Manic Monday Markup 9/29/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Hong Kong, where pro-Democracy activists are resisting Beijing’s call to end the protests. Earlier the protesters were evoking the Ferguson, Mo. “hands up, don’t shoot” poses as police attempted to break up the demonstrations.

In Britain, the Conservative Party conference got off to a rough start as a top minister, Brooks Newmark, resigned in disgrace and another bailed to join Ukip, the United Kingdom Independence Party. Mark Reckless the Tory-turned Ukipper say British Prime Minister David Cameron broke too many election promises. George Osbourne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer tried to calm the masses with some new tax proposals, but the events rocked the Tories, who had hoped to capitalize on Labour’s lackluster conference the week before. Others say these events are a sign of the Conservative Party’s decline. For what it is worth, the publication that caught the Tory official in a scandal will get its actions reviewed by Britain’s press regulator.

Last week at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the Israeli operation in Gaza a “genocide” among other exaggerated flourishes. Not to be outdone in the rhetoric department of his UN speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Hamas to ISIS and pushed back against Abbas and proposed deal with Iran over nuclear enrichment. But maybe there is hope for peace? Members of the Israeli press are not impressed, one calling the speech “Bib’s greatest hits.”

Ashraf Ghani is sworn in as Afghanistan’s new president and urges Afghans to hold him accountable. Details about US plans to keep troops in the country were also released today.

Indian political potpourri. The once ostracized Narendra Modi is due to be a guest of the President at a White House dinner tonight. Meanwhile, a conviction for corruption sends ripples through the political classes of India.

The Feds:

Democrats need to hang on to Iowa to hang on to the Senate and it has been getting away from them. However, Bruce Braley, the Democrat appeared to have a substantively strong night in Sunday’s debate whereas Joni Ernst, stuck to personality and vapidity. Those have served Ernst well and built up a strong lead in polling.

In Alaska, a judge rejected a Republican attempt to undo a fusion ticket a Democratic candidate and an Independent candidate formed for the gubernatorial race.

Political potpourri from south of the border: A Bridgeport state rep, who lost her re-nomination bid, was arrested for fraudulently voting. The Connecticut Education Association, a teachers union, endorsed Gov. Dan Malloy for reelection despite reservations they have had about his education policy. The CT Mirror begins an in-depth look at the Nutmeg State’s infrastructure repair deficit.

The State of Things:

Polls show a tossup in the race for governor in Massachusetts. Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Attorney General are statistically tied in several polls (except one that shows Coakley ahead). The two, along with the three third party candidates face off tonight in Springfield.

The Boston City Council is debating a pay raise for itself. However, they appear stumped by an ethics law that prohibits them from enriching themselves. Well, there is a very simple answer: have it take place after next year’s election. But apparently, that doesn’t work either for some strange reason.

Now the party’s nominee, Senator Elizabeth Warren rallied with Seth Moulton, who defeated Congressman John Tierney in the Democratic primary earlier this month. So far, Moulton is leading Republican nominee Richard Tisei.

And there is a US Senate race this year in Massachusetts. No, really!

A profile of Barbara Lee, who strives to get more women involved in politics i.e. get more women elected.

It’s Working:

Today we premier our new subheading (maybe one day it will be a stand alone series), highlighting employment and labor issues nationally and locally.

Just a couple of quick hits today. CNN is appealing a decision from the National Labor Relations Board to rehire dismissed contract workers. Ambulance company AMR received a similar ruling after it dismissed a union steward, although there is no word yet on whether they will appeal.

City Slickers:

The RMV’s planned relocation is getting a cold reception from outgoing State Rep. Sean Curran.

At-large City Councilor Tim Rooke is seeking an expansion of the city’s Shot Spotter system, that narrows down where firearm discharges are believed to occur.

Twitter Chatter:

In Iowa as the contest between Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst marches toward conclusion in about five weeks, it has been frustrating to see personality take the place of policy, clearly boosting Ernst. There really is no way to define her platform as much more than platitudes and, where specific, cold and detached from the needs of real people.  Today we award the tweet prize to Representative Bruce Braley, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Iowa. His tweet emphasizes not only the disconnect of his opponent, but also the stakes for ordinary people in Iowa and across the country.


