…And the World:
Syria continues to fall further into chaos following a Friday night slaughter that killed over a hundred civilians in the town of Houla. The event was documented by UN observers, but also shows that the cease-fire proposed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is not working. The attack on Friday prompted a rare, unanimous condemnation from the UN Security Council as neither Russia nor China, which have both backed the regime of Bashar al-Assad, vetoed the statement. Russia dropped its resistance to a strong condemnation blaming the Syrian regime after it saw evidence that any other possibility was remote at best. Since Sunday, host countries all over the world have expelled Syrian envoys out of protest for the slaughter after evidence from UN observers showed that many civilians killed in Houla were shot at close range.
Israel has taken a rather major step of recognizing and funding non-Orthodox rabbis. Unlike in the United States, many more Jews identify with Orthodox movements rather than Conservative or Reform movements, at least among those who classify themselves within such movements. Many Jewish (non-Arab) Israelis are secular and although the state identifies itself as Jewish, it has since its inception had no mandatory state religion. Still, it has funded Orthodox rabbis, which have caused some consternation, especially among Conservative and Reform Jews in a kibbutz. The new deal identifies a funding stream different from the one Orthodox Jews receive and it does not give Conservative or Reform rabbis jurisdiction over the religious courts. Many social contracts like marriage and divorce are not managed by civilian courts, but by religious courts, which has angered many secular Israelis. This move may be in part due to the merger of Kadima into the Israeli government, which has advocated for civil marriage in Israel. While the move was praised by Opposition Leader Shelley Yachimovich, it has caused discontent within the government prompting one minister to threaten to resign. Orthodox religious parties in Israel have long held sway in Israeli government due to their majority-making votes to form a government following elections that usually result in no party with a majority of votes in the Knesset.
The New York Times writes today in a length article about the process in which the White House places terrorists on the “kill list.” After being placed on the list, those designated are eligible for death via drone strike. The process differs from that of George Bush who apparently did not take on a role as personally as President Obama has. Obama has done so, it seems to take some responsibility for the killings undertaken, especially those in countries where there are questions of sovereignty, like in Pakistan and Yemen. Moreover, there are further concerns both inside and outside the administration that the practice of drone strikes inspires radicalism as much as it kills radicals.
Turning attention to South of the Border, another Connecticut Senate race plods along with another debate. Congressman Chris Murphy received the endorsement of the Democratic convention earlier this month by a resounding margin, but former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz got enough convention votes to make the primary. Bysiewicz has tried to paint Murphy as a hypocritical insider, alluding to an obscure (and misunderstood) vote on carried interest and his contributions from the financial industry. The second accusation may have some weight behind it, if liberal groups were not lining up behind Murphy en masse, like the Working Families Party of Connecticut.
The State of Things:
It won’t go away, but it doesn’t seem to matter much either. The embarrassing dissent from debate on the issues to the cesspool of nonsense over Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage has shown to have little impact on her chances. After a poll that showed the issue having no impact on her ratings, it appears that maybe the whole imbroglio has been little more than a distraction, not a detrimental hit to Warren. Although Brown still harps on it, lest he actually explain himself for, well anything, both residents and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who has famously not endorsed anybody for the race, are calling on the election to move onto other things, like those that actually make a difference in people’s lives. Point of clarification, the Native American thing did matter to some…to those who wanted to pile onto their reasons for disliking Warren.
Scott Brown’s latest ad is drowning in misleading statements. First, lets engage in a bit of technicality here. Brown was not a “tie-breaking” vote for Wall Street reform. Rather he was the 60th vote needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Indeed Brown has been, since his election, a key vote in maintaining the obstructionism that his party and its Senate leader, Mitch McConnell have promulgated. That vote came at the expense of $19 billion in savings for the financial industry and other giveaways to financiers. The original bill included a funding provision, which required the financial industry to help pay for the reforms Congress just passed. Also the ethics reform he passed? A watered bill that failed to cover firms that buy and sell inside information from folks in government.
The Massachusetts Senate passed its budget finalizing the second step in the annual process of give and take. The House passed its budget earlier this year and now the two must be reconciled. The Senate saved a Taunton mental hospital and added a few provisions to deter illegal immigrants’ usage of state services, a feel good measure designed to fix a problem that is not really much of one. Should we be grateful it doesn’t criminalize being dark-skinned? The budget also boosts local aide for cash-strapped cities at the same level that the House did.
If you have not seen it already because On Springfield linked it, we recommend Bill Dusty’s write up about the prospect of a casino in Springfield. In short, many fear a casino in the city would be a citadel that would suck all the air out of the restaurant, arts and entertainment seen in the city.
Our write-up on last week’s Council meeting.
And the Valley Advocate looks at whether Rebuild Springfield, the public-private partnership set up to rebuild the city after last year’s tornado, is listening to all of its residents as it formulates its plans.
— Suzanne Williams (@SuzanneWilliam4) May 29, 2012
It came to our attention some time ago that in fact, when a state senator, Scott Brown imbibed in birtherism. Such a statement today would probably be the kiss of death for Brown as he faces reelection this year, but it did happen. Interestingly enough, it actually has, but in a much different context. A tweet today caught out eye, linking to a Boston Globe political cartoon makes the connection between Brown and the nation’s birther-in-chief, Donald Trump. Indeed, the entire Native American nonsense, especially since Brown has embraced it with the zeal of Donald Trump, has become incredibly similar to the idiotic ramblings of the Donald or worse Arizona’s nauseating Joe Arpaio. For tying the Globe’s illustrated jab, Brown and the Donald together so succinctly, we award our tweet prize to Suzanne Williams, a follower of ours on Twitter.