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Manic Monday Markup 8/3/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Canada, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who leads the Conservative party, formally ordered the dissolution of parliament, which the country’s governor-general (the Queen’s formal representative) did, touching off what might be one of the nastiest and longest election campaigns ever for our neighbor to the North. Adding another touch of intrigue this is the first campaign for the leaders of the New Democratic and Liberal parties, respectively Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau (son of the former premier). Neither led their respective parties during the 2011 election.

Israel continues to reel following the arson in a Palestinian village in the West Bank that killed an infant and seriously wounded his brother and parents, which officials have deemed terrorism. Following a wave of international and domestic condemnation, including from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, more poignantly President Reuven Rivlin, the Israeli cabinet voted to use administrative detention against Jewish terrorists, who are believed responsible for the firebombing, in the same manner as Israel often does with Palestinian terrorists. For too long, many argue, a different standard and/or uneven justice has been applied to Jewish settlers who employ violence against Arabs.

The broader calls for tolerance came as one of the victims of a stabbing attack during Jerusalem’s gay pride parade succumbed to her injuries.

Meanwhile, even former Israeli defense brass are calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to drop what looks increasingly like an unsuccessful bid to block the Iran deal. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry appears to have won over some Arab Gulf states worried about the deal.

In the United Kingdom, many in the Labour Party appear determined to arrest the rise of leftist Jeremy Corbyn. Fears are high among many in the party that Corbyn’s views are out of touch and could doom the party to a permanent minority.

The French Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean is awash in intrigue after what may be part of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 came ashore. And they’re finding more debris

The Feds:

President Barack Obama announces his climate initiative today, calling for stricter standards that previously anticipated. The plan has been called the strongest ever, particularly where power plants are concerned. Although ambitious, includes reliability failsafes to ensure access to electricity is not affected and to clear legal hurdles.

Over the weekend, the Democratic primary for president received a jolt when The New York Times reported Vice-President Joe Biden is feeling out a presidential run. The Hillary Clinton campaign itself has been weighing the impact even as Clinton launches her first ad in the contest.

Nonsense on the Republican side from who will compete in the debate to the Koch Brothers’ new whitewashing effort to dress themselves up as champions of the poor and even the next Martin Luther Kings. Republican presidential candidates laid themselves out for the Koch’s donor network, giving the nation’s top bureaucrats a chance to kick the candidates’ tires and see who is available to buy and would serve their narrow interests best.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted last week for state securities violations that occurred before he took office this year. The Dallas Morning News says his silence indicates he will engage an all-out battle for his political career.

Planned Parenthood, under new threat after a right-wing activist group began posting videos it surreptitiously recorded and often misleadingly edited, is pushing back. The sale of fetal tissue, at the center of the tapes–inconveniently for Planned Parenthood’s opponents–has had the support of Republicans in the past who are now leading the charge against the organization.

The State of Things:

Our report last week, on top of competitive mayoral and School Committee races, Holyoke’s City Council election includes 30 candidates among the 15 positions on the body.

State Senator Karen Spilka is pushing for more women to be appointed to the boards of directors of corporations.

More of a Connecticut story where the track work actually is, but major construction has begun on the Springfield-New Haven commuter rail line.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin has filed a ballot question to update the Public Records Act on the chance that the legislature does not act before the 2016 election. This follows Gov. Charlie Baker’s executive order, which only affects the agencies under his purview.

So far the Massachusetts delegation is lining up behind President Obama on the Iran deal.

The Fourth Estatements:

A writer for The Guardian considers its coverage of the Labour party leadership race, specifically that of Jeremy Corbyn.

The New York Times’s public editor devotes her bi-weekly printed column to the Hillary Clinton email inquiry story. Responding to readers upset about The Times’s false reporting, she said she received a commitment from Executive Editor Dean Baquet to do better on its coverage of Clinton. Not a free ride, but a fair shake.

Rolling Stone appoints a new managing editor in the wake of the UVA story imbroglio.

Politico makes its next move into Massachusetts.

It’s Working:

Verizon landline employees, including about 5000 in Massachusetts opted against going on strike when their pact with the telecom giant expired Sunday morning.

