposal to allow MGM to alter its timeline around the reconstruction of I-91. That proposal, if it deviates from the text of the host community agreement, may need Council approval.

Today in the breathlessly predictable: Ward 5 Councilor Clodo Concepcion reelected president of the 16 Acres Civic Association.

Mayoral candidate Johnnie Rae McKnight formally kicked off his bid Friday.

Twitter Chatter:

With the global economy on surer footing the idea of a “Grexit” from the Eurozone is less disconcerting, all the headless chickens running amok in stock exchanges notwithstanding. There are serious questions about the austerity policies Europe has put forward, but Greece’s grossly inefficient public sector also makes it a poor posterchild for those questions. But this is boiling down to a simple question, at least among European leaders, of whether Greece shall remain in the Euro. This message may particularly sting Greek PM Tsipras when coming from a friend like Italian premier Matteo Renzi. Today we award the tweet prize to Renzi who today noted that the referendum is not about Tsipras versus the EU. Rather, Greeks are choosing between the Euro and a return to the drachma, which would bring perhaps years more of uncertainty than even the bailout program has.


Manic Monday Markup 6/22/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Greece, which teeters again on the edge of default although signs of progress have materialized. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has made a new offer to his country’s creditors, although other European nations want more time to study the document, which calls for a higher value added tax and hikes in the retirement age for future retirees. The spotlight is on Tsipras, who was swept to power on a platform of standing up to Europe and now the drama may be coming to a close.

Both Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during last summer’s war in a new UN report released today. The UN report cited bombing of home and other buildings as potential war crimes on Israel’s part, while also condemning Hamas’ use of rockets against civilian populations in Israel. Israel called it politically motivated. Hamas condemned being condemned but praised Israel being condemned.

Staying in Israel, former Israeli ambassador and current MK Michael Oren released a series of scathing and increasingly personal editorials about President Barack Obama over the last few weeks. Already the head of Oren’s party, Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has distanced himself from the statements, but now Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman has spoken out, condemning Oren’s “unjustified and insensitive” writings about the president.

NPR talks to a Vice News reporter who found social media and young Russian soldiers’ proclivity for taking pictures may provide some of the latest evidence of Russia’s on-the-ground meddling in Ukraine.

Australian PM Tony Abbott, a notorious for favoring inertia on climate change action, may propose steeper reductions in his country’s emissions, following the lead taken by the United State and Canada, Fairfax media reports. Electoral considerations may be playing into the Abbott government’s decision.

As anti-austerity protests swept Great Britain this weekend, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government continues to move on slashing programs for the poor.

The New York Times profiles South Africa’s, Thulisile Mandonsela, the nation’s first female public protector, as she faces the task of beating back rampant corruption.

ICYMI: Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change is making waves. Named after a prayer written by Francis’ namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, the document make a powerful case for action to arrest the effects of global climate change. Relatedly, The Washington Post writes about how climate-deniers lost the Vatican.

The Feds:

At first it was just about the Confederate flag, but now the heinous murder of 9 congregants in a historic Charleston, South Carolina church has bled much deeper into the presidential election. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, is said to call for the Confederate flag’s removal from State House grounds today. However, the bigger intrigue have been donations to GOP presidential candidate from a conservative blogger, whose name came up on a website believed to be linked to accused shooter Dylann Roof. Recipients like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have returned or donated them to charity. Now Scott Walker is caught up in it, too. GOP Presidential hopeful were already treading softly.

Democrats have been much freer to respond to the underlying issues surrounding the shooting. Hillary Clinton has called for action on guns and acknowledged the nation’s fault lines along race. President Obama has also been more candid about the state of race relations in America, a sign, perhaps of his growing willingness to show emotion in office.

As for the shooting itself both The New York Times and The Washington Post have tick-tocks of last Wednesday’s events leading up to when Roof allegedly began firing. The Post & Courier writes about peace events following the shooting.

Sheldon Silver may have lost the speakership of the New York State Assembly after the feds charged him with corruption, but he has not vanished from Albany and the assembly.

Connecticut Republicans seek a new party chair.

