Manic Monday Markup 4/14/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in the Ukraine, where militants in the country’s east have ignored a deadline to evacuate occupied government buildings, although Ukrainian forces have begun to push back. The pro-Russian militants, who represent a distinct minority compared to the situation Crimea have seized offices in several buildings. Amid escalating conditions, Ukraine is calling for UN peacekeepers.

The Washington Post interviews France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose party did well in local elections earlier this year.

The international panel looking at climate change says taking the steps to avert the catastrophic effects of Global Warming would have only a marginal impact on economies. Africa potpourri: A bus explosion in Nigeria, attributed to the Islamist group Boko Haram kills at least 71. Algeria’s President announces his controversial decision to run for a 4th term. Finally, The New York Times looks at the Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa. The former Johannesburg bureau chief Lydia Polgreen explains why the trial has captivated the world while Alan Cowell profiles the prosecutor who has set his sights on the famous Paralympian.

Bill Shorten, who took over for the Australian Labor Party after its rout last year’s elections, is pushing some big reforms to improve the party’s standing and empower its membership.

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah appears to have taken the lead in the Afghan presidential vote according to early returns, but almost certainly will not clear 50% and avoid a runoff.

The Feds:

It has not taken long for the Affordable Care Act to come back from the media feeding frenzy over Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation. Republican are practically rapturous about the chance to rake over the coals Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Obama’s pick to replace Sebelius at HHS. But then this happened. Apparently, Obamacare is actually coming in…cheaper! Meanwhile, we also breakdown and link to Ezra Klein’s new venture Vox, with a story about Obamacare derangement syndrome.

Hey look it’s Scott Brown…outside of “The State of Things.” The Boston Globe rounds up how Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen is approaching the campaign of the Granite State’s newest politician (and resident).

In a bizarrely scheduled Friday election, Connecticut Dems lost a seat to the GOP, after the prior holder died of brain cancer in Februrary.

The wife of the late Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell and grandmother to current Ocean State gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell, Nuala Pell has died.

The candidates looking to succeed retiring longtime Congressman Henry Waxman duke it out on stage.

And why isn’t filing taxes easier? Lobbying, it seems.

The State of Things:

The 1st Hampden & Hampshire gets put under the The Times’ microscope…well one of its candidates does. The story’s premise is about how President Obama has not seemingly inspired a generation of younger aspiring electeds, but much of the article is about the one who was. Eric Lesser, whose campaign has churned out news and updates at such a clip that even our aversion to blow by blow news has compelled our attention, scored a front page story in the nation’s paper of record. Indeed, we will have more on this later.

The compendium of marathon coverage and reflections is long and broad a year after the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly tore a gash in the annual tradition. From the story of the Richard family to the impact on UMass Dartmouth, some stories beyond “Boston strong” iconography (plus Chris Faraone smacking Scott Brown around).

It looks like Springfield is not alone in the struggle to remake its downtown. Worcester business leaders call for the city’s many colleges and universities to make a commitment to the downtown of the Hearth of the Commonwealth.

Shawn Allyn, a candidate for District Attorney, noted that he was gay at a forum last week. More on this later this week.

William Gorman prevailed over Peter Punderson in the East Longmeadow Select Board race last week.

The Fourth Estatements:

It’s Pulitzer DAY!!! The Washington Post and The Guardian shared the coveted Public Service prize for the Edward Snowden NSA stories. The Post also nabbed the explanatory reporting award for a great series on food stamps. The Boston Globe, observing a moment of silence for Marathon victims, receives Pulitzer for breaking news. The New York Times bags two prizes for photographs, including a feature on Marathon Bombing victim Jeff Bauman.

City Slickers:

The Springfield Preservation Trust worries that if MGM does, in fact, come to Springfield, several historic properties could be demolished lacking the protection of historic districts or the city’s new demolition delay ordinance (the casino zone was explicitly exempted). MGM has included some plans to incorporate facades into its plans.

A noteworthy piece on proposed redevelopments of a Springfield apartment building the city has put out to bid.

Maureen Turner updates the schedule for the budget meetings for city departments.

Twitter Chatter:

It turned out that waiting to finish the Markup today was worth it. Today is Pulitzer Day, when Columbia University announces the prizes for print journalism. There were many of the prizes, some referenced above, but the honor the Boston Globe received today, appropriately happened ahead of Marathon Monday next week. Boston Globe editor, in addressing the newsroom after the award was announced said it was the story “none of us wanted to cover.” Today we award the tweet prize to Globe Political Editor Cynthina Needham for capturing this moment both McGrory’s statement, but also the image. Congrats Globe staff.