City Slickers:

Included without comment: Mayoral candidate Michael Jones’s interview with The Republican.

Ward 3 City Council Melvin Edwards alleges in court documents that the Dunbar Community center, the site of an accident where he Edwards sustained a fall and blew out both of his knees, was negligent in allowing water to accumulate. Edwards says he fell after slipping on the floor during a charity basketball game there. Edwards’s suit seeks for damages principally for medical expenses and little else.

Twitter Chatter:

Grab a hold of your innards because the only thing that may soften the blow is that the tweet prize is shared this week. Ready? Donald Trump wins the tweet prize this week. Yes! Why? Because even though the shameless, racist, absurd campaign of a man destined only to be the showman-in-chief has a point. Republican ultra-funders like the Koch Bros. are trying to stop Trump and thus he was not invited to the beauty contest they held for other Republican candidates. Trump called this out for what it is:, begging for money form the nation’s rich and powerful. Whether staged or not, the Donald has a point.

But to restore your faith in humanity, Trump is, ironically, sharing the tweet prize with President Barack Obama in the guise of his official POTUS account. Today’s new climate announcement could be infinitely important in the battle to keep our home, Earth, habitable and vibrant for future generations. The President, invoking children both alive and yet to be born in a tweet taken from his speech today, says the nation and the planet can meet this challenge and the capacity exists today to do it. For this we award Obama the tweet prize as well.

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Manic Monday Markup 7/27/15…

The State of Things:

We begin today in Boston, which will not host the 2024 Olympic Games after the local bid and the United State Olympic Committee pulled the plug on the effort to have Boston host the first US games since 2002. The move was anticipated. While Mayor Marty Walsh’s rejection of a contract to hold the city responsible for overruns only happened today, the low public support was cited as the reason. The USOC will solicit alternative cities, most likely Los Angeles. Being the host of two previous Olympiads, some of the infrastructure from which is still extant, it is well-positioned to promptly fashion a bid. Although The Los Angeles Times indicated San Francisco and Washington might also revive their bids.

…And the World:

President Barack Obama is in Africa on a trip, which included stops in Kenya and Ethiopia. In the former, the land of his father, he urged Kenyans to progress on a number of issues. While in Ethiopia, he called the country’s government“democratically elected” even though its election this year was widely criticized. Consequently, human rights activists in Ethiopia expect little of Obama’s visit, despite his admonition against the government’s heavy-handed tactics.

Haaretz, often likened to the Israeli Times, has a number of pieces about the future of the Left in the tiny Middle Eastern country. Columnist Gideon Levy documents the sudden shift of the left (and even center) factions to the right including Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid. The former and many in his party have seemingly struck a more militant chord, while Lapid seems to be backing off his secularist approach. Meanwhile the far-left Zionist party Meretz is contemplating a merger, which, Haaretz says in an editorial could cost the Knesset its most critical voice in favor of equality and justice in Israel.

Greece’s former Finance Minister said his country had plans to exit the Eurozone if necessary.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says there will not be another referendum on Scottish independence during the current Parliament, which, barring unforeseen circumstances, will run through 2020.

The Feds:

When the sideshow becomes the main event. Another poll shows the rest of the GOP Presidential field has been Trumped again.

With the need for new tunnels under the Hudson River connecting New York City and New Jersey by train ever more pressing, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is calling for meetings with Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo. Amtrak, to its credit, is spending millions on the bet the tunnels will get built. Hurricane Sandy flooded and damaged the current tunnels, which Amtrak owns and are only one part of the railroad’s deteriorating Northeast Corridor. They need repairs, but closing even only one of the tunnels would dramatically cut the number of trains going into Penn Station.

The only threat to Philadelphia mayoral candidate Jim Kenney looks likely to seek a seat on the City Council instead.

Hartford Mayoral candidate looks primed to upend incumbent Pedro Segarra at tonight’s nominating convention in the Insurance City.

The State of Things (cont’d):

Springfield native Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, murdered during the attack on a Chattanooga recruiting station, was laid to rest today in the veteran’s cemetery in Agawam.