As Rhode Island’s legislative session winds down, The Boston Globe considers recession-battered Providence’s tech boomlet.

In the wake of Beau Biden’s death, Democrats in Delaware are consider their options for governor and so far Congressman John Carney, who ran for the post in 2008, seems the frontrunner, but will likely not have the nomination without a fight.

The State of Things:

The opening of Plainridge’s slot parlor dawns the era of casino gaming in Massachusetts.

WMassP&I Editor-in-chief Matt Szafranski and El Sol Latino contributor Natalia Munoz joined Susan Kaplan on NEPR last week. Among the issues discussed was rising tuition at UMass, which the Daily Hampshire Gazette panned in an editorial.

Also at NEPR, Henry Epp looks at the week ahead on Beacon Hill with State House News Service reporter Matt Murphy. Casinos and the still unfinished budget dominate the political whirl in Boston this week.

Governor Charlie Baker was anything but chuckling after his mishandling of the Confederate flag issue, which required cleaning up afterward.

Holyoke held its second annual gay pride celebration this weekend. Elsewhere in the Paper City, Fran O’Connell launches his bid to unseat Mayor Alex Morse today.

City Slickers:

Joined by Senator Jim Welch, Mayor Domenic Sarno and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Assistant state Housing & Economic Development Secretary Katie Stebbins, and city councilors US Rep Richard Neal praised the final disbursement of money to complete the renovation of Union Station. A longtime project of Neal’s, the building has been intimately linked to his history for decades. He announced his first run for city council on the concourse and has been instrumental to keeping the federal government on board amid starts and stops on the project.

Worth noting: historic photos of Union Station and its predecessor facilities in Springfield.

The former site of Cathedral High School was announced as the location for the new Pope Francis High School, created from the merger of Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic High School.

Our report on the Ward 6 Council race that features incumbent Ken Shea facing off against political activist Kim Rivera, mother of Shea’s predecessor Amaad Rivera.

Twitter Chatter:

The battle over the Confederate flag in the Old South is one that really should have ended long ago. Numerous sources argue that the never formally adopted banner only came into vogue in the early to mid-20th Century due to the KKK’s interest. While a bipartisan group of South Carolina legislators and now Gov. Haley and Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott are opposed to its continued flying, inertia may still stand in the way. Today we award the tweet prize to CNN reporter Jake Tapper who encapsulated the mealy-mouthed position of flag supporters so succinctly. How can a body continue to back something so offensive to so many and yet not have the guts to defend it on camera?


Manic Monday Markup 6/15/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in South Africa, where an inquiry has been opened after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir defied a court order and left the country as judges determined whether he should be arrested. The Sudanese leader has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes related to Darfur.

Times is running out for Greece to reach a deal with European officials over its debt with European governments being told to brace for Greece’s default.

Britain celebrates the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, though some historians these days are poo-pooing the venerable document.

Elsewhere in the UK, the Labour leadership contest is heating up with Jeremy Corbyn being certified to get on the ballot. Some view Corbyn, a solidly leftwing member of the Labour party as way to make Andy Burnham, the left’s erstwhile preferred candidate look more moderate. He might also split the leftwing vote to the benefit of the other two candidates in the race Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

British officials are also under pressure to explain allegations anonymously fed to the press from Downing Street and elsewhere that both Russia and China got access to the documents Edward Snowden absconded with in 2013.

Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan gives his Justice & Development Party (AKP), which lost its majority is last week’s elections, but still won the largest share of the seats in Parliament, a chance to form a coalition government. The oppposition Republican People’s Party would have a chance to form a government if the AKP failed, but, elections would ensue if the second round were unsuccessful.

Israel releases a report justifying its actions in last year’s war in Gaza (Operation Protective Edge), but at least some observers in Israel are less than impressed by the defensive document.

The Mexican Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, but to actually wed, couples still face a labyrinthine process among the lower courts.