Manic Monday Markup 4/7/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Afghanistan, where amid relatively little violence, voters cast ballots for president. Hamid Karzai is not on the ballot this time and the vote could prove to be an event that lets the beleaguered and war-torn country’s move on as US troops begin to withdraw.  Turnout was high and promised violence by the Taliban failed to materialize and did not intimidate voters. Ethnic complications remain, however. Should no candidate get 50% +1 of the vote, a runoff will be held. Counting the final results is expected to take weeks.

Not too far away in India, the world’s largest democracy begins its multi-week voting process. Polls suggest the Congress Party, run for years by descendants of Jawaharlal Nehru will lose as India’s middle class considers its options. The New York Times looks at the controversial career of Narendra Modi, whose party could win the elections and make him Prime Minister.

Quebec, too, goes to the polls, amid  separatist undercurrents that have hurt the ruling Parti Quebecois. Costa Rica elects a center-left President. Indonesia votes Wednesday.  The world’s largest Muslim country, Islamist parties appear set to do poorly.

Pro-Russian protesters, although representing too sizable a minority of the city to be taken seriously (yet), declared the Ukrainian city Donetsk independent and urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to send troops as he did in Crimea. Donetsk is one of the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine’s east, but far less ethnic Russian than Crimea. The Washington Post reports that officials in Kiev are scrambling to contain the unrest, including sending top officials to the east.

Officials in Rwanda remember the genocide twenty years ago.  NPR has some good stories on how it began, the search for justice in France and where Rwanda goes from here.

While victory was probably unlikely this year, the main opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance, suffers another defection to the ruling African National Congress.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman seems to hold all the cards in Israel these days. The Russian-born head of the Yisrael Beinteinu party, also seems bullish on immigrants’ prospects in the Israeli politics saying there may be a Russian-speaking Premier soon. Watch out, Bibi!

The Feds:

Gallup says the uninsured rate in the United State is at its lowest level since 2008. That damn Obamacare strikes again!

Maryland follows Connecticut, raises the minimum wage to $10.1.

An awesome profile of US Ambassador to the United Nationa, Samantha Power,.

Edward Kennedy, Jr., the son of the late US senator from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, will announce for State Senate in Connecticut. He would be seeking the seat held by retiring State Senator Ed Meyer.

Candidates in Long Beach, Calif. are squaring off to fill the mayor’s office. Mayor Bob Foster is calling it quits as a crowded field competes to run the city in need of a turnaround.

On the one hand, Governor Chris Christie may have some good news. New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney says the legislative committee investigating the Bridgegate scandal may need to pause if its effort to subpoena documents fails (or nevermind). On the other hand, the Christie administration paid nearly half the value of a Sandy relief contract after the state fired the contractor—a third of the way through the job. And Christie’s spokesman appeared before a grand jury…looks more bad than good.

The State of Things:

Congressional and state leaders gathered in Boston to promote a drug take-back event. Meanwhile Boston may close its only public methadone clinic.

Congressional leaders are urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to swiftly approve a plan to reopen North Adam’s emergency room.

In potpourri, Worcester’s quest for a permanent City Manager goes on. Interim manager Edward Augustus says he does not want the job permanently. Commonwealth Magazine asks if casino support is slipping.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved its own minimum wage bill.  Markedly different from the Senate’s, it sets up a confrontation on the issue that could force proponents to go to the ballot instead this Fall.

Westfield’s newly minted State Rep John Velis and three other Democrats elected last Tuesday are expected to be sworn in April 16 per The Boston Globe. State Senator-elect Jason Lewis has yet to have his swearing in scheduled.

City Slickers:

Police Commissioner-designate John Barbieri has a contract signed with the city and he will present his plans to residents tonight at a meeting at Van Sickle school. The Republican interviewed Barbieri at a meeting of the paper’s Editorial Board. Ron Chimelis (who we thought was a sports columnist) also chimes in.

Meanwhile, Mayor Domenic Sarno and club owners are trading insults and complaints after a shooting near a club downtown. Dog bites man.

Twitter Chatter:

Twenty years ago, a rising tide of ethnic violence led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans in one of the world’s worst failures to stop a genocide. As innocents were slaughtered the world did not do nearly enough to stop the bloodshed until it was too late. No one knows how much  earlier intervention could have stopped the death, but that kind of humanitarian intervention is fittingly also one of the things Ambassador Power subscribes to. Today we award Samantha power the Tweet prize for her tweets marking 20years since the massacre. Rightly, she notes in the tweet we have highlighted that the remembrance is not just about recounting the horror, but summoning the determination to move forward. Power is leading a US delegation to Kigali, Rwanda to mark the anniversary.


Manic Monday Markup 3/31/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Turkey where local elections appear to have favored Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK party despite weeks of protests and shutdowns of social media networks.  Erdogan and Parliament were not on the ballot, but the mid-forties polling his party received by the prime minister to carry on and possibly retaliate against political enemies.

