…And the World:
We begin today in the tiny and relatively young nation of East Timor, which held a runoff election in its Presidential contest. The ex-Indonesian Lusophonic province is set to elect Jose Maria de Vasconcelos an ex-military chief, who, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, was recommended for criminal prosecution by the UN six years ago. A smooth election and transition on this small nation are considered necessary to facilitate withdrawal of Australian, New Zealand and UN forces. However, there were fears of violence in the hours after Vasconcelos’ election became likely.
In Norway the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the man accused of killing 77, mostly youth members of the ruling Labor party began amid heightened press attention. Brevik, who has pled not guilty on the notion that his actions were justified (he claimed the country was slipping into multi-culturalism), engaged in some courtroom theatrics while showing almost no remorse. The obviously high-profile nature of the killings has led some Norwegians to almost tune the trial out without paper offering a Breivik-free edition of its website.
A bizarre controversy has erupted in Israel where a member of the Israeli Defense Forces was caught on tape, allegedly striking a protester with the butt of a firearm. The event has captured worldwide attention, especially as the Pro-Palestinian activist is of Danish origin. The Danish Prime Minister has called the accusations that the individual attacked was violent “a lie” while both Israeli President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have both condemned the attack. The IDF says the soldier in the video has been suspended pending an investigation.
An international story with domestic implications. Not surprisingly, President Barack Obama at an Americas Summit over the weekend said his administration is opposed to legalizing drugs. Legalization is favored in some quarters of Latin America, especially since American customers are the consumers of the drugs produced in the lower half of the Americas. That commerce has produced considerable violence throughout Latin America. That said, Obama did seem open to looking at a middle ground between the status quo “War on Drugs” and legalization.
The “Buffett Rule,” a proposed amendment to the tax code that would require millionaires to pay a minimum 30% tax on their income, eliminating the loophole through which those who earn money almost entirely through investments, was defeated in the Senate today. The vote was mostly along party lines (Scott Brown voted with Republicans against closing this loophole), but Susan Collins and Mark Pryor, Republican and Democrat respectively, took positions contrary to their party. Although it failed to reach the 60 votes needed for cloture, it actually enjoyed a majority of support in the Senate 51-45 with four absences.
In Connecticut, the Democrats running for the state’s nomination for Senate met again to debate. The debates have become increasingly…interesting(?) as two candidates unlikely to proceed beyond the convention have thrown in rather odd comments. One has attacked American support for Israel and Chris Murphy, the race’s frontrunner, in particular. Another advocate legalization of marijuana. The Senate candidate who called Murphy a “whore” at a debate last week has sued Governor Dan Malloy and the progressive blog My Left Nutmeg. Malloy has called her outbursts proof as to why she should not be invited to debates. Four out of five admitted to trying the infamous herb. Theater of the living at its finest it seems.
For those of you who decried the final “Texts from Hillary Clinton” a new meme has already emerged. Last week, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J. ran into a burning building and saved somebody. The mayor was treated for smoke inhalation and suffered some burns, but received considerable press and twitter attention, much of which played on Booker’s apparent heroism, but also traipsed into lampooning other New Jersey politicos.
Its Pulitzer Day! Journalism’s most esteemed award was given out today. Some surprises included no prize in Fiction writing, but also the win on the part of some lesser known papers including the Tuscaloosa News for its reporting after tornadoes devastated the town. The Boston Globe also picked up prize, again for criticism. The New York Times added to its collection as well. Notably missing contenders? The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, although the LA Times was a runner up in several categories. Not so much for the Post.
The State of Things:
The Ways and Means Committee of the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted its budget out of committee last week. The budget rejected several key priorities of Governor Deval Patrick including new taxes on cigarettes and candy as well as efforts to centralize Community College Administration and hiring a full-time staff of Public Defenders for indigent defendants. However, it also included level-funding for local aid to cities and towns. Patrick’s budget called for cutting local aid pending the end of this fiscal year. A surplus from this year would then be used to level fund local aid if enough is available.
From Israel and now to Boston where another image has landed law enforcement dealing with protesters in trouble. A photograph has emerged wherein a cop has his hand around the throat of a protesters who was part of a counter-protest to a tea party rally. Although the protester was apparently not hurt (nor arrested) the image has prompted a review by the Police Department. This comes after last fall’s Occupy Protests, which in Boston went off by turns good and bad, a clearing of a short-lived second encampment being the prime exception. On balance Boston dealt with the protesters better than many other cities nationally, although that may not be saying much.
After the sudden rejection of 39 out of 41 applications for a late-night entertainment permit at city watering holes, a lawsuit has been filed challenging the mayor’s decision. So far two bar owners, both represented by a city attorney, Daniel Kelly, have filed suit. It is unclear whether these challenges are on result of the hearing, on the rule itself or on a broader constitutional charge. Also unclear is whether the suit seeks money damages, but it is more likely at this point that the bar owners simply want the rule overturned. There is a request for a temporary injunction to stay the rule pending litigation. Meanwhile, eight more bars were granted the late-night entertainment license on tap of Theodore’s and Mattie’s Grille who were the only two bars that were granted the permit out of the first 41 applications.
As our post on Senator Jim Welch popped up last week so has another primary challenge to a sitting State Representative. Joseph Fountain, a city resident and candidate for city council last year has begun a challenge to Sean Curran, whose district consists, principally of Sixteen Acres, East Forest Park, and pockets of Chicopee. Fountain got some press coverage in the past week attacking Mayor Sarno’s budget priorities. His ideas are novel, but may be difficult to execute under the Massachusetts constitution.
Heroism isn’t best exhibited in 1 big action but by those who fill their lives with consistent small acts of kindness, decency & love
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 14, 2012
In light of Cory Booker’s actions last week, we feel compelled to award him this week’s tweet prize. We do so, but not necessarily for any one particular tweet alone. The Mayor is a prolific tweeter and his twitter feed shows it. There are countless ones we could use for this week, but we choose this one in light of his act of heroism, because it defines Booker quite well, which is as a public servant of competence, but also humility. However, it like many of his tweets run much deeper. Digging deeper, we see an official who uses a social media platform to its fullest, even offering direct constituent services. This is especially notable given the severe challenges a city like Newark faces. Challenges, Booker himself said to Domenic Sarno himself, when Booker spoke at the Springfield Public Forum in 2010. For his tweet that, intentionally or not, reminds us why we like Booker and for his use of Twitter to speak with his fellow Newarkers and augment the execution of his duties, we award Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark this week’s tweet prize.