Manic Monday Markup 9/22/14

…And the World:

We begin today in Afghanistan where Ashraf Ghani has been declared the winner of the country’s Presidential election. He and his rival, Abdullah Abdullah promised to form a coalition and begin the transition of power away from Hamid Kharzai, who has ruled the country for a decade.

The union may be saved, but for how long? We mean of course Britain’s union, which survived a Scottish independence vote last week. Now comes the hard work of figuring out how to properly grant more power to the constituent nations of the United Kingdom. Perhaps one side has already been outmaneuvered. The Labour party, which has a decent chance of winning next May’s elections, is holding its party conference in Manchester. While it might win in May, it must do much more to actually save the union and hold power, among the many challenges Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has.

Austrialian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is telling his countrymen they may need to accept a bit less freedom for security.

Al-Qaeda linked Syrian rebels have taken control of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border with Israel, flushing out the UN peacekeepers stationed there. Israel turns a wary eye to a border it has not worried about in 40 years.

Elsewhere in the Middle East potpourri: Syrian Kurds flood into Turkey as questions arise about how much good airstrikes are doing to ISIS in Iraq. In a related vein, have the US and Hezbollah united (sorta) against a common enemy. Israel’s High Court rejects the nation’s response to African asylum seekers.

Tomorrow world leaders will gather at the UN to discuss climate change and have been advised to bring bold ideas to combat it.

Russians opposed to the foreign policy of President Vladimir Putin filled the streets of Moscow in one of the largest demonstrations against his rule in months. Although it did not quite meet expectations.

The New York Times profiles the challenge and the opportunity the Ebola crisis presents UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The Feds:

In New York hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied in favor of action on climate change ahead of the UN meeting this week.

Staying in New York, indicted Congressman Michael Grimm is even with his Democratic opponent. Hard to know what part of that is most stunning.

Los Angeles is on the cusp of approving a big pay hike for hotel workers.

Up in Maine, Michelle Obama is slated to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Michaud while incumbent Republican governor Paul Lepage says he might skip debates.

The Courant looks at the rise and fall of Connecticut’s own John Rowland who was convicted on federal charages…again.

More from Greg Sargent about the midterm dropoff conundrum for Democrats and how, maybe even losing in November might stir some necessary changes.

The State of Things:

The Star-Ledger of Newark editorializes about the deals between a fund tied to Massachusetts Republican Charlie Baker and his contributions to the political funds run by New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Not surprisingly, women will be key to the gubernatorial election this year. Joan Vennochi hits Baker on how he’s reaching out to the ladies.

Meanwhile a profile of the woman trying to unseat Niki Tsongas.

The welding company linked to a fire that took the lives of two firefighters earlier this year has been fined.

Angela Thorpe, the Chair of the East Longmeadow Select Board has been ousted as head of that body amid a fusillade of allegations by one of her colleagues. William Gorman, who had nominated her to be chair of the three member board earlier this year, made a motion last week to restore Paul Federici as chair. The Reminder recounts a catty exchange of allegations primarily from Gorman about Thorpe.

The Fourth Estatements:

See the Twitter Chatter, but here is a formal story on David Bernstein’s impending departure from Massachusetts.

City Slickers:

While we are loath to give too much credence to the Pioneer Institute, general concern about funding Springfield’s obligations to its retirees is always appropriate and worthy of attention.

Police Commissioner John Barbieri says crime is down in the city and who your are friends are correlates more closely to your risk of being a victim of crime more than where you live.

Twitter Chatter:

First we lost Maureen Turner to the Yiddish Book Center. Now we are losing David Bernstein to Virginia. Last week the oft-irreverent, but always sharp political journo David Bernstein announced his wife had taken a job in Richmond and that they would be moving to the Old Dominion after this November’s elections. His current employers, WGBH and Boston Magazine want him to continue a role and we certainly hope he does, but at such a distance it will never be quite the same.