The Feds:

In the POTUS race, Jeb announces today, complete with explanation point. Meanwhile Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, pins his hopes to best Hillary Clinton on the Iowa caucuses. Speaking of Clinton, her big kickoff on Roosevelt Island in New York has largely gotten positive reviews and, according to Power Post, dominated the news coverage for a whole day. Politco Magazine’s Glenn Thrush has some more, written before Saturday, on the making of that kickoff and Clinton’s platform. Vox chimes in by noting that Clinton has long been to her party’s left on economic issues, including that of her former boss and colleague, one Barack Obama.

While the press continues to criticize Clinton’s media relations (see below), she did grant interviews with local outlets, The Des Moine Register and Iowa radio.

The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser scores an interview with Secretary of State John Kerry, recuperating at home in Boston from leg surgery after fracturing his femur during a bicycling accident in the Alps. Definitely worth a read.

The New York Times does an in-depth review of the events leading up to and after the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, who died after being put into a chokehold the Medical Examiner ruled, allegedly by an NYPD officer.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy released a plan to scale back the tax increases included in the new budget set to begin July 1. While some debate the actual nature of the state’s favorable/unfavorable business climate, accusations are now flying among legislators including the Senate chair of appropriations about what led to this situation. For what it is worth, The Hartford Courant editorial board, while bashing the tax increases, slaps down Republicans hard for attacking Malloy’s plans to visit Aer Lingus officials in Dublin and the Paris Air Show to promote Connecticut business.

Appointed San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor won a full term this weekend after a bloody race in the Texas city. Though the race is nonpartisan, Taylor was viewed as the conservative choice. Her opponent Letitia Van de Putte is a former Democratic state senator. Taylor had been serving as the City Council’s appointed replacement for ex-mayor Julian Castro, who was appointed US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development last year.

The State of Things:

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court sides with the state Senate and its president Stanley Rosenberg in the dispute over the change in income tax policy included in the state budget. The House of Representatives had included tweaks to the film tax credit and the Senate took that as an invitation to freeze the income tax to pay for an expanded earned income tax credit. House Speaker Robert DeLeo decried the move and asked the SJC to declare the Senate’s move (in an advisory opinion) invalid. Advantage Rosenberg.

If you’re ambitious, the full opinion is here (in PDF).

The wife of former Easthampton Mayor Michael Tautznik died after falling down while at a recent charity event. She was 60.

The long-awaited reopening of the Willamanset Bridge linking downtown Holyoke and Chicopee happened last week.

Holyoke City Councilors who voted to establish a Polish Historical District in the city were honored at the annual banquet of the Friends of Mater Dolorosa church. The closed church lies within the borders of the not-to-be historic district.

The Fourth Estatements:

The Sunday Times in London is under scrutiny after it dropped five words from a story about allegation’s Edward Snowden’s documents were obtained by China and Russia. The Times claimed, in words now scrubbed from its article, that David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, one the journalists who broke the Snowden story, had met with Snowden in Russia. This allegedly happened just before Miranda was detained by British officials while changing planes at Heathrow Airport.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s publisher is out and on his way to The Union-Leader of New Hampshire. This comes amid further doubts about the former paper’s future after its most recent sale.

Some uber-beltway inside baseball here with complaints among the press about pool reporters. For those who don’t know. Pool reporters, often one for print, TV and radio each, will write produce reports at events where attendance by the full press corp would simply be impractical. The reporters’ likel media then share when writing about the event. One complaint was about the exclusion of a British publication’s reporter and another was over the placement of a pool reporter at one event. Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill’s response, summed up, is the pools are a work in progress.

City Slickers:

The City Council’s review/approval of the budget begins today in Springfield.

Both historic preservation and a labor contract will confront the Council at its regular meeting tonight.

In a blow for Mason Square, Q Smoking Good Food closes.

ICYMI: Our editorial on MGM’s slower timeline to build its casino.

Twitter Chatter:

With so much in the world near and far to consider this week, it seems hard to pick just one thing to zero in on in the Twitterverse. However, Matt Viser’s interview with Kerry stands out because of the background of international events to which John Kerry still must and plans to attend. Iran is at the top of the list, but in isolating one of Kerry’s quotes about managing the non-relationship between the United States and Iran, Viser perhaps distills the essence of both why these talks matter and why they are so difficult.