WMassP&I Editor-in-Chief Matt Szafranski joins Natalia Munoz and New England Public Radio’s The Short List to discuss the Hampden Sheriff’s alcohol rehabilitation center, safety at recruiting centers and pay equity.

The Boston Globe writes about the GOP’s growth in Worcester County, which US Rep. Richard Neal calls one of the most underreported political stories in the state.

Votes this week may reverse some of Gov. Charlie Baker’s cuts to the state budget.

Westfield Mayor Dan Knapik does not want to leave City Hall. He just does not want to be mayor anymore. He is seeking a seat on the Council.

The Fourth Estatements:

Following The New York Times’s botched story on a request for an investigation into the handling of Hillary Clinton’s email, the public editor, Margaret Sullivan, issues a scathing review of what went wrong. Essentially, the Times trusted its sources’ incorrect information and then was slow to make corrections in a transparent manner. Sullivan rapped The Times for putting a premium on speed (and anonymous sources) over accuracy. Executive Editor Dean Baquet told Sullivan the errors might have been unavoidable, but Washington Post media columnist Erik Wemple questions that notion.

Following the announcement of its sale of The Financial Times, Pearson looks to unload its 50% stake in centrist newsmagazine The Economist.

It’s Working:

Verizon landline employees have authorized a strike amid heated contract negotiations (union leadership actually calls a strike depending on the state of negotiations). Though Verizon has said it has offered pay hikes to employees, the raises were part of a menu of givebacks the company wants including reduced job security, higher health insurance payments and pension cuts.

City Slickers:

Signatures necessary to run for municipal office must be returned to the Election Commission office by tomorrow. Our report from last week about the state of the busier than expected city races this year.

Rep. Carlos Gonzalez lends his support to North End residents who argue the neighborhood already has too many treatment programs in its midst to accommodate a permanent relocation of the Western Mass Alcohol Rehabilitation Center. It was previously in the South End and is currently located in Holyoke temporarily.

Twitter Chatter:

As The Times’s Public Editor Margaret Sullivan noted, however fair news about Hillary Clinton’s email account is, the impact of the story is huge given Clinton’s place in the presidential contest as a leading candidate. But getting past the impact on Clinton is the affect this has on The Times. It greatly harms the institution’s credibility and its refusal to identify the sources that led it astray (or at least narrow them down), affects the ability to accurate judge the accuracy of future reports about Clinton or anybody else. Today we award the tweet prize to New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, whose tweets tweaking the response from Times editors. Many are good and worth a read, but the rip on the Times’s facile “our sources are wrong” is notable because it echoes what the Times sought to avoid after Judith Miller and Iraq.

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Manic Monday Markup 7/20/15…

…And the World:

We begin today at the United Nations, where the Security Council has unanimously voted to accept the deal brokered between Iran and the P5+1 nations (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK & US). While Congress grumbles about the UN getting to vote first, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues his public campaign against the deal.

Israeli Opposition Leader Isaac “Bougie” Herzog, the man who might have been Premier, reiterated he would not join a unity government, publicly dismissing rumors he and Netanyahu were working toward that. Instead, Herzog said he intends to dethrone Netanyahu. However Bougie & Bibi remain BFFLs on the subject of opposing the Iran deal.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba were formally reinstated today with the rising of each country’s flags above their respective embassies.

A terrorist blast rocked Turkey along its border with Syria.

UK Labour party candidate Liz Kendall, arguably the most centrist of the four candidates, calls for the party to return to its roots of giving power to the people. She recently received the endorsement of Alistair Darling, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Gordon Brown in the battle for a new leader and amid a fight for the party’s survival.

Banks reopen in Greece and the government makes a late payment to the International Monetary Fund and an on-time payment to the European Central Bank. Last week, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reshuffled his cabinet after several members of his party defected during the vote in parliament to approve the new bailout terms.

The Feds:

A Black Lives Matter protest has snowballed into baptism by fire as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders confronts his limitations in the Democratic party electorate and led to a hazing on Twitter. Both progressive and mainstream media reports highlighted the situation.

