…And the World:
We begin today in Switzerland…sorta. The United Nations invited and then quickly rescinded Iran’s invitation to talks between the Assad regime and rebels in Syria. The United States lobbied hard to disinvite the Islamic Republic, but Russia and Iran fumed with the former warning it could undermine any success as the talks slated to begin tomorrow in Geneva.
In more hopeful Iran-news, sanction-worn Iran did ratchet down its nuclear enrichment program as part of a six month deal with the West over its Nuclear program. In return, the nation may see some relief from sanctions, which could benefit neighboring countries as well.
The government in Thailand, rocked by protests that demand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra NOT call elections and instead hand power over to an unelected government, has declared a state of emergency. However, the government is treading lightly so far even as explosions have rocked the capital, Bangkok, this weekend.
Things are little better in some European countries as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces criticism as he visits western Europe for his crackdowns over the past year. Ukrainian protesters accuse the pro-Russian government of provoking violence.
A Times of Israel poll suggest young Israelis are souring on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complicating his way forward.
The first woman to lead the conflict-ridden Central African Republican has a hell of a challenge before her.
Chris Christie, New Jersey’s Republican governor facing the most daunting period of his political career, was sworn in for his second term today. With Inaugural festivities at Ellis Island cancelled due to snow and more damning evidence against his administration and Lt. Governor (promptly denied) coming out on a regular basis, the governor opted for simple, non-scandal vague Christie-centric speech to mark the beginning of his second term. His national numbers have certainly taken a hit. New Jersey Assembly and Senate Democrats have also agreed to merge their investigations.
Louisiana’s David Vitter, best known for being on the DC Madame’s client list, has announced he will run for governor in 2015.
President Obama’s comments during a New Yorker Interview (previewed on CNN.com) about marijuana use are turning heads, but so are his about the Affordable Care Act & race, although they are probably being misinterpreted by people who like to race-bait. More importantly, as Greg Sargent notes, the surge in Medicaid signups in places like West Virginia, where Republicans are queued up to win Senate seats could ultimately prove to be a problem as more and more people begin to benefit from the law.
Former Viriginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been charged by federal prosecutors in Richmond for accepting illegal gifts while he was in office. His term just ended earlier this month. Until the scandal broke last year, McDonnell was a leading 2016 GOP Presidential contender and was considered to be Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Recently, they cast a pall over state politics.
The US Supreme Court heard a case that could strike a huge blow to unions if the Court rules that public employee unions cannot collect fees for negotiating and enforcing contracts.
The State of Things:
Trouble in Southie? Depends on how you look at it. The Globe over the weekend took a look at the storied Beantown neighborhood and the situation surrounding its representation in the Senate by those outside the neighborhood. Dorchester’s Linda Dorcena Forry won a special election last year to fill the vacant 1st Suffolk Senate seat last year. David Bernstein calls BS on the claims that it is Southie’s seat.
Elsewhere bodies continue to fall. Up in Lynn, Rep. Steven Walsh is resigning from the House to join a Health Care Firm. At-large Lynn Councilor Brendan Crighton has declared his intention to run for the seat, which includes parts of that city and Nahant. Two Lynn School Committee members are also looking at the race. Crighton would join a large group of younger (though largely male) politicians seeking to fill vacant seats in the House of Representatives.
Gale Candaras formally announced her retirement from the Senate today and will run for Registrar of Probate in Hampden County. Angelo Puppolo and Chip Harrington are expected to seek her seat. A nugget in Rob Rizzuto’s story is the possibility that Longmeadow Selectman Paul Santaniello may be succumbing to pressure and will run for either Candaras’ seat or challenge Longmeadow Rep Brian Ashe.
Read up from us on John Velis, the Democrat running for State Rep in Westfield to fill Don Humason’s seat. Masslive has a round up of the race thus far, which became official today with the deadline to submit signatures.
The expansion of MBTA service to Worcester has been delayed in definitely.
The Fourth Estatements:
The North Adams Transcript printed its last edition today.
Pressure is mounting on the Council for the city to finally get around to repairing the signature clocktower in the Municipal Group, the Campanile.
Springfield City Councilor Jose Tosado changes his campaign committee to run in open 9th Hampden Seat.
The troubles of the governors elected in the US’s odd-year elections in 2009 are both facing trouble now. Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia is out of office (The Old Dominion prohibits consecutive terms anyway) and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was just sworn in again today. While both men’s fates are uncertain, McDonnell’s political ambitions appears dead while Christie’s are comatose for the moment. It seems fitting that on the same day Christie was sworn in again under a cloud, McDonnell was indicted. Many have made this comparison, but it seems fitting to award this week’s tweet prize to a local reporter that has been chasing these stories. Matt Friedman at the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest paper, wins the prize for this simple and true observation about these two figures.
The guy who was elected at the same time as Christie http://t.co/GO0QVIpIGd
— Matt Friedman (@MattFriedmanSL) January 21, 2014