In any event, we award this week’s tweet prize to Berntein, a frequent winner, for his original tweet, but also for this playful one about state politics, a prime example of what he contributes to the political conversation in the Bay State.


Manic Monday Markup 9/15/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Britain where it is down to the wire on the fate of the Union between England and Scotland. A Scottish referendum Thursday will decide the fate of “Great Britain” which has been one country since the beginning of the eighteenth century. It could define British Prime Minister David Cameron as the man who broke Britain, who says Scotland will endure a painful divorce. Queen Elizabeth II, while retaining her impartiality as monarch, has said she hopes Scots think carefully about the consequences. Pro-independence side is betting on dwindling North Sea oil reserves to keep an independent Scotland solvent.

John Kerry is rallying Arab allies and as world leaders meet to determine how to fight the Islamic State which has the run of swaths of Iraq and Syria. Kerry claims he has commitments from Arab countries to engage in airstrikes on IS also known by its former names ISIS and/or ISIL. Iran has rejected cooperation with the United States, although Kerry is not opposed to trying Iran again. New reporting from the Times of Israel suggests that IS may have infiltrated parts of Syria near the Israeli border. UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights have already fled to the Israeli side for protection, although that is not attributed to IS.

Israeli is in the midst of its own political complications as Finance Minister Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party dismiss concerns that they might leave the coalition and force new elections over the budget.

The ceasefire in Ukraine appeared all the more tenuous as shelling occurred in Donetsk.

Canadian cartoon and Toronto mayor Rob Ford will not seek another term as mayor, but will seek to retain a council seat. His brother will run for mayor instead. Wonderful.

The Feds:

The Obama administration contends that the Iraq resolution gives him authority to act against IS/ISIS, but the White House still wants the resolution repealed.

The Conservative experiment in Kansas—yes Kansas!—is under threat as arch conservative Republican governor Sam Brownback faces the fight of his political life against Democratic State House minority leader Paul Davis.

Rhode Island political potpourri. The New York Times profiles Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gina Raimondo, who took on unions with a pension restructuring bill she championed on Treasurer. Elsewhere, WPRI looks at the battle for City Council President in Providence. The post will empty after the November election since the current president ran for and lost the Democratic mayoral primary to Jorge Elorza.

Hillary Clinton was in Iowa at Senator Tom Harkins famous Steak Fry. Period.

One in four California voters can identify Gov. Jerry Brown’s opponent.

The State of Things:

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Martha Coakley barnstormed the state this weekend rallying with old foes and longtime allies alike. Commonwealth Magazine and WBUR notes that Coakely won in several key communities, which could bode well for November only a short sprint away. Coakley and statewide Democrats held a State Committee meeting turned rally in Springfield on Saturday.

Worcester Magazine interviews prospective candidates for City Manager. Edward Augustus, Jr. holds the position on an interim basis thus the current search. However, the Magazine also reports some are urging City Councilors, who hired the manager, to beg Augustus to stay put.

Roman Catholic bishops announce their support for repeal of the casino law.

The Fourth Estatements:

The Boston Globe’s Peter Canellos is leaving his post as the editor of the Editorial Page.

The sale of WGGB (Chanell 40) to Meredith Corporation, which also owns WSHM (Channel 3) has passed the first, but hardly the last phase of the FCC’s review.

City Slickers:

The City Council in Springfield will again consider new rental regulations as well as appointment of a new director of internal audit. WMassP&I, regrettably, may miss tonight’s meeting.

Details of the sale of the Student Prince to Peter Picknelley are released.

Twitter Chatter:

The Scottish independence vote may very well rock the world, but the impact will not be felt anywhere more than in Britain itself. England and Wales may survive, and Scotland, greatly diminished, will too. However, neither may be better for it. Articles about the pro-independence side appear to be the based in some hysteria and not, actually, anything grounded in reality. Still, it is now up to Scots to decide. Today we award the tweet prize to British Prime Minister David Cameron for his note of the vote and plea to keep the UK’s “family of nations together.”