On the same subject, we make The Feds today with our caution against the mad dash to Sanders among many who wanted Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

Maine Governor Paul LePage’s squandering of political capital has gone national as Politico writes about a potential investigation of his behavior and his breakdown with both parties in the legislature.

Practically still a freshman Florida Rep David Jolly is running for Senate as court-ordered redistricting looks likely to take a bat to his Tampa-St. Pete area House district.

In Connecticut potpourri: Democratic legislators have no plans to override any of Democratic Governor Dan Malloy’s vetoes, although Republicans did force an unsuccessful override vote in the House on an education bill. Meanwhile, Malloy’s former General Counsel, Luke Bronin, is making headway in the Hartford mayoral race against incumbent Pedro Segarra. Amid a spike in homicides, Segarra recently requested (and received) help from Bronin’s old boss.

The State of Things:

The Boston Globe owns the opening of the state political week with long stories on casinos and public records.

In a review of the pathetic state of Massachusetts’s public records law, reporter Todd Wallack describes how one request to the State Police yielded a $2 million bill, much of it information other states’ public record laws would disclose for free. A Joint Committee approved a revision of the law last week and it is now pending before the House Ways & Means Committee. Shocking though it may be, we are fully on board with The Boston Herald‘s editorial on the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s opposition to the reforms.

Meanwhile Sean P. Murphy of The Globe notes how lawmakers hopes in 2011 for a speedy open to 2-3 casinos plus the slots parlor have come crashing down amid lawsuits, delays and the threat of increased competition from Connecticut.

The Globe name-dropping continues. Jim O’Sullivan writes about labor’s fury at House Democrats for suspending the Pacheco Law, which sets standards for privatization of government services, with regard to the MBTA.

That suspension was in the budget, which Gov. Charlie Baker signed Friday. However, he vetoed $162 million in spending along the way.

East Longmeadow’s new administrator finds his executive power is quite limited in the town’s nebulous government.

Kurt Bordas’ bid for Ward 4 Council in Holyoke has risen from the dead. Incumbent councilor Jossie Valentin is running for reelection.

The Fourth Estatements:

After a controversial story was taken down from Gawker.com by the website’s leadership, two top editors resign.

As Massachusetts struggles with its public records law, The Times profiles a Vice writer who has become a master of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Dylan Byers at Politico cautions the media against declaring Donald Trump over.

City Slickers:

The death of Sgt. Thomas Sullivan in the Chattanooga shooting has cast a spotlight on Springfield’s East Forest Park neighborhood, where Sullivan grew up. The Republican profiled his military service, among many tributes offered by media and local officials.

Control Board-era official David Panagore finds work on Cape Cod.

Following release of a petition championed by at-large candidate Jesse Lederman, Mayor Domenic Sarno announced plans to restore a basketball momument in Mason Square.

Twitter Chatter:

The breakdown in Massachusetts records law shows the sad state of democracy in the Bay State. There’s really no sugarcoating it. They are the public’s records, not those of individual cities or towns. But bringing this change will require pressure on legislators, facing the objections of municipalities. Today we award the tweet prize to Northeastern University media professor Dan Kennedy, who has written in support of the reforms. He reminds followers that they have a role to play, and links to a post on his blog outlining the calls he has made to his legislators. One by one, that is how this fight for access to the people’s own records will be won.

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Manic Monday Markup 7/13/15…

…And the World:

We begin today in Brussels, where a deal to keep Greece in the Eurozone has been struck, although both Europe and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras seem worse for the wear in the process. After promising to strike a better deal for Greece in its snap elections, Tsipras essentially took on a worse deal than he had urged Greeks to reject last week. Meanwhile, given the divide between the Eurozone’s biggest members, France & Germany, many are wondering about the unity undergirding the European project overall. Among the big points of the deal, which is really only a frame work to begin a deal, are pension, tax and judicial reforms and the new fund to sell off Greek state assets.

If there are any winners here, it may be French President Francois Hollande, who fully committed to keeping Greece in the Euro and European Council President Donald Tusk who basically stood in the way of Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stomping away from the negotiating table.

