…And the World:
We start today in jolly old England where the maw that is the scandalous power and influence of Rubert Murdoch may be on the verge of claiming another victim. Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has been accused, based on recently released memos, of inappropriate behavior during the process that was to approve Murdoch’s complete acquisition of BSkyB a major British broadcaster. Prime Minister David Cameron, who was ordered to Parliament today, has defended Hunt and said that any further inquiry into the matter, including Hunt’s behavior, should be handled by the Leveson Inquiry. The Leveson Inquiry is investigating the phone-hacking scandal that began at Murdoch’s now-shuttered News of the World. However, Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition Labour Party, disputes the idea that the Inquiry already has jurisdiction and calls for Hunt to be investigated under the Ministerial Code.
In Burma an impasse over the oath that Aung San Suu Kyi and her party had refused to take appears to be over. The Burmese Constitution requires members of Parliament to swear to “safeguard” the Constitution, but Suu Kyi and her party want to amend that document that is in their view, quite flawed. Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy has decided to drop that demand and will take their seats this Wednesday, which will put the NLD and its leader into office, 22 years after they initially won an election that was annulled by the junta that ran the country.
Mitt Romney’s campaign is engaging a new tactic in the Republican’s most recent (and desperate) effort to pry the security credentials away from President Barack Obama. Pivoting off of Karl Rove’s earlier attempt to minimize Obama’s decision by selectively quoting Bill Clinton, Romney is now saying that anybody EVEN JIMMY CARTER, would have given the order to get Osama bin Laden. Except Mitt Romney is on the record as being against getting bin Laden. Indeed, the president was not afraid to push back on the subject.
In North Dakota, Democrat Kent Conrad decided last year to retire from the United States Senate. After Byron Dorgan had done the same in 2010 and the seat fell to Republicans, many thought that Conrad’s seat was destined for red territory. But maybe not. New polling shows former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp may be able to top Rick Berg, the freshman at-large congressman from North Dakota. Although SuperPACs are expected to carpet bomb the state, were Heitkamp able to pull out a win, it could prove critical to Democrats’ quest to keep the Senate.
One World Trade Center, better known as the Freedom Tower, officially took the title as New York’s tallest building ten and a half years after the World Trade Center was destroyed. Although One World Trade Center is not the world’s tallest building (the original WTC only held that title for a few months), the milestone is of great symbolic importance as rebuilding at Ground Zero has been fraught with starts, stops, politics and of course emotion.
The State of Things:
Minimum wage on the move in Massachusetts? Senator Marc Pacheco of Taunton is proposing a rather robust increase in the minimum wage as well as indexing future increases to inflation. But there’s more! The bill’s language includes, finally, FINALLY, a raise for tipped employees. Tipped employees, which include servers and bartenders have not received an increase in the minimum wage since at least 1998 (and probably earlier than that) and the wage remains frozen at $2.63 in Massachusetts. Think that’s bad? The federal server minimum wage in $2.13. The Bay State has the lowest tipped wage in New England.
This is news?
Another bizarre item from the Senate race. Elizabeth Warren is a Cherokee? Well, maybe, but it seems as though the Brown campaign is using the unearthed file, which Warren said she had not used to advance her career (although Harvard did appear to use to say it promoted diversity), as a means to suggest something else. The schools other than Harvard at which she worked have not provided any documentation to confirm whether or not she used that ancestry to advance her career. A genealogist has confirmed that she does have connections to Native American tribes, like 9% of Ohioans. Our sense is Brown’s campaign is trying to keep the conversation off Warren’s solid credentials, create the image of someone who is hiding something (how many questions from citizens does Brown ever take) and further suggest she has gotten to where unfairly. Any of those are cheap (and insidious) shots and little more than standard issue Brown excrement.
Governor Deval Patrick’s administration is on the verge of releasing new regulations that could put commercial-scale biomass-based electricity out of business. While the regulations may not prohibit biomass, it would make it ineligible for certain financing programs. While this may not stop the Springfield, Greenfield or Russell biomass projects in their tracks, it could cripple those projects and stop future ones. The regulations are based on new research that suggests biomass does not, in fact release less carbon for the electricity produced. Most of the energy is lost in heat. However, biomass would remain viable for heating purposes.
The Search Committee appointed to find a new School Superintendent to replace Alan Ingram lumbers closer to its choice. The committee has whittled the list down to six from a previous eleven names, although that detail should not have been made public apparently. The insiders’ favorite for the position is Assistant Superintendent Daniel Warwick.
Elsewhere, a late-breaking item in Springfield, where protesters appeared at City Hall demanding more action on behalf of the homeless in the city. Mayor Domenic Sarno, who did meet with demonstrators, said the city had done its fair share of low-income and subsidized housing. That line likely will not placate protesters who were at City Hall for five hours, nor will it house the homeless. Further, while this fact does not house the homeless either, it is true that Springfield’s neighbors need to step up their efforts to house the area’s homeless population.
First Cameron said he hadn’t met Brooks, then owned up 2 Xmas meet, then said no inappropriate conversns, then owned up he talked about Sky
— Chris Bryant (@ChrisBryantMP) April 30, 2012
Today we announce our first British winner of the Tweet prize. Technically, it is a shared prize between Chris Bryant, a Labour MP, and Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls via the Labour Party. Bryant’s tweet neatly summarize the mess the Murdoch scandal has dumped into David Cameron’s lap. However, it also highlights the fact that Cameron may have only himself to blame for the worst of it as he has changed his story so many times. That Cameron had to defend himself before Parliament once again only serve to underscore this reality, after being called to the chamber less than a week since last Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) April 27, 2012
Ed Balls’ tweet is from Friday, but highlights how Britain has fallen into recession and attributes it Cameron’s decision to cut the nation’s deficit deeply and quickly. By comparison, the tweet, quoting from Balls’ broader blog posting, also notes that President Obama, that’s our president, has kept the US economy growing by taking a slower approach to deficit cutting. The US deficit must be cut, too, but a sudden swift cut will slow or even cripple the economy as may have happened in Britain. Conservatives like to blame the Eurozone crisis, even some countries IN the Eurozone like Germany have escaped a double recession so far. Britain has become the latest case study that deep austerity will only hinder economic recovery.
To MP Chris Bryant for neatly summarizing how the British PM’s problems are partly of the latter’s creation and To Labour for their succinct comparison in outcomes between the US and the UK, we award both this week’s tweet prize.