In France, local elections there tell a different story.  While the Socialists kept Paris’s mayoralty (the City of Light elected its first female mayor), they lost across the country elsewhere prompting the resignation of the current government.  President François Hollande and his party have suffered from flagging support in recent months.  He will appoint a new government amid the shakeup. One of the biggest winners? The mainstream center right party, the UMP, won the most positions yesterday, but Marrinne Le Pen’s far right movement, which scored some of its highest vote totals ahead of European Parliamentary election later this year.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted of taking bribes, likely ending any future speculation that he may return to electoral politics.  Olmert became acting prime minister after the late Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke, and after elections took the title formally.  However, he had to resign and handed leadership of the Kadima over to Tzipi Livni, who current serves as Justice Minister under the Likud-led government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Dipolomatic progress? Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Paris more hopeful than ever that a diplomatic solution may be found in the Ukraine.  However, Kiev seems skeptical or outright hostile to proposals to give outlying regions more autonomy.

Polls suggests Indians will favor the Bharatiya Janata Party in elections next week, installing Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, defeating the incumbent Indian National Congress Party. Premier Manmohan Singh did not run for another term.  The Congress Party’s leader is the scion of Jawaharlal Nehru’s family, Rahul Gandhi.

The Koreas exchange fire across a disputed sea border.

A new report emphasizes the impact of climate change, with the worst yet to come.

The Feds:

Abby Goodnough, a Health Care Reporter for The New York Times, has a good item today on the day to day impact the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky, perhaps a microcosm of the nation.

Also in The Times, questions about Latinos interest in politics as they grow disillusioned by the failure of Immigration Reform to advance.

Albany lawmakers have agreed to a budget, and it includes money for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Pre-K program, but it comes at the cost of his control over city schools and liberals hopes for robust campaign finance reform.

The arrest of California State Senator Leland Yee amid a broad corruption probe that included a longtime Chinatown underworld figure continues to surprise people in Sacramento, even as it draws national press attention.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy officially makes the plunge into a reelection campaign.

Two big retirements out of Michigan.  House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers and House Ways & Means Chair David Camp both announce retirements between the end of last week and this beginning of this one. Both are Republicans and only Rogers seat is likely within Democrats’ reach this year.

The State of Things:

The closure of North Adams Regional Health Center has rippled into the Massachusetts governor’s race.  Martha Coakley, as attorney general, got involved early in the crisis, trying to stop the emergency room’s closure, but acquiescing when it appeared unsafe to keep it open.  Treasurer Steve Grossman also chimed in, saying the state has a “moral responsibility” to restore services to northern Berkshire County.  Vermont health providers are preparing to pick up some of the slack in the meantime.

Tomorrow is election day across the commonwealth. Locally, there is the 4th Hampden Race in Westfield. It is John Velis vs. Dan Allie.  We have endorsed Velis, but the GOP is all in for Allie.  In the region north of Boston there is the special senate race between Rep. Jason Lewis, the Democrat and Melrose Alderman Monica Medeiros, the Republican.  This seat opened when Katherine Clark vacated her Senate seat to take Ed Markey’s US House seat.  Also of note is the 16th Suffolk House seat, formerly held by Kathi-Anne Reinstein, a race between Roselee Vincent and Todd Taylor, Democrat and Republican respectively.  Two other Boston area specials, including Mayor Marty Walsh’s seat have their general election tomorrow, but the primaries were the important affairs in those races.

Lowell has a new City Manager.  Holyoke will need a new auditor.

Over the weekend, the City of Boston stopped to honor the two firefighters who died in last week’s wind-whipped blaze in the Back Bay section of the city.

Longmeadow and MGM will head to arbitration after failing to reach a surrounding community agreement.

City Slickers:

A welcome center in downtown Springfield center for UMASS opened today.

Incoming Police Commissioner John Barbieri plans a presentation for the community about his vision for the department when he takes over in June.

The last chance to voice your opinion on the casino slated for Springfield may be tomorrow when the gaming commission holds a hearing at the MassMutual Center at 4 pm.

Twitter Chatter:

Today we are going in a little bit of a different direction. Instead of political snark or heavy burdens, we are going more diversionary for today’s Tweet Prize. For those who know how to use Twitter well, it is a great way to share information of all kinds, including historical tidbits and whatnot, including pictures.  Today is the opening of baseball season and although the Red Sox’s home opener is not until Friday, the season has begun.  Today we award the Tweet Prize to Presidential historian Michael Beschloss for tweeting a bit of history on this start of the season. One hundred and two years ago, Fenway Park opened and it remains the oldest ballpark in use by the MLB. Its opening competed with the Titanic’s sinking for news coverage, but the photo today of Fenways’ 1912 opening is a great way to mark the opening of a new season.