Meanwhile, Tsipras is back in Athens now to sell this deal to parliament. His own Syriza party may be in danger of fracturing and Tsipras may need for form a national unity government to get all of the changes passed. Passage of these measures must be achieved by midweek for the bailout process to proceed. Greeks themselves have met the deal with a mix of frustration, reservations and relief.

Long after its deadline, a deal on Iran’s nuclear program appears to be near, but if true, when remains a mystery.

After another round of attacks from Boko Haram, Nigeria’s president installs new military chiefs.

On his tour of South America, Pope Francis excoriates unrestrained capitalism for its impact on the poor and the planet.

Interim Labour Leader Harriett Harman is under fire for backing some welfare reforms and calling for abstentions on others that are being put forward by the Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne. Harman has sought to soften the row by reminder Labourites that a final decision on many of these issues will be made by the new Labour leader elected in September.

The Feds:

With the high aspirations of his run for president battered by the national limelight and rebellions among Republicans back home, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will kick off his run for president tonight. Still, Walker’s former rivals tell Politico not to underestimate him.

Hillary Clinton laid out her economic agenda in a speech delivered in New York City, with promises to raise wages and to appointregulators who will protect taxpayers from bank bailouts. But some deemed it more politics than policy. Elsewhere in Clinton-land, new faces have arisen to lend Hillary a hand with fundraising.

Following the scandal that devoured former Representative Aaron Schock, Congress weighs new reforms on monitoring gifts and spending by members.

Donald Trump sounds almost liberal at times during his “expletive-laden” interview with The Washington Post.

Speeds have been reduced, but on-time performance is up as Metro-North tries to repair its tracks and improve safety first, according to The Hartford Courant. In a related vein, the CT Mirror looks at Conn DOT’s successes (or not) on several projects.

The Confederate Flag no longer flies on the statehouse grounds in Columbia, S.C.

The State of Things:

Last week the state budget finally passed. We offer an analysis of what Gov. Charlie Baker won (or not). At The Republican, Shira Schoenberg compiles the loss of staff to retirements among various departments. In addition to being less than Baker anticipated, several critical agencies were hit hard by the reductions in employees. And Josh Miller at The Globe says environmental groups are calling for more staffing at agencies.

Former Chicopee Mayor Mike Bissonnette is contemplating a comeback after being defeated by once and again mayor Richard Kos.

As questions linger about the sale of land as part of Wynn’s proposed casino in Everett, Attorney General Maura Healey calls for a delay before the Gaming Commission issues the company’s permit.

A special election to fill the late Thomas Kennedy’s senate seat has been scheduled.

The West Springfield mayoral race expands yet again as former Mayor Gregory Neffinger, who was turfed from office in 2013, enters the fray.

The Reminder reports on one of Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse’s neighborhood tour meetings.

The Fourth Estatements:

The standoff between The New York Times and Senator Ted Cruz continues as the paper sticks by its assessment that his book sales were bolstered by bulk orders. But now Amazon.com joins Cruz’s publisher in saying they have identified no sales patterns that would confirm the Times’s view.

City Slickers:

Read our profile on Rep. Carlos Gonzalez’s transition back into professional politics representing the 10th Hampden, which is entirely within Springfield’s borders.

Time is running out to join the races for mayor and city council in Springfield.

It’s finally happening: No, nothing fund or exciting, just the massive reconstruction of I-91 through Springfield.

Twitter Chatter:

Shifting away from Greece for the tweet prize this week, the presidential election is starting the capture the stage once again. With Gov. Walker’s entry into the race, it would seems that only a few of the not-running, but running Republicans will be left. As is typical on announcement day or announcement eve, the Walker camp blasted out an email, which dwelled at considerable length about God’s plan for Walker. Faith is a beautiful thing, but anybody should be wary about those who traipse toward speaking for the Almighty. Thankfully Twitter has us covered here. Today we award the tweet prize to The Tweet of God. The account, whose origins are not apparent based on its profile, posted a picture of Walker’s email juxtaposed above text concurring a presidential run is part of God’s plan…as is Walker’s failure. Of course this account is (probably) not God, but the response to Walker’s presumptuousness fits, especially in a Republican primary that will include a lot of mind-melding